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Music (Madonna song)

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"Music"
Close-up from left of Madonna laying down on a bale of hay, with her face partially covered by a pink cowboy hat. The song and artist name is written in a small box to the bottom-right, on either side of an icon of a riding cowboy.
Single by Madonna
from the album Music
B-side "Cyberraga"
Released August 21, 2000 (2000-08-21)
Format
Recorded 2000
Studio Sarm West
(London, England)
Genre
Length 3:44
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Madonna
  • Mirwais Ahmadzaï
Madonna singles chronology
"American Pie"
(2000)
"Music"
(2000)
"Don't Tell Me"
(2000)

"Music" is a song recorded by American singer Madonna as the title track for her eighth studio album (2000). It was released as the lead single from the album on August 21, 2000 by Maverick and Warner Bros. Records. "Music" was inspired by a Sting concert Madonna attended and was written and produced by her with Mirwais Ahmadzaï. It is a disco and electro-funk song in a static key of G minor. Madonna's vocals are electronically manipulated in the track, with the lyrics having political and social undertones and reiterating the uniting power of music.

Before its official release, "Music" leaked onto the internet and was put up for listening in websites like Napster, which prompted Madonna's team to issue a statement threatening legal action. "Music" had different release formats with a number of remixes commissioned for the song. Music critics praised the track's production, catchiness and club-friendly nature, and compared it with Madonna's previous releases. It became a commercial success, peaking at number-one on the record charts of major markets, including Australia, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the last nation, "Music" becoming Madonna's twelfth number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was also has the longest running number-one song on the US Dance Club Songs chart, spending a total of five weeks at the top. "Music" has been included in many critic lists for Madonna's top singles and is often ranked as one of the best songs of the 2000s.

Its accompanying music video, directed by Jonas Åkerlund, portrayed Madonna and her friends enjoying themselves, while traveling in a limousine driven by comedian Ali G. Academics noted the use of American imagery in the clip, especially Madonna's cowboy garb and her popularizing of cowboy fashion. In order to promote its parent album, Madonna performed "Music" at the 2000 MTV Europe Music Awards and at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards the following year, where it was nominated in the categories of Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Additionally, the song has been a regular staple in the set list of five of Madonna's concert tours, the most recent being the Rebel Heart Tour (2015–2016).

Background and writing[edit]

Sting playing guitar onstage.
Madonna was inspired to write "Music" after attending a Sting concert at New York City's Beacon Theater.

After the critical and commercial success of her seventh studio 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.[1] By 2000, Madonna was dating director Guy Ritchie, and was pregnant with their child. Wanting to distract herself from the media frenzy surrounding the pregnancy, she concentrated on the development of her eighth studio album, Music.[2] Ray of Light's success had made the singer keen to go into a recording studio and she was introduced to French DJ and producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï through photographer Stéphane Sednaoui.[3]

In an interview with CNN, Madonna recalled that her Maverick Records company partner Guy Oseary "was given a demo by a French artist called Mirwais [Ahmadzaï]". He wanted the singer's opinion if Ahmadzaï could be signed to Maverick since other than fans of rave music, the artist was still unknown in the United States.[4][5] Ahmadzaï had 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," he noted.[3]

Following the introspective mood on Ray of Light, Madonna was ready to be energetic with the new album, and for the title track she wanted something that would make her "feel like an animal, ready to sprung".[6] Madonna said that the inspiration behind "Music" came from a Sting concert that she had attended at New York City's Beacon Theater. There, the audience was well-behaved until Sting began playing old hits by his band, The Police. The lights were dimmed and everyone came closer to the stage to listen to Sting. "Suddenly, people lost their inhibition and their politeness, and everyone was practically holding hands... I mean, it really moved me," she told Rolling Stone's Jancee Dunn. "And I thought, 'That's what music does to people'". This experience inspired Madonna to write the primary hook of the song, "Music makes people come together / Music, makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel".[7]

Recording and composition[edit]

