groovyguy

The American Life Era

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Background

According to biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, the presence of Ritchie in Madonna's life had a calming effect on the singer, making her more matured and easing her temper. 

Concentrating on her music career, Madonna was busy throughout of 2001 on her Drowned World Tour.

On September 11, 2001, suicide bombers hijacked two jet airliners and crashed into the World Trade Center, resulting in the death of nearly 3,000 people. The event had a profound effect on American society, with the cultural mood being bleakness and paranoia. People, including Madonna, started asking questions about their culture and the American Dream, which had been a long-lasting ideal for many. When Madonna started working on her ninth studio album, American Life, she wanted answers to her queries and an appropriate response to the 9/11 disaster and the ensuing Iraq war of 2003. She believed that the ensuing months with the war would lead to a politically charged atmosphere throughout the country, and wanted to express that in the record.

 

Madonna enlisted the help of French DJ and producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï. Always interested in adapting herself and her music to the contemporary compositions, Madonna was inspired by the new Massive Attack and Lemon Jelly albums. "We set out to put the two worlds of acoustic and electronic music together," said Madonna. "It is another step on, but I've never wanted to repeat myself. I don't ever want to repeat myself or make the same record twice." 

American Life became Madonna's final studio album with Maverick Records, and marked the end of an eleven-year recording history with the label. In an interview with VH1 titled Madonna Speaks, the singer discussed her 20 years in the music industry, and revealed her motivations behind American Life, about "material things" being unimportant. "I have lots of 'material' things and I've had lots of beliefs about things and what's important, and I look back at the 20 years behind me and I realized that a lot of things that I'd valued weren't important", she concluded. 

Discussing her thoughts on the conception of the album, she told Q magazine that through her 20 years of being in the entertainment industry, she would have a correct opinion on fame and fortune and its perils, which would be the base of the album.

 

When Madonna started writing the songs on the album, she was inspired by different situations, like having guitar lessons and getting an idea, or sometimes Ahmadzaï would send over a rough demo to her without the basic chord progression. The songs on American Life and their lyrics were developed like that.

Explaining her writing process, Madonna told Q magazine that the "music has to jar my brain in terms of lyrics. Sometimes I write free verse. I have a journal and I note down ideas I get from newspapers and books". 

Madonna also remembered Ahmadzaï's downbeat existentialism regarding the condition of society around them, and the long discussions they had into the night, which ultimately reflected into the songwriting as anxiety they felt in their heart. 

American Life was deemed by some as a concept album featuring political themes based around the United States, with Madonna explaining that she felt "like America has changed over the years and that a lot of our values seem to be materially oriented and so superficial. And we all seem to be obsessed with fame just for the sake of fame, no matter what — sell your soul to the devil if that's what it takes. And we're also completely obsessed with the way we look." Madonna recalled that even she had been through such trials and those musings came out in the writing of the first three songs, the title track, "Hollywood" and "I'm So Stupid". John Norris from MTV described them as a trilogy, and an indicator of Madonna's reassessment of her life while discussing things she wishes to put behind her. Madonna partly agreed, saying that the tracks are extensions of one another, and portray her desire of giving importance to less noteworthy things, and how she could come out of that "illusion". Madonna discussed the materialistic themes of the record and her personal encounters which have led to the composition with MTV saying:

"Who better to say those things don't matter than somebody who's experienced them? [People may say], 'How can you say they don't matter? How can you say that money won't bring you happiness if you don't have a lot of money? How can you say that fame and fortune are not a guarantee for happiness and joy and fulfillment in your life?' You have to have that experience to know. 'Cause you have all those things, I've had all those things, and I've had nothing but chaos around me. So I'm just sharing what I know with the world. 'Cause I do think that we've become completely consumed with being rich and famous, our society has. And I just want to tell people, take it from me, I have all those things and none of them ever brought me one minute of happiness."

The glamorous world of Hollywood also reflected in her writing, especially in the second track of the same name. Describing it as a metaphor, Madonna said that "in Hollywood you can lose your memory and your vision of the future. You can lose everything because you can lose yourself." 

The beginning of the album cleared away what was not important for her, so Madonna could concentrate on the things that did matter. So, in contrast to the first three tracks, the later songs on American Life also deal with issues close to the singer's heart, like talking about her relationship with her parents on the track "Mother and Father". When Madonna was five, her mother died of breast cancer and the track was "a way of letting go of the sadness and moving on." 

According to Lucy O'Brien, author of Madonna: Like an Icon, another concept of American Life was about "nothingness". This was evident in the titles of the songs like "Nobody Knows Me", usage of "no" in "Love Profusion", as well as "Nothing Fails". Usage of the negative tone led Madonna to be sarcastic on people's assumptions about her and emphasize about her knowledge of romantic love. But "Nothing Fails", along with tracks "Intervention" and "X-Static Process," became the centerpiece of the album as a triptych of love songs for Ritchie. Beginning as a humble track that musician-producer Guy Sigsworth wrote for his wife, "Nothing Fails" also has lyrics by singer Jem Archer, who was asked to collaborate with Sigsworth and Madonna during the first collaborative sessions of American Life. The track is followed by the folk-inspired "Intervention" and "X-Static Process," both being reflective and emotional. Her reflective mood continued with the last track "Easy Ride," which was inspired by the imagery of a full-circle and symbolized life for the singer.

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Videos

GHV2 Thunderpuss Megamix Video 2001

Edited by Dan-O-Rama https://youtu.be/u5PnLCmLS_c

GHV2 Johnny Rocks & Mac Quayle Megamix Edit Video 2001 Edited by Dan-O-Rama

https://youtu.be/t3cZ2bVIZMY

 

GHV2 Tracy Young Megamix Video 2001 Edited by Dan-O-Rama

https://youtu.be/BU4qles9ms4

 

Die Another Day Music Video 2002 Directed by Traktor

https://youtu.be/VlbaJA7aO9M

 

Die Another Day DEMo Remix Video 2002 Directed by Traktor

https://youtu.be/UNiK_fmUaYc

 

Die Another Day Brother's Brown's Mix Video 2002 Directed by Traktor Edited by Dan-O-Rama

https://youtu.be/PWZxh_t9Ej8

 

American Life Music Video 2003 Directed by Jonas Åkerlund

https://youtu.be/tQpgRYmiUFw

 

American Life Music Video Director's Cut 2003 Directed by Jonas Åkerlund

https://youtu.be/1CWXjk40yWE

 

American Life Music Video Censored 2003 Directed by Jonas Åkerlund

https://youtu.be/ZrDlOmuJl9o

 

Hollywood Music Video2003 Directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino

https://youtu.be/p04GtRxoFWI

 

Hollywood AvidDiva Remix Video 2003 Directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino Edited by Dustin Robertson

https://youtu.be/tqEe9M6vsaw

 

Hollywood Paul Oakenfold Remix Video 2003 Directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino

https://youtu.be/PYSV6Ojrjv4

 

Hollywood (Paul Oakenfold 12'' Dub)

https://youtu.be/dqtHnE3JNck

 

Me Against The Music Music Video 2003 Directed by Paul Hunter

https://youtu.be/clwLKJ294u4

 

Me Against The Music Rockamerica Remix Video 2003 Directed by Paul Hunter

Download links @ http://madonna-mv.com/90270/Britney-Spears-Feat-Madonna-Me-Against-The-Music-Rockamerica-Remix-.html

 

Me Against The Music Peter Rauhofer's Electrohouse Radio Mix 2003 Directed by Paul Hunter

https://youtu.be/X4AcFQhC_s4

 

Love Profusion Music Video 2003 Directed by Luc Besson

https://youtu.be/YUtvUFsPA6Y

 

Love Profusion Ralphi Rosario House Vocal Edit Video 2003 Directed by Luc Besson Edited by Dan-O-Rama

https://youtu.be/uwSMfvxjBf8

 

Nobody Knows Me AvidDiva Remix Video Montage 2004 Edited by Dustin Robertson

https://youtu.be/2rq9LqZUNaE

 

Nobody Knows Me AvidDiva Remix Video Montage Director's Cut 2004 Edited by Dustin Robertson

https://youtu.be/5Jhwi3oMRjY

 

The Beast Within Re-Invention Tour Backdrop Video 2004 Directed by Steven Klein

https://youtu.be/rX73a4HzFPU

 

Vogue Re-Invention Tour Backdrop Video 2004 Directed by Steven Klein

https://youtu.be/tzsaXucVLlM

 

Bedtime Story Re-Invention Tour Backdrop Orbital Remix Video 2004 Directed by Dago Gonzales

https://youtu.be/ogUEC2i0xMM

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2001:

Madonna Interview : GQ March 2001

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-gq-march-2001

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2001-madonna-gq-march-cover.jpg

 

Madonna Interview : Interview Magazine March 2001

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-interview-magazine-march-2001

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2000-madonna-interview.jpg

The Hire "The Star" segment Feature Film

Directed by Guy Ritchie / Written by Guy Ritchie and Joe Sweet

Cast: Clive Owen, Madonna, Michael Beattie and Toru Tanaka Jr.

June 2001 (USA)

https://youtu.be/KXx-cF_MUyA

“The Mommy Returns – Madonna Tour de Force” : Entertainment Weekly July 27 2001

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-articles/mommy-returns-madonna-tour-de-force-entertainment-weekly-july-27-2001

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2001-madonna-entertainment-weekly.jpg

 

Thunderpuss GHV2 Megamix Single October 2001 Promo Only Maverick / Warner

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-discography/madonna-ghv2-single.jpg

 

Regan Cameron on Madonna : American Photo September / October 2001

http://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/regan-cameron-on-madonna-american-photo-september-october-2001

http://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2001-madonna-american-photo.jpg

October 15: In a U.K. interview, Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin) says Madonna contacted him earlier this year to do a track for a new album (or a single). He declined, but counter-offered to have her guest on a track for his new album Drukqs (Sire/London/Rhino) which comes out on October 23, 2001. He reportedly wanted her to make pig sounds and grunts. She declined the offer at the last minute. He takes a swipe at her in the interview by saying she “works with trendy producers to stay young.”

GHV2 Remixed - The Best of 1991-2001 Remixes Compilation November 2001

2x CD US Promo Only Sire / Warner

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-discography/madonna-ghv2-remixed-the-best-of-1991-2001-album.jpg

GHV2 (Greatest Hits Volume 2) Hits Compilation November 12 2001

Maverick / Warner

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-discography/madonna-ghv2-album.jpg

 

Drowned World Tour 2001 November 13 2001 Warner

https://youtu.be/e0_nnrfsB6M

November 23: In a U.K. BBC Radio 1 interview to promote GHV2, Madonna says she will begin working on her new album in January 2002 with Mirwaïs. She also says she might work with Stuart Price from Les Rythmes Digitales who helped her remix and rework some songs on the Drowned World Tour. He is currently working on some music for her so she may try that collaboration too. She doesn’t have plans to work with anyone else on the album currently, but she does know that she’ll be recording it in London. Part of the interview concerning this:

But it could have been a greatest hit?

M: Well I'm gonna save that for my next record which I'm gonna start recording in January.

So you are about to do some new stuff?

M: Yeah.

But all the papers were saying that's it, you've stopped now?

M: Oh, since when did you believe all the papers?

Have you got ideas who you're working with on the next album?

M: Yes, I'm working with Mirwaïs again ...

That was a genius stroke.

M: Yeah, he's so great. So I'm gonna work with him again. I might work with this guy that I met when I was looking for some musicians to play with. His name is Stuart Price, he's in a group called Les Rythmes Digitales. We fooled around with remixes and re-doing a lot of the tracks for the actual live show. Then we talked about working on stuff for my next album, and he's already working on music for me. So I'm going to try that collaboration as well.

Anyone else?

M: Not yet.

And where are you recording that, in this country?

M: Yeah, here.

How do you tend to work, do you lock yourself in the studio and work intensively and give yourself fixed time limits?

M: Yeah, I hit a stopwatch.

And do you enjoy doing that?

M: Well I like to do a lot of preparation work so when I go into the studio, which is generally very expensive, I'm prepared. Both Mirwaïs and Stuart have their own home studios, what I do is go and work on the writing with them and than we get all of the pieces and we go into the big studio and record everything.

 

Madonna’s MSN Live Chat, Dec. 12, 2001, 12noon (EST)

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonnas-msn-live-chat-dec-12-2001-12noon-est

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2001-madonna-msn.jpg

In the MSN chat interview to promote GHV2, Madonna says the following about her new album:

[about the next album’s direction]:

It’s too hard to say. I have very rough ideas about my album right now. I don’t ever know what I am going to do until I am in the studio so I can’t predict that.

[currently listening to]

Kid Loco, Nick Drake, Dean Martin and Goldfrapp.

December 18: Madonna does an interview on the Today show with Matt Lauer. In it, she says she is unhappy with recently released “unauthorized” biographies because they people who write them do not “truly know the person” they are writing about. This could end up being the source material for “Nobody Knows Me.” - my own conjecture

END OF 2001: Towards the end of 2001, Madonna by herself, wrote a song called “Mind Trap.” Mirwaïs had then worked on the track in his studio without Madonna. It got various names, one being “Mind Trapper.” Later they have worked on the song together and it has been fully recorded. This track is considered as an early track. At a later stage, the song “Nobody Knows Me” has been co-written with Mirwaïs and recorded. Both of these songs consist of similar lyrical content and “Nobody Knows Me” can be described as the evolved version of “Mind Trap.” (DrownedMadonna.com, reported in 2004)

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2002

Keyboard Stuart Price, Marcus Brown and Mike McKnight on Madonna's Drowned World Tour

January 2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonnas-drowned-world-tour-keyboard-january-2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2002-madonna-keyboard-january-cover.jpg

* Jan (9) In Singapore, Madonna: Drowned World Tour 2001 concert DVD is banned from release because it is deemed too explicit.
* Jan  (19) Madonna attends Donatella Versaces haute couture fashion show at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France.

January 19: RUMOR: Madonna has recorded a song for the soundtrack to the upcoming Austin Powers movie Goldmember. She reportedly recorded the song and submitted to the film’s producers a few weeks back and pending its approval, it could be the theme song. It’s rumored to be called “When I Look Back.” (Source: madonnarama.com)

Later: Madonna’s spokesperson denies such a track was ever recorded or even written. Insider sources say she was asked to submit a song though before Christmas.

January 20: Two songs have been recorded so far at SARM West Studios in London with Mirwaïs and another (as-yet unnamed) producer. There are also rumors that Madonna will record the theme song to the 20th James Bond film due at the end of the year. Negotiations are still going on. (Madonnarama.com)


* Jan (21) Madonna is named the second best-selling artist in Europe with 17 Platinum Europe Awards for 5 albums by the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry (IFPI) at the 36th annual MIDEM Music Conference in Cannes, France.
* Jan (29) Madonna attends the opening of photographer Mario Testinos exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/mario-testino-madonna-guy-lola.png

 

February 2002
* Feb (9) GHV2 Megamix hits #5 on Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in US.

While the Thunderpuss GHV2 Megamix was promoted to mainstream channels, alternate megamixes produced by Tracy Young and Johnny Rocks & Mac Quayle targeted club DJ’s.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/johnny-rocks-mac-quayle-ghv2-megamix-promoa.jpg?w=550&h=555

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/tracy-young-ghv2-megamix-promoa.jpg?w=550&h=550

 

* Feb (12) Madonna: Drowned World Tour 2001 is named Best Music DVD at the 1st annual UK DVD Awards in England.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/drowned_world_dvd_back.jpg

* Feb (20) Madonna attends a Michelle Branch concert at Irving Plaza, New York, NY.
* Feb (21) Madonna: Drowned World Tour 2001 video is certified 1x platinum (100,000 units).

February 25: Liz R. confirms that Madonna has recorded a few new songs with Mirwaïs. She also says the song for the new Bond movie will be a single as well as the theme song.

* Feb (28) Madonna announced that she would make her West End stage debut in David Williamson’s play Up For Grabs.  The production would open on May 23, 2002 at Wyndhams Theatre in London, and have a 10-week run.

Madonna’s previous stage role was in Speed-the-Plow in 1988.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/up-for-grabs-programme.jpg

 

March 2002

March 1: Madonnarama reports that there is no album scheduled for this year. Tracks are near completeion but the album is now for next year and also expect no new tracks until later this year.

* Mar (1) Blond Ambition World Tour 1990 is featured in Q magazines list of The 10 Tours That Changed Music.
* Mar (13) Madonna and Guy attend the opening night of play Jesus Hopped The A-Train at the Donmar Theatre in London, England.

March 14: Sources say Madonna just signed an agreement today to record the new Bond theme. Liz R. says, “She goes into the recording studio on Monday.” Madonna drove a hard bargain according to MGM - she only agreed to do the song if she gets a cameo in the film. There are conflicting reports she will not be able to film the cameo due to her doing a London play at the same time.

March 15: Press release: Madonna to Compose, Perform Next Bond Theme

Fri Mar 15, 4:04 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After scoring a Grammy-winning hit with her theme song to the last "Austin Powers" movie, pop diva Madonna (news -web sites) is ready to sing for a real spy. The Material Girl has been tapped to compose and perform the title song for the next James Bond film, "Die Another Day," becoming the latest in a string of music stars who have recorded 007 themes over the years, producers announced on Friday. "Die Another Day," the 20th Bond film, will star Pierce Brosnan in his fourth incarnation as the suave British super spy and actress Halle Berry as the agent's latest squeeze. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Inc. is due to release the film in November in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the venerable film franchise spawned by the novels of Ian Fleming. Madonna, set to star this spring in a new London stage play, "Up for Grabs," follows in the footsteps of numerous recording stars who have lent their talents to James Bond soundtracks over the years. Notable hit Bond themes have included "We Have All the Time in the World" (from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service") sung by Louis Armstrong, "Live and Let Die," performed by Paul McCartney and Wings," "Nobody Does It Better" ("The Spy Who Loved Me") sung by Carly Simon, and "For Your Eyes Only," sung by Sheena Easton. Madonna, 43, has written and recorded a number of movie songs during her career, including the hit "Beautiful Stranger" from espionage spoof "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," which won a Grammy Award for best song written for a motion picture, and a Golden Globe nomination. The Bond film is due to be released on Nov 22nd.


* Mar (15) Madonna is signed to record the theme song for 20th James Bond film Die Another Day.

March 18: Madonna begins recording the James Bond tune with Mirwaïs today.

REVEALED LATER:

Madonna records two songs for MGM. One is “Die Another Day” which is used and the other, a ballad, “Can’t You See My Mind?” which was widely reported in the media but not used. The unused track is registered in the ASCAP database.

March 19: Madonna will reportedly not being doing matinee performances of Up For Grabs, her upcoming West End play, due to her recording commitments which cannot be rescheduled.

March 20: George Michael reportedly visits Madonna in the recording studio where he is doing some new material.

* Mar (20) Madonna announces she has cancelled all matinee performances of Up For Grabs due to unforeseen daytime recording commitments.
* Mar (25) Madonna wins Best Dance Artist - Solo at the 17th annual International Dance Music Awards in Miami Beach, FL.

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April 2002

April: REVEALED LATER ON: Jemma Griffiths (the singer Jem) and Guy Sigsworth properly recorded their demo for “Silly Thing” (after writing it together in 2001 - I think it was even post 9/11) this month [April 2002] and sent it off to Madonna. She loved it and re-wrote part of the lyrics and changed the name to “Nothing Fails.” Jem and Guy say that the musical arrangement changed considerably and that the choir inclusion was Madonna’s idea. Sigsworth also say he’s happy with what Mirwais did with the production as it’s not a copy of Guy’s style at all. (KCRW Interview, April 2003)

Previous reports stating “Nothing Fails” has many versions are in fact, not correct. It was very clear to Madonna and her producers how this song is going to sound in terms of melody. Even the choir was already planned. “Silly Thing” was the working title. Jem wrote the song with Guy Sigsworth in 2001 and it was later sent to Madonna. Madonna added additional lyrics and re-produced, re-arranged and recorded the track. (DrownedMadonna.com, 2004)

* Apr (1) Madonna is #6 on the list of Top 100 Rock & Rollers Of All Time in LIFE magazines Rock And Roll At 50 special edition issue.
* Apr (2) Dick Tracy (1990) is released on DVD.
* Apr (7) Madonna and Guy Ritchie are #4 on The UK Sunday Times list of Britains richest people of the year 2002.
* Apr (8) Madonna begins rehearsals for David Williamsons play Up For Grabs at Sadlers Wells in London, England, co-starring Megan Dodds, Tom Irwin, Michael Lerner, Daniel Pino, Sian Thomas and Debora Weston, directed by Laurence Boswell.
* Apr (11) Rolling Stone: 50 Coolest Albums of All Time includes You Can Dance at #50.
* Apr (13) A controversial nude portrait of Madonna by contemporary artist Peter Howson is unveiled at the MacLaurin Art Gallery in Ayr, Scotland.

On April 17 2002, David Williamson spoke to news.com.au about working with Madonna on her West End debut in Up For Grabs, and how she prefers to be called M, not Madge.

Williamson told the news site that Madonna hates the nickname British newspapers have given her:

“They call her Madge to try to domesticate her and she hates it. One of the actors didn’t realise and called her that in rehearsals and got a fairly sharp response.”

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/m-up-for-grabs-april-17.jpg

On April 22 2002, In Bed With Madonna (known as Truth Or Dare in North America) was released on DVD.

Google’s synopsis of the documentary:

This documentary chronicles Madonna’s controversial 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour, kicking off in Japan during its rainy season, then traveling to North America with significant stops in Los Angeles, Detroit, Toronto, and New York. The film is a behind-the-scenes look at Madonna’s relationships with her dancers and crew, her then-boyfriend Warren Beatty, and her family and friends, achieving an intimate glimpse into the boundary-pushing singer’s drive and individuality.

On April 29 2002, Madonna was featured on the cover of People magazine, because she was a mother over the age of 40.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/20020429-750-0.jpg?w=550

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/20020429-750-end.jpg?w=550

*Gold by Andrew Lloyd Webber Compilation Album Polydor May 07 2002

Incl. You Must Love Me

May 2002

May 8: Rumors report that Mirwaïs’ part of the album recording is finished and that he put the finishing touches on it last week before returning to Paris. A Madonna spokesperson tells MTV that the album recording is “on hold” until August, when Madonna completes her run on the London stage in Up For Grabs.


* May (8) Like A Prayer is #5 in UKs Favorite Single Of All Time survey by Guinness World Records: British Hit Singles.

* May (13) Madonna begins 10-day preview performances of David Williamsons play Up For Grabs at Wyndhams Theatre, London, England.

Cast: Madonna, Tom Irwin, Megan Dodds, Danny Pino, Sian Thomas, Michael Lerner, Debora Weston and Laurence Boswell

https://youtu.be/FKKeh4GkZbQ

https://youtu.be/hoWFvRcskOg

https://youtu.be/TI2oJDQa0Zs

https://youtu.be/LQ32jasEJm8

https://youtu.be/wB7EbNajEhc

https://youtu.be/IJaU6rgZVaQ

https://youtu.be/dA-OTp-m40g

https://youtu.be/1T8zpM_cbFQ


* May (14) Dont Tell Me and Music are honored as two of the Most Performed Pop Songs Of 2001 at the 50th annual BMI Pop Awards at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA.
* May (17) Marcus Sessions, a 28-year-old obsessive Madonna fan, is suspended from his job as an ice cream seller at Wyndhams Theatre, London, England; her spokeswoman says she will speak to the theatre to discuss the way staff are hired.
* May (20) Dont Tell Me and Music are honored as two of the Most Performed Songs Of 2001 at the 19th annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA.

On May 22 2002, Madonna won Most Performed Song and Best Dance Song for Don’t Tell Me at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards.

May 22: (rumor) About two weeks ago, Madonna took the Eurostar to Paris and worked with Mirwaïs in his studio on 6 tracks for her album. (MadonnaPlanet.com)

On May 22 2002, the real-life All The Way Mae died.  Faye Dancer was a member of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s and an inspiration for the character (Mae Mordabito) Madonna played in the 1992 hit film, A League of Their Own.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/mae-3.jpg

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/mae-4.jpg

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/mae-6.jpg

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/mae-5.jpg

 

May 23: Madonna is collaborating with French composer Michel Colombier (Serge Gainsbourg, Zero 7) on "Can't You See My Mind," the title song to the upcoming James Bond movie, Die Another Day. Colombier, who first worked with Mrs. Ritchie on "Don't Tell Me," is also scoring Madonna's upcoming film, Swept Away, and working with the singer on her next album.

[Glenn from the Madonna Mailing List says:

Rumor has it that the song is "jazz/strings and reminiscent of Sinatra's 'I've Got You Under My Skin'.]

From Michel Colombier’s official website today:

"Michel has just finished recording the score for 'Swept Away', written and directed by Guy Ritchie, starring Madonna. This film is scheduled for release in the U.S. in September 2002. - Select songs from Madonna's new album, including 'Can't You See My Mind?', title song of the soon-to-be-released James Bond movie, have had string arrangements written by Michel."

* May (23) Madonna opens in David Williamsons West End play Up For Grabs at Wyndhams Theatre, London, England.

