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jeremy

Right on, Rich! I really like your assessment of Madge the person and her music. I think you (sort of) fail to recognize the nostalgia factor, but you also point out the very things that make her such an icon to the throngs--namely, her vapidity quarreling w/ her sincerity. Is she sincerely vapid or vapidly sincere? Its like Capote wrote of Holly Golightly--she's a phony, but she's a real phony. I don't care either way about her. If its not 'Lucky Star' I could give a shit. Speaking of Lucky Star all my 'mos like that song on your 'Mixed Up in the Gay' mix the best--what year did it come out?

jeremy

Rich, this review with bonus commentary is totally right on. "COADF" is simply derivative, mindless, non-inventive and banal. If I hear her talk about "light" one more time, I'm gonna strangle myself with a red string bracelet. Same goes for her fondness for rhyming the words "mad," "sad" and "glad." Wasn't she a high school valedictorian or something? Or am I thinking of Cindy Crawford? Maybe she's been doing pre-school phonics exercises with Rocco lately, I don't know. At the same time, though, why can't I stop listening to it? Yeah, Stuart's beats are nothing new, and he's proven his talents far better on Les Rhythmes Digitales records, but it's their safeness and familiarty that I enjoy. That's what makes it fun to dance to... and that's what this album is supposed to be—a dance album. I actually prefer that she has nothing important or intelligent to say (and like I told you before, maybe she's already said it all). Has there ever been a true dancefloor hit that had something important to say? If there is, I know you're the one to prove me wrong. My dancefloor confession is that, at my age, I'd rather use my brainpower trying to remember how to do the Snake, the Bus Stop and my fierce, circa-1990 Vogue moves than thinking about what she's actually saying. I'd make a good cult member, no? Oh wait, I already am. It's called being a gay guy who loves Madonna.

Foxy

1) Lavish praise? I know I was stoned when I wrote it, but what were you smoking when you read it, Mister Man? I only mentioned 6 tracks I liked. Hating on the 6 other craptastic tracks seemed like a waste of valuable time that could be spent better doing more useful things, like smoking. I just wanted to give a heads up to the universe that some of the songs were not "Soy Latte" bad.

2) You do have a point about the quick breathless turn around of it all. Had I taken a few moments, I would have commented on the Stardust references sort of carrying "Get Together", and my strange craving to play Spy Hunter while listening to "Jump". I would have talked about how while bad lyrics are forgiven in pop, but the girl who had a hand in "Borderline" and "Crazy For You" should be better then rhyming "New York" with "Dork".

3) Any homo who defends American Life should take their own life.

4) "Hung Up", while I am coming around to it now, wastes a great ABBA sample AND manages to fuck up the phone call song, a pop staple that is hard to fuck up.

5) It amuses me when people who post mp3s by Giggles and SWV rag on about bad lyrics and people who can't really sing. Totally adorable. I heart "Weak" as much as the next faggot, but that sort of proves the point that bad singing and not-great lyrics don't always detract from great pop.

6) You are not alone. The self-titled debut will always be the definitive. "What's My Madonna? When she believed going out and dancing would save the world. And I sleep with a nightlight."

7) Ultimately? I love that all Madonna had to do was show up to cause you to blogrant. Say what you will, you gotta respect that.

Rich

J1: Right on about me overlooking the nostalgia factor. It's a powerful one, no doubt, and I'm no stranger to its charms. For some reason with Madonna, I find the bond of nostalgia really fucking easy to break, though -- I mean, my favorite song of hers is "Everybody," and I didn't even really pay attention until I got into disco and boogie and a teenager.

J2: I know that the case can be made that COAD works on the mindless level (even though I find it waaaaay to ugly and overbearing for that), BUT actually, the intention of the album (as revealed in its name and underscored in recent Madge interviews) is for Madonna to reveal herself as the 4/4 beats pound. So it's a pretentious concept that fails. I mean, if this is her life, surely she's the tritest working woman in showbiz.

As far as dance songs having things to say, it happens (Herbert springs to mind), but more often than not, it's a string of cliches. The difference is that when you have cliches coming from (presumably) gay, probably poor black men in the early '80s and '90s over a sense of by-any-means-necessary musicality (house, after all, followed hip-hop in the line of music created by self-proclaimed "non-musicians"), there's much more of a resonance there (the songs I'm talking about in particular include we-shall-overcome anthems like CeCe Rogers' "Someday," Sterling Void's "It's Alright," Aly-Us' "Follow Me" and the Fingers Inc. version of "Can You Feel It"). Plus, a lot of the time, there's a soul tradition to be found in the dance music that really speaks to me -- vocal prowess and interpretation can make up for the shortcomings of language (Bobby Womack's on the radio . . . ).

