Confessions On A Dance Floor


Warner Brothers, 2005

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


So, it turns out that Madonna's "comeback" album, as Confessions On A Dance Floor has been repeatedly hailed, is anything but. If this isn't a collection of garbage rip-offs attempting to masquerade as a return to Madonna's club roots, then Bob Saget is a brilliant comedian.

I knew we were in trouble as soon as I heard the first single, "Hung Up," which is famously built around a sample of the ridiculously catchy synth riff in the old ABBA nugget, "Gimme Gimme Gimme." At least it's matched up with a driving rhythm and a passable new vocal melody by Madonna, but still, it's a bad sign that she had to resort to borrowing material from superior songwriters because she couldn't come up with anything decent on her own. The really sad part is that "Hung Up" is the best song on the album.

The rest of Confessions On A Dance Floor completely collapses under its own weight, containing nothing but badly dated, surprisingly anemic dance pop that demonstrates the laziest attempts at creativity of Madonna's career, no doubt the result of furious backpedaling caused by the disastrous critical and commercial reception to her last album, American Life.

It's very discouraging to hear an artist known throughout her career for doggedly pushing both forward musically and people's buttons in the process retreat to safe territory so meekly. At least in the past you could count on Madonna trying to be different in some way, to be edgy even if sometimes the music wasn't great, but this time around the music is consistently awful. She even says "Eff-off!" in one song, I kid you not.

Maybe she has resigned herself to the fact that her best days are behind her. After all, she's pushing 50 and has other priorities in life, such as her kids, her hip director husband, and Kabbalah, and it seems she didn't release this because she felt she had created art worthy for the ears of the world to enjoy. Rather, it seems she just tossed out a quarter-assed effort under the false guise of returning to the style that made her famous just to keep her name in the public eye.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The songs are even sequenced in a continuous manner, just like one of those cheesy old K-Tel dance party compilations. Too bad that Confessions On A Dance Floor lacks the atmosphere of frivolous fun contained on those releases. On this disc you will not hear her sing passionately for a second - her performance is completely monotonous and she actually sounds bored out of her mind. Trust me, so will you. Every time I tried to get through the album I nearly fell asleep.

Another insult is the way this was marketed as a "return to old Madonna" when it's anything but. You won't find anything even remotely resembling the euphoric dance pop of "Lucky Star," "Material Girl" or "Into The Groove." You'll rather be shaking your head in disbelief and busting out the Q-tips in bewilderment upon exposure to what sounds like the moody atmospherics of Ray Of Light crossed with the robotic stylings of mid 90's Daft Punk with added disco beats. I feel like it's 1996 all over again! Laughable!

The second single, "Sorry" sounded alright to me until I made the connection that it was a Beatles rip-off. Then there is the unintentional hilarity of "Future Lovers" -- if you sing her 1998 hit "Ray Of Light" along to this track, it astonishingly fits perfectly, BECAUSE IT'S THE SAME SONG. "Let It Will Be" sounds like a pathetic attempt to ape Kylie Minogue, who has stolen a lot of Madonna's market share in recent years (by consistently providing good neo-disco dance pop, something Madonna forgot how to do ages ago), only without any of Kylie's catchiness, and with the chorus melody from Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper" thrown in for good measure.

The only song that sounds vaguely like old style Madonna is "Jump", which actually has a vocal melody that doesn't sound like the result of a 30-second improv. But then I found myself rolling my eyes again, this time over the ridiculous "Isaac," which tries hard to sound exotic but in reality is just a hodgepodge of the "mmmmm"s from "Frozen," the strings from "Die Another Day," the acoustic guitars from "Don't Tell Me" and backing vocals by some ugly-voiced Middle Eastern dude. Oooo, brilliant.

You know, the previous two albums were pretty bad as well, so my hopes were extra high for this one being a return to form, if not style, but this is Madonna's sonic white flag, and her own husband summed it up best when he referred to the disc as a "pile of shite." I never thought I'd hear Madonna emulate such luminaries as La Bouche and Haddaway. Oh well, at least she'll be well prepared to provide the Another Night At The Roxbury soundtrack.

Rating: F

User Rating: C-


© 2006 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.