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Its tenderness and power resonated like no Madonna ballad since “Take a Bow,” which is why it was shocking – and fabulous – that its video was such a violent display of rage, recklessness, and grand theft. “Waiting” from You can sum up “Waiting’s” disgraced longing with its awesome, beat-driven refrain at song’s end: “I knew it from the start that you would desert me / You’re gonna break my heart, baby please don’t hurt me.” I hope if Madonna has any regrets about her career, one of them is never again collaborating with the wizards of Massive Attack, who make her cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” an affecting, somewhat spooky listening experience.
And I’m calling it right now: This is the most underrated video in the Madonna oeuvre. “Drowned World/Substitute For Love” from indicate we’re not in for the typical jiving and rejoicing of Madonna’s previous albums.
“Sky Fits Heaven” from may be a touch too self-serious, but “Sky Fits Heaven” features a heartfelt and straightforward introspection that wouldn’t feel out of place on a more confessional (and lyric-driven) album from ’98 like is an essential purchase for casual Madonna fans, as it validates her standing as a kickass balladeer and moving vocalist.
“One More Chance” is nothing more than a guitar and Madonna’s torch-song trilling, and it’s more effective than anything you’ve heard out of Taylor Swift’s mouth in the past five years. “I Deserve It” from ’s flashy, danceable “Runaway Lover” and “Amazing,” the quavery “I Deserve It” feels like an unassuming and nervous testament to her then-new marriage to Guy Ritchie.
“Don’t mince words, don’t be evasive / Speak your mind, be persuasive,” she deadpans, once again clarifying that was for the gays, and this song about proves it. ” the song chimes in a stifled, male-robot voice, and the implications of underground (if not “downlow”) serendipity are startlingly apparent and gorgeously sonic. “Bedtime Story” from Bjork could’ve saved this odyssey of unconsciousness for herself, but she finds a worthy dreamer in Madonna, who despairs in her alienation. “You’ll See” from Sure, she’s still hung up on the matador from the “Take a Bow” video in “You’ll See,” but Madonna’s declaration of independence over beautiful Spanish guitar-playing is organic and inspired.
While “Words” touted wordiness, “Bedtime Story” dismisses verbiage as fruitless noise: “Words are useless, especially sentences… “It takes more strength to cry, admit defeat” she warns, challenging both her paramour and herself to the task. “Rain” from On an album filled with potential hits, “What It Feels Like for a Girl” was an obvious single.
But don’t we all want a man who cradles us in one arm while brandishing a tommy gun in the other. “Why’s It So Hard” from features a plea for understanding and world unity deep into its second half.
Then I remember: What live up to the best stuff in Madonna’s catalog? Madonna’s repertoire is a varied and thundering collection of self-empowering pop ditties, soulful ballads, and kooky little anomalies. In the tradition of Copping both new-age maxims and Beatle sentiments (“Everything I give you all comes back to me”), “Nothing Really Matters” is as queer and curious as a red patent-leather geisha costume. “Shoo-Bee-Doo” from , Bonus Track Madonna’s megalomania is at peak insanity here, but she’s pretty damn provocative and nervy about it.“I Know It” from It’s still so cool to listen to Madonna’s first album and here the bossy, bratty, vulnerable, steely conviction that will act as a through-line in her gigantic career.“I Know It” is whiny power pop, and its girl-group bravado is delicious. (A Man After Midnight),” because its galloping beat fuels the salacious “Hung Up” like an endless caffeine barrage. “Love Tried to Welcome Me” from Bedtime Stories Madonna contemplates sin, guilt, lust, and vulnerability in this seeming farewell to love.“Watch where you walk / ‘cause the sidewalks talk” is one of the sassiest things Madonna’s ever uttered – and you’ll be delighted to know she wrote the entire record herself (at least according to the liner notes). “Justify My Love” from Madonna had always loved sex, but she’d never been clinically serious about the topic until “Justify My Love,” the carnal, churning Public Enemy riff about sexual fantasy and salacious reciprocation.Her exploration of the forbidden was made naughtier by MTV’s well-publicized video ban. “Sooner Or Later” from or Madonna’s involvement with it.