On May 30, 2002, People magazine mistakenly reported that Madonna was set to record a cover version of Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind:

Madonna fans who are looking forward to seeing and hearing her on the new James Bond film, Die Another Day, will be chuffed to hear that her Madgeness will be taking a slightly bigger role in the flick than previously thought. Mrs R will record a cover of a song called If You Could Read My Mind for a spicy scene where Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan, seduces Halle Berry’s character, Jade. The song was originally recorded in 1970 by Gordon Lightfoot.

In fact, an original song titled Can’t You Read My Mind, written by Madonna & Mirwais, is registered in ASCAP’s database. String arranger Michel Colombier confirmed in May of 2002 that he had recorded a string arrangement for the song, referring to it as the theme for the upcoming Bond film. This suggests that it was likely an early version of the released theme song, Die Another Day, possibly featuring alternate lyrics that were later revised to tie in with the film’s title.

 

June 2002
* Jun (2) In a telephone interview with The British Sunday People, Tony Ciccone (Madonnas father) announces that she is pregnant; a statement by publicist Liz Rosenberg is released denying the rumors and confirms it is completely untrue.

June 11: The Bond theme song will now be “Die Another Day” instead of “Can’t You See My Mind?” (madonnarama.com)

* Jun (11) Madonnas Liquid Assets premieres on A&E-TVs Biography.
* Jun (17) Dont Tell Me is honored as one of the Most Performed Dance Songs Of 2001 at the 15th annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA.
* Jun (20) Madonna is #4 with an income of $43 million in Forbes magazines list of top 100 highest paid entertainers of 2002.

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July 2002

July 2: Madonna is reportedly going to be collaborating with Versailles, France duo Air on her next album. According to MTV's French website, they will meet in September to discuss the development of a demo track liked by both parties. There is no new Madonna album planned until 2003. The demo has no title and no lyrics at the moment.

REVEALED LATER:

In an interview to promote their new 2004 album

Talkie Walkie

, AIR told a French magazine about their offering of a song to Madonna for American Life which she refused:

“We had been requested to send a song to her,” tells Nicolas Godin. “We chose a 'light' song which is called “Alpha Beta Gaga.” The song was not very erudite, so for me it didn't deserved to be on a AIR disc. It was also a way of being sure that Madonna would refuse, because we were afraid of the stake that represented working with her. Finally, the song is not that bad and was put on the disc. But, while listening, it misses a voice, hers.” (January 2004)

July 4: Madonna has personally called rap producer/artist Dr. Dre to help out with some tracks on her new CD. We have been told that Madonna first called Dr. Dre a few months back and asked him to do a track on the new

Austin Powers soundtrack which is released on Maverick Records next week. Dre agreed to do it and has remixed the Rolling Stones' classic "Miss You" for the forthcoming Goldmember soundtrack. Insiders say that Madonna was so blown away by the track that she has asked him for some help on her new album. No decisions have been made, but Dr. Dre 's management are said to be against the idea, saying it's "too pop" for him.

Madonna has also asked remixer Paul Oakenfold, (who has remixed "What It Feels Like For A Girl") to help out on the album. Oakenfold has just released a successful CD called "Bunkka" in the U.S. on Madonna's Maverick Records.(MLVC Mailing List rumor)

* Jul (8) Madonna begins filming a cameo appearance as a fencing instructor for James Bond movie Die Another Day (starring Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry, directed by Lee Tamahori) at Pinewood Studios, London, England.

July 9: Also, today, Liz R. confirms that the Bond theme-song, “Die Another Day” will be released in October 2002 to precede the film which arrives in November.

* Jul (13) Madonna plays her final performance in David Williamsons West End play Up For Grabs at Wyndhams Theatre, London, England.
* Jul (16) Madonna is honored as Most Popular Fitness Role Model in SHAPE magazines Readers Choice Awards 2002.

July 21: The real lyrics to “Die Another Day” leak on the Internet.

July 28: Paul Oakenfold has completed some remixes of “Die Another Day” and Thunderpuss have been asked to submit one as well, but they haven’t started work on it yet.

July 31: Madonna writes a letter for ICON magazine in which she says she is back in the U.S. relaxing and enjoying the sunshine and:

I am strumming my guitar and cooking up ideas for my next album.

PERSONAL CONJECTURE:

I think she may have written "Easy Ride" around this time in Los Angeles. Just a guess. Here is what DrownedMadonna said in 2004:

In 2002, Madonna worked with Monte Pittman on the song “Easy Ride,” then titled “Round and Round.” It did not involve Mirwaïs or Michel Colombier at that point. “Round and Round” was recorded as an acoustic version with guitars only and was planned as the final version. By the time Colombier finished working on “Nothing Fails” a decision was made up to add the strings. The track was finally reworked on with Mirwaïs.

The VF McDean shoot was done in June or July 2002. Even fansite Mad-Eyes.net corroborates this.

 

August 2002

Madonna Interview : Q Magazine August 2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-q-magazine-august-2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2002-madonna-q.jpg

01 August (2002) - Liz Smith on Swept Away and Vanity Fair

For those who like their Madonna nasty, gorgeously dressed, and (eventually) naked, you're gonna love her in "Swept Away." This remake of Lina Wertmuller's 1975 film has discontented rich-bitch Madonna browbeating her yacht minions in an eye-popping wardrobe, cast-away on an island in little more than a bikini, and then subjugated, vulnerable and bare-naked, in an artistic, shadowed way. Madonna's hubby, Guy Ritchie, who directed the pic, is a secure man to have allowed his wife so many intimate scenes with co-star Adriano Giannini (he is the son of the original male star of 'Swept Away' Giancarlo Giannini). But maybe watching the Mrs. cavort stoked the old home fires - a bit of married fantasy, you know? Critics will say what they will, but Madonna can't be faulted physically in "Swept Away." Her abs alone - after two children - take Best Actress honors. In October, Madonna appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, photographed by Craig McDean and profiled by Stephan Daly. He did an excellent appreciation of Madonna last year in VF's music issue. Mrs. Ritchie, press-bruised, never forgets a kind remark. (source: Liz Smith's column in NY Post)

On August 4 2002, Madonna took delivery of a $40,000 Mini Cooper.

Workers at the Cowley car plant in Oxfordshire gave it the personal touch by signing their names on the underside of the chassis. A worker at the Mini Cooper car plant said: “We are all so proud that Madonna is such a big fan of the car. Everyone who worked on it left their signature, either inside or under the bonnet. If anyone doubted this was a classy car before, they can certainly think again now Madonna has bought one.”

A custom Mini Cooper later appeared in the American Life music video, and promotional mini versions (no pun intended) were distributed when the American Lifealbum was released.

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* Aug (5) Madhouses remake of Like A Prayer (1989) is released as a UK single.

August 7: Jamie King, the Drowned World Tour choreographer, is set to choreograph Madonna’s new Bond-themed video at the end of the month.

August 15: Niki Haris did a webchat today in which she says she is not doing backing vocals on Madonna’s new album, or the new Bond tune. She did say Madonna would be continuing the recording of the record at the end of September.

August 16: Deep Dish will be doing remixes of “Die Another Day.”

* Aug (17) Madonna and Guy celebrate her 44th birthday with a Japanese-theme party for 50 invited guests at their estate in Beverly Hills, CA.

On August 18 2002, the official poster for Swept Away was released.

The film Swept Away, starring Madonna and directed by her husband, Guy Ritchie, would open on October 11 2002 in US theatres. The movie was initially titled Love, Sex, Drugs, and Money, and was based on the 1974 Italian film Travolti da un Insolito Destino Nell’Azzurro Mare D’Agosto. Adriano Giannini and Bruce Greenwood also starred in the film. In the film, Madonna played a socialite stranded on an island with a handsome, Communist sailor (Giannini).

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/swept-away-movie-poster.jpg

 

August 22: The video for “Die Another Day”, directed by Traktor, starts filming today and continues on August 23, 26 and 27.

August 23: Madonna injures her hand on the set of her “Die Another Day” video today. It features a fencing duel between a “good” Madonna and an “evil” Madonna, lots of Bond parapheneila and a Chinese prison scene. The video for “Die Another Day” was shot at Hollywood Center Studios by the Swedish directing duo Traktor. The whole family was present. (Madonnarama)

*Aug (24) Swept Away official website is launched by Sony Pictures.
* Aug (27) Madonna is listed in Guinness World Records 2003 for Best-Selling DVD Single (What It Feels Like For A Girl).

On August 27 2002, Madonna was listed in Guinness World Records (2003) for Best-Selling DVD Single for What It Feels Like For A Girl.

August 29: A snippet of “Die Another Day” (the opening, dramatic strings) is leaked online.

 

September 2002

September 3: Ole Sanders, from Sandvika in Norway, was approached in May. He got a handwritten letter from Madonna, and a demo of the song to his hotel room in Prague, where he was shooting a clip for The Prodigy. Later he went to Pinewood Studios in London with the Traktor team, to watch a clip from the new Bond movie. Then he was invited to Madonna's home in London with his collegues, to discuss the project. Through out the summer he worked with the video with Madonna.

Daily, he received e-mails with feedback from her. Sanders says she worked hard on ideas and details, and it came clear to him why she's been on top for 20 years. He also sais things about the video, which we allready know, such as it has no content from the new Bond movie - but still is very Bond-ish. He says the video will premiere in October on MTV, who for the first time in history will air a video simultanously around the globe. It will also be released on DVD.

* Sep (4) In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Madonna causes a controversy among the residents of a rundown housing estate in London, England when she says: I love the way the city looks, minus all the council estates randomly and profusely built up everywhere; the citizens are outraged by her comments and complain that her attitude is rude, arrogant and ridiculous.

September 7: French duo Air, have spoken about their planned collaboration with Madonna. They told MTV Spain "We are gentlemen. We never refuse the proposal of a lady - in this case, the greatest artist in the world!" As of press time, however, the collaboration has yet to happen.

New York Times September 08 2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-new-york-times-september-8-2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2002-madonna-new-york-times.jpg

 

* Sep (9) Kelly Osbournes remake of Papa Dont Preach (1986) is released as a single.

September 14: Madonna’s new Bond song “Die Another Day” will reportedly be on Madonna’s new album which is slated for release in the spring of 2003. The song, which is scheduled to go to radio on Oct. 15, features remixes by Thunderpuss, DeepSky, Brother Brown, Dirty Vegas, Felix the Housecat and Humpty Vission.

From Madonnarama: Far-out fashion designer Jeremy Scott is on fire, reports sister/business manager Barbara Scott. "He's got some very exciting things going on," she says. "He did the clothes for the new Madonna music video. He designed her clothing for it. It's in correlation to the new James Bond movie that she has a song in." The music video is slated to debut on MTV in October, Barbara says. "He spent five days with her during the shoot to make sure everything held together. Because she's pretty active in the video and does a lot of dancing." The look Scott chose for Madonna: "He told me it was very fencing-inspired," Barbara says. "Her publicist said it has a pretty out-of-this-world look. And she also represents Cher and wants him to dress Cher."

* Sep (17) Madonna Live! Drowned World Tour 2001 wins Best TV Concert Of The Year on the online 2nd annual AOL TV Viewer Awards.
* Sep (19) Swept Away is screened at AMC Movie Theatre for the Condé Nast Traveler All-Star International Film Forum, New York, NY. Madonna is named VH1s Sexiest Artist Of Rock & Roll on its list of 100 Sexiest Artists.

September 21: “Die Another Day” goes to U.S. radio on October 7, MTV on October 10, and the Bond soundtrack (on WB not Maverick) on November 12. The title is definitely “Die Another Day” and will sound similar to “Music” with heavily-autotuned vocals.

* Sep (26) Madonna is voted The Greatest Woman In Music History in a viewers poll on VH1-UK music channel: she is officially the most successful female recording artist of all time with worldwide sales of over 140 million records.

September 26: VH-1: Madonna Escapes Electric Chair, Engages In Deadly Duel

Madonna is moving into the field of covert operations.

In her new video for "Die Another Day," the pop diva, lusty temptress and maternal nurturer becomes involved in a world of intrigue and espionage.

The song is the title track for the next James Bond movie, which opens in theaters November 22. The upbeat dance cut is filled with electronic flourishes and the stealthy, suspenseful vibe essential to all Bond themes. It will be released to radio October 7.

In the clip, which was shot in Los Angeles earlier this month by directing team Traktor, Madonna plays a secret agent placed in death-defying situations reminiscent of scenes from past 007 films. In once clip, she's strapped into an electric chair; in another, she has her head held underwater by double agents; and a third features the nephew of Harold Sakata - the Oddjob character from "Goldfinger" - flinging deadly bowler hats at Madonna as his uncle did to Sean Connery back in 1964.

In one highlight, a "good" Madonna dressed in white engages in a duel with her evil alter ego, who wears black. The scene makes reference to Madonna's cameo role in the movie as a fencing instructor.

The soundtrack for "Die Another Day," which features Paul Oakenfold and others, will be released November 12.

September 27: “Die Another Day” is leaked for the first time on NYC’s Z-100. WB gives the go-ahead for other stations to play it.

On September 27 2002, the theme and title-track for the twentieth film in the James Bond franchise, Die Another Day, received its world premiere on New York radio station Z100. The song had been due to hit the airwaves on October 10th, but when Z100 got their hands on the track ahead of schedule they immediately added it to their heavy rotation playlist. Other stations quickly followed suit, prompting an early but very strong debut at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and becoming the chart’s highest first-week entry of the year.

Die Another Day was written and produced by Madonna and Mirwais with string arrangement by the late, great Michel Colombier. After being introduced to Madonna through Mirwais, Colombier arranged strings for Madonna’s 2000 hit Don’t Tell Me, scored her film Swept Away and arranged the American Life tracks Nothing Fails and Easy Ride. Colombier sadly lost a brief battle with cancer in 2004, leaving behind a legacy of celebrated collaborations with the likes of Serge Gainsbourg, Prince and Joni Mitchell, to name only a few.

Madonna’s Bond theme was first performed during 2004’s Re-Invention Tour, where it became a visual showstopper with its ambitious and impressively executed tango-influenced choreography.

* Sep (27) Die Another Day single (theme from James Bond film Die Another Day) premieres on Z100 radio station in New York, NY.

September 30: The Felix Da Housecat mix of “Die Another Day” is played at the Echo club in Echo Park. The sound is very “electroclash/new wave.”


* Sep (30) Madonna tapes an interview with Larry King at the Four Seasons Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA.

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OCTOBER 2002

*Madonna Interview : Genre Magazine October 2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-genre-magazine-october-2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2002-madonna-genre.jpg

 

*Madonna Interview : Jane October 2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-jane-october-2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2002-madonna-jane.jpg

 

 

* Oct (2) Swept Away Movie Special premieres on MTV.

October 3: BILLBOARD: Although it wasn't intended to debut on U.S. radio until next week, a leaked copy of Madonna's "Die Another Day," the theme song to the forthcoming James Bond movie of the same name, is already getting heavy airplay on stations around the country. An accompanying video clip will premiere Oct. 10 on MTV's "Making the Video" series; a commercial CD single, featuring remixes by such acts as Thunderpuss and Felix Da Housecat, is due Oct. 22.

The new track is all over the airwaves in major markets, having been spun more than 100 times in less than a week by two Miami stations alone. It is expected to debut next week on the Billboard Hot 100 on the strength of airplay. Madonna has a cameo as a fencing instructor in Die Another Day, a soundtrack for which is due Nov. 12 via Warner Bros.

Meanwhile, Madonna told Today host Matt Lauer that she has almost finished up her next Maverick album, which is expected some time next year. The artist is promoting her upcoming film Swept Away, which she described as "an angry love story."

Madonna tells Larry King she has been entertaining Hebrew words for the title of her next album (due in early 2003). Tentatively, she is calling the collection, Ein Sof, which is the Hebrew word for ‘endlessness.’ She says she will finish the album in the coming months.

* Oct (3,4) Madonna is interviewed on CBS-TVs Entertainment Tonight, NBC-TVs Today, Extra, Access Hollywood and E!-TVs E! News Live.

October 5: In an interview to promote Swept Away on Entertainment Tonight:

MARK: Your album ... in 2003? What should I expect?

MADONNA:

Just pure crystalline brilliance! I'm about three quarters of the way done and it will come out

next year, in the beginning of next year. It's good.


Oct (7) Madonna attends a press conference in Beverly Hills, CA to promote Swept Away.

Swept Away Cast: Madonna, Adriano Giannini, Bruce Greenwood and Elizabeth Banks

October 08 2002 (USA)

Trailer https://youtu.be/wv4grEwufV8


* Oct (8) Madonna and Guy attend the world premiere of Swept Away at the Vista Theatre, Los Angeles, CA.

On October 9 2002, Entertainment Weekly published a review of Swept Away after screening the film at the Vista Theatre in Los Angeles on October 7.

Family and friends (and some celebrities) at the premiere included: Donna and Niki, Guy Oseary, Demi Moore, Claudia Schiffer, Matthew Vaughn, Debi Mazar, Herb Ritts, Joe Henry and Madonna’s sister Melanie.

Here’s a snippet of the review:

Drawn, lacquered, and just about as tanned as Goldmember, Madonna, in Swept Away, appears blowsy and middle-aged, and the hard character of experience does something for her. It allows her to leave vanity aside. (Either that, or her vanity now resides in her biceps, which are sinewy enough to strangle a panther.) Sound the trumpets: For the first time since Desperately Seeking Susan, Madonna doesn’t suck as an actress. In a movie career that is by now nearly as benighted as that of Linda Blair or Maria Montez, she comes through with a performance in which her line readings don’t clatter like broken plates, and she looks at least half as relaxed as she does on stage.

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Oct (10) Die Another Day video premieres on MTV. Madonna is interviewed by Larry King on CNN-TVs Larry King Live.

On October 10 2002, the music video for Die Another Day premiered on MTV. Helmed by Swedish directing team Traktor, the action-packed short for Madonna’s James Bond theme remains the second most expensive music video of all-time, with production costs surpassing the six-million dollar mark. The clip made its debut as part of an episode of MTV’s Making The Video – Madonna’s first appearance on the series.

Traktor’s Ole Sanders spoke to Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet about Madonna’s involvement in the clip’s development:

“We received daily e-mails with feedback that was concise, unambiguous and occasionally entertaining. She works extremely hard with gumption and detail, and it was clear to us how she has remained on top for twenty years. It was no use being unprepared with vague ideas disguised as creativity, as there was no place to hide.”

The video was filmed at Hollywood Center Studios in Hollywood, California between August 22 and August 27, 2002 – an atypically lengthy shoot by Madonna’s standards, likely due to the complexities of capturing the special effects and stunts featured throughout the Bond-influenced clip.

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* Oct (11) Swept Away is released in US by Sony Pictures. Madonna appears via telephone call to MTVs Total Request Live (TRL) at 3:30 pm ET and speaks with host Carson Daly about the release of Swept Away and Die Another Day video.
* Oct (13) Swept Away hits #24 at the US box-office with $354,052 on its opening weekend.
* Oct (14) Madonna and Lourdes attend the opening of Gianni Versace Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.

On October 16 2002, Billboard released their review of Madonna’s Die Another Day:

The theme to the latest James Bond instalment, Die Another Day, is certainly a far cry from the melodic musings of Shirley Bassey, Nancy Sinatra, Paul McCartney, and even Duran Duran. Die Another Day in many ways picks up on the heels of Madonna’s inventive, experimental Music — thanks to her reunion with writer/producer Mirwais Ahmadzai — with a predominance of squiggly blips and zaps and enough effects on Madonna’s vocal to render it practically non-human. It’s an odd number, somewhat disjointed, a bit nonsensical, and not so much melodic as a highly stylized jam — but one must never underestimate the motivations of the long-and-lasting Madonna; and sure enough, with repeated listening, there are enough clever goings on and a hook that sinks into the consciousness to make this a captivating journey. James Bond purists may find themselves fitful that the traditional melodrama that marks such theme songs is remiss here, but radio jumped on the track weeks ahead of its official release, which will certainly fan the flames of publicity for the upcoming flick, out Nov. 22 in the U.S. On the horizon: an onslaught of remixes. Score another bull’s-eye for Madonna.

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* Oct (17) Rolling Stone: Top 100 Albums Of All Time includes Ray Of Light at #29, Music at #52, Like A Prayer at #62 and The Immaculate Collection at #99: Madonna has more albums on the list than any other female solo artist.
* Oct (18) Swept Away is released in Canada by Sony Pictures.

October 19: Madonna is seen parking in Soho (London). She drove into the West End in her new Mini Cooper S, and stopped at a studio to record new album tracks.

On October 19 2002, Madonna’s Die Another Day debuted at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.  The hit single spent 17 weeks on the chart, eventually peaking at #8 on November 9.

* Oct (22) Die Another Day single is released in US.

Theme Song from "Die Another Day" Movie

Warner

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-discography/madonna-die-another-day-single.jpg
"Die Another Day" is the theme song from the James Bond film of the same name by American singer and songwriter Madonna. The song initially leaked onto the internet in early October 2002 prior to the official release, prompting radio to play the track. It was released commercially as a single on October 22 by Maverick Records and was later included on the singer's ninth studio album, American Life (2003), and her greatest hits compilation, Celebration (2009). Following the release of the previous Bond single, "The World Is Not Enough", MGM wanted a high-profile artist for the theme of Die Another Day, and Madonna was their choice. She wrote and produced the song with Mirwais Ahmadzaï while French composer Michel Colombier was enlisted as composer.

While developing, the track went through numerous changes. After Madonna saw the initial version of the film she adapted the song to its theme, described as a metaphor for destroying one's ego. Ahmadzaï re-arranged "Die Another Day" at his home in Paris while Colombier finished the string sections in Los Angeles. An electroclash number, "Die Another Day" is a mixture of strings and interpolating electronic swirls, and stuttered editing on Madonna's voice, cutting the main signal on the chorus.

"Die Another Day" received mixed responses from music critics; one group of reviewers favored its departure from traditional Bond soundtracks, while others panned its production and called it uninteresting. It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and two Grammy Awards for Best Dance Recording and Best Short Form Music Video. The song was a commercial success, peaking at number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was the top selling dance song in the US for both 2002 and 2003. "Die Another Day" reached the top of the charts in Canada, Italy, Romania and Spain and top-ten in a number of countries worldwide.

The music video was directed by Traktor, and was developed as an independent video from the film but contained Bond influences. It depicts Madonna as a prisoner in a torture chamber, alternating with scenes of a fencing duel between good (clad in white) and evil (clad in black) personas of the singer. Wounds inflicted on both fencers are mirrored on the imprisoned Madonna, and in the end she escapes being electrocuted in the chamber. The usage of Jewish religious texts and objects in the music video led to controversy, with scholars of Judaism deeming it sacrilegious. Madonna has included the song on two of her world tours; the first being the 2004 Re-Invention World Tour and again as a video interlude on the 2008–09 Sticky & Sweet Tour.

After its release to radio in United States, "Die Another Day" started receiving strong airplay at the major US radio stations, having been spun for more than 100 times. The song garnered 35 million audience impressions in its first week, debuting at number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100, the highest debut of the year. It also debuted at number 19 on the Mainstream Top 40, number 40 on the Adult Top 40 and number 42 on the Hot 100 Airplay charts. The next week the song continued its ascent up the airplay charts, while reaching number 28 on the Hot 100 and becoming the "breakout" track on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. The release of the CD single on October 22, 2002, prompted the song to jump from position 18 to number eight on the Hot 100, thus becoming Madonna's 35th top-ten single on the chart. This feat put her ahead of The Beatles' 34 top-ten hits and one behind tying Elvis Presley's record as the artist with the most top-ten singles on the Hot 100. The move was spurred by sales of 28,500 units of the CD which also put it on the top of Hot 100 Singles, becoming her third number one on the chart.

"Die Another Day" was the highest charting James Bond song in the US since Duran Duran's number-one single, "A View to Kill" (1985). It was also Madonna's highest charting song since "Don't Tell Me" peaked at number four in February 2001, and was her 44th top-forty single—the most for any artist—breaking the tie with Aretha Franklin's 43 entries. The single spent 11 weeks at number one on Hot 100 Singles, becoming her most successful entry on that chart. "Die Another Day" became the best selling dance single of both 2002 and 2003 and the fifth best-selling dance single of the 2000s decade in the US. Additionally, Billboard also declared "Die Another Day" as Madonna's 33rd most successful single on the Hot 100. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the song has sold 184,000 digital downloads as of April 2010, making it one of her best selling titles released before 2005, the year when downloads began contributing into calculating the ranks on Billboard Hot 100.

In Canada, the song debuted at number 25 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and ultimately reached the top, staying there for four weeks. The song was certified double platinum by the Music Canada(MC) for shipment of 200,000 copies. In Australia, the song debuted and peaked at number 11 on the Australian Singles Chart, staying for a total of 19 weeks and obtaining a gold from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 35,000 copies of the single. It was less successful in New Zealand, where it debuted and peaked at number 22 on the RIANZ Singles Chart, staying for a total of three weeks.

* Oct (24) Swept Away is removed from all US movie theatres by Sony Pictures after only 2 weeks of release.
* Oct (26) Die Another Day climbs up to #28 on Hot 100 Singles chart in US: it is her 44th Top 40 single and she surpasses Aretha Franklin to become the top female solo artist with the most Top 40 hit singles in music history.
* Oct (27) Swept Away grosses a total of $598,645 US at the box-office.
* Oct (28) Die Another Day single is released in Europe.

