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3.9 out of 5 stars1,034
3.9 out of 5 stars
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2003
I was a little pessimistic about this album at first (due to the rap on the single "American Life"), but then when i got the chance to listen to the album preview in, i was completely blown away! It's quite different from all the things she's done before but just the same it somewhat picked up where the album "Music" left off and a lot better! Never a dull moment, all the songs have a strong potential to hit not one song is just a filler. I can't wait to get hold of my own copy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2004
In this day and age of pre-programmed hitmachines and over-emotive screamer/singers, this album will be looked back on as a true innovation. In the midst of syrupy ballads and by-the-numbers pop music, American Life rings like a crystal clear bell. It also is the first album where it seems Madonna wants to make a statement as an artist; an album where she wants to batton down the hatches and push off into Bowie territory. Fearless in construction, the songs strike before you can react. American Life stutters into existance, sounding an uneasy campaign against conformity. I'm So Stupid growls for attention. The heart of the album could be missed by the listener when confronted by the spikey songs that surround it. From Nothing Fails through Intervention and finishing with X-Static Process, you can hear stripped down pop perfection. Like it or not, you will not bear witness to a song quite like Mother and Father, guaranteed. Easy Ride winds and sprawls out to polish off another amazing addition to an already accomplished career. I hope this is only the beginning in a true sonic adventure from the world's premier pop artist. Love her or loathe her, American Life is an achievement. Listen with an open ear, head and heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2004
Almost everybody in the world heard the single and title track of the 'American Life' album, and for the first time in years, people had an opinion about a Madonna record. It might be a difficult single to get used to, but it serves as a good introduction to the album. Too bad the non-controversy surrounding the video marred the album’s release.
On 'Ray of Light' post-motherhood she was spiritual. On 'Music' she was in the throws of Guy Ritchie induced love and a newfound friend in Mirwais. On 'American Life', Madonna talks and really opens up.
'American Life' succeeds as an album where 'Music' failed. It sounds like an album, with an agenda of what the singer wants to say. On 'Music' the mix of Mirwais, William Orbit and Mark 'Spike' Stent all producing made it sound unresolved as a whole and a bit messy. And it had 'American Pie' on it. Here the sound is consistent and as a result it's brave and strong where 'Music' was afraid to really go for it.
Initially it's not an easy listen. There is a lot going on here, but it sounds fantastic and definitely an album that you want to listen to again and again.
With her vocals right up in the mix, this is as close as we've ever got to Madonna. More so, than the last album and also on 'Ray of Light'.
It's braver too - no longer does she hedge her bets and mix an album with people which she scored earlier successes with like Pat Leonard on 'Ray of Light' ('Frozen'), and William Orbit on 'Music' ('Runaway Lover', 'Amazing'). On 'American Life' it's her vision and Mirwais's production alone - and it's all the better for it.
However, like 'Erotica' this album could be overlooked if people judge the album by the first single. And like with 'Erotica', that would be a real shame.
Here is my song by song break down:
American Life -
First single and it's the mission statement of the album. Whether you love it or hate it, as the beginning of the album it makes sense and serves as a good introduction as to what the rest of the albums' lyrics are about. It's also, in my opinion, the weakest song.
Hollywood -
This is the second single. After the first track it's actually a huge relief - instantly catchy and fast-paced it reminds you of what Madonna is about when she's good. Great tunes, attitude. It starts with bird singing noises in the background, and soon Madonna gets into the Hollywood is not-a-very-nice-place theme of the song.
I’m So Stupid -
A bit slower with her voice distorted at the start. It's sounds a little 60s with the synths in the background, and has more of a rock feel to it. With lyrics like 'Everybody's looking for something', it's a grower. The lyrics are a little basic for a Madonna song, but the vocals and stop-beat guitar riff is truly infectious.
Love Profusion -
Single No.4, probably the most straightforward dance track on the album. I think this is one of those that could become a favorite and it feels like a classic upbeat Madonna song. It fuses the message behind the song 'American Life' with Mirwais' beats and acoustic elements really well.
Nobody Knows Me -
This song is insane. Very electronic, chaotic, fast, manic. Pounding synths. There is so much going on here several it'll take several plays to really get it, but it's ace. Includes one of the best Madonna lyrics ever: “No one’s telling you how to live your life, but it’s a set up until you’re fed up.�
Nothing Fails -
A grand choice for single no.3, this is classic downbeat Madonna. It's also the first time the album drops the pace. Think 'Don't Tell Me' mixed with the low, gravelly voice on 'Live to Tell'. The London gospel choir sounds amazing when their voices take off. Strong, with beautiful strings. It really is a shame that the Nevin’s mix was used as a radio single, because more people should have had the chance to hear this far superior version.
