Monday, March 26, 2012

MDNA - the verdict

I purchased MDNA - the new album by Ms Madonna on Friday night. I wasn't planning on buying it on the day of release but I had an hour to kill before dinner and realised that Friday was MDNA release day so whats a gay boy to do. Just as a side bar I remember when EROTICA was released in 1992, the Virgin Megastore in Adelaide opened at midnight to sell it (I think those days won't be seen again)! Anyway MDNA has been on HIGH ROTATION all weekend as I try to work out which songs are my favourite, what are the potential single releases, is it better than HARD CANDY, can it possibly top CONFESSIONS ON A DANCEFLOOR, all very important questions one must consider when a new Madonna album is released. It is now Monday night and this is what I think after 30 or so listens!
Can I just say I LOVE the Mert and Marcus photography to start. It's a huge improvement on HARD CANDY and lets be honest Madonna needs all the help she can get as she progresses through her 50's.

GIRL GONE WILD - This is the Second Single and its CRAP. There are no other words. I must admit I was listening to it today and then thought, its not so bad but I think the lyrics are stupid, there is no chorus and the backing track is very weak.
GANG BANG - Another song that leaves me bewildered. I think we have to put this song in perspective, Madonna is in her 50's, mother of 4 children and she is producing songs like this. It really doesn't work when she sings lyrics like shes some gang ho from LA. Like Hello! 
I'M ADDICTED - First semi likable song so far! She repeats MDNA quite alot on this song and for a minute I thought she was singing MDMA but then that would be controversial and so NOT like Madonna.
TURN UP THE RADIO - Another weak song, weak lyrics, no chorus. NEXT
GIVE ME ALL YOUR LUVIN - The first single and I think one of the better songs on MDNA. The cheerleading chant kind of works for me and HELLO theres a chorus! I love the Nicki Minaj and shes FAB. If you read into the lyrics its like she's asking us to dump the GAGA and give Queen Heiress of POP Madonna all of our luvin!
SOME GIRLS -  Loving the vocoder on this one. One of the better tracks. Possible Single release?
SUPERSTAR - I don't dislike this song but it doesn't make me want to sing this out loud either. More redundant lyrics. Repetitive chorus once again.
I DON'T GIVE AN A - An ODE to Guy Ritchie and one of the better songs on the album. I don't like Madonna's take on rapping, its more like talking to music if you ask me. I like this one as Nicki Minaj guest raps again and features the best lyric possibly on MDNA - "There's only 1 Queen and thats Madonna - BIYATCH!" Do you think this is directed at Lady Gaga or her gay fans?
I'M A SINNER - When I hear this I think BEAUTIFUL STRANGER. That is all!
LOVE SPENT - One of my favourite songs on the album. Like theres a verse and a chorus.WOW!
MASTERPIECE - A beautiful ballad and how this song can be on the same album as GANGBANG escapes me! Love it when she sings Indestructable but maybe thats because ROBYN wrote one of the best songs with this title!
FALLING FREE - Another lovely ballad. Is it just me or does Madonna sounds like she has a cold singing this one?
BEAUTIFUL KILLER -Why is this one on the Bonus Disc and Turn Up the Radio on the album?
I FUCKED UP - Another great song. Possibly about her marriage to Guy Ritchie me thinks or her broken friendship to Sandra Bernhardt or her brother Christophe Ciccone or the fan who gave her hydrangeas. I mean, lets face it the woman has fucked off so many people that this song could be about any of them!
B-DAY SONG - Now this is kind of cool as she goes back to the 60's (or the TRUE BLUE album) with this song. Its kind of like The Pippettes meet Madonna! I can see why this is on the bonus disc as it doesn't go with the electro dance feel to MDNA. Now Madonna has a Birthday song that she can sing at the million live concerts she's doing for her LIVE NATION album deal.
BEST FRIEND - Another great song with a killer chorus and more references to Guy Ritchie. 
So I must say overall I am disappointed with this album. Its on par with HARD CANDY or slightly better. Its not as bad as AMERICAN LIFE and I think we have to come to the realisation that there may not ever be another RAY OF LIGHT or CONFESSIONS from the Queen. But who are we trying to kid here, if she tours Australia I will be there sleeping out to buy tickets. As someone who has been a Madonna fan since 1984, you can read my post 7 Facts about MDNA and Me, I will always be a fan buying her music. I'd be curious to hear what other people think of this album. I think this album was supposed to be a return to form for Madonna but unfortunately it hasn't hit the mark for me. I so-oo wanted to love it but I just can't. 

BEST SONGS FOR ME: Gimme all your Luvin, Best Friend, B-Day Song, Some Girls, I Don't Give an A, Love Spent, I Fucked Up 


