Genre Electropop dance-pop
|Released August 21, 2000|
|Format DVD single
12" maxi single|
Recorded 2000 Sarm West Studios (London, England)
"Music" is a song recorded by American singer Madonna for her eighth studio album of same name (2000). It was released as the lead single from the album on August 21, 2000 by Maverick Records. The song was also included on the compilation albums GHV2 (2001) and Celebration (2009). Written and produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï, it lyrically states that music has the power to make people come together. Musically, "Music" is a dance-pop and electropop song which lyrically talks about how music can bring people together, as she delivers electronically manipulated vocals on the song.
- Leak and release
- Critical reception
- Commercial reception
- Music video
- Live performances
- Cover versions
- Credits and personnel
"Music" received positive reviews from music critics, who praised its production, catchiness and club-friendly nature of the song, also comparing it with Madonna's previous releases. "Music" peaked number one in 25 countries, including Australia, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, becoming Madonna's twelfth and latest number-one single in the region. "Music" also has the longest running number-one spot on the US Hot Dance Club Play of the 2000s decade, spending a longevity five weeks at number one. The song was the second most successful dance single of the decade in the United States, behind Madonna's own song "Hung Up", released in 2005.
Its accompanying music video, directed by Jonas Åkerlund, portrays Madonna and her friends giving a party in her limousine, driven by comedian Ali G. In order to promote its parent album, Madonna performed the song during the MTV Europe Music Awards 2000 and at the following year at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards. Additionally, "Music" has been performed on five of Madonna's concert tours, the most recent being 2015-16's Rebel Heart Tour. "Music" was nominated at Grammy Awards in the categories of "Record of the Year" and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 2001.
After the critical and commercial success of her album Ray of Light (1998), Madonna intended to embark on a new concert tour in 1999, but due to the delay of her film The Next Best Thing, it was cancelled. By 2000, Madonna was dating director Guy Ritchie, and was pregnant with their child. Wanting to distract herself from the media frenzy surrounding this news, Madonna concentrated on the development of her eighth studio album, Music, instead of embarking on a tour. Buoyed up by the commercial success of her previous album, she was keen on getting back to the studio to record new music. Madonna was well disposed towards William Orbit, producer of Ray of Light, but by 2000, his production and sound had become ubiquitous. Also, the music scene was being dominated by a younger generation of singers like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, prompting Madonna to look for a distinctive sound in this market. It was then that she was introduced to French DJ and producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï, through some common friends. Madonna instantly liked his pitch-shifting, pulverizing rhythms and his utilization of acid bass in his songs.
In an interview with CNN, Madonna said, "Guy Oseary, my partner at Maverick [Records], was given a demo by a French artist called Mirwais. [He] slipped it to me and said, 'What do you think [of him] as an artist to sign at Maverick?' [...] I just said 'Oh my God, this is what I want.' I just flipped over it and said, 'Please find out if he wants to work with me.'" Ahmadzaï always preferred taking musical risks and hence he wanted the collaborations with Madonna to get out the best from the artist. "The challenge was to make something current appear, something hidden in her personality. Everybody knows [Madonna] as a chameleon, as a businesswoman. I wanted to show her potential as a musician," Ahmadzaï noted. "Music" features production by Ahmadzaï, who Madonna has called a "genius".
Madonna said that the inspiration behind "Music" was a Sting concert that she attended. There, the crowd was well-behaved until Sting began playing old Police hits. "Everyone was practically holding hands... I mean, it really moved me," she told Rolling Stone. "And I thought, 'That's what music does to people.'"
Leak and release
On May 27, 2000, an unauthorized incomplete copy of the song leaked onto the internet. Snippets ranging from 30 seconds to upwards of three minutes of the song were leaked via fan sites and Napster. Madonna's spokeswoman Caresse Norman reacted a statement: "The music was stolen and was not intended for release for several months. It is still a work in progress. Ultimately those sites that offered a download of Madonna's music are violating her rights as an artist." Madonna's feelings on the premature posting of the single on the Internet were published on Icon magazine:
"You may have heard bits and pieces of my new CD on the Internet. The music, unfortunately, was stolen and illegally played on various websites. But I promise when you hear the finished version of my CD, you'll understand why I've been so protective of my labor of love. I can't understand why people can't let me put it out when I'm good and ready... It's funky, folky, electronic and melodic. I hope you like it..."
