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Thread: American Life

  1. #1
    Hock...hockety-pockety? Joey's Avatar
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    American Life

    Album discussion thread!



    Release Date: 22 April 2003

    Track List:

    01. American Life
    02. Hollywood
    03. I'm So Stupid
    04. Love Profusion
    05. Nobody Knows Me
    06. Nothing Fails
    07. Intervention
    08. X-Static Process
    09. Mother and Father
    10. Die Another Day
    11. Easy Ride

  2. #2
    Hock...hockety-pockety? Joey's Avatar
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    The videos:

    "American Life"

    What she made:


    What she put out:


    "Hollywood"


    "Love Profusion"


    "Die Another Day"

  3. #3
    Hock...hockety-pockety? Joey's Avatar
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    While I understand her reasoning for not releasing the original video for "American Life," I can't help but think that marked the very first time she compromised her artistic integrity in a big way (I don't think she ever really recovered from it either, in my opinion).

    I love the "Hollywood" video.

    Though the "Love Profusion" video is twee as fuck, she looks gorgeous in it.

    "Die Another Day" is a phenomenal video. I remember losing my mind when it came out.

  4. #4
    What kind of fuckery is this? emptytuileries's Avatar
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    The last Madonna album I truly loved. I think she succeeded in blending the acoustic ("X-Static Process") and electronic ("Hollywood"/"Nobody Knows Me") elements to create something new and exciting for her (= "Nothing Fails"). Though the lyrics are clunkier than I usually care for, songs like the ones mentioned before, her performances
    , and her image for the era (an H&M Patty Hearst guerrilla girl) all combine to get much love from me.

  5. #5
    Vilest of the vile Homogenik's Avatar
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    I agree, she should have not compromised and released the video anyway. She would have ended up discussing the ideas in the video instead of discussing why she pulled it (without people having seen it).

  6. #6
    it's not meant to be a strife MikeEP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    While I understand her reasoning for not releasing the original video for "American Life," I can't help but think that marked the very first time she compromised her artistic integrity in a big way (I don't think she ever really recovered from it either, in my opinion).
    yeah i totally agree. and i'm sure it was too late at that point but i wish she would have just scrapped the song altogether or at least not have made it a single or the title of the album, even if she just called the album Hollywood and made that the lead single instead. i have a major soft spot for the album so i just think it's a shame it was overshadowed by that controversy. Nothing Fails, Intervention, Die Another Day and Love Profusion are some of my all-time favorite Madonna songs. plus the tour was amazing.

  7. #7
    best finest surgeon JHV's Avatar
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    I think this album was the last time Madonna was truly innovative with her sound and the last time she wrote an album that was truly personal. I feel like the commercial failure of this album pushed Madonna away from being experimental and releasing songs with a deeper message as singles. I love this entire album and the shift to a more acoustic sound was inspired. Easy Ride in particular is one of Madonna's most beautiful songs and I'd kill to see her write something in that vein again.

    Her look for this album was one of my favorite reinventions as well. Great imagery that worked with the album, and a style that was flattering and not trying too hard to be sexy.

    I also want to share this performance of Mother and Father from the Today Show:

    There's so much vulnerability and sadness here, and the vocal is beautiful.

  8. #8
    Vilest of the vile Homogenik's Avatar
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    ^ that's also what I think, if the album had been successful, maybe Hard Candy never would have happened, who knows. I think the whole image was not a very good idea to begin with. Why American Life when the album is so personal and contains very little confrontation? It should have been titled Nothing Fails (very positive), that song should have lead the single release, and this concept could easily have included the more confrontational songs, American Life and Hollywood (meaning : nothing fails in spite of this, etc.).

    and I prefer this cut of the AL video (her most amazing video work by far IMO) :

    Last edited by Homogenik; 01-02-2012 at 12:22 AM.

  9. #9
    best finest surgeon JHV's Avatar
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    I think she wanted American Life as the single because it has a big "message" and because it's a bit less personal than the rest of the album. It also obviously lent itself better to a video than most of the other songs on the album (except for maybe Hollywood). Madonna wanted to market this album as her big political statement, but it backfired because of the US political climate. I bet if the album had come out in 04/05, it would've had much less of a backlash.

    The problem it had as a single was that people didn't get that the rap was tongue-in-cheek and Madonna mocking all of those things instead of being sincere. It was meant to come off as vapid and stupid, but the audience didn't see that (probably partially due to the "fuck it"s being excised from the radio version). This is another time when Madonna's 80's "Material Girl" image came back to bite her (and of course that song wasn't serious either).

  10. #10
    Militia of the Mind toriMODE's Avatar
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    I really loved this era. I bought all of the physical single releases from it. I know I'm probably in the minority here, but "I'm So Stupid" is one of my favorites from the album. I love the Hollywood & Die Another Day videos.

  11. #11
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    This album is a bit wonky, but I still love it. The good stuff is SO good. And I loved that it is clearly the album she wanted to make ... she was taking a risk, it felt personal. It also had some cringe-worthy lyrics and saw her revisiting some themes from ROL in a way that felt even preachier. Madonna's assertions that "people should be nice to each other," "fame isn't all it's cracked up to be," and that she's infinitely wiser now than she used to be ... eh. I can see why this left so many people cold. They're not exactly deep ideas, been there done that, and the delivery was significantly chillier than on ROL.