October 29: Madonna is currently in London recording with Stuart Price. (Madonnarama)

REVEALED LATER:

Their composition will consist of a single track (“X-Static Process”) which began as a demo called “The Process” and became a full-on dance/techno number before being stripped down into an acoustic vignette for the album. “The Process” is registered as a separate song in the ASCAP database.

Madonna will tell Attitude magazine in 2005: “We wrote X-Static Process together on my last album and that was kind of testing out the water. We tried out other things, but that was the only thing I thought had substance.”

* Oct (31) Rolling Stone: Women In Rock - The 50 Essential Albums includes Like A Prayer at #16.
 

November 2002

November 1: Madonna drove her new Mini Cooper S to the recording studio today where she is still working on tracks. (Madonnarama)

REVEALED LATER:

When interviewed on the Jonathan Ross Show on May 1, 2003, Madonna says she was working on the song “American Life” “back in November” when she started coming up with the war-theme ideas for its video.

* Nov (1) Madonna is named Britain.s highest earning music star of the year 2002 with $56 million on Sunday Times newspapers annual list.
* Nov (3) Die Another Day hits UK #3.

In the United Kingdom, "Die Another Day" entered the UK Singles Chart at number three on November 3, 2002, being kept from the top spot by DJ Sammy's remix of Bryan Adams' 1985 single, "Heaven", and the song "Dilemma" by rapper Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland. Next week the song dropped to number 12, and continued its descent ultimately staying for a total of 16 weeks on the chart. In September 2015, the song was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for selling over 200,000 copies. It was listed as the 80th best selling single of 2002 in UK. The single was successful in Europe, reaching the top-ten of the charts in Austria, Belgium (both Flanders and Wallonia), Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, while topping the charts in Italy and Spain. In France the song achieved silver certification from the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP) for shipping 125,000 copies of the single. Across the pan-European Hot 100 Singles, the song debuted and peaked at number three.
* Nov (4) Madonna is interviewed by WKTU (New York, NY) and KIIS-FM (Los Angeles, CA) radio stations to promote Die Another Day.

November 4: In an interview with KIIS FM to promote “Die Another Day,” Madonna says the Bond tune will be included on her forth coming album. She also says no title has been chosen yet for the album, which will include about 10 songs. The sound will be “stiff” as she says “stiff is the new hard.” She says there will be a “hardcore rap” on the album which was inspired by Eminem who she thinks is very talented.

November 5: Madonnarama.com says the album is officially complete. It will have 10 tracks and they will sound very “stiff.” Some of the production is very unexpected for the Mirwaïs style as there is lots of guitar. He produced AT LEAST 6 of the tracks.

* Nov (7) Madonna participates in a live telephone interview with Paul Bryant on Z100 radio in New York, NY.
* Nov (9) Die Another Day hits US #8: it is her 35th Top 10 hit and becomes the second artist with the most Top 10 singles behind Elvis Presley (38). Die Another Day hits #1 on Hot 100 Singles Sales and Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales charts.
* Nov (12) Madonna contributes Die Another Day to Die Another Day: Music From The Motion Picture soundtrack CD.

On November 12 2002, the Die Another Day soundtrack for the 20th James Bond film of the same name, was released by Warner Bros. Records. The title song for Die Another Day was sung by Madonna, who also had a small cameo in the movie as Verity, a fencing instructor.  The Die Another Day song was written and produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/dieanotherday-soundtrack-b.jpg

November 14: Madonna's new album is now slated for an March/April release. There are details of 2 of the songs which have working titles of "Hollywood" and "American Life" (these refrains are repeated in the lyrics). They're described as being similar in style to "Die Another Day" (stop/start electronica in the same vein as Mirwais' "Music" work). One of the tracks again features a heavy use of the auto-tuned vocal, though is described as being more like "Impressive Instant" than "Die Another Day". (Madonnarama)

* Nov (16) Die Another Day hits #1 in Canada, Italy and Spain.

https://youtu.be/DjJE9f3fadw


* Nov (18) Madonna meets Queen Elizabeth II at the world premiere of Die Another Day at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England.

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https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/madonna-meets-queen-elizabeth-c.jpg

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/die-another-day-juke-box-1.jpg

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/die-another-day-juke-box-12.jpg

On November 22 2002, the twentieth James Bond film,  Die Another Day,  was released by MGM.  Die Another Day was the fourth and last film to star Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.

Die Another Day was directed by Lee Tamahori.  The film marks the James Bond franchise’s 40th anniversary.  The series began in 1962 with Sean Connery.

The title song for Die Another Day was written and performed by Madonna, who also had a cameo in the film as Verity, a fencing instructor.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/die-another-day-movie-release-poster-b.jpg

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/die-another-day-movie-release-poster-c.jpg

https://youtu.be/VSzixW0KQcc

On November 23 2002, Madonna’s Die Another Day single peaked at #1 on the Canadian Soundscan Singles Sales chart where it would stay for an impressive seven (non-consecutive) weeks.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/daday-canada-3.jpg?w=550

* Nov (24) Die Another Day hits #1 at the US box-office with $47 million on its opening weekend.
* Nov (30) Die Another Day (Remixes) hits #1 for 2 weeks on Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in US: it is her 28th #1 hit single on the dance charts.

On November 30 2002, Die Another Day (Remixes) spent the first of two weeks at number-one on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in US. It was Madonna’s 28th single to top the dance charts.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/die-another-day-remixes-3-550.png

December 2002

* Dec (3) Body Of Evidence (1993) is released on DVD.
* Dec (4) Madonna and Lourdes attend the premiere of English National Ballets The Nutcracker at the Colliseum Theatre, London, England.

“You Don’t Know Madonna”: GQ December 2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-articles/you-dont-know-madonna-gq-december-2002

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2002-madonna-gq.jpg

On December 10 2002, Madonna’s West End debut in Up For Grabs at the Wyndham’s Theatre was nominated for the Planet Hollywood Theatre Event of the Year at the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/up-for-grabs-planet-hollywood-1.jpg

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/up-for-grabs-planet-hollywood-2.jpg

December 18: “Die Another Day” is nominated for Best Original Song from a Film at the Golden Satellite Awards. It is also nominated for a Golden Globe.

December 23: April is the earliest we will see the new album. A definitive release date is expected after the holidays. (Madonnarama.com)

* Dec (26) Madonna is named Top Female UK Singles Artist Of All Time in The Guinness Book Of Hit Singles edition of the 100 Most Successful Artists in the 50-year history of the British chart.
* Dec (28) Madonna is Top Hot Dance Maxi-Singles Sales Artist and Die Another Day (Remixes) is Top Hot Dance Maxi-Singles Sales in Billboard magazines The Year In Music survey of 2002.
* Dec (29) Madonna is the second highest-earning woman in Britain with an income of $43 million in The Mail newspapers annual list.

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2003

January 2003
January 2: Madonna’s still-yet-to-be-titled album is due in April. She currently plans to film the lead single’s video in February with Jonas Akerlund in L.A.

The album cover photo shoot will take place next week with Craig McDean (who shot the October 2002 Vanity Fair cover with her). McDean is one of leading fashion photographers of today. Reports say that the album combines electronic disco with guitar.

On January 3 2003, Madonna.com announced: “Madonna’s next album is scheduled to be released in April, and there is no title as of yet. The video for the first single will be shot in February and will be directed by Jonas Akerlund. The album cover will be shot next week by Craig McDean (he also did the Vanity Fair Madonna cover).”

January 7: Madonna does the cover shoot this week with Craig McDean and hairstylist Luigi. First single is called, “American Life.” (Madonnarama)

January 11: The album may include a composition done with Madonna’s Drown World Tour guitarist/instructor Monty Pitman.

* Jan (13) Madonna wins the Michael Jackson International Artist Of The Year Award at the 30th annual American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA.

January 15: Warner Brothers is denying rumors that they have asked Madonna to re-record some of the material on the album. The speculation came after French producer Mirwaïs flew to L.A. this week to assist Madonna with the final mixing of the album. Inside sources say the “electro-pop” album is too over the top and “avant garde” to be a commercial success. They claims she has used too many electronic synthesizers on her voice and morphed the vocals into sounding like a robot.

Some confirmed song titles:

• “American Life”

• “Die Another Day”

• “Easy Ride”

• “Hollywood”

• “Nothing Fails”

January 20: It’s reported that the video for the first single will be shot in New York with Jonas Akerlund Feb. 2-8, 2003. There is also speculation that the theme for the album artwork will also be present in the video.

“American Life” (the single) is scheduled for commercial release in the U.K. on March 31, 2003.

January 23: There is confirmation that the shoot will take place in L.A. with Jonas Akerlund.

Other rumors include:

• Choreography being done by Jaime King.

• The video will have lots of extras (including children, soldiers and dancers) and revolve around a war theme.

• Budget is nearly $2 million with a “very different” concept.

• Luigi Moreno will again do hair.


* Jan (25) Madonna and Lourdes attend a memorial service for late photographer Herb Ritts (who died on December 26, 2002) in Los Angeles, CA.

January 26: The album’s working title right now is Hollywood and this will also be the name of the second single. (Madonnarama)

January 27: TRACKLIST for Hollywood (from Madonnarama)

1. American Life

2. Hollywood

3. I’m So Stupid

4. Easy Ride

5. Nobody Knows Me

6. Ecstatic Process

7. Love Profusion

8. Nothing Fails

9. Die Another Day

10. (unknown)

11. (unknown)

January 28: The album art direction and design is now reportedly being done by Michael Amzalag of M/M Paris (Michael Amzalag & Mathias Augustyniak - design duo). The firm is responsible for packaging of Björk’s VOLUMEN, Vespertine, Greatest Hits and FAMILY TREE releases. They also redesigned Vogue Paris.

February 2003
* Feb (3) Madonna begins filming American Life video at Los Angeles Center Studios, Los Angeles, CA, directed by Jonas Akerlund.

February 3-4: The video for “American Life” is shot in L.A.

On February 4 2003, filming for Madonna’s music video for American Life took place in Los Angeles with director by Jonas Åkerlund.

The casting call issued for the video sought the following:

Eastern European Man (30 – 60 yrs. old, Real people, THIN, interesting looking, great face, worn out looking, craggy). 4 Beautiful Models (drop dead gorgeous w. amazing legs and bodies). 10 soldiers (must have long hair and be willing to shave it for the video… good-looking, really good body). Hair stylist (male or female, any ethnicity, must be real hair stylists, think editorial type. Stylist (male or female, any ethnicity, 20’s, cool and interesting looking, think N.Y. 2 Babes (very voluptuous and buxom, bimbo types, b pin-up girls). Makeup artists (m or f, any ethnicity, a REAL makeup artist). 2 IRAQI kids (boys and girls, 4 – 7 yrs. old). African-American Male (35 – 50, THIN).

Åkerlund commented on the upcoming video to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet:

“It’s great that Madonna gives me the trust to do this video. The song is super cool and aimed for the dance floors. I especially love that she gives me the trust to do the first single from the new album. There is a special feeling and ambition around the first single and a hell of lot of secrets. I had to sign a paper even before I got to listen to the song! The shooting will take 3 days.”

* Feb (4) Madonna wins Theatre Event Of The Year for the West End play Up For Grabs voted by theatregoers on the online 3rd annual Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers Choice Awards.
* Feb (5) Madonna announces from Los Angeles, CA that she plans to file an official complaint with the Press Complaints Commission in UK over inaccurate reports by Heat magazine that she is pregnant.

February 9: WARNER PRESS RELEASE:

Madonna’s new album is called American Life and will feature 11 tracks. The album is set for release on April 22.

The 11-song American Life (April 22) was co-produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï, who also co-produced her Music (2000) and the recent James Bond tune "Die Another Day." The album's title track will be the first single, with a video by controversial director Jonas Akerlund (Smashing Pumpkins, the Prodigy); the video was completed in Los Angeles this week, the singer's spokesperson said. Madonna co-wrote the songs on American Life with Guy Sigsworth, Jem Griffiths and Les Rhythmes Digitales' Jacques Lu Cont, who was the musical director and keyboardist on her Drowned World Tour. Among the tracks slated for inclusion are "Hollywood," "Nothing Fails" and "Love Profusion."


* Feb (9) Kerri Yascheshyn, 17, of Windsor, ON, Canada dies of liver cancer: Madonna and Kerri formed a friendship via telephone calls organized by the Childrens Wish Foundation; Madonna spoke to Kerri on a daily basis and encouraged her to pray and be positive.
* Feb (10) In US, reports confirm that American Life video is controversial due to its anti-war theme with Madonna dressed in military uniform.

On February 10 2003, Swept Away was nominated for the following Razzie Awards:

Worst Picture

Worst Remake or Sequel

Worst Director (Guy Ritchie)

Worst Screenplay

Worst Actress (Madonna)

Worst Actor (Adriano Giannini)

Worst Screen Couple (Madonna and Adriano Giannini)

Madonna was also nominated for Razzies for Die Another Day:

Worst Support Actress

Worst Original Song

The Golden Raspberry Awards, or the Razzies, recognize the worst in film.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/swept-away-movie-february-razzies.jpg

* Feb (11) Swept Away is released on home video and DVD.
* Feb (14) Madonna releases a statement on her website in response to inaccurate reports that American Life video carries a strong anti-war message and she also explains that it should not be interpreted as critical of her homeland or President Bush.

February 15: Reps for the singer deny talk that she clashed with Warner Bros. Records chief Tom Whalley, after sending the label an astronomical bill for a photo session Craig McDean did for her new CD.

"Whalley sent word back to Madonna that he wasn't paying the bill," says the source, since his boss, Warner Music Group CEO Roger Ames, recently told all his label heads to trim expenses.

"So she called Ames, reminding him of how many records she sold. Ames called Whalley to ask him to make an exception for Madonna. But Whalley wouldn't budge. Things have gotten very tense."

Madonna's rep, Liz Rosenberg denies Whalley and Ames spoke about the bill.

"Tom Whalley doesn't get involved in that area of the company," said Rosenberg, who did confirm that McDean's bill for the photo session ran over $100,000.

February 23: Jean Baptiste Mondino will directed the video to the second single, “Hollywood.” There are rumors that David Fincher may direct another video for Madonna (from this album).

February 24: The video for “American Life” features fashions from Stella McCartney, Jean-Paul Gaultier and combat couture runway show of Jeremy Scott’s work.

February 28: “American Life” will have a remix by none other than Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot (The Gold Mind/Elektra). Additional remixes to be provided by Layo & Bushwacka, Paul Oakenfold, Timo Maas, DJ Tiesto, Felix Da Housecat and Peter Rauhofer.

March 2003
* Mar (3) Madonna signs a book deal with Callaway Editions to publish a series of 5 illustrated childrens storybooks; the first book she has written is titled The English Roses which will be published and released worldwide in September 2003.
* Mar (4) Blue In The Face (1995) is released on DVD.

March 6: Warner executives in London were given an exclusive preview of the album this week. It is reportedly similar in style to the Music album: fusing electronic, guitar and pop genres. Several of the tracks are reportedly humorous and feature Madonna poking fun at herself. There is an 80’s disco-style tune and one down-tempo track that features the London Community Gospel Choir (conflicting reports say it is “Nobody Knows Me” and other say it is the third single, “Nothing Fails”). (Madonnarama)

On March 12 2003, Warner Bros. issued a press release for Madonna’s American Life album:

A new Madonna album, American Life, has been set for a worldwide release on April 22nd.

The enduring icon’s first new collection of original material since 2000’s multi-platinum smash Music, American Life is being hailed as Madonna’s most accomplished, original and intensely personal album to date; a resonant and revealing emotional journey that marks a new highpoint in a career that has for all time redefined the expressive potential of contemporary music.

Recorded over a full year in London and Los Angeles, American Life, the artist’s tenth studio album, features eleven new Madonna compositions, including the title track and debut single, which ships to radio March 25th.

“All of these songs reflect my current state of mind. I feel like I have just woken up out of a dream. They range from dismay and anger to joy and certainty. Hopefully, I have taken the personal and made it universal,” stated Madonna regarding her new album which she wrote and produced with Mirwais Ahmadzai with whom she also collaborated on her previous release Music.

The American Life CD includes the title track, as well as the following songs: Hollywood, I’m So Stupid, Love Profusion, Nobody Knows Me, Nothing Fails, Intervention, X-Static Process, Mother & Father, Easy Ride, and Die Another Day, the hit theme song from the James Bond film of the same name.

The American Life single is also the subject of a brilliant new video from the pioneering multi-media visionary, an artist who single handedly invented the short music film medium. In a stunning collaboration with director Jonas Akerlund, American Life expresses a panoramic view of our culture and looming war through the view of a female superhero portrayed by Madonna set against a backdrop of current cultural obsessions. It’s a penetrating examination of our national psyche. The video is scheduled to air the first week in April.

Remixes of the American Life single by, among others, mega-hot hip hop diva Missy Elliott, Peter Rauhofer, Felix da Housecat and Maverick Records artist Paul Oakenfold will be available in various configurations over the next several months.

An extensive schedule of appearances, performances and special events has been set in conjunction with the release of American Life including an appearance on an episode of the hit NBC-TV comedy Will And Grace.

One of the most original and innovative artists of the modern era, Madonna has sold hundreds of millions of albums, topped charts across two decades, created an enormously influential body of work in video and film and stood at the forefront of socially conscious artists worldwide. With American Life, Madonna has once again reached deeply into her own life as the source and substance of her extraordinary artistry.

* Mar (14) Madonna signs a comprehensive deal with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) for all aspects of her career in music, film, TV and books.
* Mar (18) Madonna tapes a guest starring appearance for an episode of NBC-TVs Will & Grace titled Dolls & Dolls (starring Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes, directed by James Burrows) at CBS Studio Center, Studio City, CA.
* Mar (21) A statement is released by publicist Liz Rosenberg that Madonna is re-editing American Life video in respect to current war events in Iraq and explains there will be some minor alterations but shes not re-doing the whole video.

March 21: In light of recent events (i.e. the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 20), Madonna has decided to “tone down” her “American Life” video, which was reportedly supposed to feature vivid images of violence and war such as bloody, limbless people and a dying baby. There were reports that television stations in Germany were planning to ban the video based on its content. It is still planned for release the first week of April.

* Mar (22) Madonna wins 3 Razzie Awards for Worst Actress (Swept Away), Worst Supporting Actress (Die Another Day) and Worst Screen Couple with Adriano Giannini (Swept Away) at the 23rd annual Golden Raspberry Awards at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, Santa Monica, CA.

March 24: American Life is released as a Digital Single only in US via the internet and includes a special audio message by Madonna. The digital single for download of "American Life" was a smashing success for Warner Brothers. It tracked 4,177 downloads in the first week, enough to put it at No. 90 on the Hot 100 and No. 4 on the Billboard Single Sales chart. (It ends up selling 4,177 as a download single and becomes the second single EVER to debut on the Hot 100 that was only available as an internet download, the first being Fleetwood Mac one week earlier with “Peacemaker”).

* Mar (28) Madonna is interviewed on CBS-TVs Entertainment Tonight, NBC-TVs Access Hollywood and Extra.
* Mar (31) In Germany, American Life video world premieres on VIVA music channel.

March 31: After debuting internationally today, Madonna and Warner Brothers have pulled the controversial video for "American Life" out of rotation and have nixed plans to premiere it in the U.S. this weekend. They also have postponed Madonna’s interview, MADONNA SPEAKS, with Megan Mullaly of “Will & Grace” scheduled for this Friday on VH-1. According to Liz Rosenberg, the DVD single is also being put on permanent vacation.

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April 2003
* Apr (1) Madonna announces on her official website that she has cancelled the release of American Life video because of its military imagery and out of respect to armed forces fighting war in Iraq: I have decided not to release my new video. It was filmed before the war started and I do not believe it is appropriate to air it at this time. Due to the volatile state of the world and out of sensitivity and respect to the armed forces, who I support and pray for, I do not want to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video.

Madonna Interview : W Magazine April 2003

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-w-magazine-april-2003

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2003-madonna-w.jpg

On April 1, 2003, Madonna pulled the American Life video and released a statement explaining why:

“I have decided not to release my new video. It was filmed before the war started and I do not believe it is appropriate to air it at this time. Due to the volatile state of the world and out of sensitivity and respect to the armed forces, who I support and pray for, I do not want to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video.”

The video was directed by Jonas Åkerlund.

April 3: Some radio stations have stopped airing “American Life” completely or limited its number of spins due to bad response from listeners. In its second week on Billboard’s Hot 100, the song only managed to climb to a disappointing No. 74, despite a whole week of debut airplay.

April 4: BILLBOARD REVIEW OF "American Life" single:

Billboard delivers a scathing review of the single, “American Life:”

Madonna rapping? She really shouldn't have. Really. But that's just one of the missteps sabotaging new single "American Life," a blurry snarl of style and composition that sounds more like a disjointed medley than a song. Enough already with substituting electronic blips for melody; it may have worked well on "Music" and sufficed on "Die Another Day," but the novelty effect is well-worn and just plain grating on this effort. To further the sting, the space-age noises are followed by a jarringly disparate fanning of acoustic guitars, and then what appears to be two choruses. Huh? But watch out, next is the rap - soulless and in your face, it is positively atrocious. Our beloved Madonna is certainly the industry's most-accomplished musical chameleon, and previous evolutionary inquisitions have changed the face of pop music to great effect. Not this time. This "American Life" should be hastily deported. -CT

AOL will stream album tracks for listeners this month, starting with “Love Profusion” on April 14.

On April 5 2003, an Australian interview aired that demonstrated Madonna’s quick change of heart regarding the American Life music video.

During the interview with Richard Wilkins, the following dialog takes place:

Wilkins: “You’re going to get all sorts of criticism I think.”

Madonna: “Why. Tell me why!”

W: “People are going to say it’s inappropriate to show bombs going off and planes bombing people.”

M: “Why? That’s on the news every five minutes! I’m just using news footage that’s already been seen by everyone.”

W: “I’m suggesting that some people are going to think maybe it’s ill-timed.”

M: “But in a way it’s perfect timing, because it’s what we are experiencing right now – so, it’s American life. It’s very current and appropriate I think.”

Wilkins may have convinced Madonna to go cold on the idea.

“Maybe I did, perhaps I caused her to think again,” he said. “She is very proud of the video, as she should be because it’s incredible.”

By the time the interview aired (a week later), Madonna had already pulled the American Life video and made a statement regarding her choice.


* Apr (5) American Life debuts at #90 on Hot 100 Singles chart in US and is the lowest entry for a debut single from a new Madonna album.

"American Life" debuted at number 90 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on the week of April 5, 2003. A few weeks later on April 26, 2003, the song peaked at number 37, being the greatest gainer song of that week. In Canada, the song peaked at number one on the singles chart. In Australia, "American Life" debuted at its peak of number seven, during the week of April 24, 2003. In the following week, the song began its decline, and experienced a total chart trajectory of eight weeks. The song was certified Gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). In the New Zealand, the song peaked at number 33, and remained on the chart for one week. 

* Apr (7) In Australia, Madonna is featured in TV interviews on The Today Show and Channel 9 Madonna Special.
* Apr (8) American Life single is released in US and Canada.

On April 8 2003, American Life was released digitally as the lead single from Madonna’s ninth studio album of the same name.

American Life was written and produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï, and was released by Maverick Records.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/american-life-digital-2.jpg?w=550

"American Life" is the title track from her ninth studio album American Life (2003), and was released digitally as the lead single from the album on April 8, 2003 by Maverick Records. It was written and produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï; the lyrics to "American Life" feature violent transitions and a political and religious view from Madonna. She questions the shallowness of modern life and the American Dream during the presidency of George W. Bush. Towards the end of the song, Madonna raps, naming the people who were working for her.

"American Life" was panned by music critics, with Billboard criticizing Madonna's rapping, and Blender naming it as the ninth worst song of all time. Despite receiving mostly negative reviews from music commentators, "American Life" reached number one in Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan and Switzerland, and the top ten in Australia, where the song was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). However, the song peaked at number 37 in the US Billboard Hot 100, staying in the chart for eight weeks, while it debuted and peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart.

Two music videos were shot for the song, both directed by Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund. The first featured Madonna at a military-themed fashion show, ending with her throwing a hand grenade at George W. Bush. Prior to its release, the video caused controversy regarding its political, racial and religious implications, leading Madonna to release a statement explaining its concept. After the 2003 invasion of Iraq started, Madonna cancelled the release of the original music video, because of the political climate of the country at the time, and released an alternative version, featuring her in front of a backdrop of flags from around the world. The song was performed during promotion for American Life in 2003, on the Re-Invention World Tour (2004) and during the Madonna: Tears of a Clown show in Miami 

April 9: Z-100 in NYC has put the Oakenfold remix of “American Life” into rotation and is no longer playing the single version serviced to radio by Warner.


*Apr (10) Madonna announces she has filmed a new performance-only version of American Life video will be released on TV on April 16.

April 12: There are rumors that Warner Bros. is refusing to pony up the money it cost to shoot the video for “American Life” since Madonna has opted not to release it. There may be some truth to it since Warner Bros. initially did not want the video to focus on the war in Iraq, and there is word that Madonna may edit the video yet again for a TV-friendly release next week.

April 13: The VH-1 special, MADONNA SPEAKS, is now scheduled to air Wednesday, April 16 at 10PM. The interview (hosted by Megan Mullaly of “Will & Grace”) was slated to air two weeks ago before Madonna pulled the video for “American Life.” It is believed that the newly re-edited video will debut during or after the special.

