Awful album, and I’ll appropriate Rolling Stone‘s Arion Berger’s 4-star review of the album to highlight why it’s shit (italics mine): “It took Madonna ten years, but she finally made the record everyone has accused her of making all along. Chilly, deliberate, relentlessly posturing. Erotica is a post-AIDS album about romance — it doesn’t so much evoke sex as provide a fetishistic abstraction of it. She may have intended to rattle America with hot talk about oral gratification and role switching, but sensuality is the last thing on the album’s mind. Moving claustrophobically within the schematic confines of dominance and submission, Erotica plays out its fantasies with astringent aloofness, unhumid and uninviting. The production choices suggest not a celebration of the physical but a critique of commercial representations of sex — whether Paul Verhoeven’s, Bruce Weber’s or Madonna’s — that by definition should not be mistaken for the real thing. […] Its cold, remote sound systematically undoes every one of the singer’s intimate promises.” Yeah – how does any of that sound like good things to you?! We could change the rating to 2 stars and change none of the words and the review would make more sense.
The title track is the only song here that’s worth saving, with a danceable beat and a good hook; like the way she breathes it out, which juxtaposes nicely with the way she speaks-sings through the rest of it. Oh yeah, she speaks her way through a lot of this album, presumably because speaking requires much less melodic forethought than singing (none at all, actually), but when she sings, there’s barely any melodies anyway. “Fever” is the most unnecessary thing in the world; the lyrics of “Where Life Begins” has her asking someone to “go down [on her] where life begins” and that is not okay; the bridge in “Rain” is simultaneously the most exciting and laziest bit on the album; “Why’s It So Hard” tries to turn social phrases sexual and fails; I wish her high school English teacher taught her that AABB rhyme schemes don’t do serious subject matter like AIDS (“In This Life”) and sex (the other 13 songs) justice. “If I take you from behind / Push myself into your mind” is kind of representative of Madonna’s lyrics about sex; she’s either never had it before and just guessing, or she’s singing about strapons. Longer songs than ever before and more songs than ever before; welcome to the motherfucking 90s. Robert Christgau was stoned out of his mind for that review or else those words were meant for Ray of Light; those are the only two possible explanations.