Intervention -
Mid-paced, it builds up to be a lovely album track. Not a single, but with its REM 80s-style guitars in the background it's a good track to follow 'Nothing Fails'.
X-Static Process -
Rumors that this would be the big 'Impressive Instant' dance track, like that from “Music�, were wrong. It's one of the slowest tracks. It's also striking because throughout the album Madonna’s vocals feel very close and real - here she sounds bare. Intimate.
Mother and Father -
This isn't the sad confessional track the title leads you to believe. It's stronger than previous attempts on a similar theme - 'Inside of Me', 'Promise to Try' and 'Oh Father'. The Daft Punk-esque beats and yet another rap by M herself, relegate this novelty song to album track status, as I’m sure even Madonna herself is a little embarrassed by it, now that it’s out of her hands!
Die Another Day -
Like the 'American Life' single, this song had mixed reactions when released. But bizarrely, because the production sounds consistent throughout the whole album, it fits. Die Another Day finds itself a home here and compliments the set. The electro/organic combo is elegant, Madonna vocals are bang on and this easily ranks as the best Bond theme ever!
Easy Ride -
Like 'Gone' at the end of “Music�, again this feels like an epitaph for the album. It sounds like she's exhausted - and no wonder - in a good way, again the strings sound amazing. A great and natural end to the album. Also rumored to be the 5th and final single, with remixes for it and Mother and Father, supposed to hit the shelves somewhere along her “re-Invention Tour�.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2003
Now, on first play, this album is a very personal one to Madonna, and you wonder how lyrically it can apply to your won life. Lets be honest, the sign of a successful song is one that is ambiguous and most people can relate to.
On second listen, it appears that this album is much more relevant to the listeners than you would have thought.
Its truly thought provoking and moving, and anyone with any interest in self improveent, and a desire to discover 'something else' will pick up the messages form this album.
Put the messages aside, its laden with fantastic pop tunes that only Madonna can write and vocally beautiful.
American Life - we all know this song by now. The one with the 'rap'. Most people missed the point, its meant to be ironic and she isn't trying to be Missy E! Anti-materialism...
The album highlights as follows (hard to choose, all amazing!)
Hollywood - the 2nd single. a fantastic pop tune and a real corker.
Nothing fails - muted to be the 3rd single. Glorious, moving and helped along by the London Community Gospel Choir. Like a Prayer for 2003.
Intervention - WOW - the backing vocals (by Madonna) on this track are outstanding and truly life the song to another dimension. Gorgeous tune, classic Madonna.
Love Profusion - another glorious track about love. This girl has found happiness, of this there is no doubt.
Easy Ride - beautiful, i love the fusion between orchestral and electro.
As for the other tracks, I'm so stupid - a great rockier rack with her vocal sounding very 'pre-madonna' (fans will know what I mean).
Die Another Day - we all know this track. Perhaps not a great Bond song, but a fantastic dance track!
Nobody Knows Me - A great dance track, it builds and builds...The most electornic song on the cd.
BUY IT NOW!!! and hear the signs...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2003
Madonna sings about controversy, about religion, about not being religious, ok...fine, what's so new and fascinating about it, it's not like she's trying to sell us something new and innovative. This is by far the worst album she's done. I'm not a fan but I have appreciated previous efforts (Like a Prayer, Ray of light). If you are planning on getting what your money's worth try getting the singles, perhaps all the innovation will be on her remixes or even videos, but as far as originality she is way out of her element.
Seriously if you think this is evolution, think again. Someone who sings without believing what she's saying to the mic better go back to studio (I'm saying this based on the way she sings, tired, overly produced, again with the distorsion as her right hand).
Madonna, be Madonna again, you have lost it this time!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2003
The reality is that Madonna has always been mediocre as a musician- this album shows that if you strip away a sexy image and glitzy production you are left with a weak voice. It has always been a shame that countless better musicians have been ignored because they did not know how to market themselves to the public. Madonna was just another chick singer who benefited by TIMING..right when MTV was becoming huge. AMERICAN MUSIC is a bland, self-indulgent bore. Madonna should stick to dance-pop and stop attempting to be a serious artitst..because she is one of the major reasons pop culture is so hollow today.