April 14: Three new tracks from the album make their online debut today:

“Love Profusion” on AOL

“X-Static Process” on Yahoo

“Mother and Father” on MSN


*Apr (14) American Life single is released in Europe.
* Apr (16) Madonna Speaks special (hosted by Megan Mullally) and American Life video (edited version) premieres on VH1.

https://youtu.be/R8W-RzLM8cI

* Apr (19) American Life hits #1 for 2 weeks on the Canadian Singles chart.

April 19: In response to Madonna’s aggressive anti-piracy campaign, anonymous hackers broke into Madonna.com, removed the web pages and posted links to free, high-quality downloads of her new album. The site was restored after four hours.

On April 19 2003, Madonna.com was hacked by some “fans” that didn’t agree with her anti-download policy.

Madonna’s official website was hacked and replaced by a page with links to download the complete American Life album as well as some remixes. The hack occurred only days after Madonna tried to combat illegal trading of songs from her American Lifealbum, by flooding the Internet with fake MP3s.

The hacker defaced the homepage with the words, “This is what the fuck I think I’m doing” — a response to MP3s circulated to confuse file traders that included only a tape-looped message from Madonna herself saying, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” MP3s of every song from American Life were posted along with the hackers’ message.

Madonna.com was taken offline for an nearly fifteen hours after the hack.

https://youtu.be/jJOVIKTGDKc

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/madonnacom-hacked-1.jpg

*Apr (20) American Life hits UK #2.
* Apr (21) American Life CD is released in Europe.

American Life is Madonna’s ninth studio album released on April 21, 2003, by Maverick Records and Warner Bros. Records. The album, produced in its entirety by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï, features references to many parts of American culture. The album is a concept album, with recurring themes of the American Dream and materialism. These themes reject the reputation Madonna held in the 1980s, earned by songs such as her worldwide hit "Material Girl" (1985). The album contains folk and folktronica music, as well as influences of acoustic music on many tracks.

American Life initially received mixed reviews from music critics, who found the record confusing and "about Madonna." Retrospective reviews have been much warmer, with critics noting the album's consistency as well as acknowledging Madonna taking a risk musically. The album peaked at number one in fourteen countries. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and British Phonographic Industry (BPI) both certified it platinum in recognition of one million shipments in the United States, and 300,000 shipments in the United Kingdom, respectively. The album became the 32nd-best-selling album of 2003 and has sold five million copies to date. American Life garnered two nominations at the 46th Grammy Awards in 2004.

Madonna promoted the album during a small promotional tour for the album in April and May 2003. At the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, she performed alongside Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott a medley of "Like a Virgin" and "Hollywood" and engaged in open-mouth kissing with Aguilera and Spears gaining great controversy and publicity. American Life was supported by Madonna's sixth concert tour, the Re-Invention World Tour, which was the highest grossing tour of 2004 earning $125 million. The tour was chronicled in a documentary titled I'm Going to Tell You a Secret, which led to Madonna's first live album of the same name.

Unlike Music, Madonna had enlisted Ahmadzaï also as a songwriter on American Life hence what transpired was Madonna's wholesale adaptation of the producers style and sound. He explained that there are some influences from his work, but Madonna mostly wanted a minimalist structure for the album. This was beneficial for him since he did not like working with a lot of people, and hence it became a close collaboration. Since electronic music was already popular, Ahmadzaï felt that it was necessary to go back to its underground roots and focus on the songwriting, rather than the technical aspects of recording and mixing. Describing it as modified songwriting, he said that although the concept "might sound simple at first, even rough. But when you pay attention, there is a lot of technology underneath". This approach was an imperative for American Life. Recorded at three different studios using Ahmadzaï's own gear along with the studio's SSL mixing consoles, the album's recording process was often laborious but was sparse in the musical arrangements of the songs. About the musical composition, Ahmadzaï told to Remix magazine that they "tried to under-produce many tracks to make them sound rougher than the average international pop production. We wanted to do something totally modern and futuristic but not very apparent. You have to be very minimalist and choose every sound very carefully. Some tracks were composed in the big studio; that can be very dangerous because you can lose perspective. But all initial directions of the tracks were made in my home studio."

Madonna discussed the recording of the title track stating that Ahmadzaï had encouraged her to rap spontaneously, about all the materialistic objects that she herself had been using and doing. They had an instrumental breakdown in "American Life", where the producer encouraged Madonna to add a rap about her everyday life. "Because I was always drinking soy lattes in the studio, and I drive my Mini Cooper to the studio, I was just like, 'OK, let me just talk about the things that I like'. So I went and it was just total improv [sic] and obviously it was sloppy at first, but I got out all my thoughts and then I wrote everything down that I said and then I perfected the timing of it. So it was totally spontaneous," she added.

After its release, American Life debuted at number one on the United States Billboard 200 chart with 241,000 copies sold in its first week. The sales were less than Madonna's previous studio album, Music, which debuted with 420,000 copies in 2000, but was the only one that week to sell over 200,000 copies. It was Madonna's second consecutive number one debut, and her fifth number one album overall in the US. The next week, sales dropped by 62% to 91,000 copies, and the album slid from the top of the chart to number eight. It continued to decrease in sales down the chart and fell off the Billboard 200. In September 2003, following Madonna's performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, the album saw a sales gain of 19%, but did not chart back. 

In the United Kingdom, American Life debuted atop the UK Albums Chart, with sales of 65,013 copies, much less than the opening sum of 2000's Music, which debuted with sales of 151,891 copies. The next week, it was pushed down to the third position, by Justin Timberlake's album, Justified, and The White Stripes album, Elephant. It continued its downward movement, falling to number five in its third week on the chart and was out of the top ten by its fifth week. It was present for a total of 19 weeks on the chart, ranking at number 52 on the UK year-end tally. American Life sold 335,115 copies by July 2008 and earned a platinum certification from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). In European countries, the album topped the charts in Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Belgium (Wallonia), Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) awarded American Life Platinum certification, signifying sales of over one million copies across Europe. The album also gained Platinum certifications in countries such as France, Russia, and Switzerland, and Gold certifications in Brazil,  Greece, and the Netherlands.

In Japan, the album peaked at number four on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart remaining there for 13 weeks, and went on to gain a Gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of Japan(RIAJ) that same year, for shipping 100,000 copies of the release. In Australia the album peaked at number three, before descending rapidly down the ARIA Albums Chart. Nevertheless, it gained a Platinum certification from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipping 70,000 copies. Overall, American Life became the 32nd bestselling album of 2003, with five million copies sold worldwide.

April 21: MTV’s Carson Daly says that the “American Life” album preview on MTV.com’s The Leak has generated 700,000 hits on the website in 5 days, a record for MTV Online.

The album shipped GOLD in the U.K. (100,000 copies) prior to its release.

April 22: RELEASED.

*Apr (22) American Life CD is released in US and Canada. Madonna performs American Life, Hollywood, Nothing Fails and Like A Prayer on 60-minute MTV special Madonna: On Stage & On The Record taped at the MTV Studios in Times Square, New York, NY.

On April 22 2003, Madonna performed a special mini-concert for MTV’s On Stage & On The Record program, filmed in Times Square, New York.

MTV On Stage and on the Record - MTV TV Special April 22 2003

Location: MTV TRL Studio in New York City, NY, United States

Setlist

American Life https://youtu.be/J6jyB4VXYK0

Hollywood https://youtu.be/9Kv7jMPbL9Q

Nothing Fails https://youtu.be/WzpWYaN78l4

X-Static Process https://youtu.be/Qka7JgazSwg

Like A Prayer https://youtu.be/sJM1SOgK62I

 

Madonna at Tower Madonna Promo Gig April 23 2003

Location: Tower Recordsin New York City, NY, United States

https://youtu.be/Pv3Ns1eKlRY

https://youtu.be/-nxlISZ0DFo

https://youtu.be/_T1oJV3mim8

https://youtu.be/5Mwd7aq6SQM

Setlist

American Life

Mother and Father

X-Static Process

Nothing Fails

Like a Virgin

Hollywood


*Apr (23) In New York, Madonna makes a special in-store performance and record signing at Tower Records in Greenwich Village and also attends a party with Guy at the Paramount Bar to celebrate the release of American Life CD.
*Apr (24) Madonna guest stars on NBC-TVs Will & Grace. Madonna and Guy attend a launch party for the book 72 Names Of God by Rabbi Yehuda Berg at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY.

On April 24, 2003, "American Life" debuted at number 20 on the Swedish Singles Chart. Similarly in Switzerland, the song debuted at number 15 on the Swiss Singles Chart, spending 13 weeks on the chart.

*Apr (25) Madonna guests on NBC-TVs Live With Regis & Kelly. Madonna is #4 with 227 million pounds on the UK Sunday Times annual list of the richest musical artists in England. Madonna is voted The Greatest Video Star Of MTV in an internet poll at www.mtv.com. based on her innovation, creativity and contribution to video as an art form.
*Apr (26) American Life hits US #37.

On the UK Singles Chart, "American Life" debuted at its peak of number two on the week of April 26, 2003.

On April 26 2003, Madonna’s American Life single spent the first of two weeks at #1 on the Soundscan Canadian Singles chart.

American Life was the final two-track physical Madonna single issued by Warner Music Canada, while production of CD maxi-singles would continue domestically until the 2006 release of Jump.

*Apr (27) American Life hits UK #1 and is her eighth #1 album in UK. In US, American Life has sold 241,000 copies in its first week.

On April 27, 2003, "American Life" debuted at number seven on the Ö3 Austria Top 40 chart, spending a total of 11 weeks in the chart. The song achieved moderate chart positions in both the Flemish and Wallonian territories in Belgium, peaking at numbers 12 and 10, respectively. Making its debut at number 61, "American Life" charted for a total of 11 weeks in France and peaked at number 10, before falling out on July 6, 2003. The song was certified Silver by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP). On the Dutch Top 40 chart, the song made its debut at number 34. The following week it rose to number 21 and peaked at number 4, before the ending of its eleven-week run. On April 24, 2003, "American Life" debuted at number three on the Swedish Singles Chart. Similarly in Switzerland, the song debuted at number one on the Swiss Singles Chart, spending 13 weeks on the chart. In Germany, the song peaked at number 10.

On April 27, 2003, "Hollywood" debuted at number 55 on the Austrian Singles Chart, peaking at number 34 after four weeks. The song achieved moderate chart positions in both the Flemish and Wallonian territories in Belgium, peaking at numbers 14 and 32, respectively. Making its debut at its peak position of number 22, "Hollywood" charted for a total of 23 weeks in France during 2003. Between 2008 and 2009, the song charted for five weeks. On the Dutch Singles Chart, the song made its debut at number 20, spending a total of six weeks in the chart. 

 

Madonna Interview : People April 28 2003

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-people-april-28-2003

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2003-madonna-people.jpg

On April 28 2003, Madonna graced the cover of People Magazine: Madonna’s Real Life

Here’s a snippet of the article that went with the cover:

Once a naughty material girl, the pop icon has turned into a doting mom and devoted wife. But she’s still making waves. Visitors to Madonna’s $6.5 million Beverly Hills mansion on a recent afternoon could stroll through and behold master-works by Picasso, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and…resident artist Lourdes Leon, age 6. Alas, Lourdes belongs to the enfant terrible school of art, which has her famous mom clenching her teeth in frustration. “My daughter spilled black paint on the bedroom rug,” says a stressed Madonna. “We’re not really sure how it happened. She was left alone for two minutes, and, well, it’s not pretty.” So where is her husband, British film director Guy Ritchie? “He’s upstairs, working on a script,” she says. “I’m much more the disciplinarian of the house, although Guy is getting more involved.” Then, flashing a playful grin, she adds, “I’d have to fire him as a dad if he didn’t get more involved. I can’t be the hard one all the time.”

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/20030428-750-0.jpg

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/20030428-750-95.jpg


*Apr (29) American Life maxi-single is released. Madonna is interviewed by Matt Lauer on Madonna: An American Life - A Dateline Special on NBC-TVs Dateline. Madonna visits Cologne, Germany to tape a performance and interview on RTLs Absolut Madonna TV special.

Today NBC TV Show April 29 2003

Location: NBC Studios in New York City, NY, United States

Setlist

Mother and Father https://youtu.be/QMMlrsxBZ7k

In April 2003, in an interview with Q Magazine, Madonna described the allure life in Hollywood:

“I’ve had 20 years of fame and fortune, and I feel that I have a right to an opinion on what it is and what it isn’t. All everyone is obsessed about at the moment is being a celebrity. I’m saying that’s bullshit and who knows better than me? Before it happens you have all kinds of notions about how wonderful celebrity is and how much joy it’s going to bring you. Then you arrive … Look like this you’re gonna be happy. Drive this car you’re gonna be popular. Wear these clothes and people are gonna wanna fuck you. It’s a very powerful illusion and people are caught up in it, including myself. Or I was.”

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/madonna_hollywood_single_steven_meisel-1.jpg

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/madonna_hollywood_single_steven_meisel-2.jpg

 

MAY 2003

Madonna Interview : Q Magazine May 2003

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-q-magazine-may-2003

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2003-madonna-q.jpg

*May (1) Madonna is interviewed and performs American Life, Hollywood and Dont Tell Me on BBC-1-TVs Tonight With Jonathan Ross at the BBC Television Centre in London, England.

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross BBC One TV Show Location: Studio TC4 in London, United Kingdom

Setlist

American Life https://youtu.be/P784PyLd1EU

Hollywood https://youtu.be/t1dh5jF5OmU

Don't Tell Me https://youtu.be/44yjRPod7ek


*May (2) Madonna is interviewed and performs American Life and Hollywood on ITV1s CD: UK show in London, England.

CD:UK - ITV TV Show

Location: The ITV Studiosin London, United Kingdom

Setlist

American Life https://youtu.be/1-YnKoR_1fM

Hollywood https://youtu.be/ffXSfuuDTYU

 

*May (3) American Life debuts at #1 in 14 countries such as: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Europe (overall), France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK and US. Madonna guests and performs American Life, Hollywood and Music on RTL channels Absolut Madonna TV special in Cologne, Germany.

Madonna at HMV - Madonna Promo Gig - Absolut Madonna RTL TV Special

Location: RTL Studios in Cologne, Germany

Setlist

American Life https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x84zc1

Hollywood https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x84ze6

Music https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x84zgj


*May (4) Madonna is interviewed by VJ Charlotte Roche on VIVA Germany (taped on April 29 in Cologne, Germany).
*May (6) Madonna tapes an interview and performances of American Life, Hollywood and Music for La Chanson No. 1 - Madonna Special TV show tribute at the studio of La Plaine St-Denis in Paris, France.

La Chanson Numero 1 - France 2 TV Show May 06 2003

Location: Studios Carrère in Paris, France

Setlist

American Life https://youtu.be/fMw8v5BwFm0

Hollywood https://youtu.be/E7Y_o55yB30

Music https://youtu.be/CiTuKjhVYLM


*May (7) Madonna performs a mini-concert for 200 invited guests at La Cantine du Faubourg restaurant in Paris, France.

On May 7 2003, Madonna performed a small club show at La Cantine Du Faubourg in Paris, France as part of her American Life promo tour. The seven-song set list was broadcast live on French radio station NRJ, the show’s sponsor. Its audience consisted mainly of contest winners selected by NRJ, along with VIP guests which included Madonna collaborators Jean-Baptiste Mondino and Jean Paul Gauthier.

Madonna at La Cantine du Faubourg - Madonna Promo Gig May 07 2003

Location: La Cantine du Faubourg in Paris, France

https://youtu.be/ngZ6pG0_PCY

https://youtu.be/21Is1JHTy5Q

Setlist

American Life

Hollywood

Nothing Fails

X-Static Process

Mother and Father

Don't Tell Me

Like a Virgin https://youtu.be/GhjmdHr5sHo


*May (8) Die Another Day wins Soundtrack Video Of The Year at the 12th annual Music Video Production Association (MVPA) Awards at the Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, CA.
*May (9) Madonna performs a 7-song mini-concert before 500 fans at HMV Oxford Circus record store in London, England.

May 09 2003 Setlist

Location: HMV Oxford Street in London, United Kingdom

American Life https://youtu.be/UmIBagnOyd0

Hollywood https://youtu.be/A3BjXuop9Yc

Nothing Fails https://youtu.be/OOuTIbYh4xU

Mother and Father https://youtu.be/c8cLK1huEV4

X-Static Process https://youtu.be/85lJzh9Z8vc

Like A Prayer https://youtu.be/IrTCIDW4_ZY

Don't Tell Me https://youtu.be/6bkoOIXyGbk


*May (10) American Life hits US #1.

On May 10 2003, Madonna’s American Life album reached #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart in the USA.

In 2008, Sal Cinquemani had this to say about American Life in Slant magazine:

In hindsight, American Life isn’t the masterpiece that Erotica so quickly revealed itself to be. It’s frequently self-indulgent, misguided, unpleasant, difficult to listen to, silly yet somehow humorless, but it’s also consistent, uncompromising, and unapologetic. The album is a testament to the artist’s willingness to take risks and her refusal to stay inside her comfort zone. In the grand scheme of things, the album might rank as one of the weakest in Madonna’s extensive catalog, and the ones that followed have been as good, if not better, but American Life stands as the last time Madonna seemed to make music without the primary objective of scoring a hit. It’s interesting to imagine what Madonna’s career would look like today had American Life been a success: For better or worse, that pink leotard and Justin duet might never have existed.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/american-life-number-1-1.jpg?w=550&h=1026

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In Canada, the album debuted at the top of the Canadian Albums Chart with sales of 18,000 copies on May 10, 2003. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the sum was considerably less than her previous studio efforts, Ray of Light (1998) and Music (2000), which debuted with 59,000 and 50,000 copies respectively. It gained a Platinum certification one month later from the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), for shipment of 100,000 copies of the album.

* May (12) Madonna is interviewed by Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 1 in London, England.
* May (15) Madonna performs Hollywood on BBC1-TVs Top Of The Pops in London, England and is also guest of honor at the opening of Stella McCartneys London clothes store on Bruton Street.

Top Of The Pops BBC TV Show May 15 2003

Location: BBC Studios in London, United Kingdom

Setlist

Hollywood https://youtu.be/iza4oZeBzfc


* May (17) American Life (Remixes) hits #1 on Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart in US. American Life video hits #4 on VH1.
* May (20) Madonna is interviewed by DJ Vicky Pitchers (pre-taped at the Dorchester Hotel, London) on Forth One radio in Edinburgh, Scotland.

May 23: Madonna is collaborating with French composer Michel Colombier (Serge Gainsbourg, Zero 7) on "Can't You See My Mind," the title song to the upcoming James Bond movie, Die Another Day. Colombier, who first worked with Mrs. Ritchie on "Don't Tell Me," is also scoring Madonna's upcoming film, Swept Away, and working with the singer on her next album.

[Glenn from the Madonna Mailing List says: Rumor has it that the song is "jazz/strings and reminiscent of Sinatra's 'I've Got You Under My Skin'.]

* May (30) Callaway Editions announces that Madonna will make publishing history as her childrens book The English Roses will be released simultaneously worldwide in 30 languages in 100 countries.
* May (31) American Life (Remixes) hits #1 on Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in US.

On May 31 2003, Madonna’s American Life single hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Club Play chart in the USA, spending one week at the top.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/americanlife-numberone-1.jpg?w=550

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/americanlife-numberone-2.jpg?w=550

JUNE 2003
* Jun (2) Madonna begins filming Hollywood video in Los Angeles, CA, directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

On June 2 2003, Madonna began filming the Hollywood music video in Los Angeles, California. The music video was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, and portrays Madonna highlighting the highs and lows of Hollywood.

Jean-Baptiste Mondino said this about the concept of the video:

“Some kind of artifice that Hollywood can provide, that is so wide and has a graphic story-line about it as well as some humour about it, and to show the beauty, the scariness, the sexiness and the loneliness that one’s success can be, ’cause everybody’s dreaming about Hollywood, no matter what. The expectation can be very dangerous, and maybe for somebody like Madonna, who might be at a point, to realize that to be on the top is maybe not that important. That’s what I feel about the video.”

* Jun (3) Die Another Day is released on home video and DVD (includes Die Another Day video and making-of video documentary).
 

June 6: From either Madonnarama or DrownedMadonna (not sure):

Many of the rumors circulating before the album’s release have been cleared up:

• The rumored 12-minute track was actually “Nobody Knows Me” although it was only a few minutes longer than the album version.

• “Love Profusion” was originally titled “I Got You Under My Skin.”

• “Intervention” was originally recorded for the MUSIC album and was about Guy and not Rocco. It was reportedly much different in style and lyrical content. It was originally called “Love Will Change Us Forever.”

• The collaboration with Air never happened for an unknown reason.

• “Can’t You See My Mind?” was recorded for the Bond film and sounds more like the traditional ballads used for the series, however “Die Another Day” was chosen because it’s name fit the film’s title.

DrownedMadonna said this though this year (2009):

There has been so much talk about “Can't You See My Mind,” the track that Madonna and Mirwais wrote and produced for the "Die Another Day" movie. At the end "Die Another Day", the track, made the soundtrack. Finally we have some details to share about this so-much-talked unreleased song. “Can't You See My Mind” is not a ballad at all as rumoured, but it's upbeat. Each line on the verses is a question. The song has a mysterious feel to it. Michael Colombier's arrangement on it has a much more natural sound than in Die Another Day. Once again Madonna sings, more like talks, in French.

• “X-Static Process” originally sounded much more like “Impressive Instant” but was re-recorded with an acoustic style for the album.

• “Mr. Ejector” (or My Ejector, or Ejector) was a track that was recorded but not put on the record. It may surface as a B-side. It is said to sound like the final version of “American Life.”

• “Adverse Youth” is a ballad. Madonna’s spokesperson said many of the tracks NOT included were dance-oriented and Madonna wanted a quieter, “more acoustic feel,” however, why this ballad was left off is not known.

• “Hollywood” was actually a song Madonna wrote some time ago but never recorded until now. She apparently changed the melody for this record more than once. Mirwais will tell Remix Magazine (June 2003 issue):

“‘Hollywood’ was a very old song,” Mirwais says. “We weren't satisfied with the original version, so Madonna found an alternative melody."

• "I Can't Place It" - or at least its demo version - is rumoured to be quite a guitar-driven track with a strange rhythm that kept stopping and starting, kind of like what happens to the start of the music of "Don't Tell Me". It is thought to be an early demo for "I'm So Stupid."

* Jun (8) Madonna performs American Life, Hollywood and Music on French TV show tribute Chanson No. 1 (taped on May 6 in Paris, France).

June 11: The Bond theme song will now be “Die Another Day” instead of “Can’t You See My Mind?” (madonnarama.com)

There has been so much talk about “Can't You See My Mind,” the track that Madonna and Mirwais wrote and produced for the "Die Another Day" movie. At the end "Die Another Day", the track, made the soundtrack. Finally we have some details to share about this so-much-talked unreleased song. “Can't You See My Mind” is not a ballad at all as rumoured, but it's upbeat. Each line on the verses is a question. The song has a mysterious feel to it. Michael Colombier's arrangement on it has a much more natural sound than in Die Another Day. Once again Madonna sings, more like talks, in French.

* Jun (11) VH1: 100 Greatest Songs Of The Past 25 Years list includes Like A Virgin at #10 and Ray Of Light at #100.

On June 17 2003, the single cover for Madonna’s Hollywood single was revealed. The photo was taken from the photo shoot by Steven Klein for W Magazine.

Hollywood was the second single from the American Life album, released on July 14, 2003.

* Jun (18) Madonna is named The Greatest Fashion Trendsetter of The World by Elle magazine in Munich, Germany.
* Jun (19) Madonna participates in radio interviews with WHYI and WPYM (Miami), WSTR (Atlanta), KLLC (San Francisco) and KIIS (Los Angeles).
* Jun (23) Hollywood video premieres on VH1.
* Jun (24) Hollywood video premieres online at launch.yahoo.com. Madonna and rapper Missy Elliott begin filming a TV commercial and print ads for Gap clothing stores campaign in Los Angeles, CA, directed by Paul Hunter.
* Jun (27) Hollywood video premieres on MTV.

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JULY 2003
* Jul (1) Madonna is #1 in a special edition of Women In Rock magazines list of 50 Women Who Rocked The World. Madonna and Guy win a privacy battle to keep their estate private and not be classified as open countryside under the Right to Roam legislation in UK.

July 4: Madonna has personally called rap producer/artist Dr. Dre to help out with some tracks on her new CD. We have been told that Madonna first called Dr. Dre a few months back and asked him to do a track on the new

Austin Powers soundtrack which is released on Maverick Records next week. Dre agreed to do it and has remixed the Rolling Stones' classic "Miss You" for the forthcoming Goldmember soundtrack. Insiders say that Madonna was so blown away by the track that she has asked him for some help on her new album. No decisions have been made, but Dr. Dre 's management are said to be against the idea, saying it's "too pop" for him.

>>>Whoever criticizes Hard Candy and praises AL has got to get a reality check. M was into American hip hop way before Timbaland. Once she proved her career wasn't over yet (COADF), she went back to what she wanted to do: a RnB/hip hop tinged album.

