Fact: Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor Is Her Best Album to Date

I'm hung up on it.

Ask any music critic what Madonna’s best album is, and you’ll more than likely receive one of two answers. Option A: Like a Prayer (1989), noted for its unprecedented religious commentary, impact and genre-defining hits like “Express Yourself” and, well, “Like a Prayer.” Option B: Ray of Light (1998), viewed as the pop icon’s greatest technical feat—six Grammy nominations, four wins. (RoL is often credited for bridging the gap between electronic music and top 40 radio, a point Madonna fans—this writer included—love pointing out to people who don’t know the Scripture.)

Both of these albums are fantastic, culturally potent works that age like fine wine (and George Clooney, to be honest). But there is a case for another more contemporary Madge album as her best work to date. (“Hard Candy?!” you ask, to which I reply, “Good joke.”)

Of course, I’m talking about Confessions on a Dance Floor, which came out 10 years ago today. From a superficial point of view, this LP—sitting briskly at 56 minutes—is a triumph. Its cover—shaded in pink and purple hues—shows our queen in her natural habitat: the dance floor. Her back is turned to us—an act of defiance, almost like she’s commanding the music to speak for itself. Commercially, it reached No.1 and platinum status in more than 20 countries. The album’s lead single “Hung Up”—more on its brilliance later—topped the charts in more than 20 countries, too, making it one of Madonna’s most successful songs in her 30+-year career.

Warner Bros.

And these are just facts and figures. It’s the album’s (M)DNA that truly makes it one for the books. Structured like a DJ set, Confessions throbs from one track to the next with no gaps, pauses and absolutely zero slow jams. (The only tune that remotely resembles a breather is “Push,” and even that pounds on a sweaty synth groove.) Produced by electro maestro Stuart Price, Confessions harkens back—and, honestly, builds upon—Madge’s club glory days. Forget, “Bitch, I’m Madonna” and “My sugar is raw”—Confessions, with its unyielding dedication to the club kids, proves Madonna (at 47, 56, 75, who cares!) can still move with the best of ’em.

We open with “Hung Up,” a single so universally addictive and well-liked, it can easily call “Like a Virgin,” “Material Girl” and “Vogue” equitable peers. The song famously samples ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” but its coolest nuance is the relentless ticking of the clock as Madonna coos, “Time goes by so slowly.” It’s the kind of build-up that seeps into your veins, practically compelling you to dance (or at least, ya know, hump something). And as far as chorus goes, pop doesn’t get more pitch perfect than this.

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