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on November 29, 2005
Despite all that has been said about this album, then rehashed and regurgitated time and again, it is ludicrous to overlook the achievement of these songs which are so much better than the public perceived it.
Take into account that, despite being one of Madonna's so-called flops, it debuted at #1. Despite it only spawning one Top 40 hit in the US (the title track), seven...yes...SEVEN of the eleven tracks hit Top 10 on the US Dance chart, and Madonna was still the #1 Dance artist of 2004. Lastly, check the immense success of the Re-Invention Tour.
If this was one of Madonna's low, I wish my professional low moments were as successful.
As Madonna releases the much-anticipated (and absolutely brilliant) Confessions on a Dance Floor, it is time to stop calling this work "crap." Aside from the absolutely horrific "I'm So Stupid" and the less-than-mediocre "Hollywood" (before Stuart Price, co-producer of Confessions, got his remixing hands on it), this album has some extremely beautiful moments and some of Madonna's strongest recordings, both artistically and vocally.
"Nothing Fails" is an extraordinary song of yearning. The melodies of "Love Profusion" are absorbing. The vocals of "X-Static Process" are beautiful. The electro-power of the album's strongest track, "Nobody Knows Me," is one of the highlights of this incredible woman's career...and the album includes the first James Bond theme to crack the Top 10 in eons to boot.
It's time to stop insulting this creation that is "American Life." Could it be considered Madonna's concept album? Sure, why not. She took yet another chance, something so many artists never have the courage to do, and came out of it unscathed. Despite the horrible criticisms and negative comments, this will remain a #1 album that spawned numerous hits on the dance chart, along with international pop charts. If this is the worst she can do, that just proves just what an incredible artist she truly is.
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on July 27, 2005
What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.
This is Madonna's best work yet, Brutally honest, personal, sad, happy, uplifting and haunting all in one.
Madonna is the only celebrity nowadays that tells the truth. If you listen to her, and I mean really listen, you will hear her. I feel that the best way to listen to the American life cd is to read the lyrics along with the tracks. Try it! Its amazing.
It takes you on a journey if you listen to it from start to finish with headphones on and the lyrics in hand.
every track is so perfectly placed in order that when it ends you will think you just were at the opera or one of those cirque du soleil shows.
my fave lyrics? are from the song Easy Ride
"I want to let go of all disappointment That's waiting for me What I want is to live forever Not defined by time and space It's a lonely place That's what I want"
This CD should be mandatory listening for all high school students
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on July 19, 2004
For those who say Madonna is over, go to and look at her concert ticket grosses. In New York, she sold out SIX shows to 185,000 fans and had similar success in other venues. This is good, considering she's coming off of the weakest album of her career. AMERICAN LIFE is NOT the disaster it was made out to be. The album was poorly timed with the new era McCarthyism that developed in the United States last year. Madonna was quietly dixie chicked in every way possible. That said, there are some songs on here that are UTTER crap. Nobody Knows Me sounds like it was written by a three year old. "I'm So Stupid" is...oh well, stupid. "Mother and Father"..gosh, what was she on when she wrote that song? Then again, the album has its gems as well. The title track is funky and fun to listen to, "Nothing Fails" is absolutely beautiful, and "Intervention" is one of Madonna's best tracks ever. Once again, this album is NOT the disaster it was made to be.
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on July 17, 2004
People who say Madonna is fading has no clue. Here in Toronto Madonna has three shows on her current tour, and they all sold out under an hour! I was on the phone all morning trying to get tickets and only to realize that she had all 3 shows sold out, and there was still tons of people clogging up the line who wanted tickets. This does not sound like a fading pop-star to me...
So American Life wasn't a big hit, big whoop. This doesn't make it a bad album, actually it is one i constantly listen to and never get tired of.
People remember, for almost 10 years of Cher's career she hadn't had a big hit, then in 1998 she released "Believe" and it became the biggest dance hit of the year, and it is still playing at clubs. And guess what, she was 51 when this was released, and was giving Britney a run for her money.
And this is Cher, not Madonna the ultimate female success in pop music. Madonna has always had her highs and lows, but she has never disappeared and that is what is truly important.
I think it's a trend personally, people are just kinda dishing away successful female singers for the time being, not just Madonna. Remember Kylie's Body Language flopped and Janet's Damita Jo's album flopped, so it's just not Madonna. It's people and critics who claim these women are washed up that these albums don't sell, however they are the pillars of popular music as we know it.
Who knows maybe even Michael Jackson will hit the top again, but don't degrade Madonna when you have no clear vision of her future. As she says "nobody knows me."
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