Around the release of Music, Madonna told Rolling Stone about how she felt about the song's leak: "There's not much to say, honestly. I think it's blown out of proportion. They downloaded a portion of 'Music' before I'd even mixed it. It was astonishing. I have no idea how they got it. It was still in such a beginning stage. And it freaked me out, because I suddenly thought, 'Oh, my God. If they got that, then they have other things on my record that aren't finished.' And that's really scary. So, basically, I made — well, my manager made — a public statement [...]. Simple as that. And then suddenly it was in every headline: 'Madonna is against Napster.' I mean ... I don't take that sort of a stance. I feel covetous about my work, and I don't want people to hear it until it's finished. At the same time, I think, to a certain extent, the trading of information is inevitable. And, on the other hand, Napster could be a great way for people to hear your music who wouldn't have the chance to hear it on the radio. So that's what I have to say about that. Really, I want to strangle the person who got ahold of it. I don't know — I can't control everybody [laughs]".
"Music" begins with Madonna's androgynous voice saying "Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on, I wanna dance with my baby". Above this lyric, Madonna's electronically manipulated voice asks "Do you like to boogie woogie?". In the book Music, Space, and Place it is stated that for the "boogie woogie" lyric, the producer decided to use an old EMS2000 vocoder to twist Madonna's voice to achieve what Ahmadzaï described as an effect of going "in fits and starts." According to the book Madonna's Drowned Worlds: New Approaches to Her Cultural Transformations, written by Santiago Fouz-Hernández and Freya Jarman-Ivens, "Music" is a "disco anthem, and the beat commands [the people] to get up and dance". The song's lyric "I wanna dance with my baby" may further reinforce a connection with gay listeners because of its casual, campy style. The book also says that the song is an expression to her public and became one of Madonna's catchiest singles of her career. The song has been compared to Madonna's early 1980s dance hit "Everybody", because in both songs Madonna declares that music has the power to overcome divisions of race, gender, and sexuality. According to Billboard, Madonna's vocal in the song is not the focal point, but instead a "thread that binds a mind-blowing melange of hyperactive beats, grooves, and stinging percussive elements." The magazine adds that the song is also "saturated" with the influence of Cameo, Herbie Hancock, and Nitzer Ebb.
The song received positive reaction from critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called it "a thumping track which sounds funkier, denser, sexier with each spin". Jim Farber of The New York Daily News gave the song a positive review, stating that it is "everything a single should be. Pithy, simple and maddeningly catchy, it's her most instantly embraceable single since 'Holiday.'" Farber goes on to say that it is the song's chorus that "kills," and the "power of dance music" theme of the song is used to comment on current trends. In a review of the album, Vibe called the track "a bouncing parade of synthesizers that pose the question 'Do fortysomething baby-mamas still have the divine right to get down?' (The answer is yes). And so, as the vocoders gurgle and the analog synths invoke Zapp, a slowly building crescendo of rhythm announces Madonna's return." Entertainment Weekly said "the song recaptures the simple perfection of "Holiday" (1982) and brings her career full circle." Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine praised the song in a review of the album: "["Music"] is a retro hands-in-the-air club song reminiscent of Debbie Deb's 'When I Hear Music' and Madonna's own 'Into The Groove'", and called the singer's best dance track since "Vogue", "She sings 'Music makes the people come together' like a track off of her debut album, and as an added bonus she uses words like "bourgeoisie" and "acid-rock" with equal abandon", he completed.
