Madonna values relational commitment, stating that it doesn’t pay to be—or give one’s heart to—a “Runaway Lover.” On “Nobody’s Perfect,” an unspecified mistake (her infamously raw language on Letterman maybe?) leads to the confession, “What I did wasn’t right/I feel so bad/And I must say to you/ Sorry, but nobody’s perfect.” Love blooms on “Amazing,” “I Deserve It” and “Impressive Instant.” Elsewhere, the artist refuses to let a failed romance get her down (“Gone”). The girls-are-people-too anthem “What It Feels Like for a Girl” condemns male chauvinism by addressing hurtful myths about female inferiority. While not world-changing, the themes on Music continue a move away from the bawdy, rebellious lyrics that made Madonna so controversial for a decade and a half.
Lines on “What It Feels Like for a Girl” enumerate the sensual qualities of the fairer sex and teasingly imply that men wish they could unabashedly explore their feminine side (raising subtle gender issues).
This music maven’s latest effort sustains a stylistic shift toward pulsing, production-heavy rhythms. And like the messages (not the photos) on 1998’s Ray of Light, it also demonstrates lyrical responsibility. As long as fans steer clear of her edgy videos on MTV, they’ll get Madonna the artist, not Madonna the provocateur. The singer’s long history of lasciviousness notwithstanding, her new Music is shocking in its own right—shockingly positive.