SCORE: 9.979 11 x 21 @aux @No hay banda @djmakemewet @OSHi @2014 @Future Lover @DJHazey @Suburbia @Up Down Suite @Babylon @DominoDancing @Hurricane Drunk @RetroPhysical @Miss Lange @Crisp X @evilsin @eliminathan @Trinu 3.0 @Mr Blonde @japanbonustrack @Touchofmyhand 2015 PLACEMENT: UP 1 - 2 of 210 (9.791) 90s RATE WINNER HIGHEST SCORE: 10 x 124 (@RJF @nikkysan @AshtrayHeart @funkyg @Andreas @Tigerlily @Vasilios @cheida @Raichu @dodoriazarbon @P'NutButter @eatyourself @HEARTCORE @m_dimitrov @nanafan @discoteca @tom71 @Lucy Honeychurch @Sprockrooster @Euphoria @rdp @maverick_79 @tylerc904 @Doenjang @sfmartin @Angeleyes @JMRGBY @Remyky22 @AllGagaLike @Cutlery @matthew. @gezza76 @soratami @GimmeWork @Endothelium @Mirwais Ahmadzaï @Andrew.L @Phonetics Boy @dylanaber @Mjg0806 @relby @Jonathan27 @elear @Ana Raquel @Andy French @fatyoshi @WoW73 @godspeed @CasperFan @torontodj @theelusivechanteuse @1991 @Sail On @Aester @Syzygyz @Dreampopboy @Fuchsia @NightmareBoy @Skyline @FridayNight @Modeblock @Daniel_O @Coochi @muddleddreams @scottdisick94 @letuinmybackdoor @Drew @Robsolete @Fortune @R27 @Sideout @unnameable @Zdarlight @citoig @joeee @Xanax @VeryPSB @TrueBeliever @DinahLee @aaronhansome @SloMover @Bleu Noir @Jimmyandroid @JonBcn @BEST FICTION @Candy Perfume Girl @paperboyfriendd @joe_alouder @BTG @Mister_G @Sleepycat @phoenix123 @Lila @Pop Life @K94 @clowezra @Filippa @Rogue @wintersleep @TheChoirgirlHotel @KingBruno @Remorque @Digital Ghost @acl @LTG @ufint @Mikl C @Verandi @RainOnFire @nametag @Holly Something @Markus1981 @sexercise @happiestgirl @Music Is Death @FrozenNight @strangekin @fancygreen @Bangers&Bops @Weslicious @tommylander @Maki @Push @beyoncésweave) LOWEST SCORE: 7.5 x 1 (@paullypaul) MY SCORE: 10/10 Well, well, well. Who could have predicted this? Ray Of Light finishes an absolutely dominating run with its lead single vanquishing its nearest competition and managing to take the crown for the Madonna Discography Rate 2020. Personally, I knew it would always come down to the two tracks that we had in our finale tonight, but I wasn't expecting it to be as close and... I wasn't expecting it to be this result either. I wonder if it was the bigger, more varied voting pool, the fact that the entire discography had to vie for a single 11/10 from voters rather than several, or if the fact that said entire discography was being rated together for the first time. We can analyse until the end of time, but regardless, "Frozen" is the winner, and a worthy winner at that. Sessions for Ray Of Light initially started out with Babyface and Patrick Leonard, which is a bit of a strange mix of new and old. Babyface, who she had worked with on Bedtime Stories, and Patrick Leonard, who she had worked with on pretty much everything else. Babyface, she ended dumping off entirely, but she ended up keeping the stuff she did with Patrick Leonard, along with songs with Rick Nowels... but Madonna just couldn't seem to find someone to take the album in the sonic direction that she wanted. It was then that Guy Oseary reached out to William Orbit - who had done remixes for M in the past - and asked him to submit a few things to whet queen's appetite, and... well, y'all know how it goes after that. With Orbit, Madonna found exactly what she had been looking for; a style of music that borrowed heavily from electronica and the British club scene at the time, but also from something more worldly and classic than she had been before. "Frozen" takes all of these things - the lyricism of a Leonard co-write, the futureproof sounds of Orbit, Madonna's everything - and pulls them together into one of her most timeless singles, mingling the past, present and future meticulously. There's an entirely tedious story about the fact that song was actually banned in Belgium for eight years between 2005 and 2013 because someone claimed that Madonna had ripped them off, but then someone else claimed that that someone had ripped them off, and it was a whole mess. But all you need to know is that is that Madonna won in the end, and didn't have to pay anyone a single dime, and Belgians can now listen to "Frozen" without the thought police raiding their den or whatever. I think this is about as close as "Frozen" got to having a controversy; I guess it's only right that it had one as a Madonna lead single. Let's jump into our 11/10s straight away, shall we? We kick off with @aux whose prostitutions has worked. "I’m sure everyone will say this but choosing an 11 for Madonna is impossible. Her discography is the most expansive in any artists’ catalogue. If there is a genre of music that exists, Madonna has done it and made it her own. Her versatility across genres spans decades. I’ll be honest, I had ten 11’s in mind for this. So