Music is Madonna's eighth studio album that was released on September 18, 2000 by Maverick & Warner Bros. Records.
- Music 3:44
- Impressive Instant 3:37
- Runaway Lover 4:46
- I Deserve It 4:23
- Amazing 3:43
- Nobody's Perfect 4:58
- Don't Tell Me 4:40
- What It Feels Like For A Girl 4:43
- Paradise (Not For Me) 6:33
- Gone 3:24
After the critical and commercial success of her album "Ray of Light," Madonna intended to embark on a new concert tour in September of 1999, but due to the delay of her film "The Next Best Thing" (which she started filming in April of 1999), it was cancelled.
In June of 1999, she recorded the song "Beautiful Stranger" for the film "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." The song peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and received a Grammy Award for "Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media" at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards.
In March of 2000, Madonna covered Don McLean's 1971 song "American Pie" which was featured on the soundtrack to "The Next Best Thing." The song received mixed reviews and was successful in Europe. Although it wasn't commercially released in the United States, the song managed to peak at #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 due to strong radio airplay. By 2000, Madonna became pregnant with her son Rocco, from her relationship with director Guy Ritchie. Wanting to distract herself from the media frenzy surrounding this news, she concentrated on the development of her eighth studio album, entitled "Music."
Buoyed by the commercial success of her previous album, she was keen on getting back to the studio to record new music. Madonna was well disposed towards William Orbit, producer of Ray of Light, but by 2000, his production and sound had become ubiquitous.
Also, the music scene was being dominated by a younger generation of singers such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, prompting Madonna to look for a distinctive sound within this market. She was then introduced to French DJ and producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï.
Madonna instantly liked his pitch-shifting, pulverizing rhythms and his utilization of acid bass in his songs. Ahmadzaï always preferred taking musical risks and hence he wanted the collaborations with Madonna to get out the best from her.
Before the album was released, Madonna recorded a statement to her fans, stating about the album and Ahmadzaï: "Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on... Hi, it's Madonna. You've probably been hearing about my new record, Music, for a while. Well, I just wanted to make sure you knew that the single is gonna drop very soon. I worked on it with a French guy named Mirwais, and he is the shit. The album will be released worldwide on September 19, and I hope you like my music."
Madonna approached British house DJ Sasha to work on her album, and began writing new material together. She also planned to continue her work with Orbit for the album.
He commented that the material was "quite a little edgier than Ray of Light, elaborating that "It's almost like we started off with a lot of slow ballad songs and she's started to kind of chuck 'em out in favor of more edgy tracks. The album is getting more kind of fast, very European sounding, very English and French sounding, naturally, 'cause everybody working on it apart from her is English or French. Pretty exciting, actually. It's like a follow-up for Ray Of Light without stopping still. It's perfect".
However, after some recording sessions, Madonna felt that she needed a different sound for her project, so she scrapped most of the material and began looking for new producers to work with.
The recording sessions for "Music" began in January 2000 at Sarm West and East Studios in London, England. It was then that French producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï was introduced by Madonna's partner Guy Oseary.
In an interview with CNN, Madonna stated: "Guy Oseary, my partner at Maverick [Records], was given a demo by a French artist called Mirwais. [He] slipped it to me and said, 'What do you think [of him] as an artist to sign at Maverick?' [...] I just said 'Oh my God, this is what I want.' I just flipped over it and said, 'Please find out if he wants to work with me.'"
Ahmadzaï spoke little English, and Madonna commented: "The first couple of days we were recording, I wanted to rip my hair out. [...] It didn't seem like there was any way for us to communicate. His manager had to come in and translate everything at first."
She also commented about working with Ahmadzaï and the other producers of the album: "I love to work with the weirdos that no one knows about—the people who have raw talent and who are making music unlike anyone else out there. Music is the future of sound."
Madonna had later proclaimed Ahmadzaï to be a musical "genius". In an interview with MTV's Total Request Live, she said Ahmadzaï was "really influenced by 1970s funk and R&B" and said that the album was "more electronic than her last record, but it is edgier and a bit funkier".
Talking about the inspiration behind "Music," Madonna said the album was "To join the coldness or the remoteness of living in the machine age in the world of high technology with warmth and compassion and a sense of humor. [...] Music is supposed to be a reflection of what's going on in society, and as far as I'm concerned, we've become too complacent."
In an interview with The Face, Madonna was questioned about her mood while developing the album. She commented: "To tell you the truth, I didn't know what the mood was. I feel like an animal that's, like, ready to be sprung from a cage. I've been living a pretty low-key domestic existence and I miss things. Like, I miss performing, and dancing, and being on the road, that kind of energy. So part of the record is about that. And then the other part is about love. So there's the frivolous side of my life and then there's the –hopefully– non-frivolous side of my life. I usually make a record that's one or the other, and I feel I did both on this one".
Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani described "Music" as having a "more experimental direction".
