Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Today Is Madonna Day!

In celebration of today's release of Madonna's Confessions On a Dance Floor record, I offer this:


By Ken Knox

Madonna is dead-set on re-establishing herself as the queen of pop, and to prove it, she’s unveiled one of the most consistently pleasing records of her career. Released Tuesday, Confessions On a Dance Floor is a true Madonna fan’s (not to mention a DJ’s) wet dream—a non-stop, high-energy dance record that represents somewhat of a “return to form” for the former Material Girl. Gone are the musings on Kabbalistic life that marred 2003’s under-selling American Life; in their place are life-affirmative statements about the power of love and maturity, with a little of the old Madonna sass tossed in for good measure. The result is Madge’s best work since 1998’s Grammy winning Ray of Light, an irresistibly good pop confection for the troubled soul that encourages you to forget about your woes and worries and just get the hell up and dance.

To promote the record, Madonna has kicked into overdrive, doing the usual array of print and TV interviews (Yes, that was her literally getting back on the proverbial horse on David Letterman), as well as playing favorites to her fans; members of her long-running Icon fan club were treated via e-mail to one of the new album’s castoffs, a sprightly ditty called “Super-Pop,” as part of their membership. And then there was the promo concert at Koko’s in London.

Looking divine in relaxed designer attire and sporting the Farrah flip, Madge danced up a storm for an adoring crowd at the former Camden Palace (which, Madonna noted, was the site of her very first show in London 23 years earlier). She opened the five-song show with a lively rendition of Confessions’ first single, the Abba-sampling “Hung Up,” which was pretty much a live replay of her recent Euro MTV Video Awards appearance. After telling audiences that it was “so fucking good to be back” in London, she then charged into a note-perfect “Get Together,” the second track from Confessions. She followed it up with the somewhat controversial “I Love New York,” telling the crowd that even though she disses London in the song, she’s still a major fan of the city. “New York is where I learned to be an artist,” she explained to the audience. “It’s about a New York state of mind—being free.”

A hard-rock rendition of “Let It Will Be” followed, with Madge jumping all over the stage while bass guitars blared all around her. But for longtime fans, the show’s best moment was its surprise finale, as Madonna trotted out a highly souped-up version of her very first single, 1983’s “Everybody.” Dancing around the stage in a whirlwind of confetti, Madge and her team of talented dancers (some of who performed amazing krump moves) brought the house down on a jubilant show.

Madonna was in an especially jovial mood throughout the show as well. “I feel like I’m really out of shape right now,” she told the fans after finishing her fourth number, then quipped, “I don’t like falling off of horses.” Yet watching Madge dance around the stage while doing all of her singing live (take that, Elton John!), it was impossible not to marvel at the woman’s non-stop energy. If she was out of shape, it certainly didn’t show. In fact, the moderately choreographed show (one got the sense that choreographer Jamie King kept things on the simple side due to the stage’s rather limited space) was, if not one of Madge’s most elaborate outings, certainly a high-energy crowd-pleaser, reminding fans of why they fell in love with her in the first place. Indeed, when it comes to being able to carry fans along with her on carefree adventures, nobody does it better than Madonna.

The live show was followed by a nearly-40-minute-long documentary called Confessions On a Promo Tour, which, much like her recent docu-film I'm Going to Tell You a Secret, showed how Madonna and her team of producers, creative visionaries and dancers puts one of her shows together. The short film revealed a kindler, gentler Madonna, one who affectionately kids with her staff instead of berating them (as she did in the now-classic Truth or Dare: In Bed with Madonna), and who--more than 20 years into her long-running career--is still at the top of her game.


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