Greetings, Glancers! So, I’ve been dreading this one. Based on the title alone, and the album cover, and the song I know from it, and the other information I have on the album – namely that it’s very dance heavy – all adds up to make me wary of it. I don’t generally do dance music, unless it’s clever or exceptional. Most dance music to me has always been repetitive, brain dead garbage. I have not interest in listening to music for dancing or moving in any way, shape, or form. I want emotion from music or creativity or quality or technical ability, and I almost never get that from dance music. The only confession I would ever give on the dancefloor would be that I despise everyone around me. Having said that, Madonna has been successful before in merging music you can dance to with feeling and quality. If anyone can do it, she can.
Hung Up: This is the one I know – I remember ridiculing it quite a bit when it came out and annoying some of my Madonna superfan friends by proclaiming that she hadn’t been relevant since Ray Of Light. Come to think of it, I don’t really see those friends anymore. Was it something I said? To give it its due credit, that main refrain is stupidly catchy – the vocals and the musical piece both standalone and work together. It’s just that it was so overplayed at the time that I can’t separate my feelings about it and the idiots who played it constantly from how good or bad it actually is. On the plus side it feels like Blondie and it isn’t completely dumb – it isn’t hampered by novelty studio sounds which would date it or piss me off. The verses aren’t bad, same goes for the bridge. If I was only hearing this song for the first time I would probably have a better opinion of it, but it still has that stench of over-saturation around it.
Get Together: This begins pretty much from where the last one let off, and expands itself in an encouraging way. It’s clearly in the realms of dance but not so far gone to keep me at a distance. Once the verse comes through I remember hearing this. I don’t recall where I heard this, presumably at some clubs or on radios. I don’t even remember if I knew this was Madonna at the time. It didn’t have that much of an impact on me. I like it well enough – I wouldn’t go out of my way to put it on, but I wouldn’t turn it off the second I heard it. I wouldn’t call this a nice surprise per say, given that I’ve heard it before, but I had forgotten all about it, so it’s a nice reminder.
Sorry: Again this merges with the previous track, opening with a swell of strings and some French words. Then the underswelling of dance stuff begins to grow and again I remember this one. I’m not sure how I forgot this one as it was pretty huge too. You still hear it now. It’s another stupidly catchy chorus, and the verses aren’t bad either. Maybe enough time has passed now that this and the last song aren’t as annoying to me now as they were then – unlike the opener. It’s another good song, and not the sort of thing I usually listen to. A very consistent album so far, in terms of quality and sound and theme. The middle could have had 30 seconds shaved off as it begins to become too repetitive, though I get this is meant to be an album to dance and lose yourself to so you have to allow for some repetition.
Future Lovers: It goes without saying that this merges with the last. That helps with the consistency and making the whole thing feel like a journey or one big orgiastic trip. I can see people getting off their tits and putting the whole record on in a single take like the hippies would have done with DSOTM. The Blondie feel is there too. I was worrying this was all going to be spoken, but it’s just an extended intro for 90 seconds. It feels pretty familiar, but I don’t think I would have ever heard this. Decent enough melodies and there’s a cyclical nature to it all which aids in the trance-like tone of the whole. The most experimental track so far, but also the one which would benefit most from being cut a little.
I Love New York: You know the drill. This one has the feeling of rocking out onto the dancefloor, or maybe walking out of the club and heading down the street with all the smells and sights and sounds of city night in the air. Who knows. When I listen to stuff I get transported to imagined places. The lyrics are a little crappy. It’s an ode to New York, but the words are very juvenile – basic rhyming for kids. It’s not great and I’m probably enjoying it more because it’s shiny and new to me. Inconsequential, but fine.
Let It Will Be: You should by now that I love a string section in pop/rock music. That’s how this one starts. When it comes to dance music, I prefer the lower, darker, pulsating stuff over shouty, high-paced stuff. This ticks both those boxes, while also producing a tidy, repetitive melody. Madonna is singing about fame again, though I’m not paying much attention to the lyrics first time around. As I’m such a big lyrics guy, I should probably watch the lyrics videos when I’m listening for these posts. This is a better than average album track – it doesn’t go far enough in terms of melody or emotion to knock it into the upper echelons of her music, but it’s still better than I was expecting when I saw this album was up next in my journey.
