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. Cyndi Lauper is, I would argue, objectively the far better singer and well-rounded talent of the pair.

    The difference is that, by her own admission, she just didn't feel she could pull off strutting around in lingerie, being naked on a bed with chains, and changing her nationality every five years or so.

    Posted by: Gry | May 26, 2012 7:04:56 PM

  2. It would be so much easier for Madonna if she hadn't presented herself as a strong woman and if she hadn't been a strong woman. She's never asked for sympathy and she's never gotten it from the media nor from the public. Being a strong woman doesn't generate much sympathy nor empathy.

    It's so much easier to feel for Michael Jackson who was somewhat a pitiful character. It was easy to root for Whitney Houston who had a drug problem or for Mariah Carey who had a mental breakdown. Janet Jackson has struggled with her weight and George Michael's problems are also well-known.

    But Madonna? No. She's strong and powerful. Her career is unparalleled. She's never even had major problems in her personal life - or at least she hasn't wallowed in her worries publicly.

    Madonna doesn't use drugs nor do we ever see her drunk. She doesn't even smoke. She has never been self-destructive in any way. She's super healthy. She's in control of herself and she's a constant reminder to us that we should take better care of our bodies.

    And partly because of that we are so eager to laugh at her veiny hands. To have at least something that makes us feel better.

    Madonna will never receive the sympathy that is reserved for the tragic and she will never get the respect that is deserving for the triumphant. And she acts like she doesn't care and she probably doesn't. She just keeps on going. And isn't that just annoying?

    Posted by: Jude | May 26, 2012 7:59:01 PM

  3. haters are a waste...IF you never "heard" Madonna's music then your reviews are useless! AS FOR THE "article" THIS IS 2 weeks old...there's no such fight going on...towleroad running out of stories or drama?? LOL laughable

    Posted by: Bosie | May 26, 2012 8:22:45 PM

  4. haters are a waste...IF you never "heard" Madonna's music then your reviews are useless! AS FOR THE "article" THIS IS 2 weeks old...there's no such fight going on...towleroad running out of stories or drama?? LOL laughable

    Posted by: Bosie | May 26, 2012 8:22:45 PM

  5. I really liked the comments that MICHAEL posted.
    MDNA is the first ever Madonna's album that I did not purchase. I even own Hard Candy!!
    It is sad to say this but MDNA is a completely disposable album. Not one song in it caused any emotion in me. No happiness, no bitterness, no emotions really. I never felt so detached from any of her previous albums. For God's sake I even enjoyed "Celebration"!!
    I really hope/expect a better offering from her next time. And I really hope next time is no more than 2 years ahead :)

    Posted by: ElCid | May 26, 2012 8:39:06 PM

  6. I really liked the comments that MICHAEL posted.
    MDNA is the first ever Madonna's album that I did not purchase. I even own Hard Candy!!
    It is sad to say this but MDNA is a completely disposable album. Not one song in it caused any emotion in me. No happiness, no bitterness, no emotions really. I never felt so detached from any of her previous albums. For God's sake I even enjoyed "Celebration"!!
    I really hope/expect a better offering from her next time. And I really hope next time is no more than 2 years ahead :)

    Posted by: ElCid | May 26, 2012 8:39:07 PM

  7. Madonna has, overall, a great songbook. Shes IS a talented songwriter (although the last few albums IMO have just been so-so, bordering on awful). She does deserve more credit as a songwriter and producer.

    Posted by: Chicklets | May 26, 2012 9:57:17 PM

  8. i LOVE MDNA!

    Posted by: marc | May 26, 2012 10:33:49 PM

  9. Madonna should get a gun, stick it to her head, and pull the trigger. The world wouldn't care. She is ALL OVER WITH! FlopDNA is a flop, the tour is a FLOP. Madonna is a HAS-BEEN FLOP!!

    Posted by: GagaisQueen | May 26, 2012 10:36:16 PM

  10. Best Dance Single Ever - Dress You Up

    Posted by: Manny Espinola | May 26, 2012 11:51:55 PM

  11. "Scorches"?

    Posted by: parkrunner | May 27, 2012 12:22:02 AM

  12. Parkrunner:


    - BKT

    Posted by: Brandon K. Thorp | May 27, 2012 12:31:13 AM

  13. read this back in March, too bad it never happened:
    Madonna’s already said her William Orbit tracks are different, and Orbit, who said he’s still working with her on extra material, backed that up Wednesday in a BBC interview with the following, probably soaked-in-tact quote:

    What she has decided to do is extra acoustic versions. There’s some pretty hard, rocking tracks. There’s a very different variation of styles. Mostly pretty savage, actually. The singles that have come out aren’t necessarily representative.

