Sunday, September 19, 2010

10th Anniversary: MUSIC

Ten years ago today, Madonna's Music (2000), one of her very best records, dropped into record stores. Director Guy Ritchie, to your left, was then her new man. He was advertising -- the record I mean! See the "Music" logo on his tanktop? Ever the selfless altruist, Madonna wore a black t-shirt promoting his project, Snatch (2000) which had opened the month before in the UK and was soon going to the US. It would become his biggest hit. Until Sherlock Holmes (2009) that is.

But back to 2000. Ah, the heady days of early romance. She had given birth to Rocco, her only biological child with Guy, the month before. They were married by December.

Madonna was of course, no stranger to loving alpha male movie men since actor/directors Sean Penn and Warren Beatty preceded Guy. Famously, she's now entered their realm. Paparazzi are basically snapping Madonna daily now while she films W.E. (2011) starring Abbie Cornish (see previous post). There must be a lot of outdoor shots. I suspect she wanted to do this much earlier than her first feature Filth & Wisdom (2008) -- I remember her discussing it back in the early 90s when she was still trying to become a film star and mentioned how much she loved Sally Potter's Orlando! It's curious that she didn't start with her own music videos. That career path has no stigma anymore given how many hipster cinematic giants have transferred over from music videos: David Fincher, Mark Romanek, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze etcetera...

The videos (and movie connections) in order of release.


Is you Madonna? You babylons look less big than they do on the telly but I still definitely would.
With this video, directed by Ray of Light man Jonas Åkerlund, Madge introduced Americans to Sacha Baron Cohen before HBO's Da Ali G Show and Borat and Brüno.

The actress Debi Mazar makes her fifth Madonna video appearance. They've been friends since they were both hitting dance clubs in the early 80s (before the Fame hit). To your left is a private pic of them from Fire Island which Debi showed Wendy Williams. It's around the Dick Tracy time period since they were flying there in a private plan with Warren Beatty. Lifestyles of the rich and famous, you know.

Don't Tell Me

This one comes from frequently collaborator Jean-Baptiste Mondino. It was a huge success worldwide and parodied by Kirsten Dunst and Jimmy Fallon at the MTV Movie Awards. The costumes are by DSquared and Oscar nominee Arianne Phillips. Phillips is also a frequent Madonna collaborator and is working on W.E.. There was a fascinating interview with her in the New York Times when she was promoting A Single Man (2009) that you should read if you haven't. Phillips has only been nominated for one Oscar (Walk the Line) but her filmography includes costuming gems like The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, 3:10 to Yuma, Tank Girl and The Crow. Oscar's costuming branch doesn't regularly have an eye for iconic contemporary or genre wear, preferring superbly executed period pieces for the bulk of their nominations and especially their wins.

What It Feels Like For a Girl

The third and last official single was directed by Guy Ritchie and banned on MTV for violence. Not that banning on MTV meant anything by this time since they weren't really showing videos. But the song largely tanked, ending the singles release from Music.

The spoken word portion is by singer/actress Charlotte Gainsbourg from this scene in the film The Cement Garden (1993). As you know I thought she was pretty fantastic as the Bob Dylan-proxy's abandoned wife in I'm Not There's (2007). Other people went nuts for her recent turn in Antichrist.

American Pie

This is not an official song from Music but is on some of the CDs depending on the country. It's from the soundtrack to The Next Best Thing (2000) which is why you get then Madonna BFF Rupert Everett himself -- Sean Penn introduced them when Penn had just started dating her -- on back-up vocals and dancing with Madonna toward the tail end. They were very tight and though Rupert claimed in a revealing and typically prickly interview (he can be such a handful) that they're friends again, most sources say they she did not react well at all -- in a permanent way -- to his book in which he claimed that she dropped gay friends due to Guy Ritchie's homophobia.

I've only ever read Rupert's first book Hello Darling Are You Working? Has anyone read the one that caused the rift? If you own Music are you about to put it in for a 10th anniversary spin? [tangent: I'll use it today for workout soundtrack. I've finally gotten back to the gym. But I can't be proud of it until it becomes an actual habit rather than a once a quarter "maybe this time" delusion.]

Speaking of the now... Rupert Everett will be back in cinema's next month opposite Bill Nighy and Emily Blunt in Wild Target. But wouldn't his brutal Brit wit be a perfect fit for the Sherlock Holmes franchise in some capacity? Ah well, something tells me Guy Ritchie won't be casting him any time soon. The untitled sequel starts shooting next month (?) with Noomi Rapace and Daniel Day-Lewis joining RDJ & Jude. The Guy Ritchie film will be opening for Christmas 2011. No word yet on when his ex-wife's movie will arrive.

Put the tunes in your headphones for an anniversary spin.



Hayden said...