Madonna tells Larry King she has been entertaining Hebrew words for the title of her next album (due in early 2003). Tentatively, she is calling the collection, Ein Sof, which is the Hebrew word for ‘endlessness.’ She says she will finish the album in the coming months.

* Jul (7) American Life is certified 1x platinum (1 million units). Hollywood single is released in Europe.

On July 7, 2003, just months after the release, it was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), signifying shipment of one million copies in the US alone. However, it became the third lowest selling studio album by Madonna behind her 2012 release MDNA and her 2015 release Rebel Heart, with sales of 680,000 copies as of October 2012, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It ranked at number 125 on the year-end ranking of the albums by Billboard. 

* Jul (13) Madonna makes a video appearance to honor and roast Carson Daly on MTV special MTV Bash. Hollywood hits UK #2.

On July 14 2003, Madonna’s Hollywood was released as the second single (excluding Die Another Day, which was released as a single to promote the soundtrack of the same name) from the American Life album.

Hollywood was written and produced by Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzaï. The music video was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

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"Hollywood" was released as the second single from the album by Maverick Records. It later appeared on the greatest hits album, Celebration (2009). "Hollywood" is a dance-pop and folk rock song that lyrically discusses American culture and greed, focusing on Hollywood, California, as a place of pop stars and illusory dreams. Madonna's vocals in the song was noted as that of a little-girl's; during the song she also raps, with the repeated phrase "Push the button". Ahmadzaï did the main programming for the track and kept the track as simple as possible, without using too many instruments.

Several remixes of "Hollywood", done by DJs such as Jacques Lu Cont, The Micronauts, Paul Oakenfold, Deepsky and Victor Calderone, were included on physical releases of the single around the world. Music critics applauded the song's catchiness but criticized its lyrics. The song topped Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs and Hot Dance Singles Sales component charts. The debut of the "Hollywood" remixes on the Dance Singles Sales chart gave Madonna her longest stretch of chart-topping titles on this chart, "Hollywood" being her sixth in a row. It also reached the top ten in Canada, Finland, Italy, Romania and number two in the United Kingdom on the commercial charts.

An accompanying music video, directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, portrays Madonna highlighting the highs and lows of Hollywood. After the video was released, French photographer Guy Bourdin's son filed a federal lawsuit that accused Madonna of ripping off the work of his father, showing sequences of the video to be similar to his father's photographs taken in 1980s. "Hollywood" was first performed in an acoustic version along with "American Life" and "Mother and Father" on a promotional tour for the album. In August 2003, Madonna opened the MTV Video Music Awards performing a medley of "Like a Virgin" and "Hollywood" with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott. During the performance, Madonna kissed Spears and Aguilera on the lips, generating strong reactions from the media. "Hollywood" was later used as a dancers' interlude on the 2004 Re-Invention World Tour.

"Hollywood" failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, or the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. It was the first time since "Burning Up" (1983) that a Madonna single did not reach the Hot 100. However, it peaked at number one on both Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Dance Singles Sales component charts. The debut of the "Hollywood" remixes atop the Dance Singles Sales chart gave Madonna her longest stretch of chart-topping titles on this chart, "Hollywood" being her sixth in a row. This stretch began with "Music" in 2000, followed by "Don't Tell Me", "What It Feels Like for a Girl", "Die Another Day" and "American Life". "Hollywood" was Madonna's 22nd number-one on the Dance Singles Sales chart, the most for any artist. On the Billboard Hot Singles Sales chart, the song debuted at number four, but did not accumulate enough points to appear on the Hot 100. At the 2003 Billboard Year-end recap, Madonna was the number two Dance Club Play artist and the top Dance Singles artist. "Hollywood" was ranked at numbers 19, seven, and 45 on the Hot Dance Club Play, Hot Dance Singles Sales and Hot Singles Sales charts respectively. Other than the dance charts, "Hollywood" also reached a peak of number 35 on the Adult Pop Songs. In Canada, the song peaked at number five on Canadian Singles Chart.

*July (15) Hollywood single is released in Canada.
* July (16) Gap Inc. announces a $10 million contract with Madonna to star in TV commercials and print ads for Gap clothing stores fall campaign.
* July (19) Hollywood video hits #5 on VH1 and #14 on MTV.

On July 19, 2003, "Hollywood" debuted at its peak of number two in the UK Singles Chart, being kept from the top spot by "Crazy in Love" by Beyoncé. The song was present for a total of seven weeks on the chart, and as of August 2008, has sold 59,633 copies according to the Official Charts Company. In Australia, "Hollywood" debuted on the chart at number 16, before falling out to number 37 the next week. 
* July (21) Madonna is voted #7 on VH1s list of 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons.
* July (22) Shanghai Surprise (1986) is released on DVD.

On July 22 2003, the first photos from the GAP jeans campaign featuring Madonna and Missy Elliot were released.

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On July 26 2003, Hollywood hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot Maxi-Single Sales chart (renamed Hot Dance Sales), where it would spend an incredible seven weeks.

After an initial five-week run at the top, the single began its descent only to return to #1 for an additional two weeks following Madonna’s performance of Hollywood/Like A Virgin at the MTV Video Music Awards, which incorporated Stuart Price’s remix of Hollywood (released under one of his many pseudonyms, Jacques Lu Cont) and spurred renewed interest in the maxi-single.

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* July (28) Madonna and Missy Elliotts Gap commercial titled A New Groove, A New Jean world premieres on VH1.
* July (30) A New Groove, A New Jean Gap commercial premieres on all TV stations in US and Canada.

On July 30 2003, GAP premiered its latest commercial starring Madonna and Missy Elliot. The commercial, featured a mash-up of Madonna’s Into The Groove + Hollywood = Into The Hollywood Groove, featuring Missy Elliot.

https://youtu.be/KrAfkFG2cbI

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AUGUST 2003
* Aug (2) Hollywood hits #5 on Canadian Singles chart.

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* Aug (9) American Life drops off the albums chart in US after only 14 weeks and is the shortest-living album by Madonna on the Billboard 200.
 

On August 12 2003, Madonna was honoured with the Greatest Female Singer Of The Video Age award by VH1 (based on a viewer’s poll).
* Aug (16) The Immaculate Collection (1990) celebrates its 400th cumulative week on the Billboard 200 and Top Pop Catalog Albums charts in US.
 

On August 23 2003, the Hollywood remixes hit number-one on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the US. It was her 30th single to reach the top of the dance charts.

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On August 24 2006, clothing retailer H&M released its Madonna inspired tracksuit. Madonna and select members of her crew from The Confessions Tour were also featured in the accompanying print ad campaign, photographed by Rankin.

The success of the campaign led to more comprehensive Madonna co-branding ventures with H&M, D&G, and to the eventual launch of her own fashion brands – Material Girl and Truth or Dare by Madonna.

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* Aug (28) Madonna performs Hollywood with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the opening of the 20th annual MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY and upstages everyone at the ceremony when she shares a passionate open-mouth kiss with them.

https://youtu.be/x8LzEGHtn-0

On August 28 2003, Madonna performed Hollywood with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera as the opening number for the 20th annual MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY and upstaged everyone at the ceremony when she shares a passionate open-mouth kiss with them. Missy Elliott also joined the ladies on stage – post-kiss.

Madonna commented on the uproar surrounding the infamous kiss during an appearance on Oprah several weeks later.  “I don’t know why people are making such a big deal about it,” she said. “Hasn’t anyone seen two girls kiss before? It was a friendly kiss – it really was. If Britney looks as though she is kissing me in an aggressive way it was a surprise to me.” She added, “I’m a showgirl. After 20 years in the business, we learn to roll with the punches. If someone’s coming at you with lips slightly parted, you kiss them.”


* Aug (30) Madonna and Guy attend the wedding of Stella McCartney and Alasdhair Willis at Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute, Scotland.

 

SEPTEMBER 2003
* Sep (1) In Atlanta, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper apologizes to its readers for printing a picture of Madonna and Britney Spears in an open-mouth kiss at the MTV Video Music Awards on its front cover following several complaints.
* Sep (3) Madonna releases a special audio message for shoppers on Amazon.com to promote her childrens book The English Roses.
* Sep (8) Madonna tapes an interview with Oprah Winfrey for The Oprah Winfrey Show at Harpo Studios in Chicago, IL.

 

Madonna Interview : Times September 13 2003

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-times-september-13-2003

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* Sep (13) Madonna gives an invitation-only reading of The English Roses to family and friends at her estate in London, England.
 

On September 14 2003, Madonna attended The English Roses tea party in London, to launch her first children’s book.

The tea party took place at the Kensington Roof Gardens, with many celebrity parents and their children in attendance, including Nigella Lawson.

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* Sep (15) The English Roses, a 48-page childrens book written by Madonna and illustrated by Jeffrey Fulvimari, is released in 100 countries and in 30 languages. Madonna attends a press conference at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, France to promote The English Roses. Madonna held a reading to a group of children (and adults!) at the Gallimard Gardens in Paris.

The English Roses debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. The book remained at #1 on the New York Times Children’s Best Sellers list for 7 weeks.

To date, The English Roses has sold over 500,000 copies.

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On September 16 2003, Madonna made an hour-long appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show to promote her first children’s book, The English Roses. It was Madonna’s third appearance on the popular daytime talk show.

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*Sep (17) The English Roses hits #2 on Amazon.coms bestseller list. Britney Spears record label Jive Records announces that Madonna will be featured on Britneys new single Me Against The Music.
* Sep (20) The English Roses hits #2 on UK BookScans best-selling childrens books behind JK Rowlings Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix.
* Sep (21) The English Roses has sold 57,369 US copies in its first week of release and is the 5th overall best-selling book in the country.
* Sep (24) The English Roses hits #1 on bn.com (Barnes & Nobles online bookstore).
* Sep (25) The English Roses becomes the fastest-selling childrens picture book of all time: it has sold more than 10,000 copies in UK in its first week of release. In US, The English Roses hits #7 on USA Today newspapers Top 150 best-selling books list.
* Sep (26) A lawsuit is filed against Madonna in US District Court in Manhattan, NY for copyright infringement and unspecified damages by Samuel Bourdin, the son of late French photographer Guy Bourdin, who accuses her of copying images of his fathers work for her video Hollywood. In UK, a special collectors edition of Q magazine which celebrates Madonnas 20-year career is released.

On September 26 2003, a Madonna special collector’s edition of Q magazine hit newsstands in the UK.

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* Sep (27) Madonna attends a ceremony to celebrate the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, New York, NY.
* Sep (29) Madonna visits Barnes & Noble bookstore at Rockefeller Center in New York, NY to read and sign copies of The English Roses and she is also presented with the inaugural Dave Hoghe Award in honor of her artistic courage and outstanding dedication to the LAByrinth Theater Company at a Celebrity Charades benefit gala at the Daryl Roth Theater, New York, NY.

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OCTOBER 2003
* Oct (1) Madonna is interviewed by Diane Sawyer on ABC-TVs Good Morning America (taped on September 29).
* Oct (5) The English Roses hits #1 on The New York Times best-seller list for childrens picture books.
* Oct (6) Me Against The Music (Britney Spears featuring Madonna) premieres on AOL.com.
* Oct (8) Madonna and Britney Spears begin filming Me Against The Music video at Silvercup Studios East, Queens, NY, directed by Paul Hunter.
* Oct (9) The English Roses has sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide.
* Oct (12) The English Roses is #1 for a second week on The New York Times best-seller list for childrens picture books.

* Oct (14) "Me Against the Music" is a song recorded by American singers Britney Spears and Madonna for Spears' fourth studio album, In the Zone (2003). It was written by Spears, Madonna, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Thabiso "Tab" Nikhereanye, Penelope Magnet, Terius Nash and Gary O'Brien. The song was released on October 14, 2003, by Jive Records, as the lead single of In the Zone. After bonding with Spears during a night in New York City, Stewart and Magnet started working on the song for her. During rehearsals for the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, Spears played Madonna the track and asked her to do the song with her.

"Me Against the Music" contains influences of hip hop and usage of funk guitars. Spears and Madonna trade lines during the verses, and Madonna sings the bridge. Lyrically, the song talks about battling the music and the pleasures of letting go on the dancefloor. The song received generally mixed reviews from music critics. Some felt it was a strong dance track of In the Zone, while others referred to it as lackluster and disappointing. The song was a commercial success, peaking atop of the charts in countries such as Australia, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland and Spain, as well as the European Hot 100 Singles. It also peaked at number two in Canada, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom, and inside the top five in many other nations. The song won the "Hot Dance Single of the Year" accolade at the 2004 Billboard Music Awards.

The accompanying music video for "Me Against the Music" shows Spears and Madonna playing opposites in a nightclub. A cat-and-mouse chase ensues, and Spears finds Madonna in the end, only for the latter to disappear before they kiss. The video received positive reviews from critics, who noted it as symbolic of the sexual roles between the women. Spears has performed the song in a number of live appearances including the 2003 NFL Kickoff Live, Saturday Night Live, 2003 American Music Awards and TRL. She has also performed remixed versions with elements of bhangra music at The Onyx Hotel Tour (2004) and The Circus Starring Britney Spears (2009). Spears is currently performing the song on her Las Vegas residency show Britney: Piece of Me. "Me Against the Music" has been sampled by Justice, while the music video was recreated by television series Glee and included an appearance by Spears.


* Oct (15) Nobody Knows Me single (remixes by Peter Rauhofer, Above & Beyond and Mount Sims) is released only to dance clubs in US.
* Oct (19) The English Roses is #1 for a third week on The New York Times best-seller list for childrens picture books.
* Oct (21) Me Against The Music (Britney Spears featuring Madonna) video premieres on MTV.
* Oct (23) Madonna contributes a videotaped message in Spanish to celebrate the 10th anniversary of MTV Latin at the 2nd annual MTV Video Music Awards Latin America held at the Jackie Gleason Theater, Miami Beach, FL.

On October 25, 2003, "Me Against the Music" debuted at number 50 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was Spears 10th chart hit, as well as the first of her entries that she had co-written. "Me Against the Music" was incidentally Madonna's 50th chart entry, 20 years after her first appearance on the Hot 100 with "Holiday" the week of October 29, 1983. It was also the first song in chart history to credit Madonna as a featured artist, and her first chart entry not produced by her since "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" in 1996. The single spent 13 weeks on the chart, eventually peaking at #35 in the USA.

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Oct 26 "Nothing Fails" was released as the third single from the album on October 26, 2003. It was written by Madonna, Guy Sigsworth and Jem Griffiths, and produced by the singer along with Mirwais Ahmadzaï and Mark "Spike" Stent, it Originally demoed as "Silly Thing", "Nothing Fails" is a love song which has acoustic guitar chords and a gospel choir appearance. Lyrically, the song discusses a lover who is the one, and how their meeting was not just chance. A number of remixes of the song were done, with one of them being included on Madonna's remix album Remixed & Revisited (2003).

The song received generally positive reviews, with music critics praising it as one of the best tracks from American Life, while others compared it with Madonna's previous single "Like a Prayer" (1989), as both songs feature a gospel choir. "Nothing Fails" was released in the US in hopes of attaining sales from American Life. However, it did not chart on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it the second single from the album to fail to chart in the US. However, the song reached number one on the Hot Dance Club Songs and Hot Singles Sales charts. Internationally, the song was a success, reaching the top ten in Australia, Belgium, Canada and Italy while topping the charts in Spain.

Although initially reported on the contrary, no music video was filmed for "Nothing Fails". The song was performed during a promotional tour for American Life in 2003, along with other songs from the album and her past hits. One of these performances was shown by MTV in a special named Madonna on Stage & on the Record. It was also performed during Madonna's sixth concert tour, the Re-Invention World Tour (2004), with Madonna alone on stage singing the song accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Many reviewers noted that Madonna in the performance was a "solitary figure" as it was herself alone playing the acoustic guitar.

In Australia, Warner Bros. Records released a maxi-CD single of "Nothing Fails". The release was considered an album by ARIA due to the number of different tracks; it failed to chart on the ARIA Albums Chart. However, it did appear on the ARIA Dance Albums Chart at number six. The song also reached the top ten in Canada. In Europe, "Nothing Fails" achieved moderate success on the charts. In Austria, "Nothing Fails" debuted at number 74, and one week later, peaked at number 51, going on to spend six weeks inside the chart. 

 
*Oct (26) The English Roses is #1 for a fourth week on The New York Times best-seller list for childrens picture books.
* Oct (27) Nothing Fails single is released to radio stations in US.
* Oct (28) Madonna films Love Profusion video (for European-only release) in New York, NY, directed by Luc Besson.

Following the commercial disappointment of "American Life" and "Hollywood"—the first two singles from American Life—Maverick sent a radio remix of "Nothing Fails" in hopes of attaining sales. The song was sent to Mainstream Top 40 radio on October 28, 2003


* Oct (30) Madonna is interviewed by Pat OBrien on CBS-TVs Access Hollywood.

 

November 2003
* Nov (2) The English Roses is #1 for a fifth week on The New York Times best-seller list for childrens picture books. In UK, Madonna is the #1 top-earning female in the music industry with Ł15m on The Sunday Times Rich List 2003.
* Nov (10) Madonna releases her second childrens book: Mr. Peabodys Apples, a 32-page hardcover illustrated by Loren Long is released in 37 languages and more than 110 countries. Me Against The Music single is released.
* Nov (11) Madonna guests on ABC-TVs Live With Regis & Kelly and CBS-TVs Late Show With David Letterman; she also reads Mr. Peabodys Apples to a group of children from 4th to 8th graders at Montclair Kimberley Academy in Montclair, NJ.
* Nov (12) Madonna and merchandising company Signatures Network announce a deal to develop dolls, apparel, accessories, cosmetics, stationery, room decor and back-to-school products based on The English Roses book for ages 7 to 12. Madonna attends the final preview performance of Broadway musical Taboo (produced by Rosie ODonnell and starring Boy George) at the Plymouth Theatre, New York, NY.


* Nov (13) Madonna guests on MTV TRLs Spankin New Music Week at the MTV Studios in Times Square, New York, NY.
* Nov (15) Madonna is voted the Greatest Female Pop Culture Icon on the list of 100 Greatest Pop Culture Icons in a poll conducted by VH1. Me Against The Music video hits #3 on MTV.
* Nov (16) Madonna wins the Michael Jackson International Artist Of The Year Award at the 31st annual American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA. The English Roses returns to #1 for a sixth week on The New York Times best-seller list for childrens picture books. Me Against The Music hits UK #2.

"Me Against the Music" debuted in the United Kingdom at number two, on the week of November 16, 2003. It was blocked from ascending the top spot by Busted's "Crashed the Wedding". The song became Spears' most successful single since "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" in April 2002. According to the Official Charts Company, the song has sold 240,000 copies there. "Me Against the Music" also topped the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles chart for three consecutive weeks. The song topped the charts in Denmark, Hungary and Ireland; reached number two in Italy and Norway; the top five in Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands. "Me Against the Music" also charted in the top 20 of Austria and France.

In Australia, "Me Against the Music" debuted at number one on November 17, 2003, replacing Kylie Minogue's "Slow", and remained at the top for two weeks. It was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of 70,000 units. On November 24, 2003, the song debuted at number 13 in New Zealand. 

* Nov (19) Madonna telephones into CNN-TVs Larry King Live to wish Larry King a happy 70th birthday. A new wax figure model of Madonna is unveiled at Madame Tussauds Museum in New York, NY.

https://youtu.be/VSzixW0KQcc

On November 24 2003, Madonna’s Remixed & Revisited remix album was released by Maverick Records and distributed by Warner Bros. Records. Remixed & Revisited, a seven-song EP (which includes remixes of songs from American Life CD) contains four songs, in remixed form, from her 2003 ninth studio album American Life and a previously unreleased song, Your Honesty originally written for her 1994 sixth studio album Bedtime Stories. The other tracks included are the live performance of Like a Virgin and Hollywood from the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards—which ended with Madonna kissing co-performers Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera—and a remix of the 1985 single Into the Groove.

Tracks listing:

Nothing Fails (Nevins Mix)
Love Profusion (Headcleanr Rock Mix)
Nobody Knows Me (Mount Sims Old School Mix)
American Life (Headcleanr Rock Mix)
Like a Virgin / Hollywood Medley (2003 MTV Video Music Awards Live)
Into the Hollywood Groove (The Passengerz Mix)
Your Honesty


In the United States, Remixed & Revisited debuted at number 115 on the Billboard 200, selling 22,000 copies in its first week. It also debuted and peaked at number 128 on the Top Comprehensive Albums chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the EP has sold 114,000 copies as of August 2005 in the United States. The Nevins' mix of "Nothing Fails" charted on the Canadian Singles Chart at seven and topped the Hot Dance Club Play chart. It also debuted on the album charts of Belgium, in Flanders and Wallonia, and Switzerland. The album charted in Italy as a song, reaching a peak of number two. It also charted in Finland and Denmark as an EP on the singles charts

On November 26 2003, Madonna appeared on The Tonight Show (with host Jay Leno) at NBC Studios, in Burbank, California.

Madonna handed out gifts to new dad David Letterman when she appeared on the Late Show earlier in the month, and she didn’t want to leave his TV rival Leno out.

“I brought you some Thanksgiving presents.”

Madonna handed the TV host a baseball jersey and a framed illustration from her new children’s book Mr. Peabody’s Apples.

Most odd about this appearance is that Remixed and Revisited was released on November 24 and Madonna never mentioned it.  The Nothing Fails single was also released on November 21, and an upcoming single for Love Profusion (December 8) was also never mentioned.  Very few artists would skip mentioning new releases in such a high profile interview.  It makes me wonder how involved Madonna was with these releases – or if Warner Bros. was forcing the singles and the remix collection to be put out.  All Madonna chose to talk about was her marriage to Guy, her father’s winery, her children’s books and Kabbalah.  

For the record, I think this is an adorable interaction between Madonna and Jay.  She’s funny, sweet and articulate.  

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* Nov (29) On the issue dated November 29, 2003, "Me Against the Music" peaked at number 35. On the component charts, the song peaked at the top of Hot Dance Club Songs and at number 11 on Pop Songs. It won the "Hot Dance Single of the Year" accolade at the 2004 Billboard Music Awards. As of June 2012, it has sold 60,000 physical copies and 281,000 digital downloads according to Nielsen Soundscan. "Me Against the Music" also peaked at number two on the Canadian Singles Chart.

Me Against The Music was recorded by Britney Spears and Madonna for Spears’ fourth studio album, In The Zone.  It was written by Spears, Madonna, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, Thabiso Nikhereanye, Penelope Magnet, Terius Nash and Gary O’Brien.  

I always forget this song. Even when it came out I listened to it a few times and then the CD single started to collect dust.  When was the last time you listened to Me Against The Music? Do you consider it to be a “hit” for Madonna – or do you pretend it never happened like me? – Jay  

* Nov (30) Mr. Peabodys Apples hits #1 and The English Roses is #3 on The New York Times best-seller list for childrens picture books. In UK, Remixed & Revisited EP hits #1 on Top 40 Dance Albums chart.

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Nothing Fails debuted at its peak of number 34 on the French Singles Chart on November 30, 2003. In its second week, the song began its decline, falling out of the chart at number 97, almost four months later. The song had commercial success in Italy, reaching the top ten on its singles chart, and also in Spain where it reached the top of the chart. On the German Singles Chart, the song peaked at number 36.

"Love Profusion" debuted at number 27 on the French Singles Chart on November 30, 2003. In its second week, it reached its peak of number 25. The song was popular in Italy, peaking at number six on the Italian Singles Chart, staying on the chart for a total of sixteen weeks. The song also achieved commercial success in Spain, debuting at number one on its singles chart. On the Swiss Singles Chart, the song peaked at number 31, falling out of the chart after a total of eleven weeks.

DECEMBER 2003
* Dec (4) Love Profusion video world premieres on MTV Germany in Europe.
* Dec (8) Love Profusion is released as a UK single.

On December 8 2003, Love Profusion was released as the final U.K. single from the American Life album.

"Love Profusion" was released as the fourth and final single from the album on December 8, 2003, by Maverick Records. It was written and produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï, it "Love Profusion" was first premiered during the release of the album on AOL. It later received a number of remixes, which were also released alongside the single. The song contains rhythm from a four piece bass drum, with guitar riffs of the acoustic guitar and Madonna's voice backed by a male vocal during the chorus. Ahmadzaï used the stutter edit to create a new groove. Dedicated to Madonna's then-husband, Guy Ritchie, the song's lyrics deal with Madonna's confusion regarding American culture.

After its release, "Love Profusion" received generally favorable reviews from music critics. Reviewers called it the highlight of American Life, complimenting its fusion of dance beats and acoustic guitar, although some thought that it was too similar to other songs from the album. "Love Profusion" failed to chart in the US Billboard Hot 100 like its predecessors from American Life, but it reached number one on the dance charts and the singles sales chart. The song achieved moderate success internationally, reaching the top five in Canada, Italy, while topping the charts in Spain.

The accompanying music video of the song was directed by Luc Besson and was shot at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California. It featured Madonna in front of a greenscreen effect with her walking through a city, until walking into a surreal background, filled with red flowers, sea and fairies. "Love Profusion" also appeared on Estée Lauder "Beyond Paradise" fragrance television commercial, which was similar to the music video and was directed by Besson, but featured supermodel Carolyn Murphy. The advertisement debuted in more than 10,000 cinemas across the country. Madonna has not performed the song during any promotional appearances or on any of her tours; she rehearsed it for 2004's Re-Invention World Tour but it was dropped from the setlist.

