"I'm So Stupid" plays some great games with messed-up sound effects, but suffers from some of the same problems as a lot of the record's misfires- simplistic lyrics that can barely approximate feelings. What happened to the Madonna who, even with her then technically-limited voice, turned "Live to Tell" into one of the most passionate ballads of the eighties? Think back to stuff like "Til Death Do Us Part" and "Open your Heart." That was a voice that had passion to it
"Love Profusion" remains one of my favorites. It's a simple song, but the interplay of the backing vocals, acoustic guitar, and synth noises works perfectly for me. Sheer pop perfection, although the wordplay seems kind of clumsy (though not to the level of Impressive Instant and its singy singy singy on the wingy foolishness). "Nobody Knows Me" feels just a little too "White Horse"y for me, and I really don't understand why after all the training Madonna put her voice through for Evita, she has made a point of obliterating her voice on the albums since Ray of Light (Fortunately, the vocoder for the most part recedes in emphasis as the album progresses).
That's why "Nothing Fails" is such a stunner, because she sings, and the Mirwais coin toss came up a winner, because stone-hearted sumbitches get teary with this one. Get this as a single to AC radio and people will respond (although, as with "American Life," the defiantly antireligious attitude of the song could be a stumbling block). There is an articulateness in this song that is absent from much of the rest of the record, and it reminds me of some of the great album tracks on Erotica, the ones that were subtle tracks but impeccably structured and with fierce bridges (specifically "Rain" and "Waiting," though almost every track on Erotica has a killer bridge), the kind of track that rewarded repeat listens. And isnt it refreshing to hear Madonna backed with a choir? Has it really been fourteen years since Like a Prayer?
"Intervention" starts out like it's going to suck and then blindsides the listener with an astonishing chorus (the best on the record), and if the verse lyrics feel like something someone wrote while waiting for a recovery meeting, that chorus generates a great deal of goodwill. Even as much as I do dig this song (which does in fact boast a killer bridge), musically it is structured like just about every other uptempo track on the record: guitar scratching, 80s-Casio drum loop, synth sounds brought in on the second chorus, then more synth noodlings after the bridge, and it makes re-experiencing the album frustrating.