On September 18 2000, Madonna’s eighth studio album, Music, was released in the UK by Maverick and Warner Bros. Records.
The album was recorded at The Hit Factory in New York, the Guerilla Beach Studios in Los Angeles and the Sarm East and West Studios in London. The bulk of the album was produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï, with additional production by William Orbit, Guy Sigsworth and Mark “Spike” Stent.
Madonna had begun the project in the late summer of 1999 by resuming her collaboration with Ray Of Light co-producer, William Orbit. While the pair completed nearly an album’s worth of songs during these sessions, only three made the album’s final cut. Two others appeared on the soundtrack of The Next Best Thing, another became the theme of a short-lived TV series, while the rest stayed in the vault (though most, if not all, eventually found its way to the internet). It is clear listening to many of the leaked demos from the sessions that Madonna was ready to receive the shot of inspiration Mirwais would inject into the project.
Her new collaborator retained, and in some ways, expanded on the experimental spirit of Ray Of Light, but in contrast to Orbit’s layered, reverb-drenched warmth, Mirwais offered a cool, stark, less-is-more approach that took the album in a very different sonic direction, certainly matching if not building upon the creative success she had achieved with Orbit. If the previous album was successfully touted as a rebirth of sorts, she managed to avoid the sophomore album curse yet again with Music, offering a sound that was distinct and fresh. So fresh that it cast some shadow over the songs Mirwais didn’t have a hand in creating, although the haunting Orbit-produced album closer, Gone, remains one of her best exits.
While Madonna regrets little, she would rightfully retroactively pooh-pooh her decision to permit record execs to tack on previous UK #1 hit, American Pie, as a bonus track outside North America. The cash-in rang a hollow note, coming in on the heels of soulful lyrics about a refusal to sell out.
Madonna adopted a cowgirl/country theme for the album, with the album artwork photographed by one of her longtime collaborators, Jean Baptiste Mondino. The photo session took place in the spring of 2000, before the album had been fully completed and mixed, in order to conceal her pregnancy. Madonna has stated in interviews that her goal with album art has remained relatively consistent through the years: it should resonate with the album’s musical/lyrical themes while also capturing an element of timelessness.
North American tracklist for Music:
- Music (written & produced by Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzaï)
- Impressive Instant (written & produced by Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzaï)
- Runaway Lover (written & produced by Madonna & William Orbit)
- I Deserve It (written & produced by Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzaï)
- Amazing (written & produced by Madonna & William Orbit)
- Nobody’s Perfect (written & produced by Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzaï)
- Don’t Tell Me (written by Madonna, Mirwais & Joe Henry; produced by Madonna & Mirwais)
- What It Feels Like For A Girl (written by Madonna & Guy Sigsworth; produced by Madonna, Sigsworth & Mark “Spike” Stent)
- Paradise (Not For Me) (written & produced by Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzaï)
- Gone (written by Madonna, Damian Le Gassick & Nik Young; produced by Madonna, Orbit & Stent)
Madonna is at her best when she is human, sad and extremely vulnerable! Gone is one of her saddest ballads!