Release Date: Mar 26, 2012
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop, Electronic, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Club/Dance
Early one morning the sun was shining and she was lying in bed, wondering why he had her cash and if her hair was still red. An idea for a song bubbled, and she wasn’t sure if this one should be about heartbreak, revenge or the old get-into-the-groove thing. And then – light bulb! – why not multitask it? That was her therapy, after all. Failure? Not an option.
Madonna was, for quite awhile there, pretty happy. If you deigned to buy the Swept Away DVD (which most of you didn’t), you’d have seen a special feature on there where Madonna interviews Guy Ritchie on what it was like to direct his wife. Despite that film’s many flaws, in this feature the couple were clearly in love—it was touching and more genuine than any moment in that film.
Most pop stars reach a point where they accept the slow march of time, but not Madonna. Time is Madonna's enemy -- an enemy to be battled or, better still, one to be ignored. She soldiers on, turning tougher, harder, colder with each passing album, winding up with a record as flinty as MDNA, the 2012 record that is her first release since departing Warner for Interscope.
“[i]If I see that bitch in hell/I want to see him die/Over and over/Over and over[/i]” [a]Madonna[/a] deadpans on ‘Gang Bang’, the second track on this, her 12th album. The music is cold and minimal, recalling the grubby house beats of ‘Erotica’, and Madge bleats on like some antagonistic disco Fury driven to the edge by her thirst for vengeance. And gosh, it’s thrilling stuff.Our guess is that this slice of boldly crafted noir-house is the once-Mrs Ritchie addressing her divorce from Guy in blackly comic terms.
In 1993, when asked by a Mexican journalist what she feared most, Madonna admitted plainly, “Dying.” Looking at her body of work, it's embarrassingly obvious now, and it's funny to think she's best known as the queen of sex and not, in fact, the queen of death. Beating the clock, moving fast, accomplishing things because time is scarce and life is short are themes that have permeated almost every aspect of Madonna's life and career. Her mother, also named Madonna, died at the age of 30, and her namesake spent the next 25 years believing she would meet the same fate.
”Girls, they just wanna have some fun!” From the moment Madonna utters those words on MDNA, it’s clear that she’s trying really freaking hard to have a good time. With dance-music vets William Orbit, Martin Solveig, and Benny Benassi helming her return to the Euro-club stylings of 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, Madge spends nearly half the album insisting that this is the Best Party Ever, from the pom-pom-shaking ”Give Me All Your Luvin”’ to the Mardi-Gras-beads-tossing ”Girl Gone Wild” and stereo-blasting ”Turn Up the Radio. ” The album title even suggests that Ecstasy is part of Madge’s DNA.
Some might recoil at the idea of a 50-plus woman indulging in bouncy, ridiculous pop music, a reaction perhaps related to the fact that it's unusual for a woman to have such a long and successful career at the epicentre of a musical genre. Profound and understated do not a good Madonna album make, and fortunately she's largely resisted the urge to slow the tempo on her 12th album. Following the ho-hum hip-hop-influenced Hard Candy album, Madonna is back in fine form on MDNA.
There’s a whopping great elephant in the corner of MDNA’s palatial electro-pop surroundings, so lets cut to the chase. Madonna, The Material Girl, Lady Gaga’s fairy godmother, whatever you want to call the most successful female recording artist of all-time, is 53-years-old. To Madge herself this number seems entirely arbitrary since she’ll continue to get into her hyper-erotic groove until the death knell tolls.
Sometimes Madonna doesn't receive enough credit. I don't mean for winding up the government of Malawi so thoroughly it recently declared itself "fed up" with her charity work. Or declaring that she occasionally "finds it a struggle" to balance life as a one-woman corporation with raising four kids, which will at least give many other single mums a good laugh.
Amid the distorted synthesisers and razor-sharp beats of Girl Gone Wild, the second single from her 12th studio album, we find Madonna repeatedly insisting: "Girls, they just wanna have some fun. " Let us banish from our minds the thought that there are perhaps more dignified approaches for a 53-year-old woman than singing "Girls, they just wanna have some fun" in a song named after a series of porn videos in which women are encouraged to strip off in exchange for free baseball caps, and which has furthermore been dogged by a series of allegations of the sexual exploitation of minors. This is a Madonna album, which means that if we start worrying about the value of its lyrical content, we'll be here all day.