  1. So glad to have your review. I can see all your points and I guess this album is going to divide as all her stuff does these days. I think I am on a different side to the Madonna fence. Firstofall, to explain, I have to say that American Life is one of my favourite M albums so I have been waiting for this one. Confessions never really took me anywhere special and Candy missed too many marks. I have been dying for a ballad for so long she delivered on this one for me. The ballads are great. Falling Free has been played many times and Masterpiece sounds so beautiful. I Fucked Up is a surprise for me as I don’t think I should like it but I do. The lead singles are damp squids though for me. Give Me All Your Luvin’ has one of her worst lyrics yet – ‘we can drink some wine, burgundy is fine, we’ll drink the bottle every drop’ desperation to rhyme or what – she has always been a fan of the couplet. Girls Gone Wild was so boring but the video did make me like it more. Gang Bang is too much of an experiment and it doesn’t really work. Turn Up The Radio should have been the lead single to me, it’s cute and fun and commercially viable and I have already thought of a great video! I’m Addicted goes with one of my favourites from Music – Amazing, the only song from that album she never performed and I hope it doesn’t suffer the same fate. Some Girls steals from Beyonce but I think the message is better – Madonna has always been more of a humanist than feminist. I heard Superstar out on Saturday night and it brought a smile to my face, I really like it but don’t love it, it doesn’t go off enough. I Don’t Give A is good but a little too self-reliant on being who she is – I don’t think that music should be dependent of who you are – one of the reasons I disagree with your criticism of Gang Bang because she is a 50 year old mother of 4 – songs should be judged by their value not what the singer is in her private life. Alas this is something that Madonna always suffers from in all that she does, music, movies, books…I’m A Sinner is a good pop song and will be a crowd pleaser in concert. Beautiful Killer may end up annoying me. B-Day Song is one of those songs that she does every now and again that is just odd but not wrong – I’m Going Bananas or the one from The Drowned World tour that I can’t remember the name of. Best Friend is a beautiful ballad and a great end but does make me want to say ‘your marriage is over and you have both moved on, why are you still flogging that horse?’
    I think the album gives some fans that have been starved for so long, what they want. Is it perfect? Far from. Two bad singles so far in my opinion and that doesn’t’ help. In general it is missing a theme and is too long and for that I blame the record companies – Gaga’s last album was also too long and disconnected. However, Minaj is a great collaborator choice. One thing is for certain it will have fans talking for a long time and I am dying to have that conversation. As usual her tour will over-whelm it all – as long as she doesn’t try to go back to Confessions! One last thing, I really wish that she would hook up with Patrick Leonard (Like A Prayer era) again and also write more stuff with Joe Henry (Don’t Tell Me and Falling Free).

  2. I think this review by Pitchfork sums it up perfectly.
    It really is a cynical, terrible record.
    I don't mind Love Spent and Beautiful Killer.
    Masterpiece is the best track but it's so out of place.
    As bad as Hard Candy was, it had one wicked tune - She's Not Me, featuring Wendy on bass. It rocks.
    MDNA has none of these moments.

  3. I agree the pitchfork review is v good.

  4. Thanks for comments Eamon and Jim! I completely agree with pitchfork too.
    Love the ballads on MDNA. I think overall the lyrics are banal across the album. Theres only a few exceptions to this such as the ballads. Pitchfork hit the nail on the head where the focus (for Madonna) is on her contract with Live Nation so the tour is where the money is and the music is secondary to that (which is kinda sad). The singles are bad choices but I don't mind gimme all your luvin. I think the days of Madonna having a number 1 single are long gone. I really disagree about singers being able to sing about whatever they want. Gang Bang doesn't work for this reason. If it was Rhianna or Nicki Minaj it wouldn't be an issue. I think we will have to agree to disagree on that one.
    Jim there aren't enough great moments on this album to make it memorable but maybe time will be kinder to it?

    1. Hey Phillip,

      I'm not sure time will be kind to it. A bad record is a bad record. Do we love Hard Candy 4 years later or American Life nearly ten years later? I do think the production is quite good, the sound is closer to Confessions-era Madonna and suits her much more that the Timbaland sound. I think the problem for me (as a fan from day one) is that there is no joy on this record. If you listen to Holiday, or Lucky Star, or Angel, or Into The Groove, or even later cuts like Music or Ray Of Light, she sounds like she's having a a lot of fun. There's nothing happy about the music on MDNA. Even the chants on Luvin' sound false.

      Yes i am being harsh but it's the Queen! I hate to make comparisons because every artist is different, but if you consider Kylie's last few albums they are still joyous and happy affairs. True, they may not have generated the smash hits of her early 2000 period but they are brilliant pop records made well.

      As much as i dislike Pitchfork for it's hipster try hard ways it really is the most intelligent review i've read of this album.
      Anyway, see you at the live shows!


  5. My reaction to the album was somewhat similar. I was excited (with caution) prior to the release, and then when it finally came out I was underwhelmed by the album as a whole -- and it wasn't that the songs weren't good but rather that a number of them were unremarkable and not very memorable -- and paying attention to the lyrics just exacerbates the problem.

    The issues for me are that she's obviously capable of doing much better and that we had to wait four years for something that is "just okay" in my opinion. Clearly she can't please everybody, but with Hard Candy and now MDNA she's got two "okay" albums in a row in 7 years.

    I agree, as it was pointed out in a different post, that with her new livenation deal, most of the money comes from touring. However, she really needs new hits to keep touring in support of every album. As it stands, each new album generates only one hit single and everything else is either past hits or songs from the current album that only fans recognize and that aren't that great anyway. That, I think, was the problem with the Sticky & Sweet tour.

    I'd hate to think that she has peaked album-wise, but then again after American Life we got Confessions, so who knows?

  6. Thanks Rudolph. Its interesting that this album has polarised her fans. I speak to some who absolutely love this album and others who think it is a mediocre effort. I still am in the latter category. I think she is capable of much more and I'm always hopeful for another great Madonna song/album.