American Life is the ninth studio album by American singer and songwriter Madonna. It was released on April 21, 2003, by Maverick Records and Warner Bros. Records. The album, produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï, features references to many parts of American culture. The album is a concept album, with themes of the American Dream and materialism. These themes reject the reputation Madonna held in the 1980s, earned by songs such as “Material Girl” (1985). The album is a folktronica and eurotechno album; it is also influenced by acoustic music.
American Life initially received mixed reviews upon release; critics found the record confusing and “about Madonna”. Critics also found it “difficult to listen to” due to its awkward and brash production in some songs. However, retrospective reviews of the album have been much more positive, particularly noting its lyrical depth. The album peaked at number one in 14 countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, United States and also charted in the top-five of most musical markets. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and British Phonographic Industry (BPI) both certified it platinum in recognition of one million shipments in the United States, and 300,000 shipments in the United Kingdom, respectively. The album became the 32nd-best-selling album of 2003 and has sold five million copies. American Life garnered two nominations at the 46th Grammy Awards in 2004.
Four singles were released from the album. The title track was released as the album’s lead single to a generally negative critical reception, with Blender naming it the ninth worst song of all time. It charted at number 37 in the US while it entered the top ten in most countries, peaking at number two in the United Kingdom. A controversial music video was pulled after scenes of war and violence were criticized which led to an edited version being released. Its following single, “Hollywood”, became her first single not to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1983. “Nothing Fails” and “Love Profusion”, the third and fourth singles respectively, featured a lack of promotion resulting in poor commercial performances. Despite this, all singles peaked at number one on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart. Preceding the album release, “Die Another Day” was released as a single to promote the twentieth James Bond film of the same name. The song peaked at number eight in the United States, and number three in the United Kingdom.
- “American Life” 4:58
- “Hollywood” 4:24
- “I’m So Stupid” 4:09
- “Love Profusion” 3:38
- “Nobody Knows Me” 4:39
- “Nothing Fails” 4:49
- “Intervention” 4:54
- “X-Static Process” 3:50
- “Mother and Father” 4:33
- “Die Another Day” 4:38
- “Easy Ride” 5:05
Madonna – vocals, background vocals
Mirwais Ahmadzaï – acoustic guitar, keyboards, programming, background vocals
Stuart Price – piano, synthesizers, keyboards, sequencing, programming
Michel Colombier – songwriter, conductor, string arrangement
The London Community Gospel Choir – backing vocals
Monte Pittman – composer, guitar