Confessions On A Dance Floor


Warner Brothers, 2005



Remember when dance clubs used to be for, I don't know, young working people who live in the city and have to pack in x-number of bacchanal hours before going back to work on Monday ad nauseum until finding someone to marry and settle down in the suburbs?

Sometime in the last decade, the world's population changed from being mostly rural to mostly urban, women began to have babies later and later, and the speed of information accelerated to the point where moving images could be cheaply transported to the most remote communities on Earth. The city life became de rigeur and all you could see on MTV were people going to clubs, going to clubs, going to clubs ad nauseum until... well, that generation is still going to clubs so we don't know what's going to happen when their eardrums (or existential bubbles) explode.

Madonna has claimed to have "moved on" (to having a husband, raising children in the countryside, falling off horses and being on the cover of Good Housekeeping), so this return to dance is unexpected; I thought she'd be doing edgy British stuff from now on and eventually slide into Yoko Ono territory. Nobody would listen to her, but her children's friends at school would reassuringly be unaware of who she was, she'd win Grammys for said edgy British stuff and make millions on tour until her 70's, and everyone would be happy.

Of course, Madonna hasn't really changed, and this means she won't be truly happy outside of the spotlight, playground taunts about your-mama-putting-out-a-book-called-my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Sex be damned.

Confessions On A Dance Floor is of course not confessional at all, and the title is probably an example of Madonna's ironic brand of humor ("Sigmund Freud!"). This is very much a dance album, but not the kind of made-for-radio dance you heard from her in the 80's; this stuff is for the clubs. Meaning everything is in repetition, the beats are fairly monotone and even the album's tracks are fused together like they would be on a DJ mixtape, a stylistic allusion that won't be lost on club-goers the world over. Unlike most dance compilations, however, it is an extremely well-crafted album that gets better and better with every spin, a characteristic that is now a hard-earned hallmark of Madonna albums.

The first single was awesomely disappointing for me at first, as the ABBA song it samples from is a constant presence that threatens to take over but doesn't in the end (this is the reason why many people don't like heavily sampled songs). Madonna's version claims the sample as its own after repetitive listens but this song is definitely not for the ABBA generation, which is telling as many of her older fans are exactly from that era.

Standout tracks include "I Love New York," which Madonna pointed out in several interviews that she doesn't really mean to slag London and L.A. and Paris, she just loves New York, and we all know that part of loving New York is to constantly assert its own superiority over the other major cities of the western world. "Get Together" is a softly sung, almost ballad-like track that exemplifies the kind of emotive dance song that Madonna is excellent at (witness the success of the Ray Of Light LP) and it's in this dance space where she cranks out some very good material such as "Sorry" and "Jump."

Her call-outs to the dance floor are also sure to fire up the clubs once their more harder remixes hit the night scene (the way they're mixed now is more of a soft, in-home preview of the experience to come) like "Future Loves," of which I hope they keep the intro in whatever dancier reincarnation of itself, "Let It Will Be" (no that's not a typo) where someone had to tell me that she sampled "Papa Don't Preach" (I guess you know you've been around when your own fans do that), and "Jump," which uses retro elements from the 80's in a very Gwen Stefani kind of way, a statement that will probably anger Madonna. It's interesting to think that while Stefani is sampling the past, Madonna has lived it and yet is knowingly sampling it as something past. It is a testament to her powers of innovation; Madonna's greatest talent is her ability to be just a little bit ahead of "current."

There's only one song I don't like: "Issac," supposedly something to do with Kabbalah, the usual religious controversy that is creating lots of free publicity for the album. Must every Madonna album have some kind of religious song on it? After perhaps two or three more albums, she will probably become her own religion and just scandalize herself.

Rating: B+

User Rating: C-



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