"Impressive Instant" cover
|Promotional single by Madonna from the album Music|
|Released||September 18, 2001|
|Music track listing|
"Impressive Instant" is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna from her 2000 studio album Music. Originally intended to be the fourth single of the album, the release was cancelled due to a disagreement between Madonna and her recording company. Finally Warner Bros. released it in the United States as a promotional single on September 18, 2001. Written and produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï, the track is bright and uplifting in its content and composition. It was the first song that Madonna and Ahmadzaï worked on and recorded. The producer had to work separately on his laptop to generate the sound elements which Madonna wanted in the song, since it was difficult to generate the music in the recording studio. "Impressive Instant" has been described as a club-savvy stomper containing futuristic keyboard lines, with Madonna's vocals being distorted and robotic. Backed by laser noises and synths, the song's lyrics deal with love at first sight, and contains nonsense lyrics.
"Impressive Instant" was met with positive critical reception. Many reviewers called it a highlight of the album and praised Ahmadzaï's production of the track. Released only in the US, it was a popular dance hit, reaching the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, and staying atop for two consecutive weeks. The track became Madonna's 27th number-one song on this chart, the most for any artist. It was her 36th top-ten song on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play tally and her seventh consecutive chart topper. During the promotional tours for Music, Madonna performed the song in a neo-Western setting at New York and London. It was further performed at the 2001 Drowned World Tour as part of the punk section, with Madonna accompanied by dancers wearing gas masks. The performance was generally received as a highlight of the concert.
Background and development
By the year 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. Buoyed up by the commercial success of 1998's Ray of Light album, she was keen on getting back to the studio and start recording. 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 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. 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.
One of their collaborations was the song "Impressive Instant" and like most songs on Music, it is bright and uplifting in its composition, and was described by Madonna as "downright silly". She explained that they "were working on that song and I thought, 'Oh, fuck it, let's just have fun', Life would be such a drag if we were deep and probing all the time." The song was intended to be released as the fourth single off Music but Warner Bros., Madonna's recording company, wanted "Amazing" to be the next single. Madonna felt that "Amazing" was too similar to her previous single "Beautiful Stranger" (1999), and wanted the more eclectic and futuristic "Impressive Instant" so they were deadlocked. In an interview with Russian channel Radio Monte Carlo 102.1 FM, remixer Peter Rauhofer explained that Warner Bros. did plan to move forward with the release of "Amazing" without Madonna's help since she was too busy preparing for her next tour. They planned to promote the single with a music video cut from the live version of "Amazing" from Madonna's Drowned World Tour, but Madonna scrapped the song from the set list to be sure that Warner Bros. could not promote it, and the fourth single idea was over.
Recording and mixing
The recording sessions for Music began in January 2000 at Sarm West Studios, Notting Hill, London. The first song that Madonna and Ahmadzaï worked on was "Impressive Instant", since it was the most complete among all the demos that he had sent to the singer. The song was an instrumental and was not supposed to be included in Ahmadzaï's own album, Production. But Madonna had different ideas for the track and its lyrics, which she explained to the producer. Feeling that Madonna's vision about the song's composition would be difficult to create in Sarm West, Ahmadzaï wanted to return to Paris and work there on his own computer. "There are a lot of chopped vocal tracks on 'Impressive Instant'... That was impossible to do in the studio. It doesn't make sense to rent a place like Sarm just to have me work on ten seconds of music all day, using only the one computer," he added. Within the first ten days, they had recorded the backing vocals, acoustic guitars etc. on a Sony 48-track and transferred it to Logic Audio workstation, using the converters of the TC Electronic Finalizer; Ahmadzaï then went back to Paris with the recordings.
In Paris, Ahmadzaï worked obsessively to complete the recording of "Impressive Instant", applying his characteristic sound mangling. He used the Antares Auto-Tune plug-in set for the pitch correction. Explaining that the audio processor kept the characteristic of the voice, he recalled that Madonna was not afraid to use it, unlike other artists; she just had to sing a little out of tune and vibrato. The song had LFO sweeps at its beginning, panning from its left and right, which created the backdrop of the track. To achieve this, Ahmadzaï used a Nord Lead synthesizer, passed through an audio filter. The bass used in the song was subdued, and did not contain any music in high or mid-range. Instead of using a Minimoog synthesizer, Ahmadzaï used a Korg Prophecy analog output which added a different synth to the song. Audio filters were used for the first appearance of a melody and Madonna's voice was processed through an Eventide 3000 harmonizer, finally adding effects from filters and E6400 emulator. Also, Ahmadzaï added his characteristic stuttering sounds to the song, explaining:
"I did all that stuttering in Logic. It's very, very complicated, slice by slice. You have to experiment a lot to make it work. I put Auto-Tune on individual syllables. Sometimes I use 40 tracks of audio just on one vocal track. Each has a different level and treatment, and then I do a composite. I couldn't do this with a normal analog studio setup. The starting and stopping thing, it's an idea I've had for awhile [sic]. Normally, it takes about six months to a year for people I'm working with to understand my ideas. With Madonna, the first time she heard it, she loved it. She had a chemical reaction to it. She listened to it and she said, 'Okay, let's do it.' It's because of this that I love to work with her. You don't have to spend six months explaining things."
