Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
I’ve had this song on my mind over the last week or so – the Puget Sound region has experienced Winter conditions that are very unusual for the region – snow, ice, and well…more snow and ice. It certainly has led to many nights by the fire trying to warm up. Frozen was released as a single in February, 1998 by Madonna – hard to believe, but this single is old enough to drink. It represented a change in direction for Madonna – spiritual yearning, electronica beats, and an overall more mature presentation to the world (one that sadly would not last). The song was lifted from the Ray of Light album with a peak chart position of #2 in the US and #1 in the UK. It also was accused of plagiarism in Belgium, with similarities noted to Ma vie fout le camp by Salvatore Acquaviva – in fact, sales of the single were banned for an eight year period in Belgium, as the case went through the courts (no plagiarism was found). I have fond memories of playing this single (and to a lesser extent, it’s parent album) and noting the strange new direction Madonna’s muse had taken her. Vocally it is vulnerable while lyrically conveying strength as the orchestrations swell at the emotional apex. Perfection.
I have to be honest with you – as someone who is dedicated to only publishing positive music reviews, I did not expect to be reviewing the new Madonna album. A lot of praise was given for her performance at the Superbowl earlier this year – I was underwhelmed. The only cheerleader type song that I’ve ever enjoyed was “Washington D.C.” by The Magnetic Fields. Chanting “M-A-D-O-N-N-A” (the chorus to “Give Me All Your Luvin'”) seemed a bit tired and unoriginal. Let’s be honest, the last Madonna album that I liked all the way through was Music (though American Life had its moments). So why bother with MDNA?? It is the most consistent Madonna release in over a decade and recalls every era of Madonna’s career without sounding self plagiarizing.
In 1993 I was starting 11th grade in a suburban Philadelphia high school and as most kids are at that age – uncertain about a lot of things. As things tend to do for teenagers things always came back to music. This was a very strange time to be in high school – we had the emergence of grunge with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. On the opposite side we also saw the rise of Dr. Dre, newly solo from the group N.W.A, his protegé Snoop Doggy Dogg, and gangsta rap. Honestly, I loved it all. There was also a strange pop-ish band out of Sweden evoking the spirit of Abba that went by the name of Ace of Base. I remember sitting in my behavioral science class with a friend who was a huge Pantera fan and we started talking about how many times we had heard the song “All That She Wants” on the radio that day. Strangely we both agreed – it was a pretty damn good song. What’s the correlation? Lana Del Rey is 2012’s version of Ace of Base – catchy as hell, a bit polarizing, and a lot of fun.