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The Madonna Timeline: Song #126 – ‘Act of Contrition’ – 1989

{Note: The Madonna Timeline is an ongoing feature, where I put the iPod on shuffle, and write a little anecdote on whatever was going on in my life when that Madonna song was released and/or came to prominence in my mind.}

OH MY GOD, I AM HEARTILY SORRY FOR HAVING OFFENDED THEE…

More an act of controversy than contrition, the closing track to Madonna’s otherwise-flawless ‘Like A Prayer’ album had even die-hard fans like myself scurrying for our rosary beads and saying a little prayer to escape the wrath of God Almighty. I’ve already gone into that in excruciating detail, so won’t bother with it again. Instead, let’s get into a very brief analysis, or commentary really, on one of the strangest songs Madonna has ever recorded. (Ok, ‘Cry Baby’? I mean, ‘Autotune Baby‘… Actually, I mean ‘Bye Bye Baby‘…)

With the backing track from ‘Like A Prayer’ playing in reverse, and Prince’s avant-garde guitar licks striding hellaciously forward, it’s Madonna’s rendition of the ‘Act of Contrition.’ (She would later employ it to better effect as the opening to ‘Girl Gone Wild.’) Back then, it comprised the bulk of the song, a rather tuneless affair that sounded more like Madonna freestyling her way through a remembered childhood prayer than any carefully-crafted work of song-writing.

At the end, with guitars screeching wildly out of control, Madonna dissolves into histrionic screaming, “I resolve, I reserve, I have a reservation… I have a reservation… What do you mean it’s not in the computer?!?!”

An utterly bizarre ending to one of her most powerful albums, it is somehow courageous in its raw, unpolished, amateur-like lack of grace. Still, the ‘Like A Prayer’ opus deserved better than that, and ‘Act of Contrition’ was one of the louder thuds in Madonna’s history of atrocious album-enders.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S NOT IN THE COMPUTER?!?!?

SONG #126 – ‘Act of Contrition’ – 1989

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