The Girl Material

Madonna, Evita, ...
Image credit: Cd Covers: Anthony Verde

THE IMMACULATE COLLECTION (1990) More than a mere greatest-hits set, it's hands down the catchiest collection of '80s singles. The album also provides a home for some stray greats like ''Crazy For You'' and ''Into the Groove,'' not to mention the taboo-tweaking (and headline-grabbing) ''Justify My Love.'' A

EROTICA (1992) Marking the start of Madonna's dark period, Erotica is the patent-leather showcase for her most forbidding and challenging dance cuts. Think of it as music for S&M clubs—shrouded, cool, and more than a little over the heads of the mainstream. B+

BEDTIME STORIES (1994) With help from such producers as Babyface and Dallas Austin, Madonna made Bedtime a new jill swing record, her answer to Teddy Riley's sound of that moment. It's the most dated of her records and the most lyrically self-indulgent, fired by her bitter rebukes to those critics who, rather prematurely, pronounced her ''over.'' B-

SOMETHING TO REMEMBER (1995) Unfortunately, Madonna isn't a literal or nuanced enough singer to make this set of older ballads as convincing as her pop or dance cuts. But give her credit: It took guts for her to try. B-

EVITA (1996) She's the first person who didn't feel obliged to snarl her way through the title role. Aided by impeccable orchestrations (and some coaching), her vocals are years ahead of anything she'd sung before. A

RAY OF LIGHT (1998) The gooey ''spiritualism'' may make you gag, but at least when Madonna went electronica, she didn't leave her hit-making savvy behind. With the help of producer William Orbit, she propelled otherwise-arch genres like trip-hop and trance into the pop stratosphere. B+

MUSIC (2000) Who else could release their catchiest album nearly 20 years into a career? The title song recaptures the simple perfection of ''Holiday,'' and brings her career full circle. For that, Madonna, take a bow. A

For more go to our Madonna 2001 page

Originally posted Jul 20, 2001
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