many of her songs mean a lot to me - as I’m sure is the same case for most of you reading this, so in the end, I had to go with the song that meant the most to me at this time in my life. At the time of writing this, it’s been two months since I was blessed by seeing Madonna live for the first time. If there is someone in this planet known for being a performer through and through it’s her, so my expectations were through the roof. My nerves were even worse, considering we had all the fuckery going around with cancellations, I had my doubts I would have been able to see Madonna in the first place. The relief I got when the curtains opened… It had me in tears. Each song goes through, and I’m truly in awe. Her banter with the audience was truly something to see in person, Madonna is such a power in music that you sometimes forget she is human. The entire show was just… exquisite. I’ve already written about it, so I won’t dive too much into it. Here comes the Rescue Me interlude… I knew what was coming. I knew I wasn’t ready. Everyone was praising the performance of Frozen, from the top newspapers to Karen from HR who went for Like A Prayer. And so the strings begin swooping the theatre, Madonna appears from behind a gauze in which her daughter - who looks exactly like Madonna did in her twenties - is projected. I have ascended during many concerts, there is something special about seeing an artist taking a song and performing it, encapsulating the energy the original recording had, but pushing it further, hitting the audience with the feeling. Dancing On My Own with Robyn did this for me, where I could feel Robyn’s words going straight to my jugular. Yes, I cried during that. Yes, I cried even more during Frozen. Yes, I am crying writing this reliving that moment. Yes, I cry a lot. There is just something special about the song. I don’t posses the vernacular to put it into words, but it’s perfect. I cannot name a single bad thing about it. The massive, acoustic electronica production… Madonna’s phenomenal vocal performance… THE LYRICS… The way the song wraps you around in its own desert… Fuck. It’s the perfect song and seeing it live, Madonna in front of you, transmitting her sheer energy to the audience, it just hits you. I am sure I will never experience anything like this again, unless Madonna tours again and I can sell my other liver to see her. Madonna, I salute you for creating the perfect song and letting me experience it live." So much crying in one story. Weak bitch; Madonna would be ashamed tbh. I get the starstruck thing though; I had that Prince in 2014 and I wasn't in a damn theatre with him. Up next is @DJHazey who hasn't given his 11/10 to either a bit of 80s superpop or a bit of disposable trash from the 00s. You know what that is? GROWTH. "I love the other elite Madonna songs I'd expect to see in the Top 5, such as Like a Prayer, Into the Groove, Vogue, and Hung Up but this will always be what I consider the top of the mountain. Some of my favorite pop songs of all-time have been inspired by it in various ways, whether they knew it or not (songs I will keep to myself for fear of "how can you possibly compare that to Madonna" ddd). It has shown me that Madonna wrote the manual on how to create this kind of pop song for me, one that often times connects with me in the deepest way. In some ways it's more special than my connection with all the basic bops I'm known to champion. Frozen is the perfect benchmark and template, rarely if ever equaled. It even sounds false to use the word template though, because it's a song that can't be duplicated. Instead, being inspirational for all the popstars that would come along after this Ray of Light was shined upon the genre, for all to see. It has become pretty obvious that Frozen deserves my 11 now and to always be considered my favorite Madonna song." Speaking of growth, @eliminathan still has a lot to do, although at least they seemed to curb their worst tendencies. "Her Magnum Opus, if I wasn't voting for this with my 11 it'd be given to 'Masterpiece' so consider yourselves lucky I didn't throw my vote away." Mess. Let's move on quickly to @Crisp X instead. "Am I really giving my 11 to the song that represents my earliest memory of Madonna, around the time of its release, when I was 3 (making sure to include this so the host feels pain) [HOST EDIT: um I was only 8 bitch!!!!]