Thank you so much for this! I love a good Madonna post at the Film Experience.

Music is not one of my favorite Madonna albums but it's certainly an interesting time in her career (what time wasn't?). It's not as groundbreaking as Ray of Light before it or as ballsy as American Life after it, but she was SO accessible here. It's a worthy bridge between those beyond brilliant albums.

I file Music under "further evidence that nobody makes a pop album better than Madonna." And "don't think of yesterday and I don't look at the clock" is what I consider to be the beginning of her ingenious "tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock" motif.

I also think "Gone" is so underrated.

cal roth said...

Don't Tell Me is a great song and has a great video, but this album sucks.

J.D. said...

I mostly agree with Hayden. I still don't love the album, and the title track is probably my least favorite of her '00s singles, but it's definitely interesting. Of course I view it all in terms of production: She's mostly dropped Orbit at this point, though he's got three really good songs (+ "American Pie") on it, in favor of Mirwais. It's basically a notable shift from ambient to techno, continued even more acoustically on American Life (and then what THAT didn't prove entirely commercially successful, she dropped him for Stuart Price, also a present force on AL, and went full-out on the EDM/house). [note: I'm a nerd.] So yeah, it's basically a smartly-tuned bridge between two ambitious masterpieces. But it always feels like parts of it are greater than the whole to me.

"Don't Tell Me" was the first Madonna track I ever loved, though, and I watched the video as much as I possibly could. I clearly liked hot cowboys when I was 7!?

Also: the Above & Beyond mix of "What It Feels Like for a Girl" is soooooooooooooo good. Her decision to use it in the video was ♥.

James T said...

Since this is a celebration and not a review, I'm not going to rain on your Parade :p

I, too, think Don't Tell Me is the strongest of the singles.

But, man, even if I loved the album, how can I celebrate? I feel so old! Ten years? Really?

James T said...

And i actually thought that was Tom Ford in the pic of Everett.

Alex N said...

Music is one of those madonna albums that I have loved and loathed, but I think it has aged particularly well and in many ways I find a depth to it that I don't find on Ray of Light, perhaps because it was considered its sonic successor and therefore was a more comfortable flow to it. I Deserve It is one of my favorite Madonna tracks, and for a woman 17 years into her official recording career, making huge singles like Music and Don't Tell Me was further proof of just how incredible her career had been and would continue to be. In a strange way, Music was Madonna's last commercially successful reinvention as a forward-thinking artist. While Confessions had a distinct Madonna persona attached, it was retrospective by her standards.

Her promotion of Music shaped the formula for the next three Madonna albums (mini-tour club dates followed by a real tour, but the annoying press junket interviews in which she repeats herself over and over again hadn't quite kicked in yet).

I think the Orbit tracks are pointless on this album, most notably Amazing, which sounded like the gorgeous Beautiful Stranger, which controversially remained unreleased as a single in the US. Runaway Lover is a favorite of many Madonnaphiles, but personally I find it is one of her most dated and bland tracks. Mirwais was fresh and new at this point. Paradise(Not For me) is absolutely brilliant. Only Impressive Instant grates me at this point, but I think that is because so many fans began that troll talk about how she was ruining her career by not releasing it as a single because it was the best thing she had ever done. Please...That song would have tanked quicker than a ray of fudge. Music! Makes The People Come Together. And it did.

mrripley said...

MUSIC - not one of my fave madge albums and wrong singles choices killed it dead,music was great but what about amazing totally single material my fave song is gone,i prefer ray of light and confessions for late madge.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Jeez, I didn't realize people were so down on Music. I understand that not every song works, but I love it. But then, take out the wonderful title song and I've always found Ray of Light to be a pretentious iceberg, which I haven't even been tempted to pop in for, I don't know, 10 years.


Nick, i didn't either. Track for track I think MUSIC is one of her most consistently charming efforts. I'm not big on AMAZING which to me is just a lame retread of Beautiful Stranger but i love the rest of the album. and GONE is such a great record closer.

Hayden said...

Well I will go to the ends of the earth defending her brilliant folk (yes, folk, and yes, brilliant) album, American Life, which even serious fans like to malign.

/3rtfu11 said...

Damn it I missed your article on Erotica. Pound for pound my absolute favorite Madonna album. What can I say about Music? I love Mirwais because he’s responsible for my second all favorite MAD album: American Life.

Glenn said...

LOVE Music. Perhaps there's a bit of nostalgia attached to it since it was the first Madonna album I ever purchased (i did steal my mother's copy of The Immaculate Collection YEARS earlier).

I actually think it's a very good album. Very consistent and has aged particularly well (try saying that about more than a few other pop albums from 2000). Even if it's not the most lyrically demanding album of hers, it's so sonically immaculate and filled with tonnes of amazing, cherished moments.