Recording sessions for Music began in September 1999 at Sarm West Studios in West London.[8] An energetic Madonna wanted to make the title track a party song and a statement about love. Together with Ahmadzaï she started writing down the different parts of the song, picking up chords on guitar and lyrics.[9] Following the completion of the song "Paradise (Not For Me)", they started experimenting with electro funk for "Music" and created the primary base of the track. "It's not experimental", Ahmadzaï recalled "but its not completely easy. It was a small victory for underground music".[10] According to Madonna, writing and producing "Music" with Ahmadzaï set the tone of the rest of the parent album.[11] But she faced communication problems with Ahmadzaï since he barely spoke English. "The first couple of days we were recording, I wanted to rip my hair out," the singer recalled and asked his manager to step in as translator.[12]

"Music" begins with Madonna's androgynous voice uttering the line "Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on, I wanna dance with my baby".[13] After that lyric, her electronically manipulated voice asks "Do you like to boogie woogie?". The producer used an EMS 2000 vocoder to twist the vocals and described to Ernie Rideout of Keyboard as an effect of going "in fits and starts".[14] Mark "Spike" Stent recorded the song on a SSL 9000J console using a Sony 3348 HR and a BASF 931 tape. He mixed it at London's Olympic Studios using SSL G Series Quantegy magnetic tapes. Tim Young mastered the track at Metropolis Studio at Chiswick, London.[15] According to Rikky Rooksby, author of Madonna: The Complete Guide to her Music, the whole production has a dry sound with heavy usage of equalization which created contrast in the vocal, continuing till the first chorus. Guitar flicks can be heard with keyboard chords on the bridge.[13] The music travels from right to left and vice-versa when heard on a headphone. Musician Stuart Price, who worked the song for Madonna's 2001 Drowned World Tour, added that the rhythmic structure of "Music" was inspired from Kraftwerk's 1977 single, "Trans-Europe Express".[13]

Refer to caption.
An analogue Moog synthesizer was used for creating the instrumental riff in "Music"

Harmonically, "Music" has a time signature of common time, and its composition is based on a static key of G minor with a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute. Madonna's vocals range from G3 to two-lined note of D5, with a basic sequence of Gm–F–Gm–F as its chord progression.[16] According to the book Madonna's Drowned Worlds, 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".[17] The authors noted that the music was the central identification for the song, with its "splashes of electronica and production tricks" from reverse cymbal crescendo, and "tightly quantized" pitch and sounds from a Hammond organ. Madonna sung with her mouth close to the recording microphone, which Fouz-Hernández found gave the track a natural sound.[18] Barry Walters from Billboard found the composition to also contain a blend of French electronica and 1970s electro funk.[12] The instrumental riff in the track is created by a 1970s analogue Moog synthesizer, which ultimately leads to the song fading out. The production in "Music" not only referenced disco and funk, but was also campy in nature as noted by Jarman-Ivens.[19]

Lyrically the song reiterates the uniting power of music.[13] The primary hook was deemed as having political implications with the singer renouncing the bourgeoisie class.[19] Fouz-Hernández believed that the line "I wanna dance with my baby" reinforced a connection with gay listeners because of its "casual, campy style". He compared the track to Madonna's first single, "Everybody" (1982), because in both songs she declares that music "has the power to overcome divisions of race, gender, and sexuality". It also hearkened back to the singer's early days of being carefree and living alone in New York, while being a staple in the city's night-club scene.[17] According to Billboard, Madonna's vocals "binds a mind-blowing melange of hyperactive beats, grooves, and stinging percussive elements" in the track. The magazine adds that the song is also "saturated" with the influence of Cameo, Herbie Hancock, Nitzer Ebb and Roger Troutman.[12][20]

Release detail and leaks[edit]

Tracy Young looking to the camera
Groove Armada's Andy Cato playing keyboard.
Tracy Young and Groove Armada remixed "Music", along with Deep Dish, Victor Calderone and Hex Hector.