    Posted by: shoulda woulda | May 27, 2012 12:57:52 AM

  14. Really, MANNY, "Dress You Up"? Lame.

    Posted by: nikko | May 27, 2012 1:40:42 AM

  15. To my knowledge Orbit has never worked with Cocteau Twins in any artistic capacity, I.e. writer or producer.

    Posted by: James in Bcn | May 27, 2012 5:45:43 AM

  16. This is just sad. MDNA could have done so much better. The nail in the coffin were Girl Gone Wild and its video: unbelievably REDUCTIVE (look it up). We've seen it before, many times over, and now the Queen of Reinvention is repeating everybody else's copies of herself? Please. Just come up with something else than grinding your hips in front of a white wall, wearing black gloves, doing gun-hands into the camera. And unapologetically reclaim pop. Which easily could have happened with a different set of singles (Turn Up The Radio, Superstar, and Love Spent and/or Falling Free, in that order) and smart, innovative videos.

    Posted by: Murat | May 27, 2012 8:19:10 AM

  17. Can't wait until Gaga starts stealing from Ray of Light. She's so innovative!

    Posted by: John Dough | May 27, 2012 10:00:48 AM

  18. The truth is in the numbers kiddies. I was born in the early 80s and Madonna has always been a fixture in my world. I know every single, watched the videos, and appreciated the work. If "Borderline" or "Express Yourself" came on in the dance.
    That being said, im a fan of MADONNA...but the last 10 years has given us MADGE....the prissy pretentious alter ego the lil Italian girl from Detroit aquired. Her music has suffered greatly.
    Gay white males by enlarge still hold her up as the pinnacle of music... to a a degree that they tend to get tunnel visions...(hence why Britney became a star despite having no discernable talent)...I have her more as one of the many peaks in a range of artists of a bygone era of true megastars. The game changers. After Michael, every star had to make an epic video and choreographed dance. After Whitney, every singer had to be able to play their voice like a musical instrument. After Madonna, every star had to own their sexuality and creativeness.
    The problem is, she is now chasing the trends, and refuses to grow up. We saw a hint that she could evolve with "Confessions"...but mostly...the last decade have been rather dull, full of tired gimmicks and empty promise. Ill continue to blast "Like A Prayer" and enjoy her legacy, but her status is now legend, to be revered for her work, but not compete with the kids. MDNA brought this into sharp focus for me. She has a huge legacy...she can tour for the rest of her life and sell out shows based on that...albums like MDNA tarnish that....

    Posted by: jt | May 27, 2012 12:38:54 PM

  19. the face?
    he should have used that cheesy M/M thing to put over that wonky left eye in the pic.

    Posted by: okokok | May 27, 2012 4:28:35 PM

  20. Wow @Jude, this Madonna girl sounds like she's some sort of saint.

    But seriously, re: all the comments, it does seem as though a new Madonna album, for her, it's just an opportunity to go on tour and make 500 million. If the albums and singles sell, good; if they don't, that's fine, because she wasn't going to make much off them anyway.

    Don't get me wrong. I think MDNA is an okay album, if you can find a way to play it with the lyrics all garbled up because this is the same woman who even up to three albums ago could write amazing song lyrics.

    Posted by: RAX | May 27, 2012 6:23:14 PM

  21. I think Confessions and the associated tour was definitely my favorite artistic outing from the queen of pop. I really hope she works with Stuart Price again in her last 2 albums- Although I liked MDNA quite a bit and thought her superbowl halftime show was pretty good considering her injury during rehersal

    Posted by: MaddM@ | May 27, 2012 6:51:30 PM

  22. dear DBACK, you are right there is only one iconic Madonna and she hangs in a museum!

    Posted by: warren | May 27, 2012 9:46:36 PM

  23. Fed up with Madonna!

    Posted by: NikkiHolston | May 28, 2012 3:16:19 AM

  24. Madonna is of another generation. The older generation may still be into her, but she's pretty much a novelty now, which is why I don't blame her for becoming a touring act. She knows that her best days are behind her. It's hilarious that she still thinks she's going to make it in the film industry though. Gurl, please! Her albums and singles don't sell. Why not just tour? That seems to be where her heart is.

    Posted by: Al | May 28, 2012 9:58:53 AM

  25. What made Madonna special was the heart she sang with and the connection between her personality and her lyrics. The world wasn't exactly clamoring, however, for Madonna's tales of marital failure, not having a pre-nup, etc.. Relatability is key. And, sadly, she's just too old to be calling herself a "girl" and singing about girly things on the other track. The heart is gone. The voice is thin. And the face is stuffed beyond recognition. In the past year, Madonna has revealed the wizard behind the curtain and it's insecurity, anger and denial: not a winning combination.

    Posted by: Bob | May 28, 2012 10:02:06 AM

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