Madonna | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Madonna's always been a terrible disco singer: she lacks the suitably brassy gospel pipes, and she's rarely been willing to make herself an anonymous part of the music's cheesy grandeur. In fact, one of the notable achievements of her earliest hits was the reduction of dance music to a human scale, where even her squished little voice could dominate. So while her latest album, last year's Confessions on a Dance Floor (Warner Brothers), indeed revisits the 80s, it's not exactly a throwback to "Borderline" or "Lucky Star." For starters, she submits to the ebbs and flows generated by producer Stuart Price, accepting her role as but one sonic element among many--something she never did for Jellybean Benitez or Nile Rodgers. Even so, she can't help but muddy the mix with snippets of subtext--"Hung Up" and "Get Together" quote "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and "Holiday," respectively, as if to remind you that yes, yes, it's a Madonna album. But while she probably thinks she's dropping some genius kabbalah science, to my ears her woozy spiritual insights sound as charmingly dippy as the drugged promises of cosmic bliss on old house records. In other words, her stupid lyrics feel essential to the retro concept--the modulating Giorgio Moroder-style ostinatos on "Future Lovers," for instance, demand nothing less than utopian mush. If you can't make it to any of her four arena shows here, you can wait for her forthcoming concert CD-DVD, I'm Going to Tell You a Secret, which will, I'm sure, do no such thing. Madonna also performs June 15, 18, and 19; at press time tickets were still available for the June 19 show. Wed 6/14, 7:30 PM, United Center, 1901 W. Madison, 312-455-4500 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages.

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