On June 2, 2000, an unauthorized incomplete demo of the song leaked onto the internet.[21] Snippets of the tracks, ranging from 30 second to almost three minutes was circulated through fan websites and music download site, Napster. Madonna's spokeswoman Caresse Norman said that it was an unfinished version.[22] Warner Bros. Records also issued another statement threatening legal actions against Napster lest the song was removed and added their expectation for "the owners who have included this material on their site will comply immediately with our legitimate request that they cease permitting unauthorized downloads of this song."[21] Madonna was disappointed, publishing a letter about the leak on Icon, the magazine released quarterly for her official fanclub.[23] The threatened lawsuit against the leak was reported in the media as Madonna being against Napster, which the singer clarified was contrary and she "found it a great way for listeners to access music".[7]

Warner Bros. Records initially targeted the single to be released to radio in July 2000,[24] but it was pushed back to August 1, with the commercial release for the CD single taking place on August 21.[12][25][26] A new website called www.madonnamusic.com was created for the single's release with Madonna releasing a message to her fans: "You've probably been hearing about my new record 'Music' for a while, but I just wanted to make sure that you know the single is going to drop very soon. I worked on this track with a French guy called Mirwais and he is the shit."[27]

The B-side of the CD and cassette single featured the track "Cyberraga", a collaboration with Talvin Singh. The track was remixed by Groove Armada, Deep Dish, Victor Calderone, Hex Hector, and Tracy Young; all of them were handpicked by Madonna since it was "more important to [her] that my records get played in the clubs. That's where I got my start, and that's where I will probably always feel most at home".[12] Contemporary club music was inspiration behind the remixes with Calderone adding tribal beats and synths around Madonna's vocals. A house beat and bassline was used in Deep Dish's remix, while Hector utilized electro-skewed beats, guitar licks and breakbeat. Young's 13 minute remix used ambient interludes, house music rhythms, trance and 1970s music with Madonna's singing sounding fresh. Club DJs received the promotional remixes on August 2, 8 and 15, while they were released to retailers on August 22 in maxi-CD and double vinyl formats.[20]

Critical reception[edit]

Madonna and her backup singers in white suits, with her right hand stretched up.
Madonna performing "Music Inferno", a mashup of "Music" and The Trammps's "Disco Inferno", during the Confessions Tour (2006).

Upon release, the song received generally positive reviews from critics. J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of Madonna: An Intimate Biography, declared "Music" as a dance-anthem "that reaches into the future but also slyly conjures images and feelings of the good ol' disco days".[28] In a similar review, Lucy O'Brien, author of Madonna: Like an Icon, relegated the track as "a resurrection of the disco girl" image. She listed "Music" as a career-defining moment for Madonna, like previous singles "Vogue" and "Justify My Love" (both released in 1990). O'Brien clarified the song as "the same genre defining quality, robotic, tinny, trashy and audacious... She resurrects the Madonna imperative. Dance. Party. Surrender".[2] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called it "a thumping track which sounds funkier, denser, sexier with each spin".[29] Jim Farber of the New York Daily News gave a positive feedback, stating that it is "everything a single should be: pithy, simple and maddeningly catchy, her most instantly embraceable single since 'Holiday'".[30] Farber also highlighted the lyrics, which he felt covered familiar ground for Madonna by talking about the power of dance music. This thought was shared by Fouz-Hernández, who believed that like her debut single "Everybody", "Music" was a track that defined the singer's artistic credibility.[30][17]

Reviewing the parent album for Rolling Stone, Barry Walters also compared it to the singer's earlier work.[31] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine called it the singer's best dance track since "Vogue", also comparing it to her 1985 single, "Into the Groove".[32] In his review of Madonna's 2001 compilation GHV2, Cinquemani praised the single's "retro club beats and vintage synth sound". Giving it a B rating, he concluded that "only a former material girl living in a NASDAQ world could get away with a song like this".[33] Dimitri Ehrlich from Vibe found "Music" to be "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)".[34] Chuck Arnold from Entertainment Weekly, called it one of the singer's "most eccentric hits ever" and found it to be reminiscent of her earlier works, specifically "Holiday".[35]

Billboard's Chuck Taylor praised the song as a "stunning enterprise, a ballsy testament to [Madonna's] insistence on being a style-setter and one of the industry's most savvy—and now critically accountable—tunesmiths". He believed that both radio and the audience would be shocked with the experimentation Madonna achieved in the track.[20] Larry Flick from the same publication described the song as "anthemic", also predicting a positive commercial reception.[12] Ethan Brown, from New York magazine, stated that the song "elicits memories of past pop odes to dance culture", and praised its "giddy mix of electro-bounce, campy vocoder chants, and funky keyboard squeals".[36] Charlotte Robisnon of PopMatters believed that "Music"'s appeal lay in the "freewheeling, fun spirit" nature of Madonna, which had initially made the singer popular. However, she also called it a "goofy Rick James rip-off".[37]