With The Face magazine, Madonna explained her inspirations behind the songs and the music of Music. She said: "This record, more than any other records, covers all the areas of my life. I left off partying on Ray of Light. But I'd just had a baby, so my mood was complete, like wonderment of life, and I was incredibly thoughtful and retrospective and intrigued by the mystical aspects of life."
Madonna also summed it up as "Funky, electronic music blended with futuristic folk. Lots of jangly guitars and moody melancholic lines."
"Music", the title track is the first featured on the record. Starting with Madonna's androgynous voice saying: "Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on, I wanna dance with my baby". Above this lyric, Madonna's voice electronically manipulated asks: "Do you like to boogie woogie?"
According to Santiago Fouz-Hernández (in his book "Madonna's Drowned Worlds: New Approaches to Her Cultural Transformations"), "Music" is a 'disco anthem, and the beat commands [the people] to get up and dance. He also said that the song is an expression to her public and it is one of Madonna's catchiest singles of her career.
The second track "Impressive Instant" is a club-savvy stomper marked by futuristic keyboard lines and vocals that darken from distorted, and robotic passages. Madonna claimed that the song was the hardest to write.
Madonna sings, "I like to singy, singy, singy, like a bird on a wingy, wingy, wingy", with childlike abandon amid a vibrant, celebratory swirl of electronic keyboard riffs and thumpy dance beats.
The third track, "Runaway Lover", is a trance/house rave track. It is one of Madonna's collaborations with William Orbit for the album.
The following track, "I Deserve It", is an acoustic-framed track that is anchored by a hip-hop inflected groove. Madonna said the track "has the strangest juxtaposition of this folky, simple song and this high-tech, ominous synth line."
The song lends weight to rich, introspective lyrics, such as the chorus lines: "Many miles, many roads I have traveled, fallen down of the way/Many hearts, many years have unraveled, leading up to today."
"Amazing", the fifth track, is a vibrant tempo-shifter that opens with a soft, music-box-like keyboard/string flourish.
The song has been compared by Madonna to "Beautiful Stranger", saying the reason she fought with her record company to cancel the release as a single was because of the similarity. The sixth track, "Nobody's Perfect", includes ethereal vocals and a dreamy keyboard.
The following track and second single, "Don't Tell Me", was written by Joe Henry, Madonna's brother-in-law.
Henry performed and released the track (originally named "Stop"), on his 2001 album "Scar". His wife Melanie sent a demo of the track to her sister, who liked it and recorded her version. It is framed by soft acoustic guitars and subtle keyboard lines.
The eighth track and third single, "What It Feels Like for a Girl", comments on female role-playing in society.
The following track, "Paradise (Not for Me)", has lyrics sung in French, and the lyric "I can't remember, when I was young, I can't explain if it was wrong" reflected an artistic palette, "encompassing diverse musical, textual and visual styles in its lyrics." Musically, it draws influence from Edith Piaf.
The song was also included on Mirwais Ahmadzaï's album Production. The tenth and final track on the album, "Gone", contrasts acoustic guitars with electronic elements. Soulful vocals give depth to such striking, cautionary lyrics as "Turn to stone, lose my faith, and I'll be gone."
For the artwork for "Music", Madonna wore a blue shirt, jeans, red boots and a blue cowboy hat. In it, she faces the camera, while a car and a gas station are seen in the background.
The country was a constant theme throughout the design, as the album's title, which was a logo that simulated a buckle, showing the silhouette of a cowboy while riding a horse and a yellow background; the bright colors give a sharp contrast compared to the photograph.
Photo sessions were conducted by Jean Baptiste Mondino, who had worked previously with the singer on photoshoots and music videos.
According to Fouz-Hernández, the artwork is "a complete celebration to the field" western United States. He also added that it "is camp, notably Madonna's combination of Western clothing with expensive shoes and bright red high heels. In particular, there is a clear evocation of Judy Garland – a major gay icon – in the artwork."
The art direction and design for the album were done by Kevin Reagan. The pictures were shot in Los Angeles, California, in April 2000.
In an interview with CNN's Style with Elsa Klensch, Mondino said that he was the one who had the idea of the western themes for the album, and also stated: "[Madonna] wasn't sure at first, but I told her that if she didn't like it I won't charge her. But she loved the final result!".
Madonna also decided to use her new country style during her public appearances for promotion for "Music"; including jeans, shirts and cowboy hats. On her next tour in 2001, she included a segment based entirely on this ambient.
Meanwhile, Fouz-Hernández explained that "in this appearance Madonna may be parodying and criticizing Country, which symbolizes among other things, the supremacy of the white man, the ambition of the European pioneers and the American Dream. However, we do not realize that while recognizing the importance that the country has in American popular culture, and joins a long list of artists who have done this previously."
Despite this, the cowgirl image of Madonna has become one of her most recognized reinventions.
"Music" debuted at #1 in 23 countries. It debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 with over 420,000 copies sold, becoming the first Madonna album to reach the top of the charts in 11 years in the US since "Like a Prayer" in 1989.