The final 1 minute and 20 seconds of "Don't Tell Me" were, perhaps, the greatest 1 minute and 20 seconds in music for the decade.

Anthony said...

How dreamy is Guy in that pic?!

Jingles said...

I can't say that I have heard Madona a lot, but I can say that she seems to be really more popular in the western countries.

Iskandar said...

I was 15 when Music came out. Remembered i skipped school just to watch the premiere of the Music videos.She was 4 or 5 months pregnant in the video.

I live in Malaysia where MTV for the south east asia region accidentally "premiered" the video 3 or 4 days earlier than the actual official date. haha. How I loved it. to be one of the earlier group of fans to watch the video. Loveeeee it.

Gosh..thanks nat.always loves a Madonna related post.

RingaGongLi said...

That was Charlotte Gainsbourg's voice in 'What It Feels Like For A Girl'?!?!

Mind --> blown.

I still love that video though.

And yes, that photo of Guy is all kinds of lusty.

Anonymous said...

Rupert Everett has already played Sherlock Holmes in a couple of BBC/Masterpiece Theatre movies. I think at least one of them is on Netflix.

Sawyer said...

Music is the Madonna album I've probably listened to the least. For me, it was dwarfed by Ray of Light. Ray of Light was so perfect that I was still attached to it by the time 2000 came around, and Music was the victim of my ridiculously-high expectations for more Ray of Light. I should have given it more consideration, and thanks to this post I will.

Another reason that Music, for me at least, was consumed by the Ray of Light juggernaut was the Drowned World tour, which combined the two efforts and I was so looking forward to her live performances of Ray of Light songs that I didn't care about Impressive Instant, Don't Tell Me, or even Music (although it totally rocked and was a great final song choice).

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm one of those who loves 'Music' and rarely listens to 'Ray of light'. I think the Orbit tracks on 'Music' are the weakest and never listen to them (except 'Amazing', which I have a soft spot for), but I love every other track. Those comments about fans loving 'Runaway lover' genuinely surprised me, but then again I guess I was never in much contact with other fans and tastes vary so much.
I also agree that 'Music' has aged very well. And I don't see it as a follow-up to 'Ray of light' at all, it's markedly different. I see it as a new brave step forward when she didn't have any need to, considering the success of 'Ray of light'.

'Ray of light' was an important album in its time, in terms of re-invention and coming back to the charts and younger people, but it sounds very bland to me, save for some of the singles maybe.

'American life' on the other hand doesn't seem to be neither a follow-up, neither a successful re-invention.


well i'm with a few others here who think AMERICAN LIFE is one of her best records. at the very least it's her most misunderstood with zero competition.

i'm still flabbergasted at the response to the record. such a good one. i assume this is because Madonna botched the launch with her hedging on the music video (damn that Bush administration related widespread paranoia) and the choice of the first single. but it's a great record.

Tom W said...

American Life is second only to the Like a Prayer album in my book (and alot of that #1 ranking for Like a Prayer is the timing of its release...right after my senior year). I really loved Nothing Fails and thought that should have been a hit...also big Intervention Fan.

Music is pretty good..I also love Gone and loved the title track until she did it on every tour since (ok... the disco inferno version was great).

Paul Outlaw said...

Madonna playing acoustic guitar on talk shows, "Don't Tell Me" and "What It Feels Like for a Girl" are all highlights of the Music period. It's my favorite of her new millennium albums, but I'm just not all that excited about 21st Century Madonna music:

01) Erotica (1992)
02) Ray of Light (1998)
03) Like a Prayer (1989)
04) Bedtime Stories (1994)
05) True Blue (1986)
06) Madonna (1983)
07) I'm Breathless (1990)
08) Like a Virgin (1984)
09) Music (2000)
10) Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005)
11) Hard Candy (2008)
12) American Life (2003)

(Actually, I'm shocked at my own ranking today...)

Sawyer said...

Oooh, a list? Let me!

1. Erotica
2. Like a Prayer
3. Ray of Light
4. American Life
5. Confessions
6. Madonna
7. Like a Virgin
8. Music
9. I'm Breathless
10. Bedtime Stories
11. True Blue
12. Hard Candy

Jude said...


1) Like a Prayer
2) Ray of Light
3) True Blue
4) Like a Virgin
5) Erotica
6) Music
7) I'm Breathless
8) Hard Candy
9) Madonna
10) Confessions on a Dance Floor
11) Bedtime Stories
12) American Life


if we must (haha)

the crowning glories:
1. Ray of Light
2. Like a Prayer

great records:
3. Music
4. Confessions...
5. American Life
6. Erotica

nostalgia factories:
7. Madonna
8. Like a Virgin

lesser lights with great shining moments (this order changes all the time. don't take too seriously):
9. I'm Breathless
10. Hard Candy
11. Bedtime Stories
12. True Blue