Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:20 am
|These days, the Artist Still Known As Madonna seems to be enjoying a case of what is commonly referred to as "big mo."
It started with the release of the multi-platinum 1998 "comeback" album Ray Of Light, her first original disc since 1994's Bedtime Stories. It wasn't long after that record nabbed the Grammy for Best Pop Album, in 1999, that she re-enlisted Light co-conspirator William Orbit to help record the Grammy-nominated song "Beautiful Stranger" for the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Now, the 41-year-old singer could be on the verge of completing an impressive one-two coup with The Next Best Thing, a new romantic comedy which co-stars longtime pal Rupert Everett and marks her first major film role since 1995's Evita. And despite a seemingly hectic schedule, she not only managed to find time to oversee the new film's soundtrack album, but to get together with Orbit yet again to record a cover version of "American Pie" for the disc.
Yes, we're talking about that "American Pie."
"It wasn't my idea, it was Rupert's idea," Madonna explains when asked what prompted her to rework Don McLean's home-grown folk rock opus. "I didn't really care about it in the beginning. He just kept telling me I should do it, and I kept going, 'Why? You should do it. It's your idea--you make a record of it!' And then finally, he gave it to me and I listened to it and it kind of stuck with me and, I don't know, I ended up doing it."
"It was kind of fun, really," Orbit tells LAUNCH. "It wasn't something we gave a lot of thought to. It seemed to spring out of nowhere. One day, it was like the seeds of an idea for doing a cover version of it in a rather quirky interpretation, and the next thing, it's finished. It really felt like that, almost. The whole thing was a bit of a romp."
Although "American Pie" has decidedly U.S.-centric origins, the rest of the techno-laden soundtrack album for The Next Best Thing--which features tracks by Groove Armada, Moby, Olive, and Beth Orton, among others--is in keeping with Ms. Ciccone's current fascination with all things European.
"It was a lot of hard work, actually," she says. "I never thought it was going to be so difficult, finding music that I personally like that would also work in the film, and that [director] John Schlesinger would like, and that everybody was going to dig. That was the hard part, 'cause I think I have pretty avant-garde tastes, shall we say, when it comes to music. I don't generally go for really mainstream stuff. And most of the artists that are on the record are English artists, or European artists, not too many American."
Next up for pop's chameleon-like chanteuse is another extended stay in the recording studio to work on the follow-up to Ray Of Light. But unlike that album, for which Madonna relied largely on Orbit to help propel her back into the upper stratosphere of the pop charts, the new disc will make room for at least one more producer.
"I'm working with William Orbit on some of the music, but I'm working with another guy called Mirwais," she says. "He's an Afghanistan-French person, and he's come out of the whole electronic music scene in France. It's going to be different."
So is it safe to assume that the record will explore some of the same spiritually infused electro-pop territory found on Light? "Dance, definitely," Madonna says. "Electronic, futuristic. I don't know about new age. Nah, I don't think so."
"It's quite a bit edgier than Ray Of Light," Orbit reveals. "We started off with quite a lot of slow ballad songs, and she started to chuck them out in favor of more edgy tracks. The album is getting more fast and very European-sounding, very English and French-sounding--naturally, because everybody working on it, apart from her, is English or French! It's pretty exciting, actually."
These days, of course, the singer seems less concerned about staying in vogue with the public than with her No. 1 critic--her three-year-old daughter, Lourdes.
"She's very, very fashion-conscious," the proud mom says. "I don't think I was like that when I was younger, but I don't think I was exposed to so many nice clothes, either. She does have an opinion on what I wear every day. I find that very disconcerting. 'That looks nice, Mommy,' or 'I don't like those shoes,' or whatever. She always has an opinion."
A 21st-century material girl in the making? Only time will tell.
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