Do I dare to hope that she’ll keep the momentum going for the whole new album? I mean, the songs she has pre-viewed so far, are the best she has provided us with in years. Until Rebel Heart is released in March, hopefully in all its splendor, I’ve done a re-listening of her prior 12 albums and as a true Maddy-fan, listed the top 5 queen Madge albums. Plus the one to avoid.
1. LIKE A PRAYER (1989, Sire Records)
This was very much a defining moment for Ms Ciccone, as she, for the first time made her pop music relevant in a totally different league, than before. She not only improved her vocals, she totally upped her ante with her artistic vision and proved her force and worth as an artist, not only as a pop sensation. Together with Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray, she co-wrote and produced the sublime album, filled with beautifully crafted and precisely performed pop songs, which also included one gorgeous collaboration with Prince, Love song. But the highlights go throughout the album, not just the hit singles, which are out-of-this-world-wonderful, but also with such moving songs as Promise to try, Oh Father and Till death do us part, which all are Madge-masterpieces. And yet, there’s still one missing masterpiece not included on the album, the b-side to the Cherish-single, the haunting Supernatural.
I hold this as her finest moment.
2. RAY OF LIGHT (1998, WEA)
There’s a special significance in the fact that this album opens with a magnificent thoughtful, mid-tempo ballad, Drowned world/Substitute for love, as she therefore set herself on a totally different musical path than before and succeeds on all levels. She teamed up mainly with William Orbit and man, was it a beautiful collaboration. She once again, managed to musically reinvent herself, without losing her artistic persona. The dark and moody electronic landscape fitted better than anyone could imagine and yet again, the personal touch was a win win move for the Material Girl. On Ray Of Light it’s rich deeper vocals, brilliant lyrics and strong compositions, that gave her a pathway to new layers of brilliance.
3. MUSIC (2000, WEA)
I’ve often, wrongly, underestimated Music. Much due to the the fact, that it came just shortly after Ray Of Light and could easily be seen as the slightly less interesting little sister to its predecessor. But one can’t ignore the enthralling combination of strong, straight up pop songs, with the more playful, experimental tracks. She, together with e.g. William Orbit and Mirawais Ahmadzai, delivers a cohesive, modern pop album, with lots of heart and soul. And fun. This still holds surprisingly strong amongst her set of albums.
4. MADONNA (1983, Sire Records)
I love this. I simply love this. There is no better way of explaining how I feel about her debutalbum from 32 years ago. As a 10-year old duckling longing to dance, I discovered her through Borderline, and that song still holds a special place in my heart. And yes, you could blame me for being nostalgic, because surely this album can’t be that good? Well, I’ll tell you, it sure is. In its simplicity, pureness and rawness, it’s pure pop-disco magic. And yes, it’s very much of its time, but her raw confidence shines through and add to that, she stands as sole songwriter for five of the eight tracks on the album. I still can listen to this today, 32 years later, with no-holds-barred.
5. CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR (2005, WEA)
It took her her 22 years to do another full blown disco follow up to her dancing debut, but when she finally did it, it was with great splendor. Although being retrospective and nostalgic, she placed her dancing shoes and tights very much in the present, and we followed her gladly to the dance floor to hear her confessions. Please do disregard of the horrendous I love New York and some of the poor, lyric-faux-pas, that to some extent had become a part of her albums by this period in her career. But an album that can provide with pieces like Hung up, Get together, Future lovers and Forbidden love, what’s not to love?
+ THE ONE TO AVOID:
12. MDNA (2012, Live Nation)
Her last release was truly a sad occasion in an otherwise well crafted career. She suddenly stopped being a front runner and instead was trying desperately to latch on to the latest trends and hypes. She got lost and failed miserably. Besides the sad fact that she for the first time ever, sounded tired, this album was filled with anxiety and desperation, but most of all, poorly composed songs.