What is her most underrated album?

Suedey

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Inspired by @POP! 's thread on 'Bad Girl'.

I know that the answer will most likely be Erotica but, in recent months I've really warmed to Rebel Heart and I think it is one of her most underrated albums.

Now hear me out before you cry out 'justice for Erotica'.

I think Erotica has always had underground hipster appeal, and it is increasingly reassessed as an important installation in the canon. The so-called 'career-ending' album that actually ended up proving that whilst she is not infallible, she most certainly is resilient.

Rebel Heart on the other hand, came and went without so much as a splash because for one the whole thing leaked, and when she wasn't making social media gaffes about 'artistic rape' she was being pulled by a cape down the stairs live on stage.

It is an overwrought, overlong album that sounds more like a Spotify playlist than a proper album but it's got some of her best songwriting in years. Should and could have done better.
 
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AMERICAN LIFE

The controversy overshadowed things I think (although SHE WAS RIGHT about America/the Iraq War etc). Also the singles weren't the best. But the run of Love Profusion, Nobody Knows Me, Nothing Fails, Intervention, and X-static Process is up there with any run of songs from any album ever. Very underrated
 

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Yes to American Life, although that seems to have had a bit of a reawakening recently.

I think Hard Candy is really quite underrated. I think it sounds better now than it did in 2008. The clunkers and the gross album cover really drag it down but there's some real high points on there.
 
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Rebel Heart is a strong(ish) album buried under far too many unnecessary tracks. Her team were fools were so shortsighted to be scared by leaks.
It really should have been released as the original REBEL // HEART album concept, which would have made a lot more sense as an album - or even just have pruned it down to 10 killer tracks.
It goes without saying the Avicii version of Rebel Heart (the song) was SUCH a missed opportunity for Madonna to be reflective and possibly even score a minor HIT, as dated as the song may sound these days.
 

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American Life, and oddly Music (which I feel is a little forgotten these days, despite being Madonna at the peak of her second Imperial Era powers).
 

Suedey

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I also think Madonna/The First Album is quite underrated outside of certain fan circles. It's really a landmark, all-killer album of the genre and really deserves to be critically lauded as such.
It's astonishingly good when you look back at it now actually. The fact that she was being dismissed by white cis-gendered male music critics (predominantly) as a flash in the pan at the time with that sort of record as her introduction to the scene (having co-written half of it as well), surely must have been tempered with more than just a little bit of misogyny and possibly also racism not against her but against the music scene she came out of and the collaborators she had on the record.

I think it's still @Ellie 's favourite M album.
 
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Suedey

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American Life, and oddly Music (which I feel is a little forgotten these days, despite being Madonna at the peak of her second Imperial Era powers).
It's funny how Music has become so forgotten. It's her most abundant album in all charity shops as well. I do feel some of its success was due to the fact that she was riding high on Ray Of Light and some of the obligatory positive reviews were due precisely to that rather than the music itself. However, it's pretty much all killer no filler when you consider the 10-track album itself (and yes I'm including 'Amazing' in my assessments but I choose to exclude 'American Pie'. Bye bitch.)
 

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It's astonishingly good when you look back at it now actually. The fact that she was being dismissed by white cis-gendered male music critics (predominantly) as a flash in the pan at the time with that sort of record as her introduction to the scene surely must have been tempered with more than just a little bit of misogyny and possibly also racism not against her but against the music scene she came out of and the collaborators she had on the record.

I think it's still @Ellie 's favourite M album.

It’s been a while since any evaluation but yes, quite often comes out on top!
 
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Is it too early to suggest Madame X was quite underrated? :D

I think most people (myself included) just cannot be BOTHERED with it, but when the mood hits it's her most cohesive and focused album since Confessions. I could lose a couple of tracks however :D (I'm LOOKING FOR LOOKING FOR LOOKING FOR MERCY)

I was lucky enough to see the tour twice too, including one full run-through, and it really was a TRIUMPH!
 

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Suedey said:
It's funny how Music has become so forgotten. It's her most abundant album in all charity shops as well. I do feel some of its success was due to the fact that she was riding high on Ray Of Light and some of the obligatory positive reviews were due precisely to that rather than the music itself. However, it's pretty much all killer no filler when you consider the 10-track album itself (and yes I'm including 'Amazing' in my assessments but I choose to exclude 'American Pie'. Bye bitch.)
I feel that no one is "nostalgic" for the era, despite how massive it was. That being said, I feel that it was a front-loaded era (it was effectively over for the general public after the second single), rather than a multi-single arc, which helps to establish an era in the popular imagination.
 

Suedey

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Is it too early to suggest Madame X was quite underrated? :D

I think most people (myself included) just cannot be BOTHERED with it, but when the mood hits it's her most cohesive and focused album since Confessions. I could lose a couple of tracks however :D (I'm LOOKING FOR LOOKING FOR LOOKING FOR MERCY)
Oddly enough I think Madame X was a bigger 'hit' (and I use the term loosely) with critics than it was with fans. For every favourable review I read in the music press there were at least 5 or 10 instagram posts on her page from real fans saying they hated it. Of course this is not based on evidence but my own anecdotal observation but isn't everything.

