Madonna | Music | William Orbit

Orbit And Madonna Drama, Plus The Best 'Ray Of Light' You Ever Heard: AUDIO

OrbitMadonnaDramaMinor Madonna drama: Producer William Orbit, who worked with everybody in the 80's (Cocteau Twins! Sting!) and co-created the Ray of Light album with Madge, posted an audio recording of his original, guitar-centric cut of that album's title track to YouTube last week. A discussion of Madonna broke out on Orbit's Facebook page, with one fan noting that the promotional strategy for Madonna's new record, MDNA, seemed strangely ... nonexistent.

Orbit then posted this long, illuminating, and rather sad statement:

I appreciate your analysis of the album release ‘strategy’ @Madonna Express Yourself. I wasn’t involved in its formulation in any way myself. All I will say is that certain thoughts about it that I see expressed online by committed fans such as yourself, were blindingly obvious to me from the very get go, well before the release. But I’m no Jimmy Iovine, with the ability to advocate my convictions forcefully, and as co-producer, co-writer etc am aware that it is not in my ‘job spec’.

But you won’t see me exactly jumping up and down with delight over the way that things have panned out. We were very pushed for time, due to a rather interesting and shall we just say, ‘traditional’ method of recording that the esteemed engineer Demo was partial to, and various pressing commitments that took up the artists limited time, such as perfume ranges and teen fashion contests and other such endeavours which are beyond my own limited understanding of pop star agendas.

The recording sessions for the six songs I did were hugely enjoyable for all of us. M was on form and better than ever with her singing and writing and musicality, and was having a great time. We had songs lined up that were breathtaking. You’ll hear some of them on Chris Brown’s new album, and they are the best ones, Kreayshawn’s (INCREDIBLE) new album, my own recently completed ‘Strange Cargo’ album. And some other surprising places. SNAPPED up by the artists concerned. Most of them, I believe, destined to become classics (let me know in a couple months wether you concur with that)

The team I assembled in NY for MDNA were, and are as good as it gets now. Writers and musicians and performers I picked because they take my breath away with their talent. And are totally of-the-moment in everything good that is going on in contemporary music at the moment. And usually hard to book because they are so in demand. And all of us fully committed to putting ourselves through extraordinary efforts to make MDNA the greatest album of the year.

But alas, the time wasn’t there. Great swathes of it taken up by the engineer and his assistant bouncing reverb tracks for hour after hour, night after night. Not to real tape or anything, where you could posit that there would be an advantageous sonic dividend (real tape can be magic) but all in the digital domain. A purely procedural thing. Although not a procedure I or any of my own colleagues in this game would want to squander time with.

I was just describing to a friend of mine, and whom I frequently work with Serban Ghenea (just look him up if you want to be awed) how it was done, and he thought I was kidding him!

There. I’ve said it. I did try to say it earlier but I must have not made the point with enough push, my way being to always say it with the music itself.

Over the years it’s become obvious to me that along with Madonna being the greatest pop artist of ALL time, her fan base are also the most ardent, cohesive, discerning and loyal fan base of any artist. Not saying that to blow smoke, is quite obviously true. Big respect. And long life to us all. And as you look at things in a ‘long term’ way (my way also) you always call it like you see it. And I’m with you on that too. Be honest and true, speak your heart and mind, and let the dust fall where it will.

So basically, i’d lie down in the mud if she didn’t want to get her shoes messed up (well, figuratively speaking, neither of us does a lot of Glastonbury mud tramping) it’s hard to be an effective knight when your hands are bound. I will submit to wisdoms that are possibly beyond my comprehension and that will play out to glory in the fullness of time. And get back to my own fervent canvas, and speak no more of the matter.

Oh, and if some bright spark at marketing central suggested a Hilary Clinton approach, ie, press ‘restart’ and get back in the studio for a couple weeks and do what they nowadays call a ‘re-pack’, I’d certainly put my hand up for that, whatever else I had going on. But realistically, there is only one person that could make that happen. And with the best songs in the world, and the best mixing, best ProToolsing, best team, best lyrics, best bananas, after this little screed I don’t suppose I should while away my hours staring at the phone! :) But i feel better for saying all that. Debt free and not beholden. The thing about having little appetite for riches and fame, and no great tower of expectations, you haven’t got anything to be taken away. And having always been an outsider, outside in the cold, It’s always clear which way the wind is blowing. I was never inside any bubble long enough to forget how the wind blows, and changes, and ebbs and gusts, and dies away completely. As before a storm. And that a beautiful bubble might yield to even a the breeze from a humble fan.

