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MDNA Press Reviews

Guest groovyguy

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Correct. She has been a tad lazy in the lyrics dept for a lot of this past decade but she has and continues to deliver some fantastic songwriting amongst the occasional clunker.

The thing about the critics is they seem to put Madonna under a microscope they never put any other artist under. How many "respected" bands and artists can we all name some very stupid lyrics they've written? Plenty. I guess maybe it comes with the territory for being the "most successful" as Madonna is. I have heard some of her detractors admit they do think she is a good singer and a great artist but they are just angry she is the "most successful female singer" when she doesn't have the biggest voice.

Maybe not the biggest voice, but certainly the best voice :)

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Guest groovyguy


Review: Madonna - MDNA

Madonna isn’t the best singer in the world, but she may well be the best pop artist on the planet. While her vocal talents are certainly passable, to suggest she’s more noted for her ability to provoke and entertain isn’t too provocative. Her albums have emphasized this quality, providing impressive soundscapes and melodious excursions rather than vocal gymnastics and subtle observations.

Madge’s 12th, MDNA, is no different. The record is a taut, well-tuned and well-toned album that allows the superstar to get personal, tense and spectacular – sometimes all at once. It is as understated as a sledgehammer to the face.

Madonna works with a veritable ocean of producers, from Ray of Light’s William Orbit to Martin Solveig to Benny Benassi. Through the different traces, she remains every bit the wise-ass, knowing firecracker. Her natural authority and stubbornness, palpable through even the album’s flattest strokes, put the bulk of today’s pop artists to shame.

MDNA opens with a “prayer” of sorts on the track “Girl Gone Wild.” Benny and Alle Benassi handle production duties, giving the song a throbbing nightclub vibe. Madonna, winking throughout her tête-à-tête with the man upstairs, suggests that she really just wants to be good but knows that she’s really more or less a slave to the beat.

The Orbit-produced “Gang Bang” astonishingly doesn’t have the sexual connotations that the title might suggest. The track is dusky and portentous, with Madonna’s vocals taking a deliciously derisive tone. The beat is spiked with the cocking and firing of a gun, with Madge talking about keeping her enemies close and busting a cap in her lover’s ill-fated ass. The epilogue sounds like something out of an exploitation film, complete with gunshots and squealing tires.

“I Don’t Give A” is another highlight. Produced by Solveig and featuring Nicki Minaj and a little of that American Life strut, this is easily the most cutting song on MDNA. Witness: “I tried to be a good girl/I tried to be your wife/Diminish myself/And swallow my life.” Minaj’s verse adds even more edge.

Other tracks, like “Turn Up the Radio,” deliver a somewhat gentler Madonna in love with music, the crowd and the fine art of telling a story to millions of people at the same time.

There are some less-than-stellar moments, though. The radio-friendly “Give Me All Your Luvin’” features Minaj and M.I.A. in supporting roles and is perchance the album’s least interesting track. And “Superstar” is fairly lifeless, with its weak chorus, tacky lyrics and barely-there production.

Overall, though, MDNA proves that Madonna can still slice to the bone and deliver the goods. This is a big, brash pop record with imposing melodies, killer beats and just the right drop of good old-fashioned violence for the kids.

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Guest groovyguy


Madonna Can’t Stop Talking About Madonna on MDNA

By Rich Juzwiak, GAWKER

On her 12th studio album, MDNA (out this week), Madonna sometimes talks about her life with Guy Ritchie ("Would you have married me if I were poor?"). But her self-fixation, the album's real theme, is generally career-focused. You hear it in the way the way that certain songs echo her past work — "I'm a Sinner" breaks with a guitar solo a la "Ray of Light" and sports the plastic psychedelia of "Beautiful Stranger," while the chord progression of "Beautiful Killer" is similar to that of "Die Another Day." There are overt references, too – "Like a Virgin," "Into the Groove" and "Lucky Star" are name checked. The album opens with, "Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee and I detest all my sins..." which she previously said in Like a Prayer's "Act of Contrition."

There are references to references: the melody of the chorus (well one of them) of "Love Spent" recalls ABBA's "Money, Money, Money," which recalls the time when Madonna sampled their "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" in "Hung Up." And for Madonna, self-reference is a reference in itself: In "Causing a Commotion," she invoked "Into the Groove," while "Deeper and Deeper" repeats the, "You've got to just / Let your body move to the music" first heard in "Vogue." Madonna has lived to tell and tell about telling.

That she would construct an album of implicit narcissism is unsurprising – her popularity may have taken a hit in recent years, but her status as an icon is unwavering. As a culture, we've told her that she is anointed and she has no reason not to believe it. The deluge of questions she received during her one-day Twitter stint is enough to confirm that people want to hear about her, that she is inherently fascinating. Is it any wonder that this superstar's go-to compliment is "star"? (As in, "Everybody is a star" from her Girlie Show Tour interpolation of Sly and the Family Stone's song of that name, as well as her own "Spotlight," or "Little Star," her first song about her daughter or MDNA's "Superstar," her most shamelessly chipper song since "Cherish.")

