Even though Madonna’s 12th studio album drops internationally on March 26, it has already leaked on the internet – a full week beforehand. Critics have given this new album from the Queen of Pop generally positive notices. The singles “Give Me All Your Luvin” and “Girl Gone Wild” were well-selling if lackluster, even if the former got tons of airplay and even was included in Madonna’s overly meticulous Superbowl half-time show. Interestingly enough, the singles don’t give any hint to the albums overall thematic presence. The great thing about Madonna’s discography is that, over the past 25 years, it’s been easy to map out where she was going as an artist. Listeners and critics alike could easily figure out what Madonna’s focal point was. Slant Magazine reviewer, Sal Cinquemani, writes: “Beating the clock, moving fast, accomplishing things because time is scare and life is short are themes that have permeated almost every aspect of Madonna’s life and career.” Cinquemani highlights the recent deaths of Pop music icons Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, stating that, “the past three years, two of the three biggest pop superstars of the ’80s have died tragically. But unlike Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, Madonna wasn’t thrust into the spotlight by way of an enterprising family or the kind of prodigious talent that, with or without its owner’s consent, begs to be hoisted up and exalted by the masses.” Madonna’s talent isn’t anything new, she’s never had the same ability as Michael and most certainly she never had Whitney’s magnificent pipes. She makes up for the lack of talent with a creative furor all her own. A dancer and singer, with stunning self-discipline, she makes no excuses about her behavior. Love her or hate her – she is Madonna.
With her new album, MDNA, Madonna seems to be cashing in all the drama that has happened in her life. The marriage and divorce from Guy Ritchie, the opinions of the press, and the ever-shifting sphere that is Pop music itself. For example, “Girl Gone Wild” opens with dialogue which echoes her Like a Prayer days in the late 1980s. Yet the song clearly speaks to a woman set free, going wild. the lyric “Girls, they just wanna have some fun” seems like a nod to Cyndi Lauper’s 80s hit – but not nearly as lyrically pleasing.
“Gang Bang” thumps with a rhythmic beat.. “bang, bang, shot ya dead..” comes the chant. This is clearly a main focus – anger, rage, death, getting even. Madonna is working out her demons, music is her therapist and we (the listener) are treated to the transcripts of her therapy sessions. Oh, joy. The yell near the end of, “Drive, bitch” is interestingly road rage-esque – but it’s Madonna she can say what ever the hell she wants to.
MDNA is a bitchy, defiant album. The writing is on the wall and Madonna makes it clear what her thoughts and views are. “I don’t give a..” calls Donna Summer’s “Fame (The Game)” from Summer’s 2008 release Crayons to my mind, in how the song talks about lawyers, marriage, money, prenups, et cetera. The song is fun, catchy and a great listen. The declaration by Nicki Minaj: “There’s only one Queen, and that’s Madonna. B****” is not only cheeky, but plays to the worldwide consciousness of who the artist has fashioned herself to be. After over 25 years in the entertainment business, there is only one Madonna.
“Love Spent” is an interesting track, alluding to more of Madonna’s history with her ex-husband Guy Ritchie.
“Falling Free” is an breath of fresh air, and is perhaps the only William Orbit cut on the album that reminds listeners of Ray of Light . Atmospheric and a look back at more of Madonna’s historical self, she’s “falling free” as if she suspended in midair. Oddly as beautiful as this song as, it’s simplicity stands out – sticks out, rather. One has to question what Madonna’s motives were for teaming with Orbit again?! What ever her reasons, I fell in love with this song, it was surprising as it was pleasing.
“I Fucked Up” is a great song: Madonna saying “I’m sorry.” In 2006 she declared, “I don’t wanna hear, I don’t wanna know, please don’t say you’re sorry” on Confessions on a Dance Floor. Her listeners get the sorrowful side of a woman who is only human. She’s admitting she makes mistakes. I really can appreciate that. A woman may be angry, but she still has her emotions: “I’m not ashamed to say, I wish I could have you back maybe one day..” – will she get him back one day?
For better or for worse, Madonna has returned to the music world. At 53 years old, The Queen of Pop retains her crown.
- I Don’t Give A..
- I’m a Sinner
- Love Spent
- Falling Free
- I Fucked Up
So, I must thank an undisclosed source for the skinny on the new Madonna album. Madonna herself, set down with Jimmy Fallon Saturday evening for a Facebook interview at its NYC headquaters. I didn’t much care for it. For starters, one could barely hear Madonna answer the questions and it was too short to be considered an interview. I’ve been listening and listening to the album and I have to admit, it’s quite good. It’s not on the same par as Ray of Light or Confessions on a Dance Floor, but it is much better than Madonna’s last album with Warner Bros. in 2008. That is for sure! I forgot to add “Turn Up the Radio” to my list of noteworthy songs, I really like the track, it’s so fitting on a nice sunshine filled day. It has the feel of summer in it – a huge plus given the release date.
Admittedly, I instantly judged the album by its cover art (which I adore.) I knew Confessions would be awesome because of its cover and album art, this new album is no exception. The artwork by Mert and Marcus and Giovanni Bianco has “dancing queen” written all over it.
The album has been getting a lot of weird reviews lately. Madonna is no stranger to divided criticism. Yet again, for listeners it’s a love or hate relationship.
‘MDNA’ isn’t a terrible album – but it is the sound of an artist trying too hard to raise eyebrows and remain relevant. The standout moments come when Madonna eases off the thrusting and the grinding and writes a decent pop song – which she can still do with ease, writes Michael Baggs from Gigwise.com
Baggs goes on, “Every new Madonna album is an event and hopes are always high but this is a huge disappointment. A bland, characterless disappointment. Like the drug on which the album-title pun is built on, ‘MDNA’ is a bright and energetic blast, but one that will leave even her most hardened fans feeling crappy once the buzz has passed.”
I’m still listening…