? Yes.gif I admit I have a hard time articulating what I particularly love about it, as I suspect every little detail will also be highlighted ad nauseum by the other voters. One thing’s sure: I owe the most crucial parts of my musical journey to this multi-layered masterpiece. Trip-hop/art pop or whatever you call it ended up being one of my most formative genres, that the duo of Madonna and William Orbit contributed seminal pieces to. It’s cold, dark, cinematic, ethereal, eerie, atmospheric, haunting... it contains some of what I would then love about its parent album in my first foray into her discography (too) many years later. What an impactful song." Quite. Next up is @djmakemewet, who has been a diligent Liker of almost all my posts in this thread and I'm not sure why the rest of you haven't been as good. They nail the song perfectly, to be honest. "The most majestic song in Madonna's discography. From the intro alone, you know you're in for something special - a sweeping vista of strings, a jarring guitar jangle and a steady electronic pulse, each part meticulously placed, somewhat incongruous and yet masterfully and beautifully combined. And over the following six minutes there isn't much else; some programmed drums in the chorus and intermittent lightning flashes courtesy of a bin lid. And atop that (or floating a few inches above it) was Madonna herself, her voice newly honed and trained yet familiar, never indulging in showy theatrics but swathed in enough emotion to make a wordless mmmmm utterly evocative. On paper, Frozen isn't out of step with Madonna's mid-90s run of balladry: midtempo, minor key, tasteful electronics, strings. And yet she reconfigured those familiar elements into something altogether different. Seemingly an odd choice of lead single, especially for a """"comeback"""" but yet it acts as an almost perfect pivot from her mid-90s ballads to the arc that her music would take over the next three albums and five years. In a career defined by reinvention, Frozen is a Renaissance." Our next 11/10 giver is @2014, who shows taste for the first time in six months of this thread being open. "My immediate 11 choice for this rate. I could listen to this song and only this song for the rest of my life if I was forced to. The complete pinnacle of Madonna's career and I can't wait to root for its win." Well, rooting paid off, I guess. We'll close commentary on the rate at large with @Trinu 3.0 who, as always when I get their commentary for any rate, leaves me confused, scared, and most of all, glad I no longer have to deal with hoes rambling for every single song I ask them to score. "In 2010 I went on Erasmus to Poland. I arrived there in September and I didn’t have to wait much until it the first October snow began to fall. Mind you, this tropical ass had never seen snow before, so the experience felt like magic. I was in awe. The stillness of the world as it fell. The sudden blindness when the sun hit it at a certain angle. The pores vanishing from my face. My skin looking like porcelain. The slipping on the floor. The breaking of the bones. After two years trying to master a language that is basically based on throwing a bunch of consonants on a Scrabble board and seeing what you get, I returned to Spain. And the memory of snow became just that: a memory. It wasn’t until I moved to the UK that I experienced something similar. During my first days in the land of gammon, between DBS checks and opening bank accounts that would drown me in overdrafts in the following years, I happened to be walking around my neighbourhood when I saw a store. A store that let out a familiar coldness. A coldness that transported me to my soviet era student housing. To the vodka shots. To the cheap cigarettes. To the zloty notes. To the random night trips to party in Krakow cause my city basically a coal mine. To the months spent without seeing the sun. To the -30 degrees. To the broken bones. It soon became a routine of mine to go into the store whenever I happened to be around. Just going in and walking around the aisles gave me life, hunty. And I even started to visit other branches of the store whenever I saw one in other parts of the city and the country. Not because it was incredibly cheap. Not because my diet was based on its pizzas. Nah. It was because of the memories. The store’s name? Iceland. [HOST EDIT: *record scratch* GIRL...] What does this have to do with Frozen, the song by Madonna? Absolutely nothing! Unless you listen to it while eating their delicious frozen pizzas, I guess. So anyway, Frozen was, I believe, my first encounter with the Queen. Back in the day, the local TV channel used to play random videoclips in between spots (which was probably illegal). And in a time where MTV wasn’t really a thing in Spain, that was basically our way of finding out how music videos looked like. Seeing Madonna falling to the ground and becoming a murder of crows was something that I, to this day, aspire to recreate. It’s one of those songs from that period that, for whatever reason, got ingrained into my brain at that age. And even now, 22 