"Love Profusion" did not chart on the US Billboard Hot 100 or the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles, making it the third consecutive single from American Life to fail to chart in the US. However, the song peaked at number 41 and "The Passengers Mix" topped on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. The song reached No. 4 on the Hot Singles Sales and topped the Hot Dance Singles Sales charts for five weeks. At the year-end Hot Dance Singles Sales recap, "Love Profusion" was at number three position, while "Me Against the Music" was at number one and "Nothing Fails" was at number two. Billboard reported that Madonna was the first artist in its chart history to have the top three Dance Sales songs. The song also ranked at number 24 on the year-end Dance Club Play tally. In Canada, the song peaked at number three on the Canadian Singles Chart.


*Dec (9) Nothing Fails maxi-single (featuring remixes of Nobody Knows Me) is released in US. Madonna reads Mr. Peabodys Apples to a group of 30 students from the Community Magnet School at Borders Bookstore in Westwood, CA.

Nothing Fails CD maxi-single included the following remixes:

Nothing Fails (Peter Rauhofer’s Classic House Mix)

Nothing Fails (Nevins Big Room Rock Mix)

Nothing Fails (Tracy Young’s Underground Mix)

Nothing Fails (Nevins Global Dub)

Nothing Fails (Jackie’s In Love in the Club Mix)

Nobody Knows Me (Peter Rauhofer’s Private Life Part 1)

Nobody Knows Me (Above & Beyond 12″ Mix)

Nobody Knows Me (Mount Sims Italo Kiss Mix)

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On December 13 2003, “Nobody Knows Me (P. Rauhofer, Above & Beyond, Mount Sims Mixes)” hit #4 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the US.

The track from American Life had been serviced to clubs as a promo-only 12-inch, with the remixes being issued commercially in North America as part of the Nothing Failsmaxi-single.

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* Dec (14) Love Profusion hits #11 in UK.
* Dec (16) Madonna announces she is endorsing Democratic candidate Wesley Clark for the Nov 2004 presidential election.
* Dec (20) Madonna has three titles on Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in US: Me Against The Music, Nobody Knows Me and Nothing Fails: she is the second artist in 18 years to achieve 3 simultaneous entries on this chart (previously achieved by Bronski Beat in 1985).

In the United Kingdom, Love Profusion debuted at its peak of number eleven on December 20, 2003, with sales of 15,361 copies, becoming Madonna's first song to miss the top ten since "One More Chance" (1996). The following week, it dropped to number 33 on the chart, ultimately remaining there for six weeks. "Love Profusion" reached a peak of number 33 on the UK Airplay Chart in five weeks, but quickly descended. As of August 2008, the song had sold 41,025 copies according to the Official Charts Company. In Australia, the song debuted at its peak of number 25 on December 28, 2003. It remained on the chart for another seven weeks. 

* Dec (27) Nothing Fails/Nobody Knows Me hits #1 and Me Against The Music is #2 on Hot Dance Singles Sales chart in US: it is the first time an artist occupies the top 2 positions on this chart since Puff Daddy in 1997. Me Against The Music hits #1 for 2 weeks on Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in US. Madonna is #1 Hot Dance Singles Sales Artist and Die Another Day (Remixes) is #1 Hot Dance Singles Sales in Billboard magazines The Year In Music survey of 2003.

"Nothing Fails" did not chart in the United States; however, it was a commercial success on the dance charts. According to Fred Bronson, the single release of the remixes of the song debuted at number-one on the Hot Singles Sales and Hot Dance Single Sales chart, on the issue dated December 27, 2003, the same week it also moved up to the top-twenty of the Dance Club Songs chart. "Me Against the Music" by Britney Spears, on which Madonna was featured, and "Nobody Knows Me", both were also present in the top-twenty, making Madonna the only artist to have three songs within the top-twenty on the chart simultaneously. However, the single sold less than 10,000 units according to Nielsen SoundScan, marking one of the lowest totals at the time for a number-one song on the chart. At the year-end Hot Dance Singles Sales recap, "Nothing Fails" was at number two position, while "Me Against the Music" and "Love Profusion" was at numbers one and three respectively. Billboard reported that Madonna was the first artist in its chart history to have the top three Dance Sales song.

On December 27 2003, Nothing Fails peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Singles Sales chart.

Unfortunately this chart position owed more to the disappearing physical singles market in the U.S. at the time than it did to the song’s overall popularity. Despite the remixes being relatively well-received (the maxi-single included club mixes of Nobody Knows Me), with no accompanying music video and a complete lack of radio support Nothing Fails failed to crack the Hot 100 singles chart. This marked the first time in Billboard’s history that a single topped the Singles Sales chart in the U.S. without making an appearance on the Hot 100.

In more reassuring chart news, Billboard announced in the same issue that Madonna was being crowned Top Dance Singles Sales Artist for 2003. Madonna had previously achieved this honour in 1985 and 1987, and held the runner-up position in 2000 and 2001.

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 2004

On January 3, 2004, "Nothing Fails" debuted at its peak of number 50 on the Belgian Flanders Singles Chart. However, it peaked at number three on the Ultratip chart of Wallonia. The song debuted at number 16 on the Danish Singles Chart, peaking at number 11 the next week. 

* Jan (5) A public enquiry is ordered to settle a dispute between Madonna and ramblers seeking access on the property of her 1,200-acre Wiltshire estate; a spokesman for the Planning Inspectorate says the enquiry is ordered but no date is confirmed yet.
* Jan (7) Madonna contributes a letter to her website urging people to follow her in supporting Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark.

On January 7 2004, Rolling Stone magazine reviewed Madonna’s Remixed & Revisited EP:

Instead of the twenty-year retrospective originally planned for the holiday season, Madonna fans get a measly half-hour of mishmash marginalia. Of the four remixes from American Life, only one clicks: Headcleanr’s rock mix of Love Profusion, which replaces Mirwais’ electrofolk with Strokes-like guitars and drums that flatter an overlooked but fantastic song. The live medley of Like a Virgin and Hollywood, with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, falls flat without the infamous kisses, and the Gap commercial with Missy Elliott just sounds cheap and nasty. Your Honesty, an outtake from 1994’s Bedtime Stories, recalls the post-disco funkiness of Madonna’s 1983 debut. Bet it would’ve worked better in a box set. – Barry Walters

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*Jan (8) Madonna sends a message live by via satellite to The Kabbalah Centres Spirituality For Kids ceremony in Tel Aviv, Israel.
* Jan (13) Madonna/Britney Spears are #2 on Mr. Blackwells 44th annual list of the worst-dressed women of 2003.
* Jan (16) Madonna attends Kate Moss 30th birthday party at Claridges Hotel in London, England.
* Jan (24) Madonna is presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Britney Spears to commemorate her 20-year hits-filled career at the 5th annual NRJ Music Awards at the 38th MIDEM Music Conference at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France.

Madonna thanked her French fans for two decades of support.

“My ambition may be American, and I may have married a Brit, but my heart belongs to France.”

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On January 30 2004, Madonna’s Official Fan Club (ICON) and Madonna.com published a fan club exclusive photo book titled, Nobody Knows Me. The 52-page soft cover photo book featured previously unreleased photos (spanning her career).

Here’s what Liz Rosenberg had to say when asked to comment on a highlight she witnessed in Madonna’s career:

“Highlights? There’s just too many.

It’s a highlight for me just to dance around the living room to Deeper and Deeper. And also when we played Vogue at a club for the first time.

The list goes on and on and I’m thrilled to have had a front row seat to most of it.”

 

FEBRUARY 2004
* Feb (7) Nothing Fails (Remixes) hits #1 on Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in US.

 

MARCH 2004

On March 5 2004, Madonna began working with Steven Klein and Craig McDean (separately) to shoot the many looks for the tour book and promotional materials for her upcoming Re-invention World Tour.

Giovanni Bianco acted as the art director for the project.  Arianna Phillips was Madonna’s stylist. Julien d’Ys did Madonna’s hair and Gina Brooke did Madonna’s makeup.

On March 16 2004, Love Profusion was commercially released in North America on CD maxi-single. In the U.S., a double 12″ vinyl edition of the maxi-single was also released one week later, on March 23rd. Written & produced by Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzaï, Love Profusion was the fourth and final North American single release from the American Life album. In the UK, Warner chose to issue the song instead of Nothing Failsas the album’s third and final single in December, 2003.

Though lack of radio support kept Love Profusion from charting on the Hot 100 in the U.S., it nevertheless managed to top the Hot Dance/Club Play chart. North of the border, the track peaked at #3 on the Canadian singles chart.

North American pressings of the CD maxi-single included a fold-out tester square of the Estée Lauder fragrance Beyond Paradise. The television commercial for the fragrance featured the song Love Profusion – and although Madonna was replaced by supermodel Carolyn Murphy, it used the same computer-generated imagery as the music video’s “daylight” scenes. Both the video and the commercial were created simultaneously by director Luc Besson.

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On March 28 2004, Madonna.com confirmed that the following dates for the Re-Invention Tour had sold out:

LONDON – Earls Court – 2 shows SOLD OUT (90 minutes per show)
TORONTO – Air Canada Centre – 3 shows SOLD OUT (1 hour 20 minutes)
CHICAGO – United Center – 3 shows SOLD OUT (2 hours)
FT. LAUDERDALE – Office Depot Center – 1 show SOLD OUT
MIAMI – American Airlines Arena – 1 show SOLD OUT
LAS VEGAS – 1 show SOLD OUT

 

On March 31 2004, the first teaser ad for Madonna’s upcoming Re-Invention World Tour appeared in London’s Evening Standard newspaper.

The first ad got readers wondering if Vogue would be performed in the show.  Additional ads for Like A Prayer and Music also appeared in the paper.

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“What I Know Now” by Madonna : People April 12 2004

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On April 3 2004, Madonna’s Love Profusion hit number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. Love Profusion was the fourth single to be released from the American Life album.

 

MAY 2004

May 24: Re-Invention World Tour World Tour May 24 2004 - September 14 2004

https://youtu.be/YKMyaKPQyl8

On May 25 2004, Rolling Stone magazine published a review of Madonna’s Re-Invention World Tour with the headline, “Madonna Reinvents herself. Amid images of war and peace, pop star shows she can sing.”

Here’s the review by Barry Walters:

After twenty years in the limelight, Madonna is expected to cause controversy and reinvent herself for every new tour. So for the May 24th Los Angeles opening of her Re-Invention world trek, Madonna did the most unexpected thing she could: She came back as a great concert singer.

Even the most diehard Madonna fan will concede that her live performances have almost without exception been plagued by a multitude of missed notes, breathy passages, and, as of late, fake British accents. But while Mariah and Whitney have of been losing the acrobatic vocal dexterity and lung power on which their reputations rest, forty-five-year-old Madonna, whom few have ever taken seriously as a musician, has never sounded better than she did during the first of several gigs in her adopted West Coast home. Whether rocking out with classic black Les Paul in hand during a metallic rendition of her early club hit “Burning Up,” or performing “Like a Prayer” behind a screen-projected gospel choir, Madonna belted, and did not once seemed strained. In the midst of a $1 million production festooned with a walkway that jutted out from the stage and over the audience, massive moving video screens, a dozen dancers, a bagpipe player, a stunt skateboarder and a whole lot of emotionally charged anti-war imagery, the focus was nevertheless on Madonna, and how she’s matured into a truly great pop singer.

Opening with a yoga-trained twist on her famous Louis XIV-inspired MTV Video Music Awards rendition of “Vogue” and ending on a kilt-wearing finale of “Holiday” against a video backdrop of national flags that eventually morphed into one, the show was thematically simpler and more focused than her last several productions.

The barbarism of war and the necessity of love were at the heart of the entire show, and both played off each other, sometimes for ironic and decidedly uneasy effect. The original military-themed video footage of “American Life” that the singer withheld at the start of the Iraq war was finally unveiled, and then expanded upon during “Express Yourself,” where Madonna sang her anthem of unbridled, intimate communication in front of dancers dressed as soldiers and goose-stepping with twirling rifles.

By contrast, Madonna closed an extended acoustic section of the show with a straightforward and thoroughly committed rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” as images of war and poverty-ravaged children eventually gave way to footage of a Muslim boy and his Israeli counterpart smiling as they walked with their arms wrapped around each other.

The heaviness of much of the imagery was balanced by Madonna’s own presence, which seemed remarkably fun-loving and self-assured for the opening night of her most technically complex production. Only when she strapped on an acoustic or electric guitar during several songs and repeatedly glanced at her left hand to make sure it was playing the proper chords did she seem at all nervous. “How many people out there really think that I am the Material Girl?” she asked during a break in her most iconic early smash as she strummed with much deliberation.

For the last several songs, Madonna and her dancers donned black and white kilts, an apparent nod to husband Guy Ritchie’s Scottish heritage, and black T-shirts that read “Kabbalists Do It Better,” a cheeky reference to both her religious studies and the “Italians Do It Better” T-shirt she wore during her video for “Papa Don’t Preach,” a song that was performed without the “near-naked pregnant women” described in pre-tour reports of the show. In a number dedicated for the “fans that’ve stood by me for the last twenty years,” she sang her earliest hit ballad, “Crazy For You,” earnestly and without contrivance.

Madonna’s continued relevance was impressive, but it was even more striking that she’s putting more love and genuine passion into her spectacle than ever.

On June 7 2004, Callaway Arts & Entertainment announced the release of Madonna’s third book for children, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, on June 21, 2004.

Yakov and the Seven Thieves was illustrated by Gennady Spirin, an award winning and internationally revered artist, who had illustrated 33 previous children’s books.

Madonna’s first two children’s books, The English Roses and Mr. Peabody’s Apples, both debuted at No. 1 on the children’s picture book best-seller list of The New York Times, and remained on the list for 18 and 10 weeks, respectively.

Madonna described Yakov and the Seven Thieves as “a story about how all of us have the ability to unlock the gates of heaven-no matter how unworthy we think we are. For when we go against our selfish natures, we make miracles happen, in our lives and in the lives of others.”

Publisher and CEO of Callaway Arts & Entertainment, Nicholas Callaway made this statement about the book: “Yakov and the Seven Thieves again proves the amazing range of Madonna’s storytelling talent. Her first book was set in contemporary England and the second in post-World War II America. Now, she takes us to a completely different cultural milieu-a small 18th-century town in Eastern Europe. We therefore selected a world-renowned Russian artist, Gennady Spirin, to illustrate this book, because his traditional artistic style perfectly complements the old-world setting of the story.

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JULY 2004

On July 18 2004, Madonna played the first of three sold-out dates at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre during her Re-Invention Tour. Playing to a combined total of over 52,000 fans, the shows were the only Canadian stop on the tour and marked her first concerts in Canada in eleven years.

At the second show Madonna proclaimed to those in attendance that they were the best audience of the tour thus far, while the final Toronto date saw Madonna in an uncharacteristically playful mood. Interrupting the show’s normally swift progression between Papa Don’t Preach and Crazy For You, she joked about the infamous 1990 threats of arrest and whipped the audience into a cheering frenzy with her self-described “unprofessional” behaviour.

On July 19 2004, the first of three shows at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre during Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour was reviewed by Angela Pacienza of the Canadian Press:

TORONTO (CP) – The original Material Girl strutted, writhed and wriggled Sunday, showing her fans she still had the goods to compete with performers half her age.

Madonna’s concert, the first of three in Toronto, was an over-the-top theatrical production complete with costume changes, choreographed dance numbers and an ever-changing stage. After an awkward, avant-garde video display where she appeared to turn into a wolf, the 45-year-old singer opened with Vogue, her tribute to New York club life. Dressed in a glittery corset, black short-shorts and knee-high boots, Madonna sashayed from one end of the stage to the next with the help of a moving sidewalk – a conveyer-belt built into the entire front section of the stage. Aptly titled the Re-Invention Tour, the set went through several incarnations, at times appearing as a Renaissance painting, a war field, a circus, a traditional concert stage with a full band in the centre and finally, a dance club. Moving parts included a V-shaped catwalk that dropped down on top of the floor seats, giving Madonna greater access to fans at the back end of the Air Canada Centre.

It’s been 11 years since Madonna’s strutted on a Canadian stage and fans showed they’ve been patiently waiting with thunderous applause throughout the show. “It’s good to be back, Toronto,” she told more than 16,000 fans who paid up to $300 – considerably more than the top-ticket price of $55 for her 1993 stop. “Just because I’ve changed my ways doesn’t mean I don’t still like to have fun.” She briefly mentioned a run-in with Toronto police in 1990, when officers investigated reports of lewd acts during her concert. “I’m a good girl,” she purred.

The Material Girl has re-invented herself dozens of times since she left her Michigan working-class home in the late 1970s. Her most memorable persona was the sex-crazed diva, a harbinger of the current generation of pop music tarts. She offered the crowd some of that sauciness on Sunday with suggestive dance moves – although the show was relatively tame compared to her former self. Instead of sexual provacativeness, she filled the two-hour set with religious iconography. An illustration of Jesus was her backdrop for Mother And Father. She wore a T-shirt with the words Kabbalists Do It Better during Papa Don’t Preach.

Madonna’s calmed down considerably in recent years, with her current role of demure mother, children’s book author and spiritual practitioner. The show seemed structured to show off Madonna’s new maturity, urging people to think about government, religion and world events, rather than push the usual buttons with simulated sex scenes. Her fans didn’t seem to mind and said they continue to support her chameleon career.

Carla Filoso drove from Ottawa for the show. “She’s probably the most influential artist of our time,” gushed the 24-year-old, who spent $300 on her floor seat ticket. “She’s re-invented herself about 100 times.” Natalie Michaud thought the ’80s icon was worth buying a ticket from a U.S. scalper for $700 US. On top of that price, the 25-year-old psychology student flew from Grand Falls, N.B. with her boyfriend for the show. “I grew up with her. I love her,” she gushed from her floor seat.

Madonna didn’t disappoint, working her way through the maze of past hits with confident ease, even finding inventive, modern ways to interpret her ’80s songs. Express Yourself saw her treat a rifle like a baton, twirling it round and round and giving the song a more political slant. Burning Up, a syrupy pop ditty from her first record, became a bold, new wave rock song. Wielding an electric guitar, Madonna belted out her signature song, Material Girl to some of the loudest screams of the night. Other hits included Frozen, Into The Groove and Crazy For You.

Madonna, who found time earlier in the day to stop in at the city’s Kabbalah Centre, proved herself a versatile performer, putting on a Vegas-style show that left the audience panting right until the red-and-white confetti sprayed overtop during the finale, her song Holiday – the singer’s first Top 40 hit back in 1983. With a huge library of songs to choose from, Madonna seemed to have picked one to represent her many image makeovers. Lament, from Evita, showed a bit of the sophisticated lady. Like A Prayer was her first religious foray. Hanky Panky, from the film Dick Tracy, reminded fans of Madonna’s many attempts to conquer acting. Her button-pusher attitude was let loose during American Life, with dancers dressed like soldiers attacking others dressed as religious figures including a nun and a rabbi.

She performs again Monday and Wednesday. The three Toronto shows are her only stops in Canada. Her tour ends in Lisbon in mid-September.

                On July 19 2004, Jane Stevenson published this review of Madonna’s Re-Invention Tourin the Toronto Sun:

After an 11 – year absence, Madonna returned to Toronto last night with the first of three sold-out shows at the Air Canada Centre.

The 45-year-old pop icon notably didn’t bring her 2001 Drowned Tour to T.O., disappointing fans, but she seemed to have been forgiven last night judging from the roaring reception.

“Ah, it’s good to be back in Toronto,” she said towards the end of her hour-and-50-minute set. “It’s been so long. Just because I have two children doesn’t mean I don’t like to have fun.”

Believe it or not, Madonna last performed in this city in 1993 with her sexy Girlie Show Tour at SkyDome. (She mistakenly remembered her last visit as the infamous 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour saying: “The last time we were here, the police almost arrested us. I’m a good girl.”)

But back in 1993, she was a vastly different artist, single and childless, and without her new – found faith in Kabbalah, the study of a kind of Jewish mysticism that has found her choosing the Hebrew name of Esther for herself.

Not to give anyone the wrong idea.

Last night’s show — which began 45 minutes later than scheduled and found 17,000 anxious fans chanting “Madonna! Madonna!” – – was still a hi-tech, flashy and fun affair but overall more tame, and slightly preachy with plenty of Bush-bashing, anti-war messages and Hebrew references.

Like the L.A. tour launch on May 24, a select group of fans were guided into tiny pits on either side of the stage before the concert began for a first – class view of Madge, although five giant moving video screens enabled the masses farther away to get a good look at The Material Girl.

Kicking off the night with a slick, stylized video and recorded spoken – word monologue called The Beast Within, the concert really began when Madonna made her big entrance laying down on a platform that came out of the stage floor to the opening strains of her 1990 uber-hit Vogue.

She was quickly joined by nine dancers, all dressed in French period costumes, with her seven-piece band divided into two camps in the shadows on either side of the stage.

The biggest production number, however, came during the title track from her 2003 release, American Life, which saw a gleaming silver catwalk descend from above for a fashion show featuring Madonna’s dancers dressed as everything from a rabbi, a priest, a nun, an Arab, etc.

By this point, Madge — who began the night in a sparkly champagne – coloured corset top, short black shorts and knee – high black boots – – had changed into army fatigues and a black beret with the rest of her dancers brandishing rifles for army – themed choreography.

The background video, meanwhile, was sober images of victims of war ending with a Bush and Saddam Hussein look – a-likes sharing a cigar. (Similar video of children in war – torn countries was shown during her cover of John Lennon’s Imagine.)

Because this is called the Re-Invention Tour, many of Madonna’s songs were reworked, some better than others.

Often she appeared as a solitary figure on stage playing the electric or acoustic guitar on such songs as Burning Up and Material Girl or the new tune, Nothing Fails, respectively.

The weakest link in the entire show was the circus – themed third portion where, for some unknown reason, Madonna dragged out the awful Dick Tracy song Hanky Panky, and turned the normally robust dance song Deeper And Deeper into a cabaret ballad.

Thankfully,that segment was saved by a wonderfully inventive tango version of her James Bond theme song, Die Another Day, before she was placed in an electric chair for the Evita number, Lament.

Other crowd – pleasers proved to be a mix of old and new songs like Frozen,Express Yourself, Don’t Tell Me, Like A Prayer and Music.

Although Into The Groove, which featured bagpipes, drums and Madonna and her dancers in kilts, and the show – ending Holiday, complete with red – and – white confetti and another stroll down the catwalk, have to be singled out for special mention.

Madonna wraps up the North American leg on her Re-Invention Tour on Aug. 2 in Miami before heading over to Europe.

Otherwise, she plays two more shows at the ACC, tonight and Wednesday. The Toronto shows initially sold-out in a record-setting 80 minutes but more seats were released once the Re-Invention production was finalized.

Rumoured among those to be in attendance last night were Madonna’s two children — seven-year-old daughter Lourdes, a.k.a. Lola, and three-year-old son Rocco — and hubby Guy Ritchie.

On July 27 2004, Madonna’s management issued a press release confirming that Madonna would be adding a concert in Lisbon to the Re-Invention Tour itinerary:

Lisbon Concert Press Release July 27, 2004 RE-INVENTION WORLD TOUR 2004 LISBON CONCERT CONFIRMED! 13-SEPTEMBER PAVILHAO ATLANTICO Lisbon, Portugal

The wait is finally over, the rumours are confirmed for the first time ever Portuguese fans will get their chance to see Madonna’s Re-Invention World Tour later this summer. The tour which is currently sweeping through North America to rave reviews before launching in Europe on August 14th is confirmed to play Pavilhao Atlantico on 13-September, 2004. By both artistic and commercial standards Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour is a smash hit. The New York Times called Monday’s sold-out debut, “Dense, dizzying exhilarating.” The London Sun said, “Today’s generation of Pop Idol wannabees should listen, learn and take note from a woman who has no intention of handing over her crown for a good few years yet”, and Rolling Stone said: “She’s putting more love and genuine passion into her spectacle than ever.” Madonna is both a multi-Grammy Award winner and a multi MTV Award winner and has sold well over 250 million albums during the span of her extraordinary two-decade career. In addition, she has had more Top Ten Singles than any female artist in history – second only to Elvis Presley.

By popular demand a second concert on September 14th would later be added, becoming the final date of the tour.

AUGUST 2004

Madonna Interview : Vogue August 2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-vogue-august-2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2004-madonna-vogue.jpg

On August 15 2004, Madonna performed the second sold-out Re-Invention Tour show at the Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/mensarena-reinvention-5.jpg?w=550

On August 29 2004, Madonna played to over 62,000 fans at Ireland’s Slane Castle during the only open-air performance of The Re-Invention Tour.

