Album: American Life
Thanks to Madonna, Kabbalah is the new Scientology. But with cute little red bracelets instead. With lots of money you, too can achieve enlightenement by damaging your career and changing your name to something ridiclious like Esther.
However, the mid-tempo ballad “Nothing Fails” succeeds despite being on Madonna’s second worst album. Familiar guitar chords open the song, making it seem like it’s going to be a cover of “Sweet Home Alabama.”But then the electro elements are added in, pushing the guitar into the background. In it, she is playful and secure as she talks to her lover about how she feels about him.
She may as well as be glowing as she tells her lover “I’m in love with you/you silly thing/ anyone can see/what is it with you/you silly thing/just take it from me” She adds that fate is the reason why they are together and he’s the one (“it was not a chance meeting/feel my beating/you’re the one”). In the worst lyric, she tells that “I climbed the tree of life/and that is why, no longer scared if I fall”). Using New Agey platitudes to describe a relationship is like asking Miss Cleo for advice on mortgaging your home for a Lamborgini. It doesn’t sound geniune and meaningful, just fake.
In the chorus, she sings that “nothing fails/no more fears/…you washed away my tears.” After the chorus, she continues that her love for him is spiritual (“I’m not religious/but I feel so moved/makes me want to pray/pray that you’ll always be here”). This lyric makes up so much for the stupid tree of life one, considering there are some ideas implied. For instance, it suggests the love she is feeling is bigger than herself. It’s not only her feelings for him affected but how she sees the world and its various issues. It also suggests she was a cynic before and now is optimist, perhaps regarding relationships (the most likely one) or life in general.
A choir chimes in at “I’m not religious” to emphasize the point. The chorus is effective and fitting. Usually a choir is tacked on to “move and inspire” the listener (which rarely works). However since Madonna does use spirituality in “Nothing Fails” it does make sense for a choir to suddenly appear.