My problem with Madonna is that, really, she doesn't know her place. She's constantly overshooting and, in my eyes, falling prey to her concepts.

ricray

honey, i one-THOUSAND percent agree with everything you said! i personally can't stand madonna, i think she's a bony old slag who has never had one single original idea. all i can say about her new album is: at least she's not whining about her mother dying when she was five on every song. squish-squish, sweetie, squish-squish!

Rich

Foxy, yes, you're right about bad lyrics and singing not detracting from pop music, OBVIOUSLY. The difference is that no one ever put SWV or Giggles up on a pedestal! This piece was as much about media criticism as it was about music criticism. It's not that all Madge had to do was show up, it's that all she had to do was show up with her fucking entourage. Gay bloggers are the digital equivalents of Harajuku girls!

And, I'm not trying to sound sanctimonious here, but when I enjoy crap, I'm EMBRACING its shortcomings, not ignoring them.

Plus, y'know, I didn't call you out specifically, just used your mini review as one in a chorus of praise. I know that you're a discerning listener (as are many, many others that I linked to up top), and am sorry that I did not note that above.

maia

madonna sure didn't fool black/feminist/writer bell hooks. she doesn't fool me either.

duane

It is interesting to finally see some people that aren't "Madonna for Madonna's sake". I have never really been a Madonna fan, but I have never really hated her either; to put it bluntly, I am pretty ambivalent, she doesn't really impress me either way. But, with that being said, more often than not, I have been completely and utterly annoyed with her lack of any effort in many of the songs that are touted as some of her biggest hits, which usually sound like total crap. When she won for a Grammy for Ray of light, I almost threw up. That is honestly one of the worst songs I have ever heard, and makes me never want to listen to music again.

However, the songs I like by Madonna, are the ones that usually, only the "true" Madonna fans like (Bedtime story comes to mind... and maybe I love it because it was written by Bjork??); but I do occasionally find myself liking something that is uber popular; at least for a little while. The case with Hung Up is the same, it falls into that category; I like it now, but 3 months from now, I will probably hate it. Hearing her say Ring ring ring goes the telephone makes me want to crash my car into a telephone pole just so she will shut the fuck up; but I guess I am a glutton for punishment, as I love the ABBA sample and the beat.

I guess my whole point here, is to say thanks for making it okay for me to be a gay that doesn't like Madonna. Every time I say that I don't like her, I get looks of shock and awe, and honestly I really don't get it. I like what I like, and you like what you like, so why do I have to like Madonna? Just because I am gay? No way.

erica

Rich. I love the depth of this music review and the way it actually starts to become both a commentary about the merits of madonna as an artist and a discussion of the relevance of previously untouchable gay icons. Cheers to you: for crafting a deeply personal, controversial post that embodies the qualites we all used to love about Miss M...xoxo

Patrick

Agree with you wholeheartedly.

Gary

Hit that gay nail on the head, Rich. Couldn't agree with you more, and am glad to know that there are other guys that know M.I.A.

Carly

Oh Rich. First Paul Wall, and now this. I'm going to have to break up with you.

Not being a gay male, I can't really comment about your discussion on that base, nor do I feel that it's my place. However, having been a Madonna fan since the age of six I feel like you're missing the point with her... and that's that really, there isn't one.

Has her music changed over the years? For certain. Does "Music" hold up with "Like A Prayer"? I suppose it depends on who you ask, but to my mind, you can't compare apples and motor oil, considering how much she's (appeared to) change in between the making of those albums. As she's changed, so have we... and naturally those tastes differ.

Although "American Life" was a flop, it still had its gems - I read a lot into Easy Ride and Mother & Father, but that's my own bullshit issues coming into play. The thing that bothered me with "American Life" was that what I always felt Madonna was about - a celebration of life - had become heavy handed and far too meaty for the brainless pop she built her life on. So to my mind, "Confessions" is a return to that joyousness that she once had with Holiday, Everybody, Dress You Up, etc.

Frank

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's gone a bit sour (or, in your case, didn't care in the first place) on Madonna.