Negative criticism came from The Guardian's Garry Mulholland, who described the track as "the sound of a bunch of middle-aged trend-watchers second-guessing what today's kids go for [...] the absolute definition of mutton-dressed-as-lamb middle-youth".[38] Alex Pappademas from Spin, pointed out that "its dancefloor liberation mantra feels forced".[39] Danny Eccleston from Q described the song as "daring gambit" and found that the track did not resemble any Madonna endeavor. He panned the over-usage of the electronic sounds and compared "Music" unfavorably to Daft Punk's "Around the World" (1997).[40]

Chart performance[edit]

Black-and-white image of the Supremes smiling.
With "Music" topping the Billboard Hot 100, Madonna tied the Supremes as the artist with the fifth most number-ones on the chart.

Prior to the official release of the song, it started receiving airplay in US radios due to public demand, as noted by Paul Bryant, program director at WHTZ (Z100) station in New York. There was equal anticipation regarding retail sales of the track.[12] On August 12, 2000, "Music" entered at number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the second-highest debuting single based solely on radio play. Fred Bronson from Billboard noted that it was Madonna's highest-debuting single on the Hot 100 since "The Power of Good-Bye" entered at number 24 in October 1998. The song debuted at number 38 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart, garnering an audience of 38 million.[20] "Music" continued ascending up the Hot 100 and following the commercial release, it jumped from number 14 to number two on the chart dated September 9, 2000. The CD maxi and 12-inch vinyls sold a combined 62,500 copies, leading it to debut at number three on the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart.[41] Silvio Pietroluongo from Billboard observed that only Madonna's "This Used to Be My Playground" single had debuted with more sales, 76,000 copies in August 1992.[42]

The next week, "Music" sold a further 156,234 units and topped the Hot 100, replacing Janet Jackson's "Doesn't Really Matter". It was Madonna's 12th song to reach the summit and her first number-one single since "Take a Bow" in February 1995. She tied the Supremes and moved to fifth rank among artists with most Hot 100 number-ones.[42] The song amassed the highest weekly sales total and the highest points (23,110) for a song topping the chart.[43][44] "Music" was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipment of over a million copies, and as of August 2009 had sold 1.136 million in physical CD sales, and an additional 217,000 in digital download.[45][46][47] "Music" placed at number 17 on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 2000.[43] Aided by the official remixes, the song also reached number-one on the Dance Club Songs chart, remaining atop for five weeks.[42][48] It was the top ranking Dance Club song of 2000 and the second most-successful Dance Club song of the 2000s decade in the United States, behind Madonna's own "Hung Up" (2005).[49][50] In Canada, the song debuted at number 23 on the RPM Singles Chart and reached the top after five weeks.[51][52] It was present on top of the charts for a total of nine weeks and was the final song to remain atop the chart when RPM ceased publication in November 2000.[53][54]

"Music" was also a success in Australia and New Zealand. The song debuted at number one on the ARIA Singles Chart, where it stayed for three consecutive weeks.[55] It was the fourth best-selling single in the country and was certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 140,000 copies.[56][57] In New Zealand, "Music" debuted 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.[58]

In the United Kingdom, "Music" debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number one. It faced tough competition with Spiller's "Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)" and beat the latter by 1,000 sales. Madonna became the first solo female artist to collect ten number-one singles.[59] The song was present on the chart for 24 weeks, and was the 24th best selling release of 2000 in the country.[60][61] The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) certified it gold in July 2013, and according to the Official Charts Company, "Music" is Madonna's 14th best-selling single and sold 415,000 copies in the region as of February 2014.[62][63][64] 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.[65] On August 31, 2000, "Music" debuted at number two on the Swedish Singles Chart.[66] Similarly in Switzerland, the song debuted at number one, and spent 21 weeks in the chart.[67] The single's performancein the UK and Europe enabled it to debut atop the European Hot 100 Singles chart, with greatest gaining points on the radio and dance charts.[68] It was present in the position for six weeks[69]

Music video[edit]

Conception and filming[edit]

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen appeared in the music video as his character, Ali G (pictured above).

