Song of the Day #4,793: ‘What It Feels Like for a Girl’ – Madonna

Two things that have impressed me throughout this Madonna deep dive are her commitment to collaboration and her interest in evolving her sound.

After her debut album, Madonna was turned down by her label when she wanted to produce the album herself. She took advantage of that opportunity and sought out Niles Rogers, the first of many big-name producers with whom she would record over the years.

And rather than stick with just one producer, she made it a point to seek out new talent with the aim of never having one of her albums sound like its predecessor. Shep Pettibone brought his remix aesthetic to Erotica; Dave Hall, Babyface and other R& stalwarts gave an R&B sheen to Bedtime Stories; and William Orbit pioneered techno-pop on Ray of Light.

By the time Madonna was working on Ray of Light‘s follow-up, that sound had become ubiquitous (in large part due to the success of her own record). She scrapped some early recording sessions with Orbit and brought her new material to French DJ/producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï.

Madonna was drawn to Ahmadzaï’s work as a solo artist, and wanted to bring his experimental flair to her new album. The result, Music, ushered in a new decade for the Queen of Pop, dropping in September of 2000.

Music is a fascinating, uneven album. It goes as heavily into techno/dance territory as anything in Madonna’s catalog to that point, but it also contains some of her most stripped-down, raw performances.

On some tracks, Madonna’s vocals are distorted beyond recognition, while on others they are presented absent any reverb or polishing whatsoever.

On the cover art, Madonna dons a cowboy hat and the album title is presented on a large belt buckle, and that country/western aesthetic finds its way into some of the songs. Ahmadzaï claims that he and Madonna essentially invented “folktronica” on second single ‘Don’t Tell Me.’

I find a lot to love on this album, even if it’s a step down from Ray of Light. With every new release, I kick myself for taking so long to listen.

Music hit the #1 spot on the Billboard 200, Madonna’s first appearance in the top spot since Like a Prayer 11 years earlier. It went on to sell 3 million copies in the U.S. and 11 million worldwide. Through 17 years and eight albums, she never failed to go multi-platinum, a streak that would finally end (barely) with her next release.

[Spoken Sample: Charlotte Gainsbourg]
Girls can wear jeans
And cut their hair short
Wear shirts and boots
Because it’s OK to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading
But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like
Wouldn’t you?
What it feels like for a girl

[Verse 1: Madonna]
Silky smooth
Lips as sweet as candy, baby
Tight blue jeans
Skin that shows in patches

[Pre-Chorus: Madonna]
Strong inside, but you don’t know it
Good little girls, they never show it
When you open up your mouth to speak
Could you be a little weak?

[Chorus: Madonna]
Do you know what it feels like for a girl?
Do you know what it feels like in this world
For a girl?
[Verse 2: Madonna]
Hair that twirls on finger tips so gently, baby
Hands that rest on jutting hips, repenting

[Pre-Chorus: Madonna]
Hurt that’s not supposed to show
And tears that fall when no one knows
When you’re trying hard to be your best
Could you be a little less?

[Chorus: Madonna]
Do you know what it feels like for a girl?
Do you know what it feels like in this world
For a girl?
Do you know what it feels like for a girl?
Do you know what it feels like in this world
What it feels like for a girl?

[Pre-Chorus: Madonna]
Strong inside, but you don’t know it
Good little girls, they never show it
When you open up your mouth to speak
Could you be a little weak?

[Chorus: Madonna]
Do you know what it feels like for a girl?
Do you know what it feels like in this world
For a girl?
Do you know what it feels like for a girl?
Do you know what it feels like in this world?

[Outro: Madonna]
For a girl
In this world
Do you know
Do you know
Do you know what it feels like for a girl?
What it feels like in this world?

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,793: ‘What It Feels Like for a Girl’ – Madonna

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I think the only song I know from this album is the hit title track. Loyal Reader Peg (hope that moniker sticks 😀) will probably enjoy the Music video as it features Ali G, someone Peg discovered and introduced us to early on:

    • Clay says:

      Funny! Somehow I missed that video, both when it came out and this week. Thanks for posting it 🙂

      • Amy says:

        This is the only song with which I’m slightly familiar. While I stopped listening, I never stopped admiring her ability to seek out new collaborators and to allow her music to evolve and gain new and young fans.

  2. Peg says:

    Ali G!! Wow love it. So funny! That’s a great video and like the song too. And yes I consider myself a “loyal reader” wouldn’t miss a day❤️

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