April 24, 2003

Madonna: American Woman?

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What is there left for you to do when you’ve already sold millions of albums, acted in some horrible films, offended the Catholic church about a thousand times, published a book full of naked pictures, and decided to settle down into family life? Well, for most people, maybe just the coffee table sex book would do for an accomplishment, but for Madonna, no amount of success or controversy ever seems to be enough. And on her twelfth studio album American Life, the former Material Girl turned yoga-loving Mom makes no apologies for who she is.

The title track is somewhat of a self-indulgent parody of stardom in America; the song has already garnered widespread notoriety because its original video featuring Madonna dressed in military fatigues and throwing a grenade at George Bush. Of course knowing the singer’s love for infamy, you might think she had some valid point to make about the state of the world right now. The lyrics, however, are nothing but hilarious; you can’t mock something that you embody. In a failed attempted at rapping, Madonna declares, “I got a lawyer and a manager/ An agent and a chef/ Three nannies, an assistant/ And a driver and a jet.” Okay, it’s not so cool to make fun of the ridiculously decadent lifestyle of some Hollywood stars when you actually do have a lawyer, a manager, an agent, a chef, three nannies, an assistant, a driver, and a jet. The song just lacks the type of statement that Madonna has made about everything from sex to religion over the past twenty years.

American Life boasts a combination of soft pop-rock and techno music with lyrics reflective of a more mature Madonna, one who has dealt with inconceivable stardom and criticism for nearly two decades. She isn’t the same person who once sang “Like a Virgin,” dressed in a wedding gown at the MTV Video Music Awards. In “Hollywood,” she is accompanied by an acoustic guitar and dance-beat track while singing, “There’s something in the air in Hollywood/ I tried to leave it but I never could