The accompanying music video was directed by Jonas Åkerlund, who had previously helmed Madonna's "Ray of Light" clip in 1998.[70]

The video stars Madonna and her longtime backup singer Niki Haris and actress-cum-friend Debi Mazar as well as comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as his famous character, Ali G.[7][71] Madonna became a fan of the comedian after watching his Christmas special, Ali G, Innit (1999). When the video was planned the singer thought that Baron Cohen "would be great in it", although it was confirmed that he was not going to be involved in the musical aspects.[72] Åkerlund stated that originally they intended to have American comedian Chris Rock in the video. But since Baron Cohen was not known in the US at that time, the director showed everyone clips from Da Ali G Show so they could see the Ali G character.[70]

When we did the 'Music' video, it was a weird time. [Madonna] 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.[70]

The video was shot in Los Angeles, California in April 2000, to accommodate Madonna's pregnancy and her then-growing waistline. Crewmember were asked to sign confidentiality documents for the filming.[22][73] Madonna conceptualized the clip, wanting to show her take on the stereotypical R&B and rap music videos. She wanted to do role reversals with females enacting characters generally reserved for males. However, her range was limited being pregnant so she "had to think of a concept that would incorporate me being almost a voyeur rather than the central force in the video. So I figured if I played this kind of mack-daddy/pimp character, where things just came to me, happened to me and happened around me while I was watching it all happen, I could kill two birds with one stone."[74]

Madonna's look in the clip was described by O'Brien as a "ghetto-fabulous female in a feather boa and stetson; all diamonds and bling, going to lapdancing bars and travelling in the back of a luxury limousine".[2] The singer had initially enlisted some actors to portray her accompaniments in the video, but she did not feel comfortable with their stiffness, their model-like appearance and lack of personality. So she called up Mazar and Harris to come and star in the video. "I was at home when Madonna called me. She said 'I need my girlfriend, not these fake girl-friends trying to be my girlfriends. Throw on some cloths and come down'", recalled Harris.[2][7] Ali G kept entertaining everyone in the set with Madonna not being able to "keep a straight face" during her takes. The singer kept her coat shut all the time and had to sit in the limousine to hide her belly.[7]

Release and reception[edit]

The music video debuted on MTV and VH1 on August 2, 2000.[75] The later channel aired a special hour-long program called Madonna's Music, where the singer called in for a phone interview. It was hosted by VH1's Rebecca Rankin who presided a discussion with Rolling Stone music critic Joe Levy about Madonna and her looks, as well as a video interview with Mazar and Harris. VH1 also aired a countdown of the singer's previous clips as well as offered its viewers to listen to a remix of "Music".[76]

Refer to caption.
Madonna (center) with Niki Haris (right) and actress Debi Mazar (left) in the music video.

The clip starts with Madonna along with her friends boarding a limousine driven by Ali G. As the music starts Ali G is directed to take them to a club where Madonna and her friends dance and drink. He later takes them to a strip-club, where Madonna goes inside but he is denied entrance. An animated section follows where Madonna, as a superhero character with superpowers, flies above rooftops, swims underwater, and works as a DJ at a club with a dozen arms like a Hindu deity.[77] Madonna's animated character also attacks various neon signs displaying the names of her previous singles.[75] The video ends with Madonna and her friends traveling in the limousine packed with the strippers and Ali G engaging in a rendezvous with them. According to author Georges Claude Guilbert, throughout the clip Madonna wears a gold necklace around her neck that says "Mommy", a reference to her apparent pregnancy. 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.[77]

Jarman-Ivens noted the use of American imagery in the clip, especially Madonna's cowboy garb and her popularizing of cowboy fashion. She found it interesting that the singer "turned" to Americana, "underlining her interest in exploring her relationship to mainstream America through a fashion and cultural style that is rich and multi-layered in its meaning".[78] The author also emphasized Madonna's sexual assertiveness in the music video, and emphatic defining of herself as "a sexual free spirit", as well as portrayal of expensive accouterments.[79] "Music" was released as a DVD single on September 5, 2000.[20] It reached the top of the UK Music Video charts and number three on the US Music Video charts, receiving gold certification in both regions.[80][81] The clip was parodied on the sixth season of Mad TV and was called "Movies". It featured Mo Collins as Madonna and poked fun at Madonna's filmography, with an animated version of the singer attacking signs displaying her commercially flop films.[82]