Orbit later recanted, acknowledging:

The MDNA comments. I should not have said them publicly. I see that and I regret that I said online. Not fair to M.

The upside to it all is that Orbit posted that fantazamazz version of "Ray of Light," in which Orbit's lead guitar just scorches. Especially during the extended coda. Madonna doesn't sound like a solo pop singer on this record; she sounds like the lead singer of a brilliant pop-rock combo. Have a listen AFTER THE JUMP ...

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  1. ok that's freakin' amazing.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | May 26, 2012 3:01:48 PM

  2. To be honest I've never seen the allure of Madonna, nor have I ever considered her to be a true musical artist. I do respect her ability to be a great marketeer - which is the basis for pop music. Fifty years from now the world will be unable to recall a one of her songs much less remember her. She learned early and quickly how to sell a product - any product and had she applied that ability to real estate (example Cher) she would have been more successful. As a true bona-fide musical talent it just isn't there (for me). The packaging and marketing is fabulous but once you open the box and look inside it just isn't there.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | May 26, 2012 3:14:04 PM

  3. hoping that in 50 years the most iconic female recording artist of the 20th Century will be "forgotten" is a rather pathetic way of coping with the fact that you, yourself, have made no impact at all on the world, whatsoever.

    keep letting everyone know that you don't like madonna. it won't make her life worse and it won't make your life better.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | May 26, 2012 3:23:23 PM

  4. Ray of Light is an amazing CD, the best work she's done.

    Posted by: Rae | May 26, 2012 3:24:05 PM

  5. Yes OS2GUY, but do not the circumstances make the results all the more fascinating? Madonna defined and is still leading the consumerist edicts developed at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century—product (as you state) for total pop consumerism. Somehow (unfortunately) she will be at least remembered for that in 100 years.
    Yes, she could have been successful in any career she might have chosen, it just happened to be pop diva. Not a good choice though when you are heading towards 60.

    Posted by: tinkerbelle | May 26, 2012 3:29:54 PM

  6. Ooo, littlekiwi, everyone has a right to their opinion, even you. What are you doing right now that makes you so… words escape me.

    Posted by: tinkerbelle | May 26, 2012 3:34:10 PM


    Posted by: Marky | May 26, 2012 3:35:51 PM


    Posted by: Marky | May 26, 2012 3:35:55 PM

  9. I can only speak for myself, a 23 year-old white guy, but Madonna seems to have lost all luster. I remember Ray of Light when I was younger, and that stuff was fabulous. Her latest singles are inane and derivative. There's no spark, no cleverness. I respect that she has done amazing things, but that shouldn't give her a pass for the crap she's released lately. If anything, fans should expect her to raise the bar, not dip below it like she's playing limbo.

    Posted by: Michael | May 26, 2012 3:37:40 PM

  10. yes, everyone has a right to an opinion, and the right to show their bitterness by sharing it.

    it's just so funny because the "i don't like madonna" gays are all the same, projecting a hope that she fails or is forgotten. it's like drinking poison every and waiting for someone else to die from it.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | May 26, 2012 3:44:23 PM

  11. I can only speak for myself, and I'm thrilled to own two tickets (fantastic seats, i might add) to see Madonna next month in Barcelona!
    p.s. boys, there's no need to argue about Madonna...she's not the only singer on the planet. You know, there's a reason why Baskin Robbins makes 52 flavours.

    Posted by: Oliver | May 26, 2012 3:50:33 PM

  12. i want her to go back to that acoustic sound she was cultivating on American Life. hard candy and now MDNA are the first madonna albums i didnt' purchase. just not the kind of music i'm into anymore.

    but damn if the lady doesn't have one of the most impressive song catalogues out there.
    hearing ray of light when i was 16 years old inspired me to Come Out

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | May 26, 2012 3:56:55 PM

  13. Viva Madonna

    Posted by: Scott | May 26, 2012 4:10:31 PM

  14. Little Kiwi,I'm neither bitter nor hate Madonna, I remember her first performances in NYC before anyone knew who she was, and dancing next to her at Danceteria, and listening to her first album at full blast coming back from Connecticut in a 1982 white Corvette Mako filled with like 8 people—she is part of my history. It's just that time does things to people and it's not always pretty, or good. I like your comments better on Bill Maher's Obama comments, it's pretty much spot-on.

