Upon trawling through the reams and reams of reviews on this site I came across Urban Hymns
by Brit Pop legends The Verve
and more importantly Iai’s soundoff of the album where he wrote, “Were albums judged purely on their singles, Urban Hymns would be a contender for the greatest album ever released,”
which in my opinion pretty much sums up 95% of modern pop albums; A series of impeccably catchy singles and seven or so filler songs. Far be it from me to cast doubt on the judgment of the mainstream media but I personally feel that Madonna’s Music
(Rolling Stone’s 452nd best album of all time) while clearly ahead of the game, is still plagued by all the same troubles as so many other pop albums, it is hard to look past the singles here and the album tracks simply don’t meet the high standards set by them. Now I’m not exactly an expert on Madonna’s
considerable back catalogue but like every one else who doesn’t live in the proverbial cave, I know her singles.
As an album Music
has a sleazy disco feel to it but at the same time oozes with overly produced pop sheen. Where as Madonna’s
previous albums had a more traditional pop feel Music
embraced the thriving dance scene but maintained everything which made her a household name. Take the lead single and the title track Music
, whilst being without doubt the finest gay anthem not to be sung by Cher
it is also a truly brilliant pop song. The electronic rhythms pound through your speakers and without doubt this song is best heard in a club on a Saturday night. Every line glistens and sets Madonna
apart by a mile when compared with her contemporaries. From the legendary opening line, “Hey Mr. DJ put a record on, I Wanna dance with my baby,”
to the hook, “Music makes the people come together,” Madonna
has scarcely sung a song this well, certainly not for some time at least. It’s not overly steeped in meaning but I don’t imagine fans of the genre are looking for that. It does exactly what a fine pop number should; it allows you to sing-a-long and dance your heart out!
Yet it really doesn’t stop there and although it would be near impossible to top Music, Don’t Tell Me
isn’t really that far from managing it. The song has a country meets dance feel to it, although the beats are very trip hop infused the acoustic riff sounds very folksy and to her credit the combination of two rabidly different genres works excellently. As always the focus lyrically is on “Love”
which irritates me slightly seen as it’s such a worn out topic but nonetheless the lyrics are reasonable, “Don’t You ever tell me love isn’t true it’s just something that we do.”
As always with Madonna
any lack of songwriting ability is hidden by flawless production values and her fans lack of interest in any deep meaning in her songs. The final single of perhaps my favorite is What It Feels Like For a Girl
, its slightly slower and more thought provoking than other two, which perhaps explains it being the least commercially successful but all the same it’s a very catchy song and I guess showcases the feministic side of Madonna’s
personality with far more subtlety than Destiny’s Child
or the Spice Girls
could ever muster.
For what it worth Impressive Instant
are pretty decent songs. The latter probably triumphs over the former but neither have that special feel about them that makes me think they can fill out the dance floor or even make me want to listen to them a second time through. Particularly Runaway
drags on and on, ruining any of the positives that were built up by its catchy chorus. Amazing
harks back to her previous album Ray of Light
with an electronic feel, but sounds comparatively weak; the hook is lackluster at best. Gone
closes the album on a tender note with just an acoustic guitar and a basic beat in a stripped down back to basics finale.
I can’t help but feel I've missed something here. I mean the album was well received by critics and sold tremendously but as I’ve said several times before only the singles really warrant such accolades. Amazing
have their moments but opposed to Don’t Tell Me
and What it Feels Like for a Girl
they shouldn’t even be on the same album and all the while Music
is in a league of its own.
Don’t Tell Me
What It Feels Like For a Girl