The final thing that he did was to create a breakdown using Auto-Tune and the Nord Lead synthesizer, applying its echo function. In total Ahmadzaï worked for 15 days on the track, finally handing it to mixing engineer Mark "Spike" Stent. He explained in an interview with Keyboard magazine that the version that he created was almost same to the final track present in Music. On most of the other tracks, Stent tried to add a lot of mixing effects to Ahmadzaï's production. But for "Impressive Instant", they tried to mix it first from the Sony digital tracks and failed get the original sound of the demo, since the compression present in the track was the actual sound to be produced. So Stent took the sound from Ahmadzaï's Yamaha 02R mixer, including the bass, loops, and the kick. Along with mixing the track at Olympic Studios, London, the mastering was done by Tim Young at Metropolis Studio. Other engineers working on the track included Mark Endert, Sean Spuehler, Tom Hannen and Tim Lambert.
Music and lyrics
A 22 second sample of "Impressive Instant", starting from the middle breakdown, with Madonna singing the lines "I like to rumba-rumba-rumba". This is followed by the "burbling" synth, and near the end of the sample, the Korg Prophecy analog output by Ahmadzaï can be heard, which added a different synth to the song.
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Larry Flick from Billboard called it a club-savvy stomper containing futuristic keyboard lines. Madonna's vocals in the number change from distorted, robotic lines to playful, child like chants. Author Lucy O'Brien wrote in her book, Madonna: Like an Icon, that the song is a mixture of acid techno and pop trance. According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com, "Impressive Instant" is set in the time signature of common time with a moderately fast tempo of 123 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of C major with Madonna's vocals ranging from A3 to A4. The song follows a basic sequence of Am–G–Am–G–Am as its chord progression.
Rikky Rooksby, author of The Complete Guide to the Music of Madonna, explained that "Impressive Instant" began with the equalizer on higher frequencies turned down, so that the amount of treble is very less initially. Madonna's vocals are heavily processed and is accompanied by a crackling sound, which has a "tactile roughness" therefore making the mix sound "like a musical sandpaper", Rooksby wrote. The vocals are often isolated and are backed by laser noises and an octave bass. A "burbling" synth arrives at the 2:30 mark, and then the chorus of "I'm in a trance" is repeated, ending the song with the cliché solo vocal phrase.
The buoyant song has lyrics like "I like to singy, singy, singy, Like a bird on a wingy, wingy, wingy", as electronic keyboard riffs and dance beats swirl the whole composition. Lyrically, "Impressive Instant" deals with love at first sight ("You're the one that I've been waiting for / I don't even know your name") and according to O'Brien, is "an abstract world of nonsense lyrics, disco balls and glitz". It also talks about being in a trance and comparison with various cosmic phenomena in lines like "Cosmic systems in a twine, astral bodies drip like wine", but ultimately returns to the subject of dance. Remixes were commissioned by Warner Bros. Records in April 2001, featuring mixes by DJ Peter Rauhofer, who transformed the track from techno to progressive house.