Ethan Brown from New York magazine stated that the song "elicits memories of past pop odes to dance culture", adding that the song's production is a "giddy mix of electro-bounce, campy vocoder chants, and funky keyboard squeals." In her favorable review of the song, Charlotte Robinson of PopMatters stated that the track "reasserts the freewheeling, fun spirit that made Madonna so damn appealing when she debuted nearly twenty years ago," adding that the song is an example of that "indefinable thing that is what we love about Madonna." Billboard acclaimed the song, stating "the first listen's gonna blast you like a brick wall, as ears and minds try to make sense of the bombast of sonic missiles blasting from your speakers-but successive plays will make clear just how inventive this upstanding composition is." It adds that "it's guaranteed you've never heard Madonna-nor any other popular artist-pull it together this way." While placing the song as the 66th best song of the 2000s decade, Slant Magazine commented that "despite all the new pop starlets out there trying to jump her train, Madonna definitely [is] not slackening pace. When she dropped "Music". she was older than Britney and Christina combined, yet she took them to school with vintage electro-boom, Eurodisco flourishes from French producer Mirwais, and her own inimitable sass." Apart from winning various other awards, "Music" earned two Grammy Award nominations in 2001, for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
On August 12, 2000, "Music" entered at number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her highest debut since "The Power of Good-Bye" (1998). It reached number one in the following weeks, with Madonna becoming the sixth artist in the rock era to achieve at least 12 number-one singles. "Music" spent four consecutive weeks atop the chart and six non-consecutive weeks at number two. "Music" also became the longest running number-one song of the 2000s on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, with five weeks at number one. It was the second most-successful dance song of the 2000s in the United States, reaching number two on the Dance/Club Play Decade-end Chart, behind Madonna's own "Hung Up" (2005). "Music" went platinum in the country, selling over a million copies. "Music" was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The song debuted at number 23 in Canada. Three weeks later, it reached number one.
In the United Kingdom, "Music" debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number one, and was the 24th best selling single of 2000 in the United Kingdom. According to the Official Charts Company, the song has sold 415,000 copies in the region as of 2014. The song achieved relatively good charting in both the Flemish and Wallonian territories in Belgium, peaking at numbers 4 and 6, respectively. Making its debut at its peak position of number 8, "Music" charted for a total of 20 weeks in France, before falling out on January 6, 2001. On the Dutch Top 40 chart, the song made its debut at number 87. The following week it went at number 85 and its peak was on the number 4, before the ending of its 17-week run. On August 31, 2000, "Music" debuted at number two on the Swedish Singles Chart. Similarly in Switzerland, the song debuted at number one, and spent 21 weeks in the chart. "Music" was also a success in Australia and New Zealand. The song debuted at number one on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart, where it stayed for three consecutive weeks. In New Zealand, "Music" made its debut at number 33 on the New Zealand Singles Chart, and ascended to the top ten, finally peaking at number one on the week of October 1, 2000. Overall, "Music" reached number one in 25 countries worldwide.
The accompanying music video for "Music" was directed by Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund, who previously directed Madonna's "Ray of Light" video in 1998. The video was shot in Los Angeles, California, in April 2000, and stars Madonna and her longtime backup singer Niki Haris and actress Debi Mazar as well as comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, as his famous character Ali G. Madonna's manager, Caresse Norman, said about Baron Cohen's collaboration: "We came up with the video idea, and she thought he would be great in it." Jonas Åkerlund has stated that originally they were planning on having Chris Rock be in the music video, but he wanted Sacha Baron Cohen instead. He said that at that time Baron Cohen was not known in the US, and he had to get people tapes of the Da Ali G Show so they could see the Ali G character. He added that once they got a chance to see the show, "everybody loved it". She filmed the music video when she was four-months pregnant of her child with then-boyfriend Guy Ritchie. Åkerlund discussed the video:
"When we did the 'Music' video, it was a weird time. She was pregnant and we didn't want her to look pregnant - so we had to work around that. We had an idea to do a fun party video with her and her girls, make it a little bling and cowboy hats and all that. We wanted to have some comedy in there and I wanted to do some animation."