Forbidden Love: Another point about me and dance music – I really only appreciate that type of music if it’s something I can enjoy listening to on its own merits – not in a club, not as a means to throw yourself around in some strange mating ritual. Dance music made only to make you dance is useless to me. Again, this song and album is more or less striking the balance. I could see myself, or at least my younger self dancing to this, and I can enjoy listening to it too. The consistency strikes once more – the tone, energy, feeling, melody, atmosphere staying true from song to song. I could do without the effects on the vocals, but it’s not as bad as some. It’s great that Madonna is still able to concoct melodies which speak to me after all this time.
Jump: A nice countdown from the last track into this. You know I don’t like spoken parts in songs, and Madonna’s lower tone vocals usually don’t work for me. They’re fine here. Actually, I may have heard this before, it sounds familiar, unless it’s similar to an older song. Pretty sure I have heard that chorus before, maybe it was used in some movie or TV show. The lyrics seem to be about sisterhood/family and not being afraid to take chances – basic inspirational stuff. Another ‘almost good song’, like B minus territory for me.
How High: Digital sounds and beats and synth voices. A growing beat. Robots on the march. Interesting vocal choices. I assume she’s singing about herself and the sacrifices made in the pursuit and achieving of fame. Then it all goes a bit existential. Melodies are okay for simple pop, but they’re bolstered by all of the studio trickery going on around them. More like a C grade song. She mentions how people bitch about her – that’s always going to be one price of fame, but I’d wager many more people love her than hate her. I bitch about her too, but only when she’s rubbish. She’s made a career out of being awesome, so why should she give a shit.
Isaac: Looks like a long one. Oh no. I’ve never liked that Asian/Arabic/Hebrew type of singing. I’m not sure why, it’s always felt, well, like crap to me. The beat builds and the verse starts so lets hope that Asian stuff doesn’t come back. Verses are good. Oh no, the crap is back for the chorus. I assume this is meant to add some sort of mysticism or oriental feel to the song, but it loses me. It sounds like a guy forcing out a particularly cumbersome turd while a wasp enters his eye socket. Everything else in the song is good – not great, not up to the standards of her experiments on Ray Of Light, but at least approaching that quality. For a six minute song, there isn’t much to it.
Push: There are the remnants of the oriental stuff here in terms of the drum and the rhythm – there’s that consistency again. It’s among the slower songs on the album. The music is very clipped – it surges in and withdraws like a suction cup. The vocal refrain goes on and on and over and over and the song barely changes over it’s four minutes. There’s a better song here, or at least parts of this could have been used to create a better song, with all the rest abandoned.
Like It Or Not: Lets hope we can close with a banger. It’s off to a good start with a swell of strings and some, dare I say it, Iron Maiden-esque riff melody. Then the beat drops and I wonder why the hell they would do that. The music and melody surrounding the beat do their best to make me ignore how silly the drum sound is. It’s all quite slow paced. There are still parts I like – the building of the pre-chorus and some of the guitar and string pieces. The chorus melody is almost something I like – not something I dislike, adding up to another high C grade song.
Overall another pleasant surprise from Madonna. I was not expecting to like this at all but the fantastic first half of the album made me look like a fool. The second half steadily withdraws into more mediocre territory as she tries to experiment – I appreciate the attempts, but they didn’t succeed where I’m concerned. I think a lot of people will like the second half as much as the first, but it wasn’t for me. Even with the album being of two halves, it is still consistent. While the songs get weaker in the back end they still commit to the same tone and atmosphere making this clearly a concept album, or more accurately an album designed to be played in a single sitting. Like the best albums of that kind, many of the individual songs are also good enough to stand on their own too. I’ve no idea where she goes from here. Let us know in the comments what you think of Confessions On The Dancefloor!
Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Get Together. Sorry. Future Lovers.