Finally Enough Love (16-Track Edition)

Madonna

Warner, 2022

http://www.madonna.com

REVIEW BY: Peter Piatkowski

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/29/2022

Madonna is the epitome of the 20th century pop star, one of the most consistent figures on pop radio—but a big part of her work, her sound, comes from the clubs. Once her singles drop, DJs and producers remix her songs, reinterpreting and reimagining the songs for the clubs, connecting to her queer audiences. On this 16-track teaser for the more expansive 50-track album that is scheduled to be released in August, Madonna offers a sampler of some of the best remixes of her hits. Madonna has scored 50 number one dance hits on the Billboard dance charts; for perspective, her dominance is so massive, the artist with the second most number ones is Rihanna with a “mere” 33 number one hits.

Though the 50-track anthology is worth the wait, this much-abridged version is still solid. It opens with two hits from her early days, “Everybody” and “Into the Groove,” which was lifted from her 1987 remix album, You Can Dance. The two tunes are remixed with added studio effects and beats, but they both retain a lot of their original sounds—and the songs are some of the best of early 1980s dance-pop. The songs were worked on by longtime Madonna collaborators Patrick Leonard and legendary DJ John “Jellybean” Benitez (the two enjoyed a dance hit in 1984 with dance classic “Sidewalk Talk”). Leonard and Benitez hold on to the great, New York street beats that made the original versions so memorable.

From her magnus opus, Like a Prayer, we get a pair of radio edits of the album’s biggest hits, “Express Yourself” and the heady title track. “Like a Prayer” holds on to much of the euphoria of the original (thanks to the presence of the Andraé Crouch Choir) and “Express Yourself” has been removed from the deep ’70s funk of the original and turned into a synth-heavy dance tune. The latter remix doesn’t measure up to the original version, but “Like a Prayer” sounds fantastic in its remixed form. And her greatest single moment “Vogue” preserves much of its house-inspired sound. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Because we’re only looking at 16 of a sprawling 50 songs, the track list does some prodigious skipping through Madonna’s storied career, and because she’s been at it for 40 years, her career is often carved out into generations. So, there are those fans who love her ’80s to ’90s work (when she was at her commercial peak) and then there are those who follow her from her late ’90s to 2000s work, when she looked to techno and electronica when making music (when she was, arguably, at her artistic peak).   

The remixes for her later work are far more extreme and divergent from the album versions of the songs. These remixes often center the remixer, pulling out the pop hooks in favor of a deeper delve into darker club sounds. Ray of Light’s massive hit “Frozen” has been reworked from an austere, chilly synth ballad into a rave number. And dance outfit Deep Dish takes the electro-disco of “Music” and chops it up into a swirling club banger, with Madonna’s vocals scattered and littered throughout the intense, driving beat.

As Madonna’s career progressed through the 2000s and 2010s, her presence on the pop charts started to diminish, but she flourished on the dance charts, racking up hits unabated. Her later singles were remixed by artists like Avicii, Offer Nissim, DJ Drew G, Sander Kleinenberg, and Honey Dijon. Though DJs were famous during her salad days, it was after the millennium that the “celebrity DJ” became prevalent and the creatives she sought out like Avicci and Kleinenberg became as important in dance music as artists like Madonna.

Much of Madonna’s work throughout her career has been about finding songwriters, producers, trends, and sounds when crafting her music. When working with remixers, it’s interesting to hear her ceding audio control to her collaborators, letting younger artists take her work and reshape it. Avicci reworks “Girls Gone Wild” from its original EDM-pop to an Ibiza-destined glowstick pounder. And Offer Nissim reimagines the Latin-pop of “Medellín” as a progressive house number punctuated by Middle Eastern flourishes. Meanwhile, Nissim’s vision of “Living for Love” holds onto the big-voiced diva house of the original and remixes it into a raving rager.

Though this 16-track compilation sports some great music, it’s basically an amuse-bouche for the far more definitive 50-track set. It’s worthy placeholder for when the longer album comes out. For now, this is a great teaser.

Rating: B+

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