The album was certified three times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on November 21, 2005.
As of August 2010, "Music" has sold 2,925,000 copies there according to Nielsen SoundScan and sold more than 11 million copies worldwide.
At Metacritic, "Music" received an average score of 80 based on 16 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic praised the album's layered music and described Madonna's collaboration with Mirwais as the reason why the album "comes alive with spark and style".
Dimitri Ehrlich from Vibe called the album "a masterpiece of brilliantly arranged keyboards, futuristic drums, and electronica dressings. With folky acoustic guitars and a vaguely spiritual bent to her lyrics (like those on Ray of Light), it's a weird and fresh-sounding album."
Andrew Lynch of Entertainment.ie, who gave the album three out of five stars, claimed that it contains "brilliant futuristic dance music", yet, claimed that the lyrics were "trite".
Robert Christgau from The Village Voice said the record has "consistency and flow" because all of its songs are good and lowbrow: "From Vocoder to cowgirl suit, she's got her sass back."
David Browne was less enthusiastic in Entertainment Weekly, calling it "her most patchwork record since the Sean Penn years... In the way it tiptoes around sundry moods and beats, Music is frustratingly inconsistent, as if Madonna herself weren't sure where to venture next. At times, it feels like a collection of sounds -- clever, intriguing ones, to be sure -- that seek to compensate for ordinary melodies and Madonna's stoic delivery."
Spin said that the album "is a much-needed breath of fresh VapoRub."
Danny Eccleston, in a review for Q, called it a "brave, radical and punchy (at a refreshing 49 minutes in length) album".
A retrospective review in Blender remarked: "Her first 'headphones album'... It's more playful and less pompous than Ray of Light."
Rolling Stone stated that the album was a rough and improvised version of "Ray of Light", but lauded that Madonna had chosen to make a more "instinctive" record than her previous endeavours.
Mojo magazine said that "Music is fitful and its charms aren't all immediate, but Madonna is still doing what she does best--giving a lick of pop genius to the unlikely genre of experimental dance music."
NME said that the album is "vocodered, stretched, distorted, warped, deliberately upstaged by beats so showy they belong in a strip joint – quite simply, she's almost managed to make herself disappear. That bluntly explicit title isn't just pointless irony. This record is about the music, not Madonna; about the sounds, not the image."
Slant Magazine criticised Madonna's collaborations with William Orbit, who had worked with her on "Ray of Light", calling them repetitive and uninteresting despite being catchy.
In 2015, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said that "Music" is "still [Madonna's] hardest-rocking and most seductive album."
Following the album's release and motherhood, Madonna appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman on November 3, 2000, being the first time since her controversial appearance in 1994, and performed "Don't Tell Me".
Madonna made a concert on November 5, 2000, at Roseland Ballroom in New York City. Accompanying musicians performing with Madonna were Mirwais Ahmadzaï on guitar and longtime backing singers Niki Haris and Donna DeLory.
The costumes for the show and the set was designed by Dolce & Gabbana. Songs performed included "Impressive Instant", "Runaway Lover", "Don't Tell Me", "What It Feels Like for a Girl", and "Music".
In the performance of New York, Madonna wore a T-shirt with "Britney Spears" written on it. She then traveled to Europe to further promote the album. sheperformed "Don't Tell Me" on German game-show Wetten, dass..? on November 11, 2000.
At the MTV Europe Music Awards 2000, Madonna performed "Music" on November 16, 2000 in Stockholm, Sweden.
After being introduced by Ali G as "Maradona", she performed the song wearing a T-shirt with the name of Australian recording artist Kylie Minogue printed on it. She later performed "Don't Tell Me" and "Music" on British television program Top of The Pops, in an appearance aired on November 17, 2000.
On November 24, 2000, Madonna performed the latter songs live on French television program Nulle Part Ailleurs. She then played another concert on November 29, 2000, at Brixton Academy in London. It was shown via the internet to an estimated record-breaking 9 million viewers across the world.
The setlist was the same from the Roseland Ballroom's concert, with the song "Holiday" being added to the setlist. Singer Richard Ashcroft and the Scottish band Texas opened the concert. Shen then performed "Don't Tell Me" on Carràmba! Che fortuna in Italy, on December 2, 2000.
On February 21, 2001, Madonna performed "Music" at the 43rd Grammy Awards.
For the performance, the stage had five giant video screens, which showed images from her career. She entered onto the stage in a classic Cadillac driven by rapper Bow Wow.
She emerged from the back seat of the car in a full-length fur coat and a hat, quickly removing the clothes to reveal a tight leather jacket and jeans. Madonna removed her jacket to reveal a black tank top with the words "Material Girl" printed on it.
Host Jon Stewart commented right after, talking about how he was getting older and commenting, "As I was watching Madonna writhing around on the hood of the car, all I could think was — that’s really gonna drive up her insurance premiums."