Accolades and recognition[edit]

"Music" earned two nominations at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards, in the categories of Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.[83] It also won the ASCAP Awards in the categories of Most Performed Pop Songs and Top Dance Songs.[84][85] The video won several awards, including "Best Pop Clip of the Year" at the 2000 Billboard Music Video Awards and "Best Dance Video" at the International Dance Music Awards in 2000.[86] At the Danish Music Awards it won the trophy of Best International Hit.[87] The 2000 MTV Europe Music Awards nominated the track in the category of Best Song.[88] "Music" also received a nomination at the 2001 TEC Awards, for its record production,[89] and International Song of the Year at the 2001 NRJ Music Award.[90]

"Music" has been included in many critic lists for Madonna's top singles and is often ranked as one of the best songs of the 2000s. Dotmusic placed it within its top-ten singles for 2000.[91] Rolling Stone listed "Music" as the 66th best of the 2000s decade, commenting 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."[92] The publication also ranked it at number nine on their list of Madonna's 50 Greatest Songs, writing that "After years spent making albums that bridged boundaries of race, gender and sexual orientation, Madonna finally wrote a tune explicitly devoted to the democratizing power of music itself."[93] The Huffington Post's Matthew Jacobs ranked it at number 11 on his list "The Definitive Ranking Of Madonna Singles". Jacobs believed that the phrase "Hey Mr. DJ" gave rise to the usage of name-checking in songs thereafter, employed by other artists like Jennifer Lopez, Black Eyed Peas and Mariah Carey.[94]

In 2011, VH1 created a countdown of the top songs of 2000 decade and placed Music" at number 28.[95] Entertainment Weekly likewise ranked "Music" at number seven on their list of Madonna's 35 top singles, saying that the "message [in the song] is universal".[35] Michael Roffman from Consequence of Sound listed the track at number 15, feeling that the commercial reception to the release of "Music" was "almost meta come to think of it; the song did make people come together".[96] Enio Chola of PopMatters placed "Music" at number five in his list of The Top 15 Madonna Singles of All Time, feeling that "After the confessional Ray of Light, Madonna was ready to dance again, and like no one else can, she proved that her ability to write pure unadulterated mega pop hits was still in full form as she began the third decade of her music career."[97] LA Weekly's Michael Cooper ranked the track at number 12 in his list of Madonna's Top 20 Singles. He opined that Ahmadzaï's production of the track "[helped] to cement Madonna as the queen of reinvention".[98] Ed Masley of The Arizona Republic placed it at number 13 on his Essential Madonna playlist.[99]

Live performances[edit]

The first live performance of "Music" took place during the promotional concerts for the album, held on November 5, 2000, at New York City's Roseland Ballroom, and on November 29 at London's Brixton Academy.[100][101] During the performance in New York, she wore a black tank top with "Britney Spears" written on it, along with cowboy hats and boots.[100][101][100] For the London performance, Madonna wore a different t-shirt, with the names of her son Rocco and daughter Lourdes printed on it.[102][103] Madonna performed "Music" during the 2000 MTV Europe Music Awards where she was introduced by Ali G as "Maradona".[104] A day later, she later performed "Music" and "Don't Tell Me" on British television program Top of The Pops and one week later on French television program Nulle Part Ailleurs.[105][106]

Madonna flanked by her bare-bodied dancers singing onstage.
Madonna performing "Music" on the Drowned World Tour, 2001

On February 21, 2001, Madonna opened the 43rd Grammy Awards with a performance of the track.[107] The stage had five giant video screens, which showed clippings from her career.[108] Madonna entered the stage in a Cadillac driven by rapper Bow Wow. She emerged dressed in a full-length fur coat, which she removed to reveal a tight leather jacket and jeans.[109] She took off the jacket to reveal a black tank top with the words "Material Girl" and performed the song, joined again by Harris and backup singer Donna DeLory.[110] For the Drowned World Tour in the same year, "Music" was used as the final encore. Madonna wore tight black jeans and a customized Dolce & Gabbana halter top that proclaimed "Mother" in the front and "F*cker" in the back.[111] In his review, 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".[112] The performance on August 26, 2001, at The Palace of Auburn Hills was recorded and released in the live video album, Drowned World Tour 2001.[113]

