Madonna, Part III – #musicmarathon

In #musicmarathon, Features, HOME, MUSIC by Sam Prance

#musicmarathon is a feature in which we get someone to listen to all of an artist’s studio albums in order of release date and ask them to comment on them. The idea being to see the evolution of an artist whilst listening to some nice music. The highs, the lows, the weird forays into reggae – we cover it all. Sit back and enjoy the musical journey.

Here lies the final part of the Madonna #musicmarathon and the end of my fangirl ponderings. Part I and Part II can be found here and here respectively. Whilst many people see this era as Madonna’s weakest – the one where she gets a bit old and looses touch with the popsphere – for me it marks something else. This is the Madonna I grew up with. The Madonna I was old enough to fully enjoy. And whilst the campaigns for these albums and sales may have turned somewhat lacklustre (poor MDNA) – the tunes still exist at large. Madonna, I’m Hung Up on you – now and forever. Amen.

American Life – 2003


2003. Ten years before Miley acquainted herself with a foam finger and sent the media into cardiac-arrest, Madonna made out with Britney and Christina on live T.V. Publicity 101. It challenged America’s stance on non-heteronormative relationships and fitted in with American Life‘s general f**k you vibe quite nicely. Unfortunately the album didn’t sell too well in comparison to its predecessors. Its aggressive nature was a bit much for some people. However, over a decade on and it still stands the test of time. The title track undermines the American dream and contains the (rapped) line ‘I drive my Mini Cooper and I’m feeling super dooper’. Amazing. Nobody Knows Me is an electro two fingers at the media. Die Another Day remains one of the greatest Bond theme tunes of all time and Hollywood is well…everything. All things considered, aggressive Madonna is rather good.

Listen to American Life when pissed off.

Favourite Track:

Hollywood – ‘How could it hurt you when it looks so good?’

Confessions On A Dance Floor – 2005


A pink leotard. An ABBA sample. Stuart Price on production – and Madonna is back and better than ever. Pimping herself as the disco queen she’d never fully realised herself as before – the queen reminds the world how she earned her title. Strong words but this is Madonna we’re talking about and Confessions On A Dance Floor is her pop opera – a popera if you like. The tracks blend seamlessly into each other and invite you to the dance floor as they do. From the stop-apologising-you’re-becoming-really-annoying Sorry to the get-off-of-your-ass-and-do-something Jump this is Madonna laying down some universal truths and mantras in the form of very modern pop. It’s Madonna leading the game. The tour which followed was arguably her best and one which, having missed, I’d time travel to in an instant given the chance. Yes, I’m cool. At least I have Hung Up to soothe my soul.

Listen to Confessions On A Dance Floor when you want to dance.

Favourite Track:

Hung Up – How to sample a track and create a hit song in the process.

Hard Candy – 2008


Hard Candy is when things get a little bit iffy for Madonna. It’s not a bad album persay – in fact it’s a very cohesive record with some great tracks. The main problem with Hard Candy, however, is that it just doesn’t do anything new with pop. It tags onto popular producers, repeats trends and feels as though it’s trying a little too hard 2 B hip. Ringing in Justin Timberlake for the lead single showed a lack of confidence never really seen before in Madonna. The queen of pop should never try or, more importantly, she should never give off the impression that she is trying. Pop is one of those funny things where even if executing an intricate, choreographed routine whilst singing takes a lot of effort – it should never look like it does. Luckily 4 Minutes remains a decent tune and songs such as Devil Wouldn’t Recognise You, Voices and Miles Away – are worthy of pop’s leading lady.

Listen to Hard Candy when trying too hard 2 B hip.

Favourite Track:

Miles Away – ‘I can’t pretend to be someone else.’

MDNA – 2012


And finally – Madonna’s most recent album: MDNA. The whole MDNA album campaign was frustrating to say the least. Bad single choices (Give Me All Your Luvin’ – why?) and the fact that bar the Super Bowl Madonna didn’t seem all that fussed about promoting the record, meant it didn’t do too well commercially. Regardless, though the music was, if a little all over the place, for the most part: fresh, futuristic and confrontational. The line: ‘I tried to be a good girl, I tried to be your wife//Diminshed myself and swallowed my light’ from I Don’t Give A is what Madonna’s all about, Falling Free is one of her best ballads and I’m Addicted and Turn Up The Radio stand out as classic pop tunes. Then on the more out there side of things is Gang Bang which acts a bonkers pastiche of Guy Ritchie’s work. ‘DRIVE BITCH – and while you’re at it DIE BITCH’. Madonna’s still got it.

Listen to MDNA when you need to let off some steam.

Favourite Track:

Turn Up The Radio – The lead single which should have been.


Art For Freedom – 2013


The announcement of Madonna doing anything non music orientated is usually somewhat disappointing. (Poor W.E.) However, Art For Freedom or #secretprojectrevolution is actually rather interesting. First there was a rather chic not-letting-people-express-themsleves-is-rather-shitty-and-oppressive Steven Klein video, then there was an in depth interview with Vice and finally there was a website onto which new art is uploaded on a daily basis – anyone can submit an artwork via the website – and then what is put online is curated by Madonna and other impressive pop people: Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus etc. All in all, a brilliant project, and it gives us plenty to enjoy as we await another album. The website can be found here and the video/interview can be found below.


Sam Prance

Sam Prance is the Editor of Prancing Through LIFE. He studies French and Italian at the University of Edinburgh. His favourite novel is Cloud Atlas and he has Madonna marathons on a regular basis. He is currently writing this auto-bio in the third person. He will now stop writing this third person auto-bio in order to save himself some embarrassment.

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