The music video debuted on MTV on August 2, 2000. The video starts with Madonna along with her friends boarding a limousine driven by Ali G. As the music starts G is directed to take them to a club, and later to a strip-club, where he is denied entrance. An animated section follows where Madonna, as a superheroine character with superpowers, flies above rooftops, swims underwater, and DJs at a club with a dozen arms like a Hindu deity. Madonna's animated character also attacks various neon signs with the names of many of her successful songs. The video ends with Madonna and her friends traveling in the limousine with many of the strippers and G engaging in a rendezvous with them. In a humorous twist, throughout the video Madonna wears a gold necklace around her neck that says "Mommy."
In the extended version of the music video, there is a variation at the end of the animated section. Ali G briefly interrupts the song to demonstrate his rap skills to persuade Madonna to include him on her next single. An annoyed Madonna asks him to stop and to turn the song back on. The video won several awards, including "Best Pop Clip of the Year" at the Billboard Music Awards in 2000 and "Best Dance Video" at the International Dance Music Awards in 2000. The music video was parodied on MADtv. The parody was called "Movies", and featured Mo Collins as Madonna. The video poked fun at Madonna's filmography, with an animated 'Madonna' attacking signs that had the names of her movies.
The first live performance of "Music" was during the promotional show for Music, held on November 5, 2000, at Roseland Ballroom in New York City. Accompanying musicians performing with Madonna were; Mirwais Ahmadzaï on guitar and longtime backing singers Niki Haris and Donna DeLory. During the performance of New York, she wore a black tank top with "Britney Spears" written on it, along with cowboy hats and boots. Before performing "Music" Madonna recalled; "The last time I played Roseland was 18 years ago, I was the opening act for New Edition". On November 16, 2000 Madonna performed "Music" during the MTV Europe Music Awards 2000 at the Ericsson Globe, in Stockholm, Sweden. After being introduced by Ali G as "Maradona", Madonna performed the song wearing a T-shirt with the name of Australian recording artist Kylie Minogue printed on it. She later performed "Music" and "Don't Tell Me" on British television program Top of The Pops, in an appearance aired on November 17. On November 24, 2000, Madonna performed the latter songs live on French television program Nulle Part Ailleurs. It was also performed during the promotional show for Music at Brixton Academy in London. Around 3,000 fans attended the concert, which was streamed over the internet. More than nine million people watched the concert according to Nicky Price, a representative for Microsoft's MSN, the webcast's producer. It became the most-viewed webcast of all time, beating Paul McCartney's performance of "50s rock and roll classics" at Liverpool's The Cavern Club in December 1999, which was viewed by an audience of about three million.
Madonna also performed "Music" at the 2001 Grammy Awards as the opening number from the show. For the performance, the stage had five giant video screens, which showed images from her career. Madonna entered onto the stage in a classic Cadillac driven by rapper Bow Wow. The singer emerged from the back seat of the car in a full-length fur coat and a hat, quickly removing the clothes to reveal a tight leather jacket and jeans. She removed her jacket to reveal a black tank top with the words "Material Girl" printed on it and performed an energetic version of the song, joined again by Haris and DeLory. For the Drowned World Tour in the same year, "Music" was used as the final encore and was remixed with Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express. Madonna wore tight black jeans and a customized Dolce & Gabbana halter top that proclaims "Mother" in the front and "F*cker" in the back. She sang the song surrounded by her dancers, while images from her past music videos were displayed on the backdrops. On his review of the show in London, NME's Alex Needham, commented that the performance "underlines how easily [Madonna] could have brought the audience to collective orgasm by simply reeling out her classics". The performance on 26 August 2001, at The Palace of Auburn Hills, outside of Madonna's hometown of Detroit was recorded and released in the live video album, Drowned World Tour 2001.
