|Madonna - Greatest Hits Volume 2|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 13 November 2001|
Madonna is the most respected woman in music. From the time she moved to New York in 1977 with aspirations of becoming a dancer to becoming an overnight pop star to now running a highly successful record label, even Madonna’s most vocal critics have to be impressed with her determination and success to date. GHV2 is a collection of more modern Madonna music, highlighting her more experimental yet still commercially successful work.
What is rarely noted about Madonna is her willingness to work with lesser-known or at least underground record producers to create new sounds to complement her highly publicized "new (physical) looks." "Erotica" is a sultry jam that Madonna worked on with Shep Pettibone that drips with sex as only Madonna can. The hook is sing-song, while the verses sound as though they're being sung by a high-priced hooker who could suck the chrome off of a tow hitch. "Secret" shows off Madonna’s more developed songwriting, lyrically highlighting the concept that we all have the ability to create our own happiness. The funky production and tasteful arrangement never shadows Madonna as a storyteller.
Evita was a big role for Madonna, the movie star. The challenges of performing "Don’t Cry For Me Argentina" were of a talent of Madonna’s stature and surely a career goal that motivated her. Unfortunately, I never bought into the performance, but I definitely respect it. I just never really liked the song and feel like it sounds out of place in the overall cadence of this collection. It wouldn’t have been as bad as tacking on Madonna’s cover of "American Pie" to this collection, which would have been nothing short of torture. But I guess you have to cut Madonna some slack -- if you never push the limits of creativity, you’ll never get to you best work. The risk, of course, is that you can come up with something like that cover of "American Pie."
Better songs follow. Bedtime Stories is my personal favorite Madonna record. Bjork’s production influence makes a spectacular musical bed where Madonna makes musical love. Electronic music often suffers from lack of good melodies and/or suffers insanely repetitive samples. Bedtime Stories is far from average in those respects. The title track from the record is a favorite demo track for showing off my music playback system, as there are so many cool little musical accoutrements to notice, while the song never lets up with its consistent yet not overly repetitive beat.
While the tune now reminds me of Microsoft Windows XP, "Ray of Light" is Madonna’s most successful collaboration with up and coming producer William Orbit. Once again, the musical textures than make up Madonna's audio background are extremely complex, laden with more audio goodies than most listeners even realize.
The simple fact is that Madonna is one of the rare artists who has been able to creatively reinvent herself for damn near 20 years. She is as powerful today as she was during Like a Virgin, if not more so. She is fearless musically and, despite her rare failures, has reaped rewards that are all but unprecedented for a female vocalist and a businesswoman. This Greatest Hits record covers what, for me, is Madonna’s best period of work, even though these aren’t her most famous hit songs. With production values off the chart and Madonna styling on well-crafted songs, there is no way to lose by purchasing Madonna’s GHV2.