    That said, I find something to appreciate about even the songs I dislike on this record. I love Mirwais' production, and there are many highlights. how gorgeous is "Nothing Fails"? I cried the first time I heard it, I was so moved. And I love her vocal performances on this album. Towards the end of AL and MAF she takes more chances with her vocals than she has on most other records and sounds a bit like Cyndi Lauper on the latter. Despite some dopey lyrics, I think "Love Profusion" is terrific. MAF is divisive, but I adore it, and it segues brilliantly into DAD.

    One of the hugely underrated songs on this is "Intervention," though. I actually think it would have made a great first single.

  12. #12
    I'm pretty sure he said "Killdren". Stone's Avatar
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    Hm. I thought this was one of her most hated albums.
    I have a soft spot for it and enjoy a handful of songs on it (Hollywood, Love Profusion Easy Ride, Nothing Fails) but I cannot, CANNOT listen to this album because of the mixing/hard limiting/clipping (also present throughout Hard Candy) of it. It totally ruined an otherwise interesting album, imo. Must have been years since last I played any song on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Homogenik View Post
    and I prefer this cut of the AL video (her most amazing video work by far IMO) :

    I had never seen this. Totally should've been the official version!
    Last edited by Stone; 01-07-2012 at 03:01 AM.

  13. #13
    the unhappy worker waitressboy's Avatar
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    I haven't played this cd for YEARS.
    I remember that everytime I tried to listen to it, it was like: "Play. 'American life', nice song. 'Hollywood', nice song. 'I'm so stupid', terrible song, next. 'Love profussion', this actually is nice. 'Nobody knows me', this sucks, next. Next. Next. Next. Next. 'Die another day', nice song but I already have the song on the 007 OST..." and I didn't even care for the last song.
    Personally, I think I don't get this album for two reasons: first, the AL video thing. I know that Madonna is an artist but also a product, but that move was just way too evident. Second, it came after Ray Of Light and Music. It was going to be hard to make another album in that same level of quality.

    After reading this thread, I think I'll listen the album again tomorrow after... like, six years.
    When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.

  14. #14
    Vilest of the vile Homogenik's Avatar
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    maybe you need to start it from the end.

    Edit: why isn't this "very nice"? (red dot comment). Unless actually listening to the album from Easy Ride to American Life is considered not very nice... I think it might make for a nice experience actually.
    Last edited by Homogenik; 01-24-2012 at 01:44 AM.

  15. #15
    I'm pretty sure he said "Killdren". Stone's Avatar
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    I was just watching an interview with Madonna (which I couldn't find on YouTube, therefore cannot link you guys, sorry) and I thought it was interesting. I didn't know, for instance, that it was her who pulled the original version of the American Life video.


    Madonna: “I filmed it in January. And by the time the video was finished, we were at war. And many of the things that I sort of was trying to depict or warn people of were already happening in the world. But with everything going on right now, the soldiers being killed and wounded and the destruction that’s talking place, I just don’t think it’s appropriate.”

    Lauer: “Here’s where I have to stop you. If you wanted to make a pro-peace, anti-war video, what better time to show it and get people to look at it than a time of war?”

    Madonna: “I agree with you in theory. But unfortunately, I feel like America’s in a really volatile place right now. And there’s a lot of really confused people. And I’m not interested in being a target for a lynch-mob mentality.”

    Lauer: “So this is personal safety. This isn’t an unwillingness to push some buttons?”

    Madonna: “No, it’s a combination. I’m very willing to push some buttons. I don’t have a problem with that. But I think that what people would misconstrue is that I was slagging off at President Bush. And I’m not. I think they would misconstrue that I was making light of what’s happening to the soldiers in Iraq, which I am not. I just don’t think that people right now — things are so serious. And people are so volatile that they’re not going to see irony.”

    Lauer: “But you never worried about that before. This isn’t the first time that I’ve sat and talked to you.”

    Madonna: “We haven’t, since you talked to me, have we, been in this serious of a situation?”

    Lauer: “But you’ve taken on religion before. You’ve never worried about people misinterpreting your message, because it’s your message. And I’m curious why you’re worried about it now.”

    Madonna: “Because ultimately, I don’t want to just be provocative for the sake of being provocative.”

    But is this famously savvy marketer really thinking in a vacuum? She’s no doubt aware of what happened to the Dixie Chicks, who had to do major damage control after lead singer Natalie Maines said she was embarrassed to be from the same state as President Bush.

    Lauer: “They made a statement about the President of the United States, leader of the free world, at about the same time your video was coming out.”

    Madonna: “Right.”

    Lauer: “A cynical person might say there’s got to be some money involved in this.”

    Madonna: “Oh no. I lost a lot of money making that video.”

    Lauer: “Okay, but wait. They took the Dixie Chicks’ CDs and they smashed them in the streets. And radio stations stopped playing them. You got a brand new important album coming out. What if people don’t buy it?”

    Madonna: “That’s not the reason. I give you my honest to God promise that that is not the reason. Because I have bigger plans and I have more important things to do.”

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