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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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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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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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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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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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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 15, 2004
I agree with the review below about certain negative losers posting here about this album. Some people are bound to be slightly jealous of Madonna at the moment because she keeps surprising us all and putting out good quality music that has emotional depth, intelligence and integrity, and shes selling dozens of concert tickets at the sametime.
This album has not had a fair hearing, it hasnt had the attention or recognition it deserves, that's an injustice! I listened to the album lastnight and was totally BLOWN away by the intensity of the lyrics of Mother and Father and Nothing Fails. So beautiful, yet tragic at the sametime. That's what American Life is, the title track went from a song I initally hated to one of my most favourite tunes. Hollywood despite not making an appearance on the Billboard chart is one of the greatest songs Madonna has ever done. I tend not to put great scope on charts and sales! but I figured its the main reason why this album has been knocked to death! which is sad. Its better than anything that's been in the top 5 recently, don't listen to the teenyboppers! buy it yourself one day, and you could be pleasantly surprised.
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on July 15, 2004
I was born, and then I found Madonna. I have loved this woman since I was a wee lad LOL. The Mistress if Reinvention has never failed me. EVEN with American Life. Sure, it's not Ray Of Light - BUT, that is the one album which she will never be able to recreate. Every artist has that situation that can't be overcome. FACE it... Ray Of Light was so amazing, and her BEST work. What do you guys expect from her, a miracle???
She's older now, she has other issues to deal with besides sex, AND she's a mother. She still hasn't lost her edge though, or her love of controversy. In my opinion, besides the subtle changes, she hasn't lost her touch. This album has many UNBELIEVEABLE tracks!
Let's go through them....
1. American Life: Ok. The song EVERYONE hates. Yes, she raps at the end. Has anyone not noticed the beat? This song is amazing musically. Even the lyrics (forget the rapping) aren't that bad. AND- even though it's not present on this album, the video (original video that is).... was GREAT. Too bad she decided to pull it off the airwaves though. But with a war going on, you have to do what's right in your head. Doesn't mean she's gotten soft! And as for the rapping- it's much better than some of that "bling bling" crap thats on the radio all the time LOL.
2. Hollywood: Ahhh, the birds tweet, the guitar comes in. Yes, the lyrics are simple. But they are expressing how it IS in the celebrity world. The beat is ridiculously addictive... and this song is definitely a hightlight of this album.
3. I'm So Stupid: A song about realization. The guitar riffs in this song are awesome! The chorus is really gritty, and definitely different from anything she's recorded before. Still- a GOOD song!
4. Love Profusion: OK. The "b-side" from her MUSIC album. But it doesn't quite fit on MUSIC. It does fit on here! This is a beautiful song! And her lyrics are WONDERFUL. Are you guys listening to them? Why are people insinuating that she's lost her touch? A very catchy tune indeed. Again, one of the best.
5. Nobody Knows Me: The powerhouse of the album. The angry little song that could! Musically, this song is the strongest on the album. Everyone is tired of her using the "voice machine"... but can you imagine this song without it? It wouldn't work! This song is definitely in the top 3 on this album.
6. Nothing Fails: The love song. Oh what perfection she has created. This song is SO adorable, yet very effective lyrically. AND- do we *ahem* notice the controversial lyrics? Possibly the best song on the album....PERIOD.
7. Intervention: A beautiful song. Her voice is rich in this song, and the chorus is so lovely. You get to listen to some great harmonization in this song. Her and Her LOL.
8. X-Static Process: This song is different. It's constantly moving. It's a sad song, with controversial lyrics. Very pretty though.
9. Mother And Father: THIS is the song. The song I had been waiting for, for a long time. When I first heard this, I had it on repeat for a DAY. I couldn't believe it was Madonna. To me, the lyrics are heart breaking. The music is FANTASTIC. Unbelievable! In the end, it's a very sad song, but very uplifting. This is how songs should be constructed. My #1 from this album.
10. Die Another Day: The James Bond song. Kind of weird on this album, but it does fit. I think it was just placed poorly on the album. It should have been near the beginning. What can you say about this. The dance song of the album. She loves techno mixed with an orchestra.... becoming a trademark and it fits on this song perfectly!
11. Easy Ride: This song needed to grow on me. When I first heard it, I was like- what is this mess? The orchestration was beautiful and then the tune of the lyrics was messing it up for me. BUT- I came to realize it was the transition. It's a great song! It's a definite contrast but this song is beautiful.
So- of course this is just my opinion. You have to remember, she is already the Queen of Pop. There isn't going to be much more she can do to top herself. BUT- she can continue to make brilliant music, as long as people don't expect her to kill herself to try and please everyone. She has kids for crying out loud LOL- I think that is her priority now.
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on July 15, 2004
When I first listened to the track American Life on her most recent album, I enjoyed it however after constant hearing it gets repetitive and kinda annoying.
This single has so many good remixes that it makes the song so new and refreshing.
The Missy Elliot remix is a real winner, the rap at the beginning and the whole new layout of the song is really good. Maybe she should have just had Missy do the original recording of this track with her because they would have been a great team, and it seems their friendship is getting closer.
Felix da housecat's remix is by far my favorite though. The layout of the lyrics and the music is by far better than the original.
The other remixes are techno-esque but are all good and refreshing.
It also comes hand in hand with a "Die another day" remix which is totally awesome and should have been included on the original set of remixes.
This is in my opinion the best set of remixes for a single off the American Life album.
Go see Madonna on tour!
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