A fan who attended the show shared their review with Madonna fan-site Mad-Eyes.net:

“I can’t believe I’ve finally come to Ireland. Jesus Christ, what took me so fucking long!” Yesterday evening Madonna gave her first open air concert in 11 years. And Madonna didn’t disappoint. Even though it rained and she had to cover herself with a jumper sometimes, she put on a magnificent show. During the first part of the show, she wore the golden corset again. Later, while spinning during Papa Don’t Preach, she said “I’m just trying to keep myself warm!” while wearing an “Irish Do It Better” shirt. The crowd was certainly warmed up and gave her a lot of energy. When it was raining during Nothing Fails, a crew member sat on his knees on stage, covering Madonna under an umbrella while she was playing the guitar. Madonna laughed and sang “rain, rain, go away”. Because of the open air, the catwalk was present all the time and even much lower than usual, giving Madonna the chance to skim hands of the fans. The confetti for Holiday was blown into the air. As the message “Re-Invent Yourself” appeared on screen, Madonna thanked the crowd “thank you goodnight” and added “Ireland you’re the best!” Afterwards, huge fireworks broke out over the place.

Madonna herself recalled the performance in her tour documentary I’m Going To Tell You A Secret, although her recollection of the show’s attendance appeared to be slightly hazy. Billboard magazine reported ticket sales of 62,275 for the event rather than the 80,000 people capacity of the grounds.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/rit-slane-2.jpg

https://youtu.be/kf6vNbthfBA

On September 14 2004, the final show of Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour took place in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Lisbon concert was recorded and considered for release on DVD but these plans were unfortunately shelved. However, a rough cut leaked on the internet several years later. To date this remains the only complete, professionally shot recording of the tour available to fans.

OCTOBER 2004

On October 8 2004, Billboard announced that Madonna was the lead finalist for Billboard’s inaugural Backstage Pass Awards, in three categories:

Top Tour (based on gross dollars): Re-Invention Tour

Top Draw (based on total tickets sold): Re-Invention Tour

Top Boxscore Event (for a show at Madison Square Garden): Re-Invention Tour

The Backstage Pass Awards recognize the top achievements in touring (according to box office data).

Madonna Interview : Sunday Times October 24 2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-sunday-times-october-24-2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2004-madonna-sunday-times.jpg

On October 25 2004, it was announced that Madonna would lend her voice to the cast of the animated film Arthur and the Invisibles (then titled simply Arthur), written & directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson.

The film tells the story of ten-year-old Arthur, who, while trying to save his grandfather’s house from developers, goes on a treasure hunt in the land of the Minimoys, a tiny people living in coexistence with nature, informed The Malaysia Star. According to ABC News, Arthur was adapted from a series of children’s books written by Besson, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie. Madonna was said to be voicing the part of Princess Selenia, a character who travels with Arthur to a mysterious forbidden city where an evil being dwells. “The recording is being done at the moment,” a source was quoted by ratethemusic as saying.

Madonna had previously collaborated with Besson earlier in 2004 when he directed her music video for Love Profusion. She was also in the midst of writing songs for a proposed musical film to be directed by Besson, but she later withdrew from the project after being dissatisfied by the finished screenplay.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/arthur_and_the_invisibles_ver16_xlg.jpg?w=550

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/madonna-luc-besson.jpg?w=550

 

NOVEMBER 2004

On November 14 2004, Madonna was featured on the cover of Roland Users Group magazine, with the headline, “Six Roland Synths Hit the Road in Style.” The article discusses some of the talented keyboardists (Marcus Brown and Mike McKnight) who toured with Madonna during her Re-Invention World Tour, and how the music was put together for the show.

Here’s some snippets from the article (interview by Greg Rule with Marcus Brown and Mike McKnight):

A person doesn’t just fall into a high-profile tour like this. What steps led you to getting the gig with Madonna?

Mike: Back in 1990 I was taking piano lessons from John Novello, and one of his students was working in Freddie DeMann’s office — Madonna’s manager back then. She gave John and I the heads-up about the auditions. John went in to audition as a keyboardist, and I got hired as a programmer/offstage keyboardist/sequencer guy. I got the gig mainly on the word of mouth that I could play keys offstage and sequence extra musical parts. I had just finished Earth, Wind & Fire before her tour geared up.

Originally it was supposed to be only a few background vocals, and repetitive keyboard and percussion parts in the computer — an Atari 1040 ST running Dr T’s sequencer. I was hired basically during the first week of band rehearsals, and I took the gig, since it looked like I wouldn’t have to go nuts with sequencing all of the parts from the multitracks. Wrong! During my first meeting with her she made it very clear she wanted everything in the computer. Back then all I had was an Atari 1040 and six 8MB samplers for playback, so while three were playing, three were loading up for the next song. It was nuts, but I pulled it off, and have been there for every tour since.

Marcus: I’d been working in England with Richard Ashcroft from The Verve. He’d done the support slot for Madonna when we she’d come to town a few years prior. Also, Steve, the drummer in Madonna’s band, had worked with Richard, so there was a bit of a connection there. When she was putting the band together for the Drowned World tour, my name came up, and that’s pretty much how it happened. No audition; I didn’t have to stand there and play Chopin or anything like that [grins]. I think it was more or less taken for granted that I could play.

With this kind of job, you have to get on with the people you work with, so a lot of it is about style and personality as well. We all came from a similar place. I was familiar with Steve’s work, and [musical director] Stuart Price’s as well, so it all came together nicely. I basically walked in and we got on with it. We started right away.

Describe steps you went through leading up to launch of the Re-invention tour.

Mike: I began programming for this tour while I was out on the road with Mariah Carey — just putting the files in order, making sure I had all the parts I needed. Stuart Price and I got to L.A. a week before rehearsal to begin putting together the arrangements. Stuart is a very good remixer and musician, and M expected him to “re-invent” many of her big hits from the ’80s and ’90s for this tour. I jumped in where I was needed, but Stuart did most of the arrangements. My main job was to put all of the possible versions into the computer for fine-tuning and rehearsal with M. She would come in and sometimes love the direction and sometimes would suggest other directions, and she usually wanted to hear her “vision” right away, which made my job “interesting” at times, but we got through it. She’s tough but fair, so it wasn’t too bad really.

Were strong sight-reading skills required for this gig?

Marcus: We haven’t typically had the music written out, unless something got thrown at us quickly, in which case we had a pile of those guitar chord-books for grabbing a basic chord structure.

The main way we’ve approached the tracks is … Stuart creates a sort of remixed version of a song in his studio, and plays it for Madonna. If she likes the version, he separates the parts into a multitrack session, and then we stand around and say, “Okay, I’ll do that bit, you do that line there, Steve can handle this part. etc.” We’d basically strip away as much as possible from the mix, and perhaps only leave a couple of little things here and there that we couldn’t physically do. Then we start getting sounds together and rehearsing the song.

Mike, You’ve been Madonna’s “right-hand man” on every tour for 10-plus years. What things have you learned that are invaluable to your survival on this gig?

Mike: Just to be prepared for everything. I have to have several versions of each song ready, as well as to be constantly thinking ahead to what she might ask for to spice up the arrangement. It’s important to have backups in several places, and to keep every variation ready just in case she decides to go back a version or two. In short — just think ahead and pay attention.

Final thoughts about life on the road with perhaps the most famous woman in the world?

Mike: Madonna is the ultimate touring experience; nobody else even comes close. She hires the best people, and the tour is run like a well-oiled machine with none of the stupidity I’ve become accustomed to on other tours. She works everyone very hard, but she expects as much of herself as anyone else on tour, so it’s cool. It just doesn’t get better than this.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/roland-user-group-magazine.jpg?w=550&h=674

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/roland-users-group-madonna-end.jpg?w=550&h=652

On November 14 2004, Michael Colombier – the composer/arranger who produced the beautiful string arrangements for Madonna’s songs Die Another Day, Don’t Tell Me & Easy Ride, and composed the soundtrack for Swept Away (perhaps the film’s most memorable attribute) – passed away at age 65.

Colombier was one of the most prolific and versatile French musicians of his generation. Besides his career as a film composer scoring over 100 feature, cable and television films since the early 1960’s – Colombier was a prolific songwriter and arranger who worked with artists such as Joni Mitchell, Prince, Serge Gainsbourg, The Beach Boys, Herbie Hancock, Air, Barbra Streisand & Earth Wind And Fire.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/michel-columbier-note.jpg

As a film composer, Michel Colombier scored many French and American films, including The Golden Child, Ruthless People, New Jack City, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and The Money Pit. His background in jazz was evident in the majority of his film scores, and his ability to compose original score music that merged seamlessly with pop songs made him the perfect composer for 1980’s films with song-heavy soundtracks, including White Nights, Against All Odds and Purple Rain (which won a Grammy Award as well as an Academy Award for Best Original Score).

DECEMBER 2004

Madonna Interview : People December 06 2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-people-december-06-2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2004-madonna-people.jpg

On December 6 2004, Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour corset made by French designer Christian Lacroix was put on display as part of the inauguration celebration of the Villa du Marais hotel. Seventeen rooms of the hotel were filled with Christian’s most impressive creations.

Madonna had two variations of the corset: gold and lilac. She wore the corset during Vogue, Nobody Knows Me and Frozen.

On December 7 2004, Britney Spears’ collaboration with Madonna, Me Against The Music, was bestowed with the Hot Dance Sales Single Of The Year award at the Billboard Music Awards ceremony at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/me-against-the-music-britney-spears-madonna-3.jpg?w=550

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29 minutes ago, groovyguy said:

JULY 2004

On July 18 2004, Madonna played the first of three sold-out dates at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre during her Re-Invention Tour. Playing to a combined total of over 52,000 fans, the shows were the only Canadian stop on the tour and marked her first concerts in Canada in eleven years.

At the second show Madonna proclaimed to those in attendance that they were the best audience of the tour thus far, while the final Toronto date saw Madonna in an uncharacteristically playful mood. Interrupting the show’s normally swift progression between Papa Don’t Preach and Crazy For You, she joked about the infamous 1990 threats of arrest and whipped the audience into a cheering frenzy with her self-described “unprofessional” behaviour.

On July 19 2004, the first of three shows at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre during Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour was reviewed by Angela Pacienza of the Canadian Press:

TORONTO (CP) – The original Material Girl strutted, writhed and wriggled Sunday, showing her fans she still had the goods to compete with performers half her age.

Madonna’s concert, the first of three in Toronto, was an over-the-top theatrical production complete with costume changes, choreographed dance numbers and an ever-changing stage. After an awkward, avant-garde video display where she appeared to turn into a wolf, the 45-year-old singer opened with Vogue, her tribute to New York club life. Dressed in a glittery corset, black short-shorts and knee-high boots, Madonna sashayed from one end of the stage to the next with the help of a moving sidewalk – a conveyer-belt built into the entire front section of the stage. Aptly titled the Re-Invention Tour, the set went through several incarnations, at times appearing as a Renaissance painting, a war field, a circus, a traditional concert stage with a full band in the centre and finally, a dance club. Moving parts included a V-shaped catwalk that dropped down on top of the floor seats, giving Madonna greater access to fans at the back end of the Air Canada Centre.

It’s been 11 years since Madonna’s strutted on a Canadian stage and fans showed they’ve been patiently waiting with thunderous applause throughout the show. “It’s good to be back, Toronto,” she told more than 16,000 fans who paid up to $300 – considerably more than the top-ticket price of $55 for her 1993 stop. “Just because I’ve changed my ways doesn’t mean I don’t still like to have fun.” She briefly mentioned a run-in with Toronto police in 1990, when officers investigated reports of lewd acts during her concert. “I’m a good girl,” she purred.

The Material Girl has re-invented herself dozens of times since she left her Michigan working-class home in the late 1970s. Her most memorable persona was the sex-crazed diva, a harbinger of the current generation of pop music tarts. She offered the crowd some of that sauciness on Sunday with suggestive dance moves – although the show was relatively tame compared to her former self. Instead of sexual provacativeness, she filled the two-hour set with religious iconography. An illustration of Jesus was her backdrop for Mother And Father. She wore a T-shirt with the words Kabbalists Do It Better during Papa Don’t Preach.

Madonna’s calmed down considerably in recent years, with her current role of demure mother, children’s book author and spiritual practitioner. The show seemed structured to show off Madonna’s new maturity, urging people to think about government, religion and world events, rather than push the usual buttons with simulated sex scenes. Her fans didn’t seem to mind and said they continue to support her chameleon career.

Carla Filoso drove from Ottawa for the show. “She’s probably the most influential artist of our time,” gushed the 24-year-old, who spent $300 on her floor seat ticket. “She’s re-invented herself about 100 times.” Natalie Michaud thought the ’80s icon was worth buying a ticket from a U.S. scalper for $700 US. On top of that price, the 25-year-old psychology student flew from Grand Falls, N.B. with her boyfriend for the show. “I grew up with her. I love her,” she gushed from her floor seat.

Madonna didn’t disappoint, working her way through the maze of past hits with confident ease, even finding inventive, modern ways to interpret her ’80s songs. Express Yourself saw her treat a rifle like a baton, twirling it round and round and giving the song a more political slant. Burning Up, a syrupy pop ditty from her first record, became a bold, new wave rock song. Wielding an electric guitar, Madonna belted out her signature song, Material Girl to some of the loudest screams of the night. Other hits included Frozen, Into The Groove and Crazy For You.

Madonna, who found time earlier in the day to stop in at the city’s Kabbalah Centre, proved herself a versatile performer, putting on a Vegas-style show that left the audience panting right until the red-and-white confetti sprayed overtop during the finale, her song Holiday – the singer’s first Top 40 hit back in 1983. With a huge library of songs to choose from, Madonna seemed to have picked one to represent her many image makeovers. Lament, from Evita, showed a bit of the sophisticated lady. Like A Prayer was her first religious foray. Hanky Panky, from the film Dick Tracy, reminded fans of Madonna’s many attempts to conquer acting. Her button-pusher attitude was let loose during American Life, with dancers dressed like soldiers attacking others dressed as religious figures including a nun and a rabbi.

She performs again Monday and Wednesday. The three Toronto shows are her only stops in Canada. Her tour ends in Lisbon in mid-September.

                On July 19 2004, Jane Stevenson published this review of Madonna’s Re-Invention Tourin the Toronto Sun:

After an 11 – year absence, Madonna returned to Toronto last night with the first of three sold-out shows at the Air Canada Centre.

The 45-year-old pop icon notably didn’t bring her 2001 Drowned Tour to T.O., disappointing fans, but she seemed to have been forgiven last night judging from the roaring reception.

“Ah, it’s good to be back in Toronto,” she said towards the end of her hour-and-50-minute set. “It’s been so long. Just because I have two children doesn’t mean I don’t like to have fun.”

Believe it or not, Madonna last performed in this city in 1993 with her sexy Girlie Show Tour at SkyDome. (She mistakenly remembered her last visit as the infamous 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour saying: “The last time we were here, the police almost arrested us. I’m a good girl.”)

But back in 1993, she was a vastly different artist, single and childless, and without her new – found faith in Kabbalah, the study of a kind of Jewish mysticism that has found her choosing the Hebrew name of Esther for herself.

Not to give anyone the wrong idea.

Last night’s show — which began 45 minutes later than scheduled and found 17,000 anxious fans chanting “Madonna! Madonna!” – – was still a hi-tech, flashy and fun affair but overall more tame, and slightly preachy with plenty of Bush-bashing, anti-war messages and Hebrew references.

Like the L.A. tour launch on May 24, a select group of fans were guided into tiny pits on either side of the stage before the concert began for a first – class view of Madge, although five giant moving video screens enabled the masses farther away to get a good look at The Material Girl.

Kicking off the night with a slick, stylized video and recorded spoken – word monologue called The Beast Within, the concert really began when Madonna made her big entrance laying down on a platform that came out of the stage floor to the opening strains of her 1990 uber-hit Vogue.

She was quickly joined by nine dancers, all dressed in French period costumes, with her seven-piece band divided into two camps in the shadows on either side of the stage.

The biggest production number, however, came during the title track from her 2003 release, American Life, which saw a gleaming silver catwalk descend from above for a fashion show featuring Madonna’s dancers dressed as everything from a rabbi, a priest, a nun, an Arab, etc.

By this point, Madge — who began the night in a sparkly champagne – coloured corset top, short black shorts and knee – high black boots – – had changed into army fatigues and a black beret with the rest of her dancers brandishing rifles for army – themed choreography.

The background video, meanwhile, was sober images of victims of war ending with a Bush and Saddam Hussein look – a-likes sharing a cigar. (Similar video of children in war – torn countries was shown during her cover of John Lennon’s Imagine.)

Because this is called the Re-Invention Tour, many of Madonna’s songs were reworked, some better than others.

Often she appeared as a solitary figure on stage playing the electric or acoustic guitar on such songs as Burning Up and Material Girl or the new tune, Nothing Fails, respectively.

The weakest link in the entire show was the circus – themed third portion where, for some unknown reason, Madonna dragged out the awful Dick Tracy song Hanky Panky, and turned the normally robust dance song Deeper And Deeper into a cabaret ballad.

Thankfully,that segment was saved by a wonderfully inventive tango version of her James Bond theme song, Die Another Day, before she was placed in an electric chair for the Evita number, Lament.

Other crowd – pleasers proved to be a mix of old and new songs like Frozen,Express Yourself, Don’t Tell Me, Like A Prayer and Music.

Although Into The Groove, which featured bagpipes, drums and Madonna and her dancers in kilts, and the show – ending Holiday, complete with red – and – white confetti and another stroll down the catwalk, have to be singled out for special mention.

Madonna wraps up the North American leg on her Re-Invention Tour on Aug. 2 in Miami before heading over to Europe.

Otherwise, she plays two more shows at the ACC, tonight and Wednesday. The Toronto shows initially sold-out in a record-setting 80 minutes but more seats were released once the Re-Invention production was finalized.

Rumoured among those to be in attendance last night were Madonna’s two children — seven-year-old daughter Lourdes, a.k.a. Lola, and three-year-old son Rocco — and hubby Guy Ritchie.

On July 27 2004, Madonna’s management issued a press release confirming that Madonna would be adding a concert in Lisbon to the Re-Invention Tour itinerary:

Lisbon Concert Press Release July 27, 2004 RE-INVENTION WORLD TOUR 2004 LISBON CONCERT CONFIRMED! 13-SEPTEMBER PAVILHAO ATLANTICO Lisbon, Portugal

The wait is finally over, the rumours are confirmed for the first time ever Portuguese fans will get their chance to see Madonna’s Re-Invention World Tour later this summer. The tour which is currently sweeping through North America to rave reviews before launching in Europe on August 14th is confirmed to play Pavilhao Atlantico on 13-September, 2004. By both artistic and commercial standards Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour is a smash hit. The New York Times called Monday’s sold-out debut, “Dense, dizzying exhilarating.” The London Sun said, “Today’s generation of Pop Idol wannabees should listen, learn and take note from a woman who has no intention of handing over her crown for a good few years yet”, and Rolling Stone said: “She’s putting more love and genuine passion into her spectacle than ever.” Madonna is both a multi-Grammy Award winner and a multi MTV Award winner and has sold well over 250 million albums during the span of her extraordinary two-decade career. In addition, she has had more Top Ten Singles than any female artist in history – second only to Elvis Presley.

By popular demand a second concert on September 14th would later be added, becoming the final date of the tour.

AUGUST 2004

Madonna Interview : Vogue August 2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-vogue-august-2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2004-madonna-vogue.jpg

On August 15 2004, Madonna performed the second sold-out Re-Invention Tour show at the Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/mensarena-reinvention-5.jpg?w=550

On August 29 2004, Madonna played to over 62,000 fans at Ireland’s Slane Castle during the only open-air performance of The Re-Invention Tour.

A fan who attended the show shared their review with Madonna fan-site Mad-Eyes.net:

“I can’t believe I’ve finally come to Ireland. Jesus Christ, what took me so fucking long!” Yesterday evening Madonna gave her first open air concert in 11 years. And Madonna didn’t disappoint. Even though it rained and she had to cover herself with a jumper sometimes, she put on a magnificent show. During the first part of the show, she wore the golden corset again. Later, while spinning during Papa Don’t Preach, she said “I’m just trying to keep myself warm!” while wearing an “Irish Do It Better” shirt. The crowd was certainly warmed up and gave her a lot of energy. When it was raining during Nothing Fails, a crew member sat on his knees on stage, covering Madonna under an umbrella while she was playing the guitar. Madonna laughed and sang “rain, rain, go away”. Because of the open air, the catwalk was present all the time and even much lower than usual, giving Madonna the chance to skim hands of the fans. The confetti for Holiday was blown into the air. As the message “Re-Invent Yourself” appeared on screen, Madonna thanked the crowd “thank you goodnight” and added “Ireland you’re the best!” Afterwards, huge fireworks broke out over the place.

Madonna herself recalled the performance in her tour documentary I’m Going To Tell You A Secret, although her recollection of the show’s attendance appeared to be slightly hazy. Billboard magazine reported ticket sales of 62,275 for the event rather than the 80,000 people capacity of the grounds.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/rit-slane-2.jpg

https://youtu.be/kf6vNbthfBA

On September 14 2004, the final show of Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour took place in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Lisbon concert was recorded and considered for release on DVD but these plans were unfortunately shelved. However, a rough cut leaked on the internet several years later. To date this remains the only complete, professionally shot recording of the tour available to fans.

OCTOBER 2004

On October 8 2004, Billboard announced that Madonna was the lead finalist for Billboard’s inaugural Backstage Pass Awards, in three categories:

Top Tour (based on gross dollars): Re-Invention Tour

Top Draw (based on total tickets sold): Re-Invention Tour

Top Boxscore Event (for a show at Madison Square Garden): Re-Invention Tour

The Backstage Pass Awards recognize the top achievements in touring (according to box office data).

Madonna Interview : Sunday Times October 24 2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-sunday-times-october-24-2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2004-madonna-sunday-times.jpg

On October 25 2004, it was announced that Madonna would lend her voice to the cast of the animated film Arthur and the Invisibles (then titled simply Arthur), written & directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson.

The film tells the story of ten-year-old Arthur, who, while trying to save his grandfather’s house from developers, goes on a treasure hunt in the land of the Minimoys, a tiny people living in coexistence with nature, informed The Malaysia Star. According to ABC News, Arthur was adapted from a series of children’s books written by Besson, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie. Madonna was said to be voicing the part of Princess Selenia, a character who travels with Arthur to a mysterious forbidden city where an evil being dwells. “The recording is being done at the moment,” a source was quoted by ratethemusic as saying.

Madonna had previously collaborated with Besson earlier in 2004 when he directed her music video for Love Profusion. She was also in the midst of writing songs for a proposed musical film to be directed by Besson, but she later withdrew from the project after being dissatisfied by the finished screenplay.

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/arthur_and_the_invisibles_ver16_xlg.jpg?w=550

https://todayinmadonnahistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/madonna-luc-besson.jpg?w=550

 

NOVEMBER 2004

On November 14 2004, Madonna was featured on the cover of Roland Users Group magazine, with the headline, “Six Roland Synths Hit the Road in Style.” The article discusses some of the talented keyboardists (Marcus Brown and Mike McKnight) who toured with Madonna during her Re-Invention World Tour, and how the music was put together for the show.

Here’s some snippets from the article (interview by Greg Rule with Marcus Brown and Mike McKnight):

A person doesn’t just fall into a high-profile tour like this. What steps led you to getting the gig with Madonna?

Mike: Back in 1990 I was taking piano lessons from John Novello, and one of his students was working in Freddie DeMann’s office — Madonna’s manager back then. She gave John and I the heads-up about the auditions. John went in to audition as a keyboardist, and I got hired as a programmer/offstage keyboardist/sequencer guy. I got the gig mainly on the word of mouth that I could play keys offstage and sequence extra musical parts. I had just finished Earth, Wind & Fire before her tour geared up.

Originally it was supposed to be only a few background vocals, and repetitive keyboard and percussion parts in the computer — an Atari 1040 ST running Dr T’s sequencer. I was hired basically during the first week of band rehearsals, and I took the gig, since it looked like I wouldn’t have to go nuts with sequencing all of the parts from the multitracks. Wrong! During my first meeting with her she made it very clear she wanted everything in the computer. Back then all I had was an Atari 1040 and six 8MB samplers for playback, so while three were playing, three were loading up for the next song. It was nuts, but I pulled it off, and have been there for every tour since.

Marcus: I’d been working in England with Richard Ashcroft from The Verve. He’d done the support slot for Madonna when we she’d come to town a few years prior. Also, Steve, the drummer in Madonna’s band, had worked with Richard, so there was a bit of a connection there. When she was putting the band together for the Drowned World tour, my name came up, and that’s pretty much how it happened. No audition; I didn’t have to stand there and play Chopin or anything like that [grins]. I think it was more or less taken for granted that I could play.

With this kind of job, you have to get on with the people you work with, so a lot of it is about style and personality as well. We all came from a similar place. I was familiar with Steve’s work, and [musical director] Stuart Price’s as well, so it all came together nicely. I basically walked in and we got on with it. We started right away.

Describe steps you went through leading up to launch of the Re-invention tour.

Mike: I began programming for this tour while I was out on the road with Mariah Carey — just putting the files in order, making sure I had all the parts I needed. Stuart Price and I got to L.A. a week before rehearsal to begin putting together the arrangements. Stuart is a very good remixer and musician, and M expected him to “re-invent” many of her big hits from the ’80s and ’90s for this tour. I jumped in where I was needed, but Stuart did most of the arrangements. My main job was to put all of the possible versions into the computer for fine-tuning and rehearsal with M. She would come in and sometimes love the direction and sometimes would suggest other directions, and she usually wanted to hear her “vision” right away, which made my job “interesting” at times, but we got through it. She’s tough but fair, so it wasn’t too bad really.

