Madonna just recently put her whole new album, which comes out tomorrow, on her myspace page, and I just listened to it. I just barely like it enough to buy it, even though the only Madonna album I've never purchased is "American Life." Several of the songs are well-written, but I just hate the way it's produced. She collaborated with mainstream hip hop producers for all these songs, and that just ruins the album for me. If you go on her myspace page and listen to the song "Incredible," you'll hear the problem. She comes up with a quality hook, and they add a big, overbearing hip hop beat that has nothing to do with the song and drowns everything else out. The style only really works with the first three songs ("Candy Shop," "4 Minutes," and "Give It 2 Me"), which seem written for that kind of production.
Madonna has always seemed a little bit out of the mainstream, or at least worked with people who were experimental or against the current trends in some way. Here, she decided to collaborate with the most mainstream people she could find and just generically follow the trend of female pop singers working with hip hop producers. She also sold more than half the songs on the album for use in commercials. It's a little strange to sell out after you've already sold 200 million records.
I think she's trying to reconnect with American audiences. Her last album was a big hit in other countries, but not as big here. "Hung Up" was one of the biggest hit songs ever worldwide, and was #1 in 45 countries, but only peaked at #7 here. So, I guess that's the reason. Or maybe she's influenced by her children's taste in music, if that's what they like. Seems unnecessary, though, and you feel much less that you're listening to a real artist with this album than with any other Madonna album.
April 28, 2008
My son Christopher Althouse Cohen — a longtime Madonna fan — emails: