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American Life

For the last two decades, Madonna Ciccone has mesmerized spectators everywhere with radical diversity. She has been an inspiration for women with her trend-setting styles and fearless sexual aggression. The media's attention is constantly fixating on anything and everything Madonna is involved in, whether it be the new album or movie, a video the U.S. won't air, or the man of the moment. Madonna is one of the tastiest slices of American pie.

On American Life, the former Material Girl takes a leap away from the previous work, which ends up playing on the words of the title track's cliche verse--nothing is what it seems.

In the title track, Madonna unwittingly mocks a culture that she shamelessly admits to being a sucker for. The same single offers a brief rap, signaling to the world Madonna probably won't become Feminem anytime soon. In "Hollywood," Madonna shines some light on the rather obvious downfalls of making it in the city of glitz (There's something in the air in Hollywood/I tried to leave it but I never could). In "I'm So Stupid," she wins the crowd with non-user friendly lyrics (Everybody's looking for somethin'/Everybody's stupid, stupid) that suggest ambitious, positive behavior has become tasteless to the vocalist with age.

"Mother and Father" is one of several attempts Madonna has made on a majority of her albums to reveal her troubled, motherless childhood. While it worked on the Like a Prayer's "Oh Father," it doesn't here. James Bond theme "Die Another Day" remains a winner several months after its November debut. "Nothing Fails" is one of the true gems of American Life, complete with a little help from a "Like a Prayer"-inspired gospel bridge, courtesy of the London Community Gospel Choir. "Nothing Fails" achieves what the rest of the disc seemingly tries to avoid: an honest appreciation for the good life.

Madonna has always seemed to have this great faith in love, and all the power it beholds. She has obviously lost sight of this throughout American Life. There is also the question of why Madonna stuck with producer Mirwais Ahmadzai after the moderate success of Music.

The flat-lined monotony in Ahmadzai's production of American Life blends dangerously well with the mediocre lyrics to benefit Madonna here. Bottom line: the next time a musician bitches about the material world, it shouldn't be the Material Girl making all the Gap commercials.
Crystal at 11/18/2004 02:05:00 PM

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