I'm not a big music guy, so I've never really paid attention to her songs on a level other than "like it/don't like it," but her simple Madonna-ness has really gotten on my nerves. It's just all so... tired. Yes, Madonna, we get it, you're "edgy" and "trendsetting" (except that you're not, really). Yes, Madonna, Kaballah is wonderful (except it isn't). Yes, Madonna, you're British now (except you're from Detroit, woman!).

And I could go on, but I won't. (If I were a real whore, I'd post a link to my blog entry on the subject, but I'm not that kind of boy.) Thanks, Rich, for making me feel not-so-alone.

Ian

Eh.

I downloaded the leak. Listened to it a few times through. It's alright. Eh. That's all I've got.

Eh.

Rich

I know, Carly, I know. I mean, I don't find her music particularly seductive (I wouldn't even know where to begin if I had to pick between "Like a Prayer" and "Music," really), but she'd be so much less insufferable to me if she didn't take herself so damn seriously and force a point when, as you say, there isn't one. Case and, heh, point is detailed above: she's entering the dance floor armed with supposed "confessions." I'm like just dance, bitch!

Please don't break up with me.

Foxy

I was just defending myself being lumped in with the "I Suck Dick So I Love Madonna" crowd. But then you called them Harajuku Girls and that kind of made me want to be lumped with them, so that I could be a Harajuku girl too. I'm so confused.

jb

I am listening to COAD right now over at The Leak: I thought this was supposed to be a "banging club album?" Everything does sound a little monotonous. Or is it just that Kylie Minogue/European/Nameless-Faceless-Dance music sound? It'll take a couple more listens to know for sure.

But you know, I have already gone through this experience earlier this year when Star Wars III came out: It sucks. Lucas sucks. Star Wars hasn't been any good since the original trilogy. Technology has killed the essence of what the story was all about. It's all flash, no substance. Blah, blah, blah.

And while all of that may be true, one thing is for sure: Inspiration is personal. Taste is personal. Critiques are simply opinions with no credentials required. I liked both the old and new SW trilogies. Why? As Harvery Fierstein's character once said on an episode of "The Simpsons": "My reasons are my own."

Madonna is a brand. Not a person. Like it or not, "she" (or should I say "it", at this point) is just like Apple, or Nike, or UCLA, or Harvard, or Lucasfilm, or Disney, or Honda, or BMW or any other institution that puts products on an assembly line and pushes the "GO" button. In all the critiques and blogs I've read, that seems to be the point everybody misses. Yeah, she's put out the inevitable dance album that all her gay fans are going to buy. Who didn't see it coming? What else was she going to do?

She's a business first (with children to support). "Artists" always thank their fans not out of generosity, but because they know how their bread gets buttered. But professional "entertainers" aren't the only ones: Your credit cards, your neighborhood restaurant, and your local grocery store are constantly thanking you. It's good business. And being a fan means sticking through the rough times (remember Madonna's gold tooth stage!) along with the good (Borderline is still one of my favorites, too), no matter how low it may seem to go (just ask any Oakland Raiders fan how it feels.)

I like to witness evolution. And Madonna is evolving. She made her career based on image. Now, with the internet being THE major vehicle for music, how is she going to proceed successfully? Image has nothing to do with mp3s. Let's see, start with your biggest fan base (gays), create a product they will surely buy (dance music), and then use the interent to promote it. You've got nothing to lose and everything to learn. (Incidentally, watching PinkIsTheNewBlog transfrom from indie-site to commercial-site is way more fascinating than the gossip.) Everyone thinks she's trying to go BACK to something...but she's fooled them all. Again.

I like this "Isaac" track!

I am glad somebody is addressing the blind faith of loving Madonna unconditionally within the gay community. I think it is a little weird, but that's for us in the community to discuss. Not Madonna.

And for the record, I LOVED the American Life album. I completely disagree that "it was confused and ultimately stupid." The concept of human revolution is not digested easily, much less very attractive to listen to. I view this album as a mirror: what you don't like in the album is what you don't like in yourself. Ironically, Foxy's advice is the exact point of the album: Take your own life - don't give yourself away to anybody else. You are the master of your identity and ultimately your destiny. Maybe "Confessions" would make more sense if you understood "American Life". However, I won't cry for you. You'll wake up one day...but it'll be too late.


Chaka_Kahn

Being that I am not gay, nor a fan of Madonna, nor an anti-fan of Madonna, I don't really care about the issue at hand. I must say, however, that this was a really well written post. I mean really good. I liked it more than pics of your cats, which I love. I was riveted and I don't give a shit. Except for her hair, man it is looking bad these days. Love your blog on the whole, by the by.

Eliot

Maybe it's because I'm 22 and part of a new generation where I don't and won't align myself with anything screaming "Homos Wuz Here," but I am in wholehearted agreement with you.

Despite considering her rendering of the underground to the mainstream (which is a feat to behold whether we like it or not), she bores me. I pay no attention to her music, as I don't really consider her a musician as much as I do a celebrity. That's the platform on which she built her career, and no matter how focused she, her fans, or her critics become on her records, it all falls back to cone-shaped boobies and french kissing fake lesbians.

The two or three songs of Madonna's that are, in fact, in my collection, can swiftly be attributed to the production style of BT and William Orbit, as it were their respective fingers on the pulses that made her "period pieces" enjoyable.

Madonna has been overrated since she rolled around on MTV's stage in that wedding dress at the very first VMAs.

She can't sing, and was the beginning of the prevalence of "musicians" accompanying themselves on stage with prerecorded tapes.

Chris

For what it's worth (not much), the previous post was me, "Chris".

Joshua

I'm not that big of a fan of this album. I wrote a quick review here, and it bordered on negative. Unfortunately, it's part of my nature to be drawn to her. I tried to resist her before, but her essence just gets under my skin.

In any event, she does continue to entertain me, and it's really hard to ignore the legacy she has created, along with most of her 50+ previous hits, most of which are still ubiquitous every day of our lives.

bradford shellhammer

posted this earlier and it never showed up. trying it again . . .

While I no way think that Madonna is a brilliant singer, songwriter, or actress, I do appreciate her and enjoy her music.

I have long held dear to my heart singers who have a raw talent: cyndi lauper, billie ray martin, bjork, annie lennox. These performers were given an instrument from God to work with: their voice. And their songs reflect their quirkiness and uniqueness and god given talent. Madonna to begin with was at a disadvantage to the more talented. That is what I see as part of her appeal. She sings like we do. She writes like we write. She is one of us. Mediocre at best. She danced next to us at the club and she took what little she had and made something phenomenal out of it. That I truly appreciate this.

I actually do not like many of Madonna’s albums. I think some of her songs are pop classics and will be forever. But there are very few albums I can listen to from beginning to end and actually be satisfied with: Like A Prayer and Confessions on a Dancefloor are the only titles I can say that about. Erotica was ½ perfection and ½ lame-ass-Madonna. Ray of Light, was almost there, but I CANNOT EVER listen to Candy Perfume Girl. Music had some great tunes, but some stinkers.

American Life, without the ridiculous title track, is in my eyes a strong piece of work. I will defend it. There is a sweetness in many of the songs, and the loves songs are some of her strongest, NOT RIDDDLED WITH CLICHÉ, pieces of work. I think her voice has grown into something distinct. Gone are the Minnie Mouse stylings of her early records. What remains is something thin, fragile, nasally, and, shockingly capable of conveying emotion. This evolution occurred after Evita, where she tried to learn to sing. She didn’t. But somewhere along the way of Ray of Light thru American Life, her voice turned into something, dare I say, unique. It almost, and I say ALMOST, worked on John Lennon’s Imagine.

Confessions is a walking album. I have put it on and have popped up and down the street with a pep in my step that has been missing. I think the homage to ABBA and Donna Summer and the use of past lyrics of her own music (hung up share identical lines from her Prince duet) work to great effect. It is the dance queen giving props to the disco forefathers. It is a woman who knows she takes herself too seriously finally letting her hair down and acting like a kid again. It is a slick and fun. AND THAT IS THE POINT.

Madonna will always have her fans and haters. Comes with the territory. But she does still amaze me. She still makes kicking pop confections (“Sorry,” hello!) and she still dresses the part. And she is still growing as an artist. How many pop singers remain this vital? She is our fag hag friend who would let us dress her up like a trannie. She is the girl on the dancefloor until closing time. She is far from perfect. Realizing this is the secret to enjoying her.

Some things lose their magic when overanalyzed. Madonna is one of those things.

Rich

I'd rather overanalyze than underthink, anyday (but that's me and my personality and not a judgement).

But then, I don't really believe in magic, either.

Erika

Thank you! I whole-heartedly agree. You even used a word from my favorite phrase for annoying madonna-lovers-- "she's culturally irrelevant," I say, and watch the veins in the temples start to pulse!

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