Madonna's 12th studio album is the product of both a merger and a divorce, but as much as the singer attempts to milk the latter event for pathos over the course of its 16 tracks, the tone is mostly set by corporate dealmaking. MDNA is the star's first record as part of a $120 million deal with concert promotion juggernaut Live Nation and a separate three-album pact with Interscope, and like a lot of new records by artists of her stature, it's essentially a mechanism to promote a world tour that will inevitably drastically out-earn the profits from her new music. These sort of records don't need to be cynical or uninspired on an artistic level, but this one feels particularly hollow, the dead-eyed result of obligations, deadlines, and hedged bets.
If I was a better writer, a smarter man, and the sort of person who didn’t instantly come down with a headache the second someone so much as attempted to discuss physics, I’d start this review with an attempt to compare Madonna circa 2012 to a Black Hole. Like the astronomical phenomenon, the singing phenomenon is also a massive star approaching the end of its (professional) life, and apparently also capable of absorbing energy completely – consider how MIA, an artist who, whether you love or hate her is good at least for provoking a reaction, managed to go completely unnoticed on MDNA’s lead single Give Me All Your Luvin’. Otherwise, it’s probably a bit of a strained attempt at a comparison, but the fact that I’ve had to go with it anyway might be fairly telling.
MadonnaMDNA[Interscope / Live Nation; 2012]By Josh Becker; March 28, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGMadonna - "Give Me All Your Love" (feat. M. I.
There’s something depressing about Madonna’s latest video for “Girl Gone Wild”. For one, it’s the exact same concept as “Vogue”, which is now 22 years old, and for some reason Americans consider it provocative. How is that even possible? Not only did she perform at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show (a night which charted the highest ratings in American television history), but in the age of Jersey Shore, 1000 Ways to Die, 16 and Pregnant, Toddlers & Tiaras, and TMZ, the Queen of Pop – ahem, the same royalty who’s even published children’s books – is hardly “too raunchy.” Let’s not even get started on the half a billion videos processed through YouTube on a daily basis.
Madonna's 12th studio collection has a few faults, but it's still a fantastic pop album Nick Levine 2012 Madonna is judged to a higher standard than the common or garden songbird. When you've sold 300 million records, racked up enough hits to omit Deeper and Deeper from your two-CD greatest hits set, and generally become the sort of pop culture colossus who can publish a book featuring a photo of yourself hang-gliding naked, well, people just expect more. Which is why the opening song on her 12th studio album is so disheartening.
A lot comes to mind when hearing the name Madonna, but the most important things should be her songwriting and musical legacy rather than her celebrity status and scandalous sexcapades. After all, she has managed to sell over 300 million records, amassed a number one album in four different decades, and her Sticky & Sweet Tour was the highest-grossing concert tour by a solo artist of all time. With her 12th studio album, MDNA, Madonna begins a new phase of her multi-generational career, while reminding us of all the reasons why she initially made us pause and take notice her 30 years ago.
“I’m gonna be O.K./I don’t care what people say,” Madonna sings on her new album, “MDNA.” That may be the least necessary assurance in pop-music history. For nearly 30 years it has been a fact of popular culture that Madonna perseveres, calculates, reconfigures, strives and endures. Her gift for writing catchy tunes that suit her unvirtuosic voice, matched to lyrics that often straddle the clichéd and the universal, has been strong enough to carry her through hits and flops, artistic moments and easy gimmicks.
Trying to separate Madonna and her music from all the theorising that's followed her around like a cloud of hornets over the years is like trying to get the egg white back out of a massive meringue. She obviously finds it increasingly hard herself and her self-referentiality starts to outweigh her actual innovation. More dangerously, she's moving into a mythical position where she can do no wrong in the eyes of many no matter what she puts out (her worst-received album, Hard Candy, still went gold in both UK and US) and her legend just keeps writing itself regardless.