OK, let’s talk about Madonna and her twelfth studio album, MDNA.
Admittedly with all that she’s been up to of late, her directorial debut W.E. and that amazing Superbowl performance, I was a very worried Madonna fan.
Would she be able to deliver the goods on this latest record? Especially with her eagerly awaited reunion with William Orbit – the man that reignited her career at one point with the exceptional album Ray of Light. There was a lot riding on this being a success.
To sum up – she’s nailed it. And in doing so seems to have produced one of her most personal lyrical efforts to date. Tracks including I F***ed UP and Best Friend (featured on the Deluxe version of MDNA) are clear odes to her failed marriage with Guy Ritchie. Whilst tracks like Gang Bang (!) leave you wondering who exactly the star wants to shoot in the head. The lyrics screech: “Bang, bang, shot you dead. Shot my lover in the head.”
One thing you need to wipe clean from your brain immediately as the album starts is the fact Madonna is 53. She sounds 25. In fact, if this album was released by a Pop Princess then it wouldn’t be out of place. It feels centred and controlled whilst the likes of Gaga and Britney’s latest efforts feel try-hard and sloppy in comparison.
This is one girl that still knows what she’s doing and she’s in control.
Part of the reason for such a slick record is down to who she’s worked with. As always, Madonna’s chosen wisely with her collaborators for this record.
William Orbit is in the frame on five tracks, French electronic DJ and super producer Martin Solveig provides the most forward thinking six tunes and ye olde faithful Marco “Benny” Benassi does what he does best and turns Madge into the dancefloor electro diva she’s clearly still wanting to be.
Is MDNA her best work for years? In short, no. It doesn’t reach out like Confessions on a Dance Floor – but it easily surpasses American Life and Music.
Is it an album I literally can’t wait to have on my iPod following my one listen at Abbey Road Studios. YES.
Madonna’s still pushing the envelope of her superstardom and MDNA is in no way a let down. It’s just the next chapter in an already enthralling story. And I can’t wait for you all to get involved.
Track-by-track review of MDNA
Girl Gone Wild
Take her track Celebration, zoop it up and make it bigger and better. It’s a club track that feels young vibrant and fresh for an artist like Madonna. It’s techno-pop-ready-for-radio-heaven. Very Benny Benassi and very much one for the kids – without it feels like a mum-of-four sings it. Phew.
Let’s get dirty and keep it mucky throughout. A stripped back filthy electro beat makes you want to get down. It’s different to anything she’s ever done. I especially liked the ending where she sings in a Human Nature stylee: “If you’re gonna act like a bitch, then you;’re gonna die like a bitch.” And a shotgun noise kicks off. Boom.
Euphoric and addictive. This song needs to be played loud and for the satisfaction of a dance floor. It’s heavily Benny Benasi and by the end you want to get up and squeal: “I’m addicted to your looooovvvvve.”
Turn Up The Radio
Why this wasn’t the lead single on MDNA I’m not very sure. It’s a stonker of a pop song. Her vocals are finally clear (well, not as worked on) and it gave me ‘the tingle’. It’s ready to go and and instant Madonna pop classic.
Give Me All Your Luvin’
The track that divided opinion from the start. Notably, the song sounds a lot better on speakers that can make your skin quiver through bass. But it feels far more forgettable pop compared to much of the album.
Finally, an Orbit song. This is probably the most cosmic of his tracks he’s done with M. Her vocal is almost tinny and echoes. Bit rocky towards the end but it’s an exciting introduction to a new wave Orbit.
This was the one I wasn’t immediately keen on – but the one that’s in my head. It’s lyrically very simple and definitely one that the star could pull a guitar out for to perform on tour. She sings: “Ooh, la la you’re a superstar/ooh la la love the way that you are.” It’s a little rockier than the others and more conventional.
I Don’t Give A
This is probably the most interesting track on this album. She’s nearly rapping again, there’s a hip-hop feel. It feels like the Human Nature of Eortica – and clearly sending out messages about her marriage breakdown. She sings: “I tried to be a good girl / I tried to be your wife / I diminished myself / And I swallowed my light / I tried to become all / That you expect of me / And if I was a failure / I don’t give a …”
I’m a Sinner
Back to William Orbit and the Ray of Light guitar has been found. This track immediately reminds you why Madonna and Orbit worked so well first time around – there’s even a return to the Erotica dirty whisper voice. It starts fairly slow but builds and builds to an orgasm of techno. Enjoy the ride on this one.
There’s a gypsy string twang, a hauntingly high vocal and it’s not instantly Orbit. Later in the song you realise it couldn’t be more like him. It’s about giving so much love that you’re spent and like the previous song climaxes like a beauty.
The theme song to W.E. brings the tempo right back down to a chilled vibe. This is the song that makes us realise that despite most of this album making us want to dance, the star is still able to chill out and relax those dancing shoes. It really feels like the come down song that gives you a big hug.
Well this one was a surprise. It made me instantly want to hear her singing it with just a guitar and a mic stand. It would be an acoustic dream. Her vocals are crisp and penetrate. It’s obviously a song about letting go – but will she ever truly let go of the career she’s worked so hard for?
Madonna, MDNA, March 26, Interscope Records.