Madonna – Like a Prayer

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Euh? Apparently, some people think Like a Prayer works as an album (that is, more than a collection of songs) (Rolling Stone‘s J. D. Constantine writes that this “is as close to art as pop music gets”, which is dumb and hopefully requires no explanation as to why), as opposed to the preceding Madonna albums? No. I guess it has more diversity: gospel (“Like a Prayer”), Prince-duet (“Love Song”), dance (“‘Till Death Do Us Part”), brief flashes of classical that become chamber pop (“Dear Jessie,” which is the album’s most ambitious song and third-best; “Oh Father,” whose confessional lyrics seem to be its selling point – mostly amelodic other than the “You can’t hurt me now” bits) and whatever the closer’s supposed to be. But diversity isn’t the defining factor between albums and albums, and it certainly isn’t synonymous with good. And Like a Prayer‘s highs are the lowest highs in her career so far (don’t worry; they’ll get even worse!) and the lows (“Love Song,” though it might’ve been better with a less ugly drum sound; “Act of Contrition”) are also the lowest in her career so far. It doesn’t help matters that the average run-time of an 80s’ pop song is 5 minutes instead of the 3 minutes that they should be.

The album’s best are the first two, both released as the lead singles before they basically released the entire fucking album. Dancefloor anthem “Express Yourself” recalls “Into the Groove”, with juicy horns, but not as good. And “Like a Prayer” has a good melody and the funkiest bass on a Madonna song, but the song constantly stop-starts into the mostly a capella gospel sections that sap the momentum that said melody and bass work so hard creating. And Madonna’s sexual innuendo is unsubtle (and thus, not very sexual). She’ll get a lot worse on this front as she emphasizes it for 1992’s Exotica.

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