"Music" was later added to the Re-Invention Tour in 2004 as the penultimate song; this mix of the song was slower, hip-hop-based, and featured Madonna and her dancers wearing Scottish kilts. Also present was a lighted staircase surrounding a DJ Station. The performance ended with Madonna and her dancers lifting up their kilts to spell the word “FREEDOM”, with glitter letters on their underpants. MTV's Corey Moss opined that during the performance "Madonna and her dancers transformed the arena into a steamy nightclub". A performance of "Music" from the tour, was included on the I'm Going to Tell You a Secret live album and documentary. The same version was used at the 2005 Live 8 benefit concert in London. On the 2006 Confessions Tour, Madonna performed a mashup of "Music" and The Trammps's "Disco Inferno" titled "Music Inferno". It began with several dancers on roller skates emerging from beneath the stage to perform "Xanadu-worthy tricks", while the stage was bathed in deep red lights. Madonna appeared wearing a "sleeker version of John Travolta's Saturday Night Fever white suit" and performed the track. The performance also included a sample from her song "Where's The Party", from her third studio album True Blue (1986), at the beginning. Halfway through the performance, Madonna walked to the center stage where, according to Corey Moss, she did "her best Saturday Night Fever-era John Travolta routine, complete with the 'hitchhike' (you know, thumbs to the side)". The performance of the song at the August 15–16, 2006 shows in London, at the Wembley Arena, were recorded and included on both the CD and DVD version of Madonna's second live album, The Confessions Tour, released in 2007.
"Music" was the closing song on the 2008 Hard Candy Promo Tour, in support Madonna's eleventh studio album Hard Candy. The singer wore a skintight black suit and a lace top, and began the performance by singing the song at the very front of the stage a cappella, before all her dancers joined. As they emerged from a faux silver subway car, she pranced across the stage, touching the hands of her fans. The show ended with Madonna racing up the stage to the subway doors, behind which she disappeared. It was also included as the last song of the Old School segment of her Sticky & Sweet Tour in 2008-09, where Madonna performed the same version as the promotional tour, but with a sample of Indeep's "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" at the beginning, this time the backdrop screens depicted a graffiti-splattered New York subway train. Madonna wore a pair of gym shorts in this section while wearing sneakers and long socks on her feet. The outfit was designed by Jeremy Scott and was a reference to Madonna's old days in New York. The live performance of the song at River Plate Stadium of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was recorded and released on the live CD-DVD album, Sticky & Sweet Tour (2010).
Madonna included the song in the setlist for her performance at Super Bowl XLVI halftime show, where it interpolated with LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" and "Sexy and I Know It". The same year, Madonna performed "Music" on The MDNA Tour, during her show at New York City's Madison Square Garden, on November 14, 2012. She invited South Korean Psy and performed together his song "Gangnam Style" and her own "Give It 2 Me". "Music" was also included in the final section of the Rebel Heart Tour (2015–16). For this section, Madonna worked with designer Jeremy Scott for party inspired costumes. She wanted a "Harlem-flapper-meets-Paris-in-the-Twenties" look, and Scott came up with the final dress adorned with thousands of Swarovski crystals. The performance of the song "began as a Jazz Age ballad before kicking the No. 1 hit into banger mode". For the performance, the dancers were dressed in Golden Twenties inspired costumes while a female dancer appeared topless. Joe Lynch from Billboard, opined that "the presence of 'Music' was an effective reminder that while some compulsive naysayers tsk the Queen of Pop for trend chasing with Diplo, she brought techno to the pop mainstream years before EDM was a ubiquitous term".
In 2004, Canadian tech-metal band Out of Your Mouth released a cover version of "Music" as their debut single. Vocalist Jason Darr commented, "I absolutely love her, I've bought her records and when she came out with that song it was like I was hit over the head with it". In 2007, The Dynamics released an eight-minute soul cover on their album Versions Excursions. French metal band Eths added a cover of the song as a bonus track on their third studio album III (2012). In addition, remixed eurodance cover versions of the song have appeared on the Dancemania series albums, including an uptempo cover remix by Nancy And The Boys on the 2001 album Dancemania Speed 6.
Credits and personnel
Credits and personnel adapted from Music album liner notes.