That makes sense. Madonna's always been more of a reflection than a pioneer, more interpreter than inventor. Her apparent fixation on youth (her predilection for young bucks, the bouncy spunk of her sound, her face) is nothing but a cultural mirror.

So's her language. She is a champion of clichés, and they're all over MDNA: fish out of water, bats out of hell, gold medals, blood on hands, good guys finishing last, velvet rope. Madonna keeps her enemies close and elsewhere admires a dude with a "way with words," who brought out the best in her. She falls free. She's had her heart played with.

She also jumped the gun, although she doesn't explicitly admit to it. MDNA is a house album for a time when house records are all the rage in the U.S. When she last attempted a large-scale dance album with 2005's Confessions on a Dancefloor, the country just wasn't ready (contrast the Billboard Hot 100 peak of "Hung Up" – No. 7 – with its worldwide performance that found it No. 1 in 41 countries and in the Guinness Book of World Records as a result). MDNA is an attempt to reclaim the territory of one of house music's earliest mainstream champions (I think it was Frankie Knuckles who said that "Vogue" made house legit). Alongside commercial performers like Martin Solveig, and Benny Benassi, as well as William Orbit, who served her career comeback so well on 1998's Ray of Light, Madonna has crafted a deceptively delicate album of dynamic bangers. As opposed to the block waveforms of, say, the entirety of Lady Gaga's Born this Way, the songs of MDNA are spacious, boasting a real sense of depth. Some pummel out of the gate, but many take their time to do so, gradually leaning into house's four-on-the-floor beat design to give a real sense of momentum, or as in the case of "I'm Addicted," fine tuning that design to create and ebb and flow of intensity.

These songs go places, whether in the loud-to-quiet dynamic of "Turn Up the Radio" or the monotone-to-soaring melody of "Some Girls" or the structure-fucking album highlight "Love Spent." That one opens up in the middle alongside Madonna's lyrical revelation (her guy/Guy wanted her to spend her money on him, she doled out love instead and now she is spent) and the song moves from freestyle lament to house anthem. Throughout the album, ambient effects swoop in and out, filtered sounds brood, Daft Punk laser sounds cameo, beats stutter alongside Madonna's voice. Her last album was called Hard Candy – this is easy ear candy. It out-sophisticates the Top 40 by a lot, while resisting obtuseness.

Her voice, that thin and fragile trademark of hers that sounds like it could go hoarse or evaporate at any moment, is pushed and pulled and sliced. Sometimes, like in the conclusion of "I'm a Sinner," the screeching is as uncomfortable to listen to as it must have been to sing. That said, there's a versatility here that is uncommon in vocalists who can carry a tune with far greater ease. She's a cheeky moll in the excellent and sparse Chicago-inspired thumper "Gang Bang" (unfortunately not about an actual gang bang), she's a robot in "Girl Gone Wild," she's a sweet cheerleader in "Superstar." She cries at the end of the beat-less ballad "Falling Free." She raps in "I Don't Give A," and the results are not unlike Rebecca Black in "Friday" ("Connecting to the WIFI / Went from nerd to superb / Have you seen the new guy? / I forgot the password / Gotta call the babysitter /Tweetin' on the elevator / I could take a helicopter / I don't even feel the pressure"). She's not always successful. Daring has long been crucial to her work. Through risking and especially failure, ambition defines her voice as much as it does her life. On MDNA she suggests that the next best thing to being a vocal diva is pretending like you are one.

MDNA's joy is not hard to grasp (house is a feeling), but its nuances are what make it great. That these are conversant with the larger story of pop house and Madonna's own career means that this album is going to matter most to those who have been paying attention. And what that ultimately means is that Madonna is preaching to the choir here, showing how great she is to people who already knew. It's like a little prayer. For the contempt that familiarity breeds alone and the unrelenting ageism that she puts so much effort into dodging, Madonna's batting average as a hitmaker may continue its decline. But for a certain segment of the population, MDNA will feel like home.

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Guest jamesshot

I see more good reviews where they just have to denigrate her songwriting or voice. Can someone just give her credit for being a more than passable singer and songwriter? At least that last review mentioned the versatility in her voice which is uncommon as they say. Her voice is often lovely and unique.

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Guest groovyguy


Madonna Makes a Musical Return with MDNA

By Emily Rosenberg Posted: 03/30/2012

Lady Gaga may have an impressive crop of little monsters, but her reign of hits would never have become so popular without Madonna’s revolutionary influence over three decades of mainstream pop music.