Were strong sight-reading skills required for this gig?

Marcus: We haven’t typically had the music written out, unless something got thrown at us quickly, in which case we had a pile of those guitar chord-books for grabbing a basic chord structure.

The main way we’ve approached the tracks is … Stuart creates a sort of remixed version of a song in his studio, and plays it for Madonna. If she likes the version, he separates the parts into a multitrack session, and then we stand around and say, “Okay, I’ll do that bit, you do that line there, Steve can handle this part. etc.” We’d basically strip away as much as possible from the mix, and perhaps only leave a couple of little things here and there that we couldn’t physically do. Then we start getting sounds together and rehearsing the song.

Mike, You’ve been Madonna’s “right-hand man” on every tour for 10-plus years. What things have you learned that are invaluable to your survival on this gig?

Mike: Just to be prepared for everything. I have to have several versions of each song ready, as well as to be constantly thinking ahead to what she might ask for to spice up the arrangement. It’s important to have backups in several places, and to keep every variation ready just in case she decides to go back a version or two. In short — just think ahead and pay attention.

Final thoughts about life on the road with perhaps the most famous woman in the world?

Mike: Madonna is the ultimate touring experience; nobody else even comes close. She hires the best people, and the tour is run like a well-oiled machine with none of the stupidity I’ve become accustomed to on other tours. She works everyone very hard, but she expects as much of herself as anyone else on tour, so it’s cool. It just doesn’t get better than this.

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On November 14 2004, Michael Colombier – the composer/arranger who produced the beautiful string arrangements for Madonna’s songs Die Another Day, Don’t Tell Me & Easy Ride, and composed the soundtrack for Swept Away (perhaps the film’s most memorable attribute) – passed away at age 65.

Colombier was one of the most prolific and versatile French musicians of his generation. Besides his career as a film composer scoring over 100 feature, cable and television films since the early 1960’s – Colombier was a prolific songwriter and arranger who worked with artists such as Joni Mitchell, Prince, Serge Gainsbourg, The Beach Boys, Herbie Hancock, Air, Barbra Streisand & Earth Wind And Fire.

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As a film composer, Michel Colombier scored many French and American films, including The Golden Child, Ruthless People, New Jack City, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and The Money Pit. His background in jazz was evident in the majority of his film scores, and his ability to compose original score music that merged seamlessly with pop songs made him the perfect composer for 1980’s films with song-heavy soundtracks, including White Nights, Against All Odds and Purple Rain (which won a Grammy Award as well as an Academy Award for Best Original Score).

DECEMBER 2004

Madonna Interview : People December 06 2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/madonna-interviews/madonna-interview-people-december-06-2004

https://allaboutmadonna.com/images/madonna-library/2004-madonna-people.jpg

On December 6 2004, Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour corset made by French designer Christian Lacroix was put on display as part of the inauguration celebration of the Villa du Marais hotel. Seventeen rooms of the hotel were filled with Christian’s most impressive creations.

Madonna had two variations of the corset: gold and lilac. She wore the corset during Vogue, Nobody Knows Me and Frozen.

On December 7 2004, Britney Spears’ collaboration with Madonna, Me Against The Music, was bestowed with the Hot Dance Sales Single Of The Year award at the Billboard Music Awards ceremony at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

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thanks so much for all you do & your hard work @groovyguy.Keeping us updated with madonna now and madonna thru all the eras.  I just was going thru here. I seat here and think. She's done so much with her life. Most of the time she's done so many amazing things. I think all of us as fan's.  can remember a certain time of our life what we we're doing  when madonna was doing something else. 

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Very extensive! Amazing, thank you. Brought me to look up the "Silly Thing" demo, which Ive never heard before. I used to love JEM during this time period. I didn't realize how much was written by JEM and ultimately how little was written by Madonna. 

"I'm not religious, but I feel so moved. Makes me wanna pray, pray you'll always be here. I'm not religious, but I feel such love, makes me wanna pray." seemed like such a Madonna thing to say, and was so profound to me at the time. Separating prayer and religion... I'm kinda shook these are JEM's words. 

 

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Madonna's 'American Life': Revisiting the Divisive Album 15 Years Later

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/8359092/madonna-american-life-revisit

While American Life certainly wasn't the kiss of death for Madonna, her ninth studio album did end one of the winningest streaks in the history of pop. Although the LP—which was released 15 years ago on April 21, 2003—did debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, it became the lowest-selling studio LP of her career up to that point. And the reviews were mixed at best.

The title-track lead single was one of Madonna’s first bona-fide flops, certainly by her standards. It barely cracked the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 37. Even worse, it was the object of derision for her stiff, silly rap in the second half where she rhymes “latte” with “shoté” and “MINI Cooper” with “super-duper” and “trooper.” No one wants to hear Madonna rap about her lawyer, manager, agent, chef, nannies, assistant, driver, jet, trainer, butler, bodyguards, gardener and stylist. Not then, and not now. The failure of “American Life” made it hard for the album to recover with subsequent singles “Hollywood,” “Nothing Fails” and “Love Profusion” missing the Hot 100.

 

But revisiting American Life 15 years later, it deserves more love than it has gotten -- it's perhaps the most underappreciated album of Madonna’s catalog. Listening to it now, it certainly bests Rebel Heart andMDNA, and from a lyrical standpoint, it probably beats 2008’s Hard Candy and maybe even 2005’s beloved Confessions on a Dance Floor. In fact, with its confessional tone and commentary on the American Dream in the President George W. Bush era, American Life is easily one of Madonna’s better lyrical outings.

The strong lyrical perspective is complemented by the cohesive musical vision. Madonna worked with one producer, French electronic savant Mirwais Ahmadzaï, for the entire album—although there was additional production by Mark “Spike” Spent on “I’m So Stupid” and “Nothing Fails”—and they expanded on the folktronica experimentation they did on 2000’s Music. Indeed, if there is one Music song that served as the biggest touchstone for American Life, it's “Don’t Tell Me,” with its twangy trip-hop. Madonna and Mirwais—who are back in the studio working on new music together in 2018—also co-wrote all but three of 11 songs together. With such a tight team, not one of the songs feels out of place (although the dramatic “Die Another Day” from the James Bond film of the same name feels like it should have been sequenced earlier in the record).

In retrospect, American Life—the last truly ambitious album that Madonna has made—also marked the end of a very important phase of her career. Having achieved new artistic depth with 1998’s Ray of Light and continued that creative spirit with Music, she was very much still in risk-taking mode on American Life. You might say those three albums—starting from an electronica base but veering in different directions—amounted to her Berlin Trilogy. On an aesthetic level, this period was Madonna at her Bowie-est.

“Love Profusion,” “Nobody Knows Me” and “Nothing Fails” make for a thrilling three-song sequence that displays varied moods and styles. While glowing with its sweet strumminess, “Love Profusion” faces some troubling uncertainties: “There are too many questions/There is not one solution/There is no resurrection/There is so much confusion.” The zig-zagging “Nobody Knows Me” packs a rock thump and a sense of disillusionment: “This world is not so kind/People trap your mind/It’s so hard to find/Someone to admire.” And “Nothing Fails”—the glorious, gospel-infused centerpiece of American Life—is nothing short of a latter-day “Like a Prayer.”

Elsewhere, “X-Static Process”—co-written by Stuart Price, who Madonna would go on to work with for much of Confessions on a Dance Floor—is a beautiful ballad rich in harmony and emotional directness. You can almost hear echoes of R.E.M. on that and the previous track, “Intervention.” Meanwhile, the solemn, string-laden “Easy Ride” may be one of the best album closers of Madonna’s career. The lyric nods to her notorious work ethic: “I want the good life/But I don’t want an easy ride/What I want is to work for it/Feel the blood and sweat on my fingertips/That’s what I want for me.”

American Life—which still sounds very modern and, in some ways, seems eerily prescient of Trump-era despair—feels more like the Madonna album for now than her recent efforts. It’s not a perfect album—“I’m So Stupid” is still irritating—but it’s the sound of Madonna challenging herself, and us.

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FIRST VODKA, NOW MADONNA: 
CHE GUEVARA IMAGE STILL SELLS

or

Using Pop Culture Images to Teach Students to Relocate the Dislocated Referent

 Susan Smith Nash
http://beyondutopia.net/beret/beret.htm

Helping students become more aware of how images shape meaning is one of the primary objectives of media and popular culture courses.  Online courses provide excellent opportunities to help students begin to understand how images create meaning.  Such knowledge can empower students and help them learn to use images in conjunction with their own work.  

An example drawn from popular culture is Madonna’s 2003 release, American Life.

***************************
I'm just living out the American dream 

And I just realised that nothing 

Is what it seems

            ---- from Madonna’s American Life

Most people watching Madonna's music and video offering, American Life, which debuted in April 2003 on the Internet at yahoo.com, launch.com, mp3.com, and other sites, probably did not recognize the visual allusions she makes in her beret, dark hair, severe expression, single red stars, military stencil distressed type font. 

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Madonna American Life (2003)

Others surely saw echoes of Alberto Korda's famous 1960 photo in which Argentina-born Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, attending a funeral in Havana, wears a black beret emblazoned with a red star. Korda later complained when the famous image was used in 2000 in a Smirnoff ad to promote vodka sales. Korda, who supported the use of the image to promote such causes as the revolutionary overthrow of elitist governments or repressive regimes, vigorously opposed the use of the image to promote vodka. 

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Korda’s photo of Che Guevara             The Smirnoff ad based on Korda’s Che photo

 

Very astute (and probably older) web-surfers probably noticed Madonna's image bears a striking resemblance to that of "Tania," the nom du guerre of Haydee Tamara Bunke Bider, who died in a 1967 ambush in Bolivia at age 29.  Her remains were found in 1998 within a mile of those of Che Guevara.  In the most famous photographs of Tania, she is wearing the same type of beret as Che Guevara.  

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Tania” – Haydee Tamara Bunke Bider

 

Oddly, her photograph resonates with images of a beret-wearing Faye Dunaway as Bonnie in Bonnie and Clyde, which was released the same year as Tania's death, 1967.

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Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

 

Later, the "Tania" image was echoed in the 1974 images of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in which the newspaper heiress Patty Hearst, was reborn as, "Tania" an automatic weapon-wielding, beret-wearing bank robber and revolutionary.  Although members of the group were implicated in murders, kidnappings, hostage-taking, and bank-robbery, they were serious anti-heroes in some circles, primarily those comprised of individuals who opposed the war in Vietnam.

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“Tania” – Patty Hearst – 1974

 

In these cases, one can make the case that the use of the "Che" beret suggests affiliation with the revolutionary causes that Che Guevara fought for.   The beret is effectively turned into a symbol, or a referent denoting "revolutionary" or "rebel."  When the beret is positioned on the original "Tania" (Haydee) or the Patty Hearst "Tania," the referent is "relocated."  In relocation, it exercises an iconographic function, and essentially "brands" the bearer.

With Madonna, the beret functions in similar ways.  However, given the motives of the artist and the marketing machine behind the publicity, it becomes clear that the beret is a co-opted symbol, a referent "dislocated."  The beret becomes a posturing, or, as Madonna might have put it a decade earlier, a "voguing" of a previous icon.  Madonna's self-invention generally self-referential, and an obviously intentional act.   American Life, however, purports to be more of a contemplation, almost a memoir. 

It is not Madonna's first pass at co-opting a "text" that had, in its original version, a subversive message. Her use of the Che image strangely echoes her "remaking" of Lena Wertmuller's classic film, Swept Away.  Wertmuller's original was a potent Marxist critique of elitism, classism, and oppression. In Madonna's hands, the intellectual content eliminated, and it becomes more of a pseudo-violent cartoon of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.  Troublingly, Madonna's Swept Away legitimizes and/or attempts to eroticize violence toward women. It's familiar territory for Madonna, who has borrowed heavily from the gay underground, including the "rough trade" and sado-masochism scene. However, in the original there are true questionings of society, culture, and human nature. Madonna consistently presents a significantly mainstreamed version, palatable to consumers unaware of its provenance.

The beret helps Madonna package a product that promises to be an investigation of culture, gender roles, societal attitudes, cowboys, dance, fashion, and war. However, as the referent, the beret, is dislocated in the service of commerce and pop culture, it becomes not a symbol of affiliation with a revolutionary cause.  Instead, it becomes a symbol of commercially-motivated metamorphosis and self-invention.  American Life illustrates the process of packaging oneself and one’s image.  It also reflects the intentionality of manipulating graphics to show individuals in the process of creating and/or deliberately creating an identity, attempting to control the act of self-invention.  

image011.jpg

The taboo is always fodder for commercialization, particularly when it deals with sex and violence.

The photo of Che Guevara, already turned into consumer candy, devoid of any traces -- fervent, ironic, or otherwise -- of Che's speeches which hammered home the message that "consumerism leads to bestialization," has a 40-year history of appropriation. The beret is reduced to a fashion statement or pure "kitsch"  -- not simply for its use in vodka ads, but also by the self-stylings of individuals who claim to be fighting for the people, as they line their pockets with the resources of the poor.   

This is not to say that the "Che beret" cannot be revitalized and used, yet again, to symbolize affiliation with a revolutionary group.  However, what makes or breaks the image is how the person is perceived as they "relocate the referent."  When the person doing the relocating is perceived as a manipulator of icons, a creator of fashion statements and pop culture, there is an automatic self-consciousness, and possible trivialization of the referent.  However, when the icon is used by individuals who then perpetrate violent, criminal acts, then the referent takes on additional power, exerting an almost sinister potency.  

In the meantime, in the world of the Internet, where every image that one sees has been manipulated in one way or another, it is important to help students see how graphics become symbols or icons, and how they build meaning.  As American Life says it (and quite succinctly), 

I'm just living out the American dream 

And I just realised that nothing 

Is what it seems

 

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American Life: Madonna’s most intimate and purposeful album

https://auralcrave.com/en/2018/04/30/american-life-madonnas-most-intimate-and-purposeful-album/

I always get a little annoyed when I see Madonna’s ninth studio album, American Life, being remembered (and praised) by both press and reviewers as the Queen of pop’s most political record yet, even though I realize that’s mainly due to the imagery she chose and meant to promote it with, before having second thoughts and withdrawing the original video edited for the first single and title track (ahead of its TV world premiere) when the Iraq War broke out in March 2003.

Luckily enough, when Madonna’s team at Maverick delivered a veto to all the networks that had been sent advance promo copies of the American Life videoclip, local branches of the now defunct VIVA music channel in Germany, Switzerland and Poland didn’t get to read the mail in time and ended up airing the short film on March 31, 2003 (as originally scheduled). As a result, a TV rip from VIVA Poland, promptly leaked on the web by a meticulous viewer, offered Madonna’s fans the only chance to watch their icon’s most politically daring video, in full, throughout the following months.

Eleven years after those statements against George Bush Senior about hypocrisy underlying the whole 1992 ’family values’ election campaign, Madonna had a new Republican president to face and deal with. This time around, it was the warmonger George Bush Junior, just waiting for the key argument to legitimise his strikes all over Iraqi territories with, in the wake of the 9/11 terror attack that took place in New York two years earlier.

Madonna’s video was indeed instrumental in getting a strong message through. It was her sarcastic effort to blame the restless spectacularization of death and war brutalities invading daily TV and newspapers to the point of getting ordinary people desensitized to violence, bloodshed and other atrocities. According to such purpose, the whole American Life withdrawn clip is set in the middle of a glamourous fashion show where models disguised as soldiers, Red Cross nurses, Middle Eastern kids and even mutilated victims take turns on the catwalk and entertain a kind of amused audience with mock military attacks. Then, Madonna and her chubby dancers in camouflage break through the runway on a Mini Cooper and the singer begins to rap by mentioning a string of benefits and luxuries she uses to rejoice in, finally asking listeners whether material wealth and prosperity equal true happiness. The original video version sent to TV stations, for the then cancelled premiere, ends with a George Bush double, among the parade guests, grabbing a mills bomb thrown by the diva against bystanders and using it as a random lighter for his cigar (which could easily be read as a display of smug attitude and abject disregard for the many casualties his aerial raids were causing).

The concept underpinning the album visual side (come to light during a very expensive photo session with Craig McDean and eventually developed by French duo M/M and their artistic visions) portrayed Madonna as some sort of graffitied female version of Che Guevara, whose infamous rebel heart and iconic picture turned out to be a good fit for the LP nonconformist nature. But labeling American Life just as a political record is truly, sadly, unfairly reductive. What Madonna released exactly 15 years ago is also a private diary turned into lyrics and warm melodies with the precious help of French producer Mirwais and his icy, start/stop folktronica, openly shared with the general public and widely influenced by Kabbalah teachings. For the first time ever since Nothing Really Matters (1998) and Nobody’s Perfect (2000), Madonna’s considerations on her past lives and stage personas become deeper and slightly contemptuous, without ever sounding too regretful. She finally unveils her weak spots and faults when singing about getting distracted by fame and fortune for many years, in order to chase the deceptive American Dream that trapped her mind into a bubble of stereotypes and fake ideals.

 

American Life is basically Madonna trying to open people’s eyes to hot topics like the ongoing mystification of reality operated by media and their bad influence upon today’s society (Nobody Knows Me), but also Madonna declaring her departure from the world of illusion par exellence with the disenchanted vocal harmonies, the guitar strums and the rubbery synths of Hollywood, a quite old song written in the ’90s about her conflicting relashionship with film industry that went through several variations before finding the right sonic outfit and placement (’This bird has flown’, she sings at one point on the track to imply something along the lines of ’Fuck off, dear acting career, watch me getting behind the camera in the near future’).

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Despite her opinable rap skills, on the electro/disco stomper Mother And Father Madonna acknowledges her love/hate mixed feelings towards dad Silvio Ciccone, dating back to her mother’s tragic loss hard days. A more protective and tutelary side shines in its full glory on Intervention, the song she penned for her second baby Rocco (like her previous track Little Star from Ray Of Light was for her daughter Lola), whilst marital fidelity and romance are embraced and extolled to the utmost on a couple of folky tunesmeant for her then beloved hubby, British movie director Guy Ritchie, who led the singer to neglect America for a while and try to morph into some sort of Lady Amber Leighton’s clone (his notoriously posh mother).

Based on such contents, it’s no wonder the overall intimacy and awareness marking this commercially not so lucky album has been (and is still) appreciated by most of La Ciccone’s fans.
 

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Revisited A Decade Later: “American Life”

f75c1b1b70c4e556ea8f3563c6b5aade?s=24&d=wavatar&r=pg Damon Wallasce
6 years ago
 

March 2013 marked the 10-year anniversary of “Shock and Awe”, the launch of the US invasion of Iraq, and the launch of Madonna’s music video, “American Life”, protesting the invasion of Iraq.

Madonna’s 2003 “American Life” video was a commentary about the “social disease” plaguing America leading up to the war. In the video, looking more like the yet-to-be famous Sarah Palin, Madonna croons about living the American dream from jumbotrons at a fashion show. Meanwhile, between cutaway scenes of bombs exploding, models in military-chic uniforms work the runway before the paparazzi and unimpressed affluent audience.

At the time of the video’s release, the backlash was so brutal and unrelenting that for the first time in her outspoken career, Madonna retreated from her detractors and withdrew the video (to see uncensored version click here). On the subject, she said in a statement,”Due to the volatile state of the world and out of sensitivity and respect to the armed forces, who I support and pray for, I do not want to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video.”

A decade later, there’s something haunting about “American Life”. Knowing what we know now, Madonna’s then controversial video seems more like an accurate foretelling of the past decade than the distasteful, unpatriotic betrayal critics made the video out to be in 2003.

When the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, I recall how Main Street looked like a 4th of July parade, minus the crowds.  There were US flags, yellow ribbons, and yard signs urging neighbors to “Support the Troops”, but all the action was happening indoors, where Americans were feeding on the 24-hours news coverage of the unraveling war.

Sitting here today and looking back, the greatest atrocity of the Iraqi War is not the manipulation of Americans, the war profiteering, or the deceitful lies that led us to Iraq in the first place. Other than the loss of so many lives, what I find most sobering is how disconnected Americans became from both wars, myself included.

Other than writing this post with a sanctimonious tone, what did I do to support the troops?  Nothing.  Not one protest, care package, donation, or yellow ribbon.  Although I wished for the troops safety, I, like most Americans, ultimately got distracted as the war progressed.  Sure, I scoffed at the mess when it spiraled out of control, demanded change I could believe in, but in the end – I was removed from the horrors of war, a complacent member of the audience, attending the “American Life” fashion show.

american_life(madonna)

Thinking back to the reaction against Madonna and other artists, like the Dixie Chicks, who dared to express their opposition to the war, I wonder now – What if I had been more outspoken?  Does it pay to speak the truth in the land of the free?

If Madonna is any indication, arguably “no”. For all intents and purposes, “American Life” marked the demise of Madonna, the American radio star. Preceding the controversy, Madonna had 12 number 1 songs and over a dozen more Top 5 Billboard hits.  Following the controversy, however, Madonna had only 1 song in top five (thanks to Justin Timberlake).

Perhaps it’s mere coincidence that Madonna became “radio irrelevant” after speaking out against the war.  Maybe you can dismiss 20 years of record-breaking success between the years of 1983 – 2003 and call it a fluke, but doing so would mean ignoring Madonna’s success outside America between the years of 2003 – 2013.

  • “Hung Up”, which was released in 2005, is one of the best selling singles of all time by any artists. While the song only peaked at #7 in the US, it broke the Guinness Book of World Records for reaching #1 in 41 other countries simultaneously.
  • Madonna’s 2012 “MDNA” World Tour is the 2nd highest grossing tour for a female solo artist of all time (1st place was achieved by Madonna in 2008 with her “Sticky and Sweet” tour).

The purpose of this article is not to say Madonna is awesome (although there is clearly some of that).  Regardless of whether you love or despise Madonna, as a matter of principle, I’d like the record to show…

Regarding the War in Iraq, Madonna was right, and George W. Bush was wrong.  When we didn’t want to hear it but needed to listen most, Madonna spoke the truth.  And in return, boys and girls, the King’s minions banished the Queen of Pop from the airwaves, where she’d reigned for 20 years.

In 2003, then President of the United States, George W. Bush, manipulated Americans into supporting the invasion of Iraq.  In the aftermath of 9/11, his administration preyed on our grief, fears, and patriotism, and lied about weapons of mass destruction, defrauding the citizens and ideals he swore to preserve and protect.

In rallying for unity, America sacrificed freedom and censored opposing views, discounting the very essence of the democracy that President Bush was peddling for Iraq.

Since the War in Iraq began over 100,000 people have been killed, including over 4,000 Americans.  Perhaps by 2023, once the ground stops shifting beneath me, I’ll have a better vantage of the war’s historical significance.

In the meantime, this much I’ve learned…

Like it or not, in the past decade war became increasingly fashionable, and although there are obvious exceptions, on the whole, the American public became disengaged from the wars.

Had we been more engaged, we might have demanded justice and insisted that elected politicians atone for war crimes.  But we didn’t.  Because doing so, we were led to believe, would be unpatriotic.

In 2013, what I find unforgivable and un-American is that we didn’t fight more for our armed forces, we didn’t hold our government accountable for the well being of the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.  A right we ultimately punished the likes of Madonna for valuing and exercising.

Does it pay to speak the truth in the land of the free?  Despite her exile, I suspect Madonna would answer, “Of course, it does.”

After bursting on stage in a Mini Cooper, presumably feeling super-dooper, the “American Life” video ends with Madonna jolting her audience awake…

Freedom is not an illusion, or at least it shouldn’t be.  It isn’t fashionable or chic and should never be taken for granted. Freedom is the result of sacrifice, integrity, and courage.  It requires equal doses of pride and humility, the fortitude to accept our humanity and recognize when we are wrong.

In America, freedom is a measure of character.  It means standing by my convictions and calling out hypocrisy, while fighting relentlessly for my opponent’s right to express their (misguided) views.

Freedom is intended to be a celebration heard throughout the world.  Regardless of how much it may personally pain you, for America in 2013, freedom follows when we can admit together…

Madonna was right.  George W. Bush was wrong.

On December 14, 2011, President Obama announced the end of the War in Iraq.  On cue, a month later, in a formal ceremony watched by millions, Madonna returned home to the United States.

Her performance at the Super Bowl was the most-watched television event in U.S. history, drawing more viewers than the game between the Giants and Patriots.

Ushered into the stadium on a golden chariot pulled by centurions, Madonna’s performance was an over-the-top extravaganza, a fairytale homecoming worthy of an exiled Queen, who once upon a time defied a slack-jawed King and his minions.

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Awesome, groovy! I forgot about that whole Dr. Dre/Rolling Stones thing, interesting that around this time Mirwais and Dre did the same song, their classic sleazy disco tune “Miss You”. I wonder if either tried to get M on their versions, that would have been something. Also Dre’s remix isn’t that good IMHO but does feature a beat similar to his huge hit with Mary J Blige “Family Affair” so who knows. The Dr. Dre and Brendan O’brien rumors were heavy around then, maybe someday something will leak 🙌🏻🙌🙌🏼🙌🏽🙌🏾🙌🏿

“Insiders say that Madonna was so blown away by the track that she has asked him for some help on her new album. No decisions have been made, but Dr. Dre 's management are said to be against the idea, saying it's "too pop" for him”

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