I think a lot of fans have the same issue as you do ('can't be bothered with it') which is not the case for me. I still listen to it quite often. Yes some of the vocal processing is jarring but it's still her best album since Confessions On A Dance Floor.
 

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I feel that no one is "nostalgic" for the era, despite how massive it was. That being said, I feel that it was a front-loaded era (it was effectively over for the general public after the second single), rather than a multi-single arc, which helps to establish an era in the popular imagination.
Yes - I mean people remember 'Music' and 'Don't Tell Me' at a push but by the time she released a remix of WIFLFAG which bore no resemblance to the ALBAM version and the Drowned World tour rolled on she had already moved on from the cowboy hats as had the public.

Which is ironic because if I'm not mistaken it was the Music era that meant that obligatory pink cowboy hats are always sold outsold arenas in the UK now whenever a gay interest artiste is performing. The INFLUENCE. The IMPACT! Your faves could never etc.
 
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RJN

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The can't be bothered aspect kind of applies to everything post Confessions for a lot of people I think (or maybe its just me). There are good songs, and even albums, after that, but it's all just so different than what came before. I feel like I'm forcing myself to like anything after that.
 

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Music deserves a lot more credit these days. I think it’s her second best nowadays, but I don’t think it was underrated when it was released.

In hindsight however, it feels like American Life deserved a lot more than it got, but I blame it on the first single and the embarrassing lyrics.
 

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Confession - I have never once listened to any of Madonna’s albums after Hard Candy. I just completely lost all interest. In fact my previous fandom waned well before that around the time of American Life.
 

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I’d say Rebel Heart and the last one whose name I can’t even remember now are overrated by the fans.
 

Suedey

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The can't be bothered aspect kind of applies to everything post Confessions for a lot of people I think (or maybe its just me). There are good songs, and even albums, after that, but it's all just so different than what came before. I feel like I'm forcing myself to like anything after that.
I have that with MDNA and God knows I tried to make it happen at the time (you can dig up my posts on Moopy) but it was never going to happen Gretchen because it's a rotten album. Hard Candy is a different kettle of fish - I know it has its fans, and I appreciate that it's a cohesive body of work but I rarely listen to it these days and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth (tee hee hee).

Madame X and Rebel Heart, however, are unfairly maligned in my opinion and tarring them with the 'can't be bothered' post-COADF brush isn't fair..
 
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I used to think American Life could have turned out a lot differently had they pushed Nothing Fails as the first single - hyping it up as a sister song to Like A Prayer. I'm sure THAT would have been a much more successful launch moment for her in the short term, but in the long term the political angle was much more of a needed artistic statement from M.

I just wish she would OWN the original American Life video properly, and remaster and release it on her own official channels :D
 
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Suedey

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Confession - I have never once listened to any of Madonna’s albums after Hard Candy. I just completely lost all interest. In fact my previous fandom waned well before that around the time of American Life.
Sadly I think you represent one of probably 1-2 million of what used to be her fanbase. Yes you were not as hardcore as some of us have been but you weren't someone who just owned The Immaculate Collection. And therein lies the problem and it explains the diminshing returns she's had with each successive release since Hard Candy.

I simply do not subscribe to the theory that creatively her music has been downhill since that album.
 

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Why DID they drop the Music campaign after three singles?

Impressive Instant and Runaway Lover could easily have been modest hits to extend the era a bit.
 

Suedey

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Is BEDTIME STORIES underrated? If so that.
I would say in the UK - yes; in the US, no. Curious one that.

I think when Pitchfork picked out 4 of her key albums to review for her 60th they chose it as one of the four (but gave it a middling review) - so maybe you're right after all..
 

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Why DID they drop the Music campaign after three singles?
Dispute with the label. They wanted 'Amazing' as single number 4, but she wanted 'Impressive Instant' (remixes had been commissioned for the latter in the USA; a promo disc was issued of the former to radio). To circumvent her, the label was going to film a live video for 'Amazing' from the Drowned World tour, so she decided to cut off her nose to spite her face and cut it from the setlist (replacing it with 'Beautiful Stranger'.)
 

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did those Impressive Instant remixes ever emerge?
 
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Why DID they drop the Music campaign after three singles?

Impressive Instant and Runaway Lover could easily have been modest hits to extend the era a bit.

I've always thought Gone - if packaged correctly - would have been a decent curio single from Music too, in addition to the above.
A Madonna ballad wasn't exactly a rarity around this time, and it would have fit perfectly into the cowboy/guitar/starry night aesthetic of the album artwork :disco:
 

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I don't know if any of her albums is really underrated. I think they're all rated fairly. maybe in terms of general acclaim Erotica is a touch underrated - I don't think it gets enough credit for how many properly shit the bed amazing songs it contains. it's up there with RoL/Confessions, but gets less discussion these days.
 

