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American Life by Madonna (2003) - Enhanced Enhanced, Explicit Lyrics

3.8 out of 5 stars 1,250 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

MADONNA AMERICAN LIFE

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Judging by her current pose, the Material Girl has mutated into the Military Girl. Indeed, this time out Madonna launches an assault on the miscalculations of her past while also airing her grievances with a troubled world. Madonna has always jumped on trends, but, for the first time, she leaps and falls as she revisits the minimalist synth-pop that she helped define in the ‘80s and raps like Debbie Harry about lattes and nannies. She also divulges career and personal missteps that her audience recognized all along, and had already forgiven--or embraced. With the exception of the entrancing Bond film theme "Die Another Day," the music doesn't measure up to 1999's Ray of Light and '00's Music. And while Madonna has never been a stunning wordsmith, there is a distinction between the introspection on those albums and the self-absorption of American Life; the lyrics here often put one in mind of a cathartic letter one writes but never mails. --Beth Massa
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 22, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced, Explicit Lyrics
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B00008S2VG
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,250 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,147 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Randy M. James on April 28, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Part-requiem, part-rebirth, Madonna has released her tenth studio album AMERICAN LIFE. Armed with 11 songs, she reveals, admonishes, and shares her perspective on her career, life, and success - in the hope of imbuing and inspiring not only her fans, but the general public. She leaves the occasional jargon of RAY OF LIGHT back in 1998, favoring simple vocabulary, holding nothing back. She's angry ("I'm So Stupid"), world-weary ("Hollywood"), loving ("Nothing Fails"), even paranoid ("Nobody Knows Me"). In my review, I'll highlight these certain songs.
The title track begins the album. Already notorious in the papers regarding her decisions on how to market it, the song is a perfect start for the record, asserting the agenda of her latest project. Full of buzzing synths, syncopation changes, meandering melodies, and a cut-and-paste chorus, Madonna rails against the fallacy of the "American Dream". The composition sounds jarring and disjointed, but that's its purpose. Included is a satirical rap role-call of some of her employess and possessions. The fade-out features her voice manipulated into a macabre creature singing the refrain repeatedly "I live the American Dream."
"American Life" segues into "Hollywood", a Beatles-esque tune with an apocalyptic undercurrent. Using the famous town as a metaphor, her singing is simultaneously coy and venomous. Guitar chords augment the retro 808 beat and what sounds like (at one point), birds put through choppy filters, coming out clipped and incomplete. "Push the button, don't push the button!/Trip the station, change the channel!" Madonna challenges us as her voice drops into an unnaturally deep tone.
"I'm So Stupid" completes the first triptych of songs critiquing superficiality, glamour, and materialsim as aspirations and values.
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Format: Audio CD
Twenty years after her debut album, Madonna releases her tenth studio album, American Life. The facts are grim. Die another day was the only track to break the Billboard top 40. The title track, American Life, had minimal airplay, and all the remaining singles were lucky to get any at all. The videos didn't fair any better. American Life was pulled before ever airing. Hollywood premiered on VH1, a station known more for airing videos by artists like Dave Matthews and Sting. Her final video, Love Profusion, only aired on the internet. The critics tore the album to pieces, declaring it to be self indulgent dribble, lyrically embarrassing, a sure sign that Madonna had finally lost her touch.

I'm here to disagree. This album has very gradually become one of my favorites. I will review each track and leave you to take what you want from this review.

The opening track, American Life, is probably the hardest track to swallow. The music is somewhat abrasive and disjointed. Their is a clashing of electro and folk that is present throughout the album. I think what makes this track work for me, is the fact that it is so startlingly not what you expect to hear. The lyrics aren't all that bad either. The rap is very corny, but it is done intentionally I think. This is not the first time Madonna has dabbled in rap. Remember Vogue? Bette Davis- we love you! I hope you remember, it was one of her most successful singles of all time. The fact that the video was pulled and a cheap imposter was used in it's place, kept this single from going anywhere. Madonna's videos are very much a huge part of the success of the singles. I saw this video in a club in Minneapolis. They had apparently downloaded it prior to it being pulled off the net.
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Format: Audio CD
I am sure there are a lot of people out there who are completely confused about this album due to all the critics that vary from sky-high to inferno levels, so I thought the time had come to present my personal answers to some very relevant and certainly common questions.
Q: What is the reason for such discrepancy between opinions?
A: This is an album totally different from anything she has done before. It mixes rap with techno and guitar acoustics. Her voice has also been distorted with a vocoder, and it sounds similar to the effects used in the "Paradise (Not for Me)" track. Well, some Madonna fans were just not ready for such a change, and those who enjoy this kind of tune are not regular Madonna purchasers, so it is possible this album will stay in a sort of a category limbo. Anyway, for many others (like me) "American Life" is a groundbreaking and inspiring change that defines a whole new musical genre.
Q: I was told the lyrics in this album stink. Is it true?
A: Let us say Madonna is one of the few artists (very few, even) who can afford to transport their very true feelings into their music. You will find no "baby don't you know, I love you so, so please don't go" kind of songs here. On the other hand, you'll have your ears filled up with sincere words that truly depict Madonna's life and feelings. If you're not ready to hear her complaint how stupid she was for being so materialistic and that she does not want to have it simple but rather to work like a bull, well ... stay away from this album. Again, my opinion is she deserves an ovation for being so damn courageous.
Q: This album is anti-american, so I feel compelled not to buy it. What about you?
A: This is possible the silliest affirmation ever.
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