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15 Greatest Madonna Non-Singles

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15 Greatest Madonna Non-Singles

Warner Bros.

15 Greatest Madonna Non-Singles

Madonna’s done it all. And we’ve pretty much covered it all. So when we sat down to decide the best way to celebrate the anniversary of Madonna’s debut album, released in 1983, we elected to dig up some of the forgotten or unheralded gems scattered liberally throughout her three-decade-spanning catalogue rather than predictably rank her best albums, singles, or videos—which we’ve more or less done on various other lists over the years anyway. With the exception of one B-side, one compilation cut, and one remix, all of our picks can be found on a Madonna studio album—a testament to the singer’s strength as an album artist, particularly in the ’90s. These are songs that, in a more adventurous world, could have been hits, and in some cases where the releases were nixed last minute, almost were, their breadth and depth reflective of an artist unwilling to allow herself to be defined. And just for shits and giggles, we ranked ’em.
 

Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2016

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Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2016
Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2016

So many of the highlights and lowlights of the year in singles were, for better or worse, attuned to what feels like a worldwide drift toward maintaining one’s own financial and psychological (same diff) bottom line at the expense of anyone else’s. Beyoncé, of all performers, was far from immune, though her particular brand of exceptionalism continues to dress itself up in the finery of collective consciousness raising. Far more common were the unfussy, ruthlessly entertaining likes of Fifth Harmony speaking on behalf of Melania Trumps everywhere. Or Kanye West’s epic clapback against Taylor Swift, which in turn presaged his detour into the mental hospital, which we’ve now seen firsthand more or less counts as the first step in a presidential bid in 2020.

Watch Cate Blanchett’s Face Melt in John Hillcoat’s Music Video for Massive Attack’s “The Spoils”

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Watch Cate Blanchett’s Face Melt in John Hillcoat’s Music Video for Massive Attack’s “The Spoils”
Watch Cate Blanchett’s Face Melt in John Hillcoat’s Music Video for Massive Attack’s “The Spoils”

Director John Hillcoat, best known for his genre-driven films The Proposition, which was written by Nick Cave, and The Road, has enlisted two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett for his music video for Massive Attack’s “The Spoils,” the title track from the U.K. trip-hop pioneers’ new EP. The clip opens with a stark close-up of the Carol star donning minimal makeup; as the image slowly degrades, so does Blanchett’s famously steely face, first morphing into a plaster cast of her head before gradually turning into a mask with hollow eyes and a wig on top. Ultimately, the actress’s face is unrecognizable, as guest vocalist Hope Sandoval (of Mazzy Star fame) sings, “I somehow slowly love you/I wanna keep you the same.” By the video’s end, Blanchett has become a digitally rendered bust made of porous rock, eventually so eroded that any trace of her visage has vanished.

Luck Recap Season 1, Episode 1, "Pilot"

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Luck Recap: Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”

HBO

Luck Recap: Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”

Ace: Generally, how’d he look?

Gus: What do I know, Ace? All four of his legs reach the ground.

That exchange, between two of the leads on the new HBO series Luck, concerns Pint of Plain, the race horse that Chester “Ace” Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) owns by way of his driver and bodyguard Gus Demetriou (Dennis Farina). Gus is fronting for Ace, who’s recently been released from prison and can’t legally own a horse until he’s off parole. But he knows as much about horse racing as most viewers probably do—which is to say, not much. Those expecting to get a primer on the sport will be disappointed by Luck’s first episode, written by creator David Milch (Deadwood) and directed by his co-executive producer, Michael Mann. But that’s not a criticism; what Milch and Mann have always been most effective at is getting to the substance of a specific subculture through stylistic means.