American Life



Lyrics

Do I have to change my name?
Will it get me far?
Should I lose some weight?
Am I gonna be a star?

I tried to be a boy
I tried to be a girl
I tried to be a mess
I tried to be the best
I guess I did it wrong
That's why I wrote this song

This type of modern life
Is it for me
This type of modern life
Is it for free

So, I went into a bar
Looking for sympathy
A little company
I tried to find a friend
It's more easily said
It's always been the same

This type of modern life
Is not for me
This type of modern life
Is not for free

American life (American life)
I live the american dream (American dream)
You are the best thing I've seen
You are not just a dream (American life)

I tried to stay ahead
I tried to stay on top
I tried to play the part
But somehow I forgot
Just what I did it for
And why I wanted more

This type of modern life
Is it for me
This type of modern life
Is it for free

Do I have to change my name?
Will it get me far?
Should I lose some weight?
Am I gonna be a star?

American life (American life)
I live the american dream (American dream)
You are the best thing I've seen
You are not just a dream (American life)
(American life)

I tried to be a boy
I tried to be a girl
I tried to be a mess
I tried to be the best
I tried to find a friend
I tried to stay ahead
I tried to stay on top
(Fuck it)

Do I have to change my name?
Will it get me far?
Should I lose some weight?
Am I gonna be a star?

Aah (Fuck it)
Aah (Fuck it)
Aah (Fuck it)
Aah (Fuck it)

I'm drinking a Soy latte
I get a double shote
It goes right through my body
And you know I'm satisfied

I drive my mini cooper
And I'm feeling super-dooper
Yo they tell I'm a trooper
And you know I'm satisfied

I do yoga and pilates
And the room is full of hotties
So I'm checking out the bodies
And you know I'm satisfied

I'm digging on the isotopes
This metaphysic's shit is dope
And if all this can give me hope
You know I'm satisfied

I got a lawyer and a manager
An agent and a chef
Three nannies, an assistant
And a driver and a jet
A trainer and a butler
And a bodyguard or five
A gardener and a stylist
Do you think I'm satisfied

I'd like to express my extreme point of view
I'm not a christian and I'm not a jew
I'm just living out the american dream
And I just realised that nothing
Is what it seems

Do I have to change my name? (American life)
Am I gonna be a star? (I live the American dream)
Do I have to change my name? (American life)
Am I gonna be a star? (I live the American dream)
Do I have to change my name? (American life)
(I live the American dream) (American life)
(I live the American dream) (American life)
(I live the American dream)

Credits

Written by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï
Produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï
Programming and guitars by Mirwais Ahmadzaï


Album



Single

American Life, the singleThe lead-off single and title track of American Life was released on April 8th (US) / 14th (Europe) 2003. The song premiered on radio worldwide on March 24th, the same day that it was sent out as official 'digital single' by mail to (American) fans who purchased the MP3 on Madonna's official website. But the Americans didn't turn out grateful for this exclusive, and instead slagged her off for her criticism; the single didn't get higher than a poor #37 in the US Hot 100. This in contrast with the top 10 success elsewhere: #1 in Canada, Japan, Italy; #2 in the UK (only 'Make Luv' by Room 5 did better); #7 in Australia and #10 in France. It also topped the Hot Dance / Club Play chart, making it her 29th dance hit. Remixes of the song were made by Missy Elliott, Peter Rauhofer, Felix da Housecat and Paul Oakenfold.


Video

American Life, the videoThe much talked about video was shot on February 6th and 7th, 2003 in LA by Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund. It continues Madonna's line-up of controversial videos. While she made sexually explicit videos in the 80s and especially the 90s, she started giving a message on violence with her What It Feels Like For A Girl and Die Another Day videos. For American Life, she takes it one step further. While the song lyrics talk about the price of fame, the video is clearly referring to Bush's attack on Iraq. It starts off with a fashion show, with sexy models showing off army fatigues. A touching moment is when the models make room for a small innocent Iraqi child...

Meanwhile Madonna is seen as a sexy army general with her female army buddies. trapped in toilet cubicles, you can see the fear on the faces of the soldiers, which seems to refer to the soldier's side of the story. But when the adrenaline starts running, they're ready for the fight and they kick their way out in a sexy dance routine. The music cuts in a scene which resembles the What It Feels Like For A Girl video. The girls jump into a Mini Cooper and crash into the catwalk. While the audience is watching in amazement, Madonna hoses down the paparazzies with a water cannon. From there itclimbs to a climax with fast-moving war images until Madonna throws a hand grenade which is caught by... a president Bush lookalike, who transforms the grenade into a lighter to light his cigar.

As soon as the storyline of the video leaked to the press, it rained criticism again. It went even so far, that Madonna felt it necessary to issue a statement:

"I feel lucky to be an American citizen for many reasons - one of which is the right to express myself freely, especially in my work. I understand that there have been reports about my upcoming video American Life in the media - much of which is inaccurate. I am not Anti-Bush. I am not pro-Iraq. I am pro Peace. I have written a song and created a video which expresses my feelings about our culture and values and the illusions of what many people believe is the American dream - the perfect life. As an artist, I hope that this provokes thought and dialogue. I don't expect everyone to agree with my point of view. I am grateful to have the freedom to express these feelings and that's how I honor my country."

Unfortunately, Madonna seemed to have changed her mind on that "freedom of speech": on April 1st, one day after the video was first shown on a few music channels, Madonna pulled the video:

"I have decided not to release my new video. It was filmed before the war started and I do not believe it is appropriate to air it at this time. Due to the volatile state of the world and out of sensitivity and respect to the armed forces, who I support and pray for, I do not want to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video."

In the end, Madonna released an edited version, which is much weaker than the original: it only contains the footage of Madonna as general, but this time dancing in front of flags instead of flames and war images.



Tour

American Life @ Re-Invention TourJamie King, director of the Re-Invention Tour didn't want to include American Life at first, but Madonna insisted on using the song because she wanted to include the anti-war statement in the show, and of course because the tour was supporting the American Life album. The performance was very spectacular, starting out with the dancers in army gear doing a drill while the sounds of helicopters and bombs were heard and the screens displayed images of fighting soldiers and wounded children in time of war. Madonna appeared on on stage in army gear and a black beret. She sang the first verses calmly, then the beat kicked in and the tension was built up. During the rap, the excitement rose to the top, when Madonna ran over the catwalk, above the heads of the fans in the first rows. There was a lot of symbolism in the performance, with dancers dressed as nuns, priests or in burka's. At the end, the video screen shows a Bush lookalike laying his head on the shoulder of a Saddam lookalike. The war symbolism was much discussed and often criticised in the American press.

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