From The Vault: Madonna – ‘American Life’

Published: Sunday 5th Apr 2020 by Joe

When it comes to controversy, Pop royal Madonna might have written a book a two about the matter. Still, at times it’s best not rustle feathers, especially when it’s fleeting.

This week’s From The Vault pick is the superstar’s doomed single ‘American Life.’

The first offering from the album of the same name, ‘Life’ saw Madonna put her “socially conscious” hat on, to poor critical results. Dealing with the illusion of fame and the reappraisal of the American Dream, the track was produced by Mirwais Ahmadzaï – like the bulk of its parent LP. It featured a rap segment where Madge details her daily activities and concludes that all her possessions didn’t necessarily make her happy.

Peaking at #37 on the Billboard Hot 100, it fared better internationally, reaching the Top 10 in Australia, France and the UK among many other countries. It was a chart topper in Canada, Denmark and Italy.

A video for the track was shot prior to the invasion of Iraq by the American troops.

Set at a high-end fashion show, it depicted models dressed in military fashion walking down the runway. As the video progresses, it begins to mirror a war zone, with overzealous soldiers scaring middle eastern kids, shots being fired, bodies exploding and all.

Madonna and her literal troop of female dancers emerge from backstage to put a stop to the madness.

Yet, the biggest controversy about the video came in the form of a lookalike of George W. Bush – then president of the USA and key figure war – gleefully sitting front-row and seemingly enjoying every minute of the show.

The release of the Jonas Akerlund directed music video was shelved and the artist issued a statement stating that more than anything else it was “an anti-war statement,” and that she was “pro-peace.”

Another visual was released, presenting M singing the song in front of ever changing flags of different countries.


Initially, the ‘American Life’ project was panned by critics and the public because they felt it was try-hard, self-centered and contrived.

Through the years it has gained somewhat of a cult following, with music lovers and critics alike praising its minimalistic Folk/Electronica sound and social commentary-fuelled lyrics.

War or no war, who knows if the nation was ever going to be ready for Madonna to express her political views by way of her music. Still, we applaud the entertainer for taking a stand and using her art to do so.

Your thoughts?

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  1. DojaCat Say So April 5, 2020

    ❤️ my American Life!!! One of my favorite song? during C***** Lockdown!!! ?

  2. Madonna Queen of Pop April 5, 2020

    Back when this album came out and everyone kinda say her career was over, a misconception, cause shes still relevant. Maybe the album was ahead of time but still its one of my favourite

    • PinotNoir April 6, 2020

      War-profiting Neo-Cons blasted her song. The rest of the world said “We been knew …” I recall that album saturating the French Top 5 for 18 months straight.

  3. C**-ila April 5, 2020

    This is one my favourite albums ever…every song is so catchy omg!
    Not only “american life” but also “Hollywood”, “Mother and Father”, “Love Profusion”, “Nobody Knows Me”, “Nothing Fails”, “Die Another Day”.. It’s amazing!

    American Life was a hugely underrated album and single…she was labelled as an hater of america for not supporting W Bush’s Iraq War and now we see who was right all the time.
    Madge is the greatest*

    • Madonna Queen of Pop April 5, 2020

      Exactly my dea. I’m glad u brought it up. American Life is one of my fave Madonna’s album and single that is underrated.???

      • Madonna Queen of Pop April 5, 2020


    • PinotNoir April 6, 2020

      Don’t forget lip locks with Brit & Xtina. Damn, I’ve just realized I had lived great pop moments! Unlike the trap clownery served now.

      • Del April 7, 2020

        lol true dont forget twerk brothels h***

  4. Marbz April 5, 2020

    I’m drinking a soy latte
    I getta double shot-eh
    It goes right through my bodeh
    And you know I’m satisfied

    I STILL say this when I get a double shot. F*** that soy tho…

    • PinotNoir April 6, 2020

      ? Missy had taught her how to rap that part over the phone!

  5. Paulo April 5, 2020

    This album has some of Madonna’s best work as a lyricist. The production is kinda lame but somehow it is underrated. American Life, Die Another Day and Love Profusion are pop gems ??

    • PinotNoir April 6, 2020

      I got you under my skin ?

  6. PinotNoir April 6, 2020

    Her only heroic norm-changer! Hailed in Europe and the world for its anti-Bush policy messages. Maligned as unpatriotic by media-blinded Mad-Dull … uh … Middle America. To think Silicon Valley math brainiacs ditched their jobs and asked to be drafted to fight an unjust war (true story). Anyway, Madge should make an album that opens wormy cans again – for pop’s rebel shines only when she denounces injustice … even if we’re all waiting for her to blast red-stringed, money-grabbing “esoteric aka dark magick” sects the way she blasted The Vatican in her prime. Get own it, M!

  7. Rashad April 6, 2020

    This album totally grew on me and I miss when her vocals sounded like this. She sounded great from Ray of Light through Confessions and had a beautiful tone.

    Xstatic Process, Easy Ride and Nothing Fails are great songs

  8. Del April 7, 2020

    it was no1 in the UK wasnt a big fan of the song i liked hollywood. The video is very good and thought provoking i have never seen this version, i can understand why this failed to make an impact in america, as we no that americans dont like people seeing the real ugly side of america and we remember her most controversail video depicting a black jesus.

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