Critical reaction has been positive towards the song. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic named it a "track pick" from the album. In a review of the album, Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani hailed it as "a joyous composition". Michael Hubbard of musicOMH called it "pure pop genius," saying the track "steals the show". Ben Kender from Yahoo! Voices complimented the new musical direction taken by Madonna and Ahmadzaï. Comparing it to the title track, "Music", Kender said that the song got the listener's adrenaline rushing even faster. Gary Crossing from Dotmusic described the song as a "Sexy, bass-heavy monster of a floor-filler with cheesy synths, robotic voices and whispers aplenty" while complimenting the "I like to singy singy singy". This view was shared by Victoria Segal from NME who complimented Ahmadzaï's production technique and blending disco sounds with vocoder effects. She added that the song is "so heavily distorted, the macho disco bassline is so quick to get its shirt off and the baby oil on, it somehow sounds cool." Barry Walters from Rolling Stone called the song "improvisional", and described it as "[roaring] like a rock rocket ship, then [purring] while a digitally tweaked [Madonna] squeaks". David Browne from Entertainment Weekly called the verses of "Impressive Instant" as Madonna's "dippiest lyrics in ages", and also complimented Ahmadzaï's fusion of hard disco beats and contorting Madonna's vocals. Greg Kot from Chicago Tribune credited Madonna for paying homage to dance music with "Impressive Instant" and explaining that:
Though Madonna is often overshadowed by her producers, she has her moments, and she is never more inspired than on the so-silly-it's-great 'Impressive Instant', yet another homage to the music that leaves her and legions of followers 'spinning, baby, out of control'. She deserves credit for allowing her latest interpretation of that music to be bent, folded and so lovingly mutilated by her collaborators, and when she chirps, 'I like to singy singy singy/Like a bird on a wingy wingy wingy', I can envision discos from Stockholm to Sacramento going bonkers with her.
Gary Mullholland from The Guardian felt that Madonna's indomitable persona was mostly hidden beneath the layers of electronic and vocoder effects, except in songs like "Impressive Instant" with the lines like ""I like to singy singy singy", making the first half of Music interesting. BBC's John Hand noticed Ahmadzaï's "quirky" influence in the production of the track; he also called it a club and dancey song. Michael Paoletta from Billboard called it "vibrant and uplifting in tone" calling it a trippy/trance disco romp. Alex Pappademas from Spin noted the difference of Madonna's endeavors with Ray of Light and its introspective mood and the fun-filled, joyous nature of songs like "Impressive Instant" in Music.The Village Voice 's Ben Dellio complimented the alliteration and the elastic bassline of the song, saying that it would have been a better album opener than the title song. Ben Greenbank from Sputnikmusic gave a mixed review, saying that although "Impressive Instant" and "Runaway Lover" from Music were decent songs, they did not have anything special about them to make the reviewer feel that they would be dancefloor staples, or were listenable a second time round. In 2011, MSN Music Canada listed the song at number three on their countdown of "10 famous lyrics that make absolutely no sense". Tom Townshend from the website said that the lyrics were "word abuse. We can't read it. It burns the skin from our eyes!"
"Impressive Instant" was not released commercially and was not promoted to radio as well, hence did not appear on any sales or airplay charts of Billboard. It was released to dance clubs as a promo-only single with remixes by Peter Rauhofer on September 18, 2001. The song debuted on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart at number 25 on the issue dated October 27, 2001, becoming the "hot shot debut" of the week. The next week, it moved 13 places to number 12 on the chart. The following week, the number moved further up and entered the top-ten at number four. On the Billboard issue dated November 17, 2001, "Impressive Instant" reached the top of the chart, becoming Madonna's 27th number-one song on this chart, the most for any artist. It was the artist's 36th top-ten song on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play tally and her seventh consecutive chart topper, dating from "Nothing Really Matters" in 1999, followed by "Beautiful Stranger" (1999), "American Pie" and "Music" in 2000, and "Don't Tell Me" and "What It Feels Like for a Girl" in 2001. It remained on the top for another week, before being replaced by Ben Shaw's single "So Strong". The last week for "Impressive Instant" on the Dance chart was on January 12, 2002, where it climbed down to number 48, before dropping off the chart.
Madonna first performed "Impressive Instant" during the promotional tours for Music. The first of these, was on November 5, 2000, at Roseland Ballroom in New York City, and the other on November 29, 2000, at Brixton Academy in London. 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. The costumes for the show and the set was designed by Dolce & Gabbana. Roseland's secondary stage was used for the performance and was decked as a neo-Western wonderland, with bales of hay, yellow-lit horseshoes and silver cacti throughout the lobby and entrance. Dancers dressed as cowboys vogued during the pre-show in provocative poses, lassoing each other and skating around the passersby. The stage was draped in an American flag. As the music started, the flag lifted to reveal a white Ford pickup truck from which Madonna emerged, singing "Impressive Instant". Bare-chested male dancers encircled her, as she posed on the hood of the truck and danced through the song. The vocoder effects on Madonna's voice was removed for the live performance, which Jennifer Vineyard from Rolling Stone felt made the singer's vocals sound "less ridiculous". By the end of the performance, she as transported onto the main stage of Roseland, with the help of the audience member's hands. A similar performance was done at Brixton Academy; Madonna wore a different t-shirt, with her son Rocco and daughter Lourdes' names printed on it. Around 3,000 fans attended the concert in London, 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.
