By the 12 months 2000, there have been no extra pages within the pop star rulebook for Madonna to tear up. At no level in her almost two-decade profession had her star begun to boring; 1992’s Erotica was, by Madonna requirements, a flop, nevertheless it nonetheless peaked at No. 2 and spawned two high 10 hits. She adopted it up with 1994’s R&B-influenced Bedtime Tales and its single “Take a Bow,” which stayed atop the Scorching 100 for seven weeks. With 1998’s Ray of Mild, she claimed to be stepping away from the trimmings of pop star life—and nonetheless, by some means, wound up extra well-known and extra influential than ever.
Madonna’s pivot on Ray of Mild was wildly profitable, her Britpop-suffused entry into the world of Japanese spirituality and clear dwelling cannily marrying the tastes of a tradition as taken with Pure Moods as Oasis. As a rebrand—from the bratty transgression of her early profession to a serene, anti-individualist earth mom—it was nearly too profitable. For the primary time, Madonna was up within the clouds, presiding over her pop kingdom from afar, seemingly uninterested within the vagaries of the fashionable panorama. Though Ray of Mild produced three plain hits—its title observe, the steely, lovelorn “Frozen,” and all-timer energy ballad “The Power of Good-Bye”—the reserved persona necessitated by Madonna’s extra self-serious music had additionally stamped out a few of her sense of enjoyable.
Regardless of: As ever, Madonna had extra playing cards to play. On 2000’s Music, the sensible, newly magnanimous celebrity got here again all the way down to earth and, naturally, the membership. Capitalizing on the gargantuan success of Ray of Mild, Music managed to take care of Madonna’s newly mature picture whereas reinjecting her sound with enjoyable and freedom. It wasn’t a reinvention, precisely. As an alternative, Madonna proved that she may very well be a 42-year-old mom of two and nonetheless be as attractive, foolish, and provocative as she’d all the time been. “There’s nothing sexier than a mother—Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, I mean, those women are sexy,” she advised Individuals in March 2000. “I’m in better shape than I was at 20.”
On Music, Madonna offered her imaginative and prescient of worldwide heartland music. The cowboy getup she wore all through this period isn’t tied to any overarching nation affect; as an alternative, consider it as a (barely gaudy) image of humility, a sign that this file is one thing actual and important. This was an album designed to unite the disparate tastes of America and Europe, to behave as a bridge between teen pop and sophisti-pop, the mainstream and the underground. Throughout Music, Madonna infused French contact with the sleazy grind of R&B, reinterpreted Americana by means of the lens of Timbaland and Aaliyah’s warped pop experiments, and put her spin on the clear, heartfelt ballads that the Titanic soundtrack had pulled to the highest of the charts. An album comprised completely of earnest balladry and heaving membership tracks, it turned one among Madonna’s remaining world-beating successes—a flexing of creative muscle that holds its personal alongside her most electrifying, epoch-defining data. “The world is in the doldrums musically. It’s all so generic and homogenized,” she advised Billboard on the time. “If this record happens, it might mean that people are ready for something different.”