"Music" was later added to the Re-Invention World Tour of 2004.[114] Set to a slower, hip-hop inspired remix, the performance featured Madonna and her dancers wearing Scottish kilts and a lighted staircase surrounding a DJ Station. At the end, Madonna and her dancers lifted 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".[115] The next year, the singer performed "Music" at the Live 8 benefit concert in London.[116] On the 2006 Confessions Tour, Madonna performed "Music Inferno", a mashup of "Music" and The Trammps's "Disco 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.[117] Madonna appeared wearing a white suit and performed the track.[118] Halfway through the performance, Madonna walked to the center stage where, according to MTV's Corey Moss, she did "her best Saturday Night Fever-era John Travolta routine, complete with the 'hitchhike' (you know, thumbs to the side)".[119] The performance of the song at the August 15–16, 2006 shows in London, at the Wembley Arena, were recorded and included on Madonna's second live album, The Confessions Tour (2007).[120]

Madonna in a shining dress and a top-hat performs onstage flanked by dancers in suit and coattails.
Madonna performing "Music" on the Rebel Heart Tour (2015–2016).

"Music" was included as the closing song on the Hard Candy Promo Tour.[121] During the 2008–2009 Sticky & Sweet Tour, the song sampled Indeep's "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" at the beginning as well as was mashed up with Fedde le Grand's "Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit" (2006).[122] Madonna's outfit of a pair of gym shorts, long socks and sneakers was a reference to her old days in New York.[123][124] The 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).[125]

In 2012, Madonna included the song on her Super Bowl XLVI halftime show set list, where it was remixed with LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" and "Sexy and I Know It".[126] The same year, she performed it on The MDNA Tour at New York City's Madison Square Garden, on November 14. She invited South Korean rapper Psy and performed together his song "Gangnam Style" and her 2008 single, "Give It 2 Me".[127] "Music" opened the final section of the Rebel Heart Tour (2015–2016), with the singer decked in a "Harlem-flapper-meets-Paris-in-the-Twenties" dress, adorned with thousands of Swarovski crystals.[128] The song "began as a Jazz Age ballad before kicking into banger mode".[129] Madonna's dancers were dressed in Golden Twenties inspired costumes with one of them topless.[129][130] 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 an ubiquitous term".[129] The performance of the song at the March 19–20, 2016 shows in Sydney's Allphones Arena was recorded and released in the live album, Rebel Heart Tour.[131]

Cover versions and media appearance[edit]

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".[132] In 2007, The Dynamics recorded and released an eight-minute reggae cover on their album Versions Excursions. David Dacks from Exclaim! was satisfied with the recording, saying that it "fares well too, with the lyrics adapting well to a reggae context".[133] French metal band Eths added a cover of the song as a bonus track on their third studio album III (2012).[134][135] 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.[136][137]

"Music" was featured during the ninth season of American reality competition series, RuPaul's Drag Race.[138][139] It was used as the lip-sync song for the sixth episode, between contestants Peppermint and Cynthia Lee Fontaine, with the former winning the round. The runway that week was themed around Madonna's iconic looks.[140] Madonna herself referenced "Music" in her 13th studio album, Rebel Heart (2015), in the track "Veni Vidi Vici" by singing the line: "I saw a Ray of Light / Music saved my life".[141]

Track listings and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of the CD single and Music.[161]

Management[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certification and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Physical
Australia (ARIA)[57] 2× Platinum 140,000^
France (SNEP)[199] Gold 250,000*
Germany (BVMI)[200] Gold 250,000^
Japan (Oricon Charts) 2,350[174]
Sweden (GLF)[201] Platinum 30,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[202] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[62] Gold 415,000[64]
United States (RIAA)[45] Platinum 1,136,000[46]
Digital
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[203] Gold 50,000*
United States 217,000[47]
Video
United Kingdom (BPI)[204] Gold 25,000^
United States (RIAA)[205] Gold 50,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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