On her 12th album MDNA, also her third collection of exclusively dance-heavy singles, Madonna testifies to the massive popularity of Confessions on a Dance Floor as well as to the slightly less favorable Hard Candy.

MDNA is another mainstream wonder for Madonna, enlisting the help of such similarly charming but controversial singers Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.

Her choice of collaborations is the first part of MDNA that drives itself away from her more lackluster efforts on Hard Candy.

Instead, MDNA remains true to its name for almost an hour’s worth of tracks.

These 12 songs combine the best elements of Madonna’s repertoire over the span of her career to draw the attention of any member in Madonna’s massive fan base.

Madonna’s listeners will be happy — but not surprised — to hear Madonna’s fast-paced beats of previously released songs such as Confessions’ “Hung Up” and Hard Candy’s “Give It to Me” on her upcoming album’s first track “Girl Gone Wild.”

The track’s beats repeat just enough to be a successful dance track.

But one wouldn’t be overly critical to find the lyrics less than original.

“Girls just wanna have fun” appears in the song, which she immediately follows with “smoking gun” in the next line.

It’s a shame that Madonna’s fallen to the level of stealing a line or two from her ’80s rival Cyndi Lauper.

But even so, a few clichés doesn’t take much attention away from an energetic start that the fast-tempo background music gives to the album.

It’s easy to fault Madonna for stealing another’s signature style or line, but as MDNA progresses, the songs reflect more and more of the provocative yet young lyrics that Madonna has branded as her signature style.

“Gang Bang” is a less shocking reminder of Madonna’s past hits of controversy, ranging from songs as early as “Like a Virgin” to those from her mid-career Erotica years.

“Give Me All Your Luvin’,” however, is her most obvious testament to her ’80s pop fame.

The catchy lyrics on repeat are reminiscent of previous gems like “Lucky Star” but have a sense of humor about them from Minaj and M.I.A.’s more contemporary solos.

Although songs on MDNA don’t seamlessly lead into one another as they did on Confessions, their depth of background harmonies merits a second or third listen.

The last time this feature appeared was on Confessions, but they seemed dismal if even noticeable on Hard Candy.

Any fan of Madonna’s later dance albums will be more than happy to see this style return, especially with the absence of megastars Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, two of the producers of Hard Candy.

This time, the influences of electronic powerhouses Alle and Benny Benassi promise to turn the album back toward the memorable dance tracks on Confessions.

The influences of house and techno music, expected results from working with Benassi, give way to more mainstream pop elements on “Give me All Your Lovin’.”

With so many elements of Madonna’s career reincarnated on MDNA, one could say that she hasn’t actually put forth anything “new” with this new album.

Yet even with a seeming lack of innovation, MDNA combines the pulsating dance songs from the more recent phases of her career with the lighthearted beats her fans found so memorable from the first decade of her success.

Just like the triple entendre of name, essence and addiction in the album title, MDNA is the perfect tripartite mixture of Madonna’s musical talents.

In her fourth decade of creating songs, it’s clear that Madonna is nowhere close to allowing the countless new singers after her jeweled, trendsetting image defeat her.

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Here's one from The West Australian:

Madonna MDNA review:

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3 stars

The queen of reinvention and the queen of pop music. These two titles go hand in hand when it comes to Madonna. At 53 and on her 12th studio album, the idea of ageing gracefully probably occurred to her at some point, but instead she's aimed fairly and squarely at the kids, opting for commercial dance and high-profile collaborations.

Even the clever appropriation of her name in the album's title, MDNA, speaks to the kids and a new world of abbreviations on mobile phones and social media. It looks fresh and exciting, a MDNA that we haven't met before. Of course, this is no reinvention of pop music. But with a new label, and with dance music reigning over the charts, the timing for a Madonna makeover was inevitable.

Opener and latest single Girl Gone Wild is a hooky slab of commercial dance pop care of Benny Benassi, who is also behind I'm Addicted two tracks later. It's difficult to justify this sort of blatant populist hunt and with a theme that seems to echo the Girls Gone Wild video franchise this is perhaps Madonna at her least inspirational.

Much better are her collaborations with William Orbit, whose return for the first time since Ray of Light is a welcome one.

Set to a violent and menacing beat, Gang Bang stands out. The slow-building club track even manages to include a tasteful dubstep breakdown, the song rating as the most sinister Madonna has committed to tape.

Another Orbit collaboration, the Golden Globe-winning ballad Masterpiece, is also included and provides a nice change up but it's closing track Falling Free that is the album's stand-out.

Recalling her most atmospheric Ray of Light work, Falling Free is everything Madonna has been missing since she last worked with Orbit.

The other main collaborator is Martin Solveig and his work on first single Give Me All Your Luvin', featuring a ripping verse from