Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Confusions On A Dance Floor

The title alone clues you in on what to expect in Madonna’s latest album, Confessions on a Dance Floor.

The album is aurally cohesive, literally—it is a non-stop dance album, with each song seamlessly flowing to the next. The songs are all relentlessly dance tunes; a lazy club DJ can place this disc on the turntable, press play, and for the next 56+ minutes can have dinner, grab a few drinks and flirt with the other patrons.

Sounds like one big ball, doesn’t it? Well, hold on. It seems that age and kabbalah are the party-poopers here.

Apparently Madonna took the album title seriously. From a simple admission of attraction (“Hung Up”) she moves on to more weighty confessions: “How high are the stakes? / How much fortune can you make? / Does this get any better? Should I carry on? / Will it matter when I’m gone? / Will any of this matter?” (“How High”). It is one thing to sound like a dance tune but it’s another to dance to someone singing, “Wrestle with your darkness / angels call your name.” Her musings on fame and fortune are nothing new; ever since her album Ray Of Light she’s been wondering if her climb to the top was all worth it. But the appeal of a dance tune is its deceptive simplicity—just like with classic pop songs, it’s not easy to come up with a well-crafted dance tune like Kylie’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”. Part of the fun is in its simplicity in notes and words.

Madonna does stack some silliness in the first part of the album. “Do you believe in love at first sight? / It’s an illusion / I don’t care,” she sings in “Get Together,” a straightforward love tune. And she channels her “I like to singy-singy-singy / like a bird on a wingy-wingy-wingy” nonsense (from Music’s “Impressive Instant”) in the cut “I Love New York”: “I don’t like cities / But I like New York / Other places / Make me feel like a dork.”

But towards the latter part of the album she turns more serious. If this were an electronica album, I can imagine the songs to sound reflective, moody. But the music remains steadfast dance, and here’s where the juxtaposition falters at times. The dance floor is not a venue for repentance and reflection; it is a place to let loose and have fun. And ironically it’s when one loses oneself in the dance that one finds salvation. Unfortunately Madonna is determined to be taken seriously as an artist; instead of just letting us go, she forces us to pause and ponder. But in the middle of the dance floor? Where’s the fun in that? C’mon Maddie, relax; we only question your acting choices.

So here’s my advice: groove to Confessions on a Dance Floor but don’t worry if you block off some of her lyrics. Anyway, the Material Mom doesn’t care—in the last cut (“Like It Or Not”) she sings: “Cleopatra had her way / Matahari too. / Whether they were good or bad / Is strictly up to you. / This is who I am / You can like it or not, / You can love me or leave me / Cuz I’m never gonna stop / No, no.”

Even on the dance floor, Madonna has the last word.


Blogger fried-neurons said...

I just downloaded the album off iTunes. Haven't listened to it yet, though.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Nelson said...

The album was just released here in Canada, and they're playing "Hung Up" everywhere here in Winter-peg. I just got the CD here, and I won't be able to give my judgement till I'm back in HongCouver....

11:33 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home