    Posted by: tinkerbelle | May 26, 2012 4:15:50 PM

  15. I have the feeling William Orbit always wanted to be the Lizard King :) Ray of Light, Beautiful Stranger, I'm a Sinner...

    Posted by: Felix | May 26, 2012 4:19:02 PM

  16. Ray of Light is her best work???? Get over yourself Orbit because that's hardly anywhere near the truth. The LP that featured Jump, Hung Up, etc is by far her hippest work yet.

    Posted by: Michae | May 26, 2012 4:19:18 PM

  17. I'd say her best work yet is Jesus Luz.

    Posted by: Oliver | May 26, 2012 4:26:42 PM

  18. Excuses, excuses. She had the superbowl (if that isn't promotion I don't know what is), she had ABC (where she was her usual rude self), Ryan Seacrest etc etc. Ppl are just tired of her. She has no voice to fall back on so she has to keep relying on gimmicks-throwing her crotch in everyone's face at her age, trying to pretend she's still 21. It's got nothing to do with promotion or lack of.

    Posted by: Molc | May 26, 2012 4:32:03 PM

  19. I like MDNA, it is a great album to play all the way through. Not many like that anymore.

    Posted by: enjoyment | May 26, 2012 4:34:28 PM

  20. There's always some a-hole who comes along to say things like "Fifty years from now the world will be unable to recall a one of her songs much less remember her." How on earth can you expect a statement like that to be taken seriously when it's already been thirty years since her first release and most people have no problem remembering her or any of those first songs. I was born after the Beatles broke up, yet i'm still very familiar with their catalog. Big Band music, the first Rock & Roll songs, Disco, etc. -- all still remembered. Why are people 20 years younger than me able to name songs & performers from throughout the 20th Century? This music has made an enormous cultural impact -- whether you like it or not. Yeah, i'm talking to you OS2GUY. By the way, the only thing I can say for sure is that no one will remember YOUR work 50 years from now.

    Posted by: Precious | May 26, 2012 5:00:55 PM

  21. I'm 48 years old. Anyone else remember Madonna's music at the clubs when it FIRST came out and the subsequent dance singles that shortly followed? It took about a year or two for me to eventually dislike her motives and music but I still remember her and always will.

    Posted by: mike | May 26, 2012 5:06:05 PM

  22. I heard William Orbit and Junior Vazquez will be working together next.

    Posted by: Faggotron | May 26, 2012 5:14:36 PM

  23. Ray of Light is a revelation. Wish that she would work w/ Orbit more in the fture and listen to his advice, he knows what he is talking about. The Queen lives!

    Posted by: mike | May 26, 2012 5:32:14 PM

  24. Why is William "Stuck in the 90's" Orbit trying to defend this mess? FlopDNA flopped simply because it's a crappy album, plain and simple. His work on Ray of Light was great, but the songs he produced on FlopDNA sounded dated and plain along with the rest of the songs on the album. He needs to stop complaining.

    Posted by: FlopDNA | May 26, 2012 6:09:29 PM

  25. Let's go back 25+ years and revisit the icons of the era. Springsteen is still around, and still God; but who else? Cyndi Lauper is more of a cult artist now, though highly respected. Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson are dead after years of drug abuse and substandard work that didn't come close to their early promise. Phil Collins is MIA (praise God). Elton John is working for Broadway and Disney. Tina Turner is retired in France. Prince is...well, Prince, revered cult leader. Streisand has ascended to some sort of pantheon, but doesn't get much radio play anymore. U2 is probably the best band in the world, but are still licking their wounds from "Spider Man."

    Love her or hate her, Madonna is IT. She has been part of America's DNA for 30 years, and her best singles are being played everywhere every minute, and will continue to do so, because they are indeed that good. Yes, most of them are "disposable" dance fluff; such is pop music. (The Beatles were once dismissed as "pop music," too.) Yes, Michael Jackson made 4-5 iconic videos, but they can't compare to the volume or breadth of Madonna's output over three decades.

    Susan Sarandon purred during VH1's "Top 100 Women in Rock" special that "The history of pop music can be pretty much divided into Before and After Madonna" (#8). This is, like it or not, incontestably true. There are only a handful of artists (Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Streisand, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Nirvana) that one can say that about; Madonna is unarguably one of them. We don't have to like her (she never wanted to be liked, just adored); we just have to admit that she is our Leo Goddess Queen Of The Freaking Universe.

    There are better singers. There are more talented artists. There is only one, and will only be one, Madonna.

    Posted by: Dback | May 26, 2012 6:22:16 PM

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