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Music Brings the People Together

From the first pulsing, electronic beats of Music it becomes apparent that Madonna has found a sound all-new and all her own--again. This time she partners with unknown French producer Mirwais Ahmadzai to delve deeper into the underground club music scene she

visited with Grammy Award-winning success for 1997's "Ray of Light Opus."

Madonna builds on the electronica sounds evident in recent collaborations with William Orbit with a hardened dance edge, a la European standard-bearers Daft Punk. Mirwais steeps the recording in rich multi-layered synthetic sounds, giving added texture and depth to the disc. As the saying goes, Madonna has once again reinvented herself--to out-of-the-chutes, chart-topping success.

Look no further than the title track for proof positive. The burned-in-your-brain chorus and simultaneously futuristic and retro melody of "Music" have set records. The track has spent the last three weeks atop Billboard's "Hot 100," positioning it among Madonna's most successful cuts ever. Likewise, the cut is VH1's most played video.

The party continues on "Impressive Instant," a full 3:37 of ear candy destined for similar success. Mirwais again pulls together a driving synthesized bassline, which commands the listener to his feet and to the dance floor. The cut proves to be at once refreshing and exhilarating. "Don't Tell Me," a mid-tempo jangler, also benefits from Mirwais' flawless production.

Orbit resurfaces only twice on the disc, for the dancefloor ready "Runaway Lover" and "Amazing."

Madonna and boyfriend Guy Ritchie arrive for the launch party for her new album "Music" September 19, 2000 at the Catch One disco in L.A.. (Fred Prouser/Reuters)

Both sound like they could have been slotted easily onto the "Ray of Light" disc. Radio-friendly and remix-worthy, "Amazing" shares many of the more appealing qualities of Madonna's smash "Austin Powers II" contribution, "Perfect Stranger."

Each time "Music" builds toward a rave-inspired crescendo, it slows. Sparce production and Madonna's increasingly appealing voice take center stage for what sounds like near-acoustic tracks.

"I Deserve It"--a poignant ballad--is perhaps the most introspective track on the disc. "Many miles, many roads I have traveled/Fallen down on the way/Many hearts, many years have unraveled/Leading up to today..." Madonna sings over a synthesizer bed of percussion and guitar. "I have no regrets/There's nothing to forget/All the pain was worth it./Not running from the past/I tried to do my best/I know that I deserve it."

Indeed, Madonna appears to be completely comfortable with the past--her past. The CD's cover art for "Music" could pay homage to that. Madonna, cowboy hat, "Rhinestone Cowboy" ensemble and all, stands in front of a 50s-style car and mobile home. She looks to be

a throwback from a simpler time. Once the the music hits, it's obvious this is the synth-driven sound of the future, a sound that could easily outlive the teeny-bopper trend saturating the market now. This is the sound of a woman who readily admits that right now youth sells--and she's not going to pretend to be something she's not to make this record work.

Luckily, she doesn't have to. Nearly 20 years after exploding to national superstardom, she's not only the most famous celebrity and musician in the world, she's still pioneering the path for future generations. Not bad for a divorced, 40-something Midwestern mother of two, is it?


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