Suedey

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did those Impressive Instant remixes ever emerge?
Yes - they were released on 12" vinyl at the time. It actually reached No. 1 on the dance club play chart in the USA - the Rauhofer mix is a particular favourite. I don't think they were released on any other format (but I'm happy to be corrected.)
 

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my pick for 4th single would be I Deserve It btw. it would flop but I'd have loved a video - best non-single on Music.
 

Suedey

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'Impressive Instant' should have been the fourth single. There was a poll on her website at the time and it won by a landslide. I think the label wanted a 'Beautiful Stranger' rehash cash-in but with the right event video, albeit a riskier choice, I am sure that 'Impressive Instant' would have been a hit.
 

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Music deserves a lot more credit these days. I think it’s her second best nowadays, but I don’t think it was underrated when it was released.
Some of the "darker" moments (I Deserve It, Nobody's Perfect, Paradise, Gone) hit hard in the COVID era. And then there are the bawps. Such a sharp turn from Ray of Light, but in many ways, just as good a pop album

In hindsight however, it feels like American Life deserved a lot more than it got, but I blame it on the first single and the embarrassing lyrics.
American Life songs get a lot of playlisting for me these days, now that I'm old. The acoustic middle section is perfect for "play while you're eating dinner". The title track and its video remain amazing, and her most underrated moment.
 

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Sadly I think you represent one of probably 1-2 million of what used to be her fanbase. Yes you were not as hardcore as some of us have been but you weren't someone who just owned The Immaculate Collection. And therein lies the problem and it explains the diminshing returns she's had with each successive release since Hard Candy.

I simply do not subscribe to the theory that creatively her music has been downhill since that album.
It’s just complete apathy on my part which is probably the same for a lot of people. While I loathed Hard Candy at the time, there was not a particular bad song or event that caused it. It’s just none of her singles since then have jumped out as anything special. I think the last time I was interested in what she did was the Super Bowl, which was rather good.
 

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I have that with MDNA and God knows I tried to make it happen at the time (you can dig up my posts on Moopy) but it was never going to happen Gretchen because it's a rotten album. Hard Candy is a different kettle of fish - I know it has its fans, and I appreciate that it's a cohesive body of work but I rarely listen to it these days and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth (tee hee hee).

Madame X and Rebel Heart, however, are unfairly maligned in my opinion and tarring them with the 'can't be bothered' post-COADF brush isn't fair..

I think it is fair! I wasn't saying they are worse albums or that she's lost all of her skills or anything. Just that I can't muster up any real excitement for them. I listen to her older albums because I feel like it. I like Madame X, but I only put it on if I'm forcing myself to.
 

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The problem with Hard Candy was more her image, and the feeling that she was desperately jumping on a bandwagon that had already long departed. The songs are generally fine. The vocals are not.
 

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It's funny how Music has become so forgotten. It's her most abundant album in all charity shops as well. I do feel some of its success was due to the fact that she was riding high on Ray Of Light and some of the obligatory positive reviews were due precisely to that rather than the music itself. However, it's pretty much all killer no filler when you consider the 10-track album itself (and yes I'm including 'Amazing' in my assessments but I choose to exclude 'American Pie'. Bye bitch.)

I'd agree the charity shop thing is true as well, although I think part of that is that albums from the early 00s in general seem to dominate in charity shops. I've noticed that practically all the big sellers from that era abound in local ones.
 

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I'd agree the charity shop thing is true as well, although I think part of that is that albums from the early 00s in general seem to dominate in charity shops. I've noticed that practically all the big sellers from that era abound in local ones.
True - it's just that Music and Sing When You're Winning are always in my charity shops and they were both released within weeks/months of each other if I'm not mistaken.. so I've always associated the two together! Sometimes it's even the tour edition of Music with the extra disc! :disco:

The other omnipresent M title is GHV2 which, as you point out, is also from the early 00s..
 

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The audacity of donating Music to a charity shop. I can understand Sing / Swing When You're Winning.
 

lolly

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I just looked up 2000 in British music charts on Wikipedia. 19 times the #1 album of the week sold over 100k. 10 times over 200k. And the vast majority of those sales would have been CD.

I guess it was the last period before downloading (legal or otherwise) gained a foothold. I imagine the majority of those CDs will be in landfill now. And probably as many sitting in charity shops as with the original purchaser.
 

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I remember renting Music from a public library :eyes:

But to answer the question, definitely Rebel Heart. It's got plenty of filler, but it's the only album post-COADF that I've consistently played past week 1. I used to play it on a loop while studying for exams! There's something to be said about allowing ten great songs to breathe with just as many filler / cringe moments to prolong the Madonna experience! If I did a Madge top ten of the 2010s - I think all but two songs would be from Rebel Heart.

To a lesser extent, Erotica and Bedtime Stories. The former seems to have plenty of notoriety but it seems like its best musical qualities are ignored in favor of the salacious aspects and media circus that surrounded her at the time. Bedtime Stories did rather well in the States (although the last two singles bombed everywhere? - not that they were released for commercial appeal...), but it seems underrated in fan circles.
 

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