When Madonna embarked on her Drowned World Tour in 2001, "Impressive Instant" was added as the second song in the setlist. The costumes were designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier, and had varied accessories like spiked dog collars, Swarovski crystal-encrusted bracelets and tattered tops. Michael Schimdt was responsible for the accessroies; he was sought out by Madonna and her stylist Arianne Phillips, to help with finishing touches for many of the outfits. Madonna opened the show with the punk section, wearing tattered black garments and a tartan kilt and belting out the first song, "Drowned World/Substitute for Love". As the song ended, Madonna started with "Impressive Instant", accompanied by her dancers waering gas masks and encased in rolls of black mesh, chasing the singer around the stage. In the middle of the song, she was carried around by her dancers. According to Stuart Lenig, author of the book The Twisted Tale of Glam Rock, Madonna merged choreography with narrative in the performance, as she and her dancers crossed the stage. The 1984-style robotic movements denoted fascism with the dancers stalking and then trying to grope Madonna; in the end one dancer dressed as a robot grabbed a big hosepipe and thrust it between Madonna's legs, as it emitted fog towards the audience. Lenig deduced that this could denote both an act of achieving orgasm or urination towards the crowd. Santiago Fouz-Hernández, one of the authors of the book, Madonna's Drowned Worlds, found similarities with Madonna's exploration of lesbian cultural references from her earlier works, with the performance of "Impressive Instant". The placement of the fogging machine between Madonna's legs were seen as symbols for the phallus and ejaculation, and was deduced as an example of the singer's insistence on masculinity as "performance". The dancers ultimately get subdued by Madonna, who finish off singing the song and takes up a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar to perform the next track, "Candy Perfume Girl".
Biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of Madonna: An Intimate Biography, gave a positive review of the performance saying that "defiance being a rock attitude, and one embraced by Madonna, she didn't hesitate in wanting her public to know that she hasn't mellowed over the years", evident by her unsmiling facial expressions. Casper Llewellyn Smith from The Daily Telegraph felt that with the performance of the song, the Drowned World show "picked up pace." In a review in Los Angeles Times, critic Greg Kot said that the "ballistic" response of the audience to the performance of "Impressive Instant" and another song "Candy Perfume Girl" confirmed the crowd's satisfaction regarding the show. A similar review was given by Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani, who described the performance as a "virulent and possessive dance routine", and felt it set the tone for the whole show. Alex Needham from NME compared the performance with those by The Royal Ballet, suggesting that if the group performed in rubber-fetish, they would be similar to Madonna's theatrics. Todd Ramlow from PopMatters criticized Madonna's vocals during the performance, saying that she sounded flat during the lower notes of the song. The electronic effects used in the song was received negatively by Ramlow, who felt that Madonna should have opted for the addition of backing vocalists. The performance of the song on August 26, 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 on November 13, 2001.
Tracklisting and formats
- US promo vinyl single
- "Impressive Instant" (Peter Rauhofer's Universal Club Mix) – 9:39
- "Impressive Instant" (Peter Rauhofer's Drowned World Dub) – 8:25
- US promo 12" vinyl single
- "Impressive Instant" (Peter Rauhofer's Universal Dub) – 6:41
- "Impressive Instant" (Peter Rauhofer's Universal Radio Mixshow Mix) – 5:32
- "Impressive Instant" (Peter Rauhofer's Drowned World Dub Part 2) – 7:25
Credits and personnel
- Recorded at Sarm West Studios, Notting Hill, London
- Mixed at Olympic Studios, London
- Mastered at Metropolis Studios, London
- Webo Girl Publishing, Inc., Warner Bros. Music Corp (ASCAP), 1000 Lights Music Ltd, Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI)
- Madonna – songwriter, vocalist, producer
- Mirwais Ahmadzaï – songwriter, producer, programming, keyboards
- Mark "Spike" Stent – recording, mixing
- Tim Young – mastering
- Jake Davis – Pro Tools
- Mark Endert – engineer
- Sean Spuehler – engineer
- Tom Hannen – assistant engineer
- Tim Lambert – assistant engineer
Credits and personnel adapted from Music album liner notes.
|US Hot Dance Club Songs (Billboard)
Peter Rauhofer's Drowned World Dub
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