years later, whenever I listen to it, I am transported to a time where my biggest worry was doing maths problems. Understanding the lyrics only made it better with time." Christ. "Frozen" received an incredible video at the hands of Chris Cunningham, who Madonna reached out to after enjoying his work with Aphex Twin's creepy ass the year before. Shot in the desert rather than somewhere cold at Madonna's behest, it... turned out to be cold anyway and she was pressed. Hee! The video is a classic big budget 90s affair where special effects were starting to actually look special after looking janky for over a decade, and girls, they pile it on here. Day turning to night, Madonna turning into ravens, Madonna turning into dogs, Madonna turning into Madonnas. What is produced is one of Madonna's most atmospheric, haunting visuals that sees her bring the song to life perfectly. It was also performed during Drowned World, Re-Invention, Sticky & Sweet Leg 2, and most recently, Madame X. It was also performed loads on television, but barely any of the performances actually have a live vocal, they're all horrible quality, and it's just Madonna awkwardly posing and lip-syncing for five minutes, so I'm not going to sully the last elimination with all that. So, who gets the final word on the final song? ...Me, obviously. Have y'all forgotten whose rate this is? This entire thing is a monument to Madonna's ego first, and mine second. "Frozen" kind of feels like Patrick Leonard's final gift to Madonna in terms of their work together. Yes, he has credits on other tracks, but there's just something special about the fact they managed to pull together the sound of her biggest artistic overhaul ever, before parting creative ways for the last (at the time of writing) time. I know they worked together for the musicals in 2003, but nothing ever came from that. Sometimes I wonder if they're in any kind of contact. I hope so; even if it's just a text a year or something. Not only did they create magic when they were together, they were maybe also both smart enough to realise when something had run its course... but what a way to bow out. Combined with William Orbit's production, what we get is this chilling, sprawling, plaintive plea for intimacy against the backdrop of one of Madonna's grandest soundscapes. It's actually rather appropriate that "Frozen" has taken the crown, because every single second of it is majestic. Every string swell, every cymbal crash that shatters the peaceful, electro-gloom, the way her vocals are layered closer to the end for maximum ASMR satisfaction... I've said this so much in the last fortnight (month, two months, four months, six months) but it is genuinely one of the best, courageous, jaw-dropping, most stunning pop songs to ever exist. I mentioned it last night when talking about the album as a whole, but it was really "Frozen" that was responsible for the complete change in how Madonna operated and how she was consumed by media and the public. It just... had no point of reference we could look to that would help ground us. Nothing else out sounded like it; nothing Madonna had ever done before sounded it, and Madonna herself didn't even sound like Madonna. Her voice renewed, retuned, and revitalised after Evita. She's near operatic in "Frozen", if not in range, at least in the emotional ground she's able to cover, which always a massive thing in opera anyway. "Frozen" is also relatively... sparse. Its verses are short, its hooks short but jagged, and the rest of the time is spent with this harsh, desolate instrumental, with its spiking cymbals and dramatic string and I'm sorry, this was someone's lead single? This was a major popstar's comeback lead single? And it was a massive smash? Girls... I can't. The audacity. More than anything, "Frozen" is testament to all the qualities in Madonna that I adore. Her creative restless spirit that never allows her to do the same thing twice; the bravery it takes to repeatedly put your success on the line because you want to put the best song out, the tireless hunger to innovate, to stay on top on the ever-shifting genres of music, to stay on top full stop. Madonna has been ambitious her entire career, yes, but no one ever seems to talk about the fact that she has remained artistically ambitious for forty years now, long after all her 80s contemporaries have fallen into ditches and cover albums. She is still out here, as she always has been, patrolling the perimeter of what is considered allowed, and finding... where it's squishy, and weak, and ready to pushed through. This was true in 1982, 1989, 1998... and 2020 as well. And will probably be true long after that as well. Ray Of Light OUT. @RJF OUT. Madonna Discography Rate 2020... OUT.