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Last Updated: Monday, 14 November 2005, 08:34 GMT
Madonna's last dancefloor confession?
By Tom Bishop
BBC News entertainment reporter

Madonna has headed back to the disco for her new album, Confessions on a Dancefloor, which is released in the UK on Monday. It has earned her some of the best reviews of her 22-year career.

In stark contrast to 2003's introspective American Life album, she has dusted off her glitterball, strapped on her pink stilettos and sampled Abba on latest hit single Hung Up.

Madonna embraced New York club culture in the early 1980s
Has Madonna reinvigorated her music career, or is she merely throwing one final dance party for her long-term fans before settling down to record more sedate material?

"Dance music fans may be unconvinced by Madonna's new image as it no longer reflects her real life," says DJ magazine's features editor Carl Loben.

"Madonna embraced the early stages of New York club culture in the 1980s but I doubt she has been into a club for years."

Respected producer

However, Mr Loben says Madonna was very astute to work on her new album with Stuart Price, the respected producer and remixer behind dance acts Les Rythmes Digitales and Zoot Woman.

The fact that Madonna is releasing a second continuous DJ mix version of Confessions on a Dancefloor will also appeal to dance music fans, Mr Loben says.

"Clubbers are generally open to any music as long as it sounds good on the dancefloor."

Madonna performing Hung Up on German TV show Wetten Dass
Some of our readers say she should grow old a bit more gracefully
Ian Eddy, Smash Hits
While clubbers are relatively unconcerned by the age of an artist, Madonna has been permanently ousted from the cover of Smash Hits magazine by acts such as teen stars McFly and Son of Dork.

Staff writer Ian Eddy says teenage music fans judge Madonna on a song-by-song basis.

"Pop fans are a bit fickle," he says. "If her next single is a bit of a dud they won't bother with it."

Smash Hits readers were divided in their opinion of Madonna's promo video for her single Hung Up, in which the 47-year-old contorts herself in a pink leotard and flirts with young dancers.

"A lot of our readers are saying Madonna has still got it, that she is still youthful," says Mr Eddy, "but some say she should grow old a bit more gracefully."

Young pop stars may cite Madonna as a music or fashion influence, but teenage music fans "just don't have the same affection for her as people in their 30s do".

Madonna's gay audience has always been very forgiving, perhaps too forgiving
Matt Miles, Axm magazine
Madonna's most loyal fan group has been gay men, which gay magazine Axm attributes to her eye for fashion and music trends, and her ever-changing image.

"Many gay people want to break away from their past, and every six months Madonna goes into a cocoon then emerges as a new butterfly," says Axm editor Matt Miles.

She strengthened her gay and lesbian fanbase by challenging sexual and religious convention in promo videos such as Like A Prayer and Justify My Love, suggestive live performances and 1992's explicit Sex photo book.

"Madonna's gay audience has always been very forgiving, perhaps too forgiving," says Mr Miles. "It would take an awful lot to put gay men off her."

Mr Miles says it is understandable why Madonna would want to "throw herself back into the gay bosom" with a new hi-energy album, after the relative failure of American Life.

"Why not? It doesn't seem too cynical, and it worked for Kylie Minogue. It is as if Madonna is sampling the 1980s but making it better."

Madonna and daughter Lourdes
When not making dance records, Madonna is a children's author
Gay fans believe Madonna's career will match the longevity of that other iconic US singer, Cher. If her songs match her ambition, she may also retain her revived mainstream audience.

Mr Eddy says: "Madonna really thinks of herself as young. I can't see her sticking to dance music but she could easily come back in a few years with something fresh."

"Madonna may return to the slower beats of her Ray of Light album or move into torch songs," adds Mr Miles. "She would probably like to turn herself into a cartoon, and is kicking herself that Gorillaz got there first."

He concludes: "She is pushing 50 and still looks great. I wouldn't put it past her to be swinging off a trapeze at the age of 60."

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