Monday, April 9, 2012

There's only one queen and that's Madonna. ...bitch!

Madonna came out with her new album, entitled "MDNA" about two weeks ago. The title is pretty clever and serves as a triple entendre- music as a kind of drug, music being part of your DNA, and a pseudonym for the singer's name itself. M.I.A. suggested it, which makes total sense, given that her name follows a similar structure. Also, the cover is colorful and presented behind a visually pleasing separated glass effect. However, I prefer the body shot of the standard edition, rather than the face shot of the deluxe edition. This is because the angle of her jawline in the face shot makes her look just a little manly.

See what I mean?

Anyway, I've been listening to it a lot and decided to review it here. I'll do it track by track.

"Girl Gone Wild"- There was some controversy surrounding the title of this song. The owner of the "Girls Gone Wild" franchise got his panties in a twist because he apparently owns the rights to said phrase, whether it be plural or singular. This guy needs to get off his high horse. Anyway, this serves nicely as the opening track. It sets up the tone for the album which is essentially the lovechild of "Confessions on a Dance Floor" and "Hard Candy" in a disco-meets-hip hop kind of way. The spoken portions of the song echo back to previous songs of hers. For a fun/naughty visualization of this song, check out its music video below.

It was taken in an interesting direction. Madonna is the only female in it, which I guess makes sense. But her dancers are quite gay (check out those heels!), which I'm guessing is an allusion to the fact that gay men often call each other "girl."

"Gang Bang"- The title is a little unfitting. She never even says the word "gang" in it. It was not included on the clean versions of this album. This is because it has subject matter involving Madge shooting her lover in the head. This song doesn't quite work for me. The lyrics never quite reveal why the singer is angry enough with her lover to kill him. Also, it seems to be stuck somewhere between a mysterious sound and a dance groove.

"I'm Addicted"- I have mixed feelings about this song. On one hand, it's a great dance song. On the other hand, the lyrical content is not quite up to par, in my opinion. I mean, Madonna spends most of the song singing about how she's addicted to someone's name, rather than their love. However, I do think the phrase "MDNA" is incorporated into the background pretty cleverly.

"Turn Up the Radio"- Such a fun, light little song! It would make a perfect summer single. Never mind the fact that radio is becoming increasingly irrelevant these days, being steadily replaced by digital sales and the internet in general. In fact, the song's retro sound helps it work in this regard.

"Give Me All Your Luvin'"- This served as the first single from this album. It features a cheerleader-type chant and guest appearances from Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., who are respectively crazy and chill. The music video, below, was an obvious nod to Madonna's much-hyped Superbowl performance. It also kind of reminds me of a Target commercial, which is pretty fitting, since the background music in the verses reminded me a little of a Target commercial even before this music video came out.

Also, I thought it was a cheeky move to put all three performers in early Madonna era/Marilyn Monroe wigs. It's kind of like doing an impression of yourself. :P

"Some Girls"- This is another track that I have mixed feelings about. I guess it's catchy enough, but Madonna just sounds...weird on it. Like, not quite herself. This is probably due to her voice being altered so much. Listen to it and you'll see what I mean. Also, the chorus sounds an awful lot like Lady Gaga's "I Like It Rough."

"Superstar"- This song has really cute lyrics. And the music paired with said lyrics is nice and breezy. Ultimately, it doesn't pack too much of a whallop, but it's still an alright song.

"I Don't Give A"- The main subject matter here is just how packed Queen M's schedule is. This is accomplished fairly well through spitfire lists, even though some of the lyrics are a little weird- I'm still trying to figure out what she means when she sings "Baby Jesus on the stairs." I can relate to this song, because I'm always quite busy and it's easy to belive that this entertainer is too. Nicki Minaj makes another appearance here. Her performance here is a little too similar to that of her "Give Me All Your Luvin'" verse, but she still does pretty well.

"I'm a Sinner"- This one reminds me of Madonna's 1999 song "Beautiful Stranger," from the movie "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." Give it a listen and you'll see what I mean: the similarities are pretty striking. Here, the singer revels in her decadence. This is nothing new, but the song is decently catchy. Watch out for the religious references as well.

"Love Spent"- Ok, first of all...what the banjo?? This song is all over the place instrumentally and does not quite know what it wants to be. Admittedly, the acoustic version (included exclusively on the iTunes pre-order) works a little better. The lyrics also work fairly well here. They speak of a lover who cares more about money than love. I'm assuming that this was written in reference to Madonna's ex-husband, director Guy Ritchie.

"Masterpiece"- This is definitely the best ballad on this album. Also, it is hands down Madonna's best vocal performance on "MDNA." The lyrics compare Madge's object of affection to a great work of art that is so beautiful that she wants to steal it from a museum. I even think it would be nice to see this song as a single at some point. It was already a radio-only single in the U.K., but I'm talking about a full blown single- worldwide release in all formats, a music video...all that jazz. It would be a nice change of pace for the serial songstress. It was already included in the credits of "W.E." By the way, this film was Madonna's directorial debut.

"Falling Free"- Boring! I'm sorry, but this song is just not exciting in the least bit to me. It's also pretty tacky sounding, what with the synthesizers, predictable vocal lines, etc. Its only saving grace is the music box section toward the end of the song, which is actually kind of pretty.

Bonus tracks:

"Beautiful Killer"- I kinda dig the vibe on this one. Its lyrics speak of a mysterious lover over a steady, driving rhythm and lighter beat. The strings and occasional whispers of the song's title help to set the mood of intriguing mystery even more. Said mystery works better here than in "Gang Bang."

"I Fucked Up"- This is another song that was not included on the clean versions of "MDNA." The song's title makes it pretty obvious as to why. It is quite possibly about Madonna's previously discussed divorce. It contains lyrics that describe how Madonna broke her lover's heart, which she ultimately deems as a mistake. This gets to be a bit ramble-y, as Madonna lists all the things that could have been. The sound of this song is kinda hollow, like there's just...something missing that I can't quite put my finger on. There are also some harmonies that could have been used here, such as adding background vocals that are lowered a third, but I'll just sing those on my own like I often do. ;)

"B-Day Song"- I had a little bit of a "WTF?" moment when I first heard this song. It's pretty weird and not very good. M.I.A.'s appearance in it does not salvage it or even add much. I suppose they had fun making it; that much is apparent. However, there is plenty of fun going on in this album. Bottom line: this one could have been left out, even as a bonus track.

"Best Friend"- Another divorce track? I'm not feeling this one too much. The lyrics are fair, but the music is just a tad too dated and not really catchy enough to dance to either.

"Give Me All Your Luvin'" (Party Rock Remix)- I already gave a review of the original mix of this song, but I want to just quickly mention this remix. M.I.A.'s verse is taken out here and is replaced by the dynamic duo LMFAO, who are famous for their club-ready music. This remix will definitely make you dance. Also, LMFAO's verses put their own spin on things, while at the same time, not taking too much away from the original feel of the song.

Long story short, "Hard Candy" is still my favorite Madonna album. I do like this one though, and I think that it is now my second favorite of hers. It's certainly not perfect, but I think that the songs are pretty solid, for the most part. Long live the queen!


Update: This album has recently reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. The queen reigns supreme~

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