American Life remains one of my top 5 Madonna albums, not only for the superb sounds she achieved with Mirwais but the accompanying promotion and imagery, as well. 2003 was an interesting time to be a Madonna fan especially for one that had followed her flourishing career since 1983. She was getting the shyt kicked out of her (made Erotica seem tame - this was a different kind of beating) and that always affects an album's aftertaste but the fact remains that American Life stands as a splendidly progressive album - her most alternative till date. The sound is still being copied today in every genre.
Maybe Madonna needed her first truly un-POP-ular album, 20 years after her debut? It's hard to say because no other musician in pop music has sustained as successful a career for as long as Madonna and the themes on American Life are throwing a big middle finger up at what all pop stands for. Let's not forget that the word relevant became part of the pop culture lexicon because Madonna had lasted prosperously in pop music for so long where her predecessors and contemporaries had failed. There's nobody to compare her to.
What are/were your thoughts on the American Life album and period?