Honestly I feel like the only market where the album truly bombed was the US, selling 600K-700K in pure sales back in 2003 was really low, it was truly a bomb in America and none of the singles seemed to work there. Outside the US the album performed more moderately tho, it smashed in France and Italy and obtained several certifications around the world. Of course its performance was seen unfavourable as she was coming from two huge albums that were particularly massive in Europe ("Ray of light" and "Music"), "Ray of light" is approaching 2million units in UK alone while "Music" did over 1,5million there, so seeing "American Life" just hitting Platinum in UK was seen as "not enough" by the media and audiences alike.
I vividly remember this era, It wasn't well received by critics and the fact that it was her lowest selling album at the time was brought up a lot at least on the media all over The Americas. Nowdays the reception is more supportive and the album is seen retrospectively under a more appreciating light. And personally its among my favorite Madonna albums.
I'm also glad that "Die another day" somehow ended being part of the era, even though it wasn't originally released as part of this album's campaign the fact that it was eventually included on the album still makes it part of the "American Life" era a little bit and thats cool because the music video was stunning and the song was kind of a global smash.
Britney Spears . Michael Jackson . Madonna . Metallica . Radiohead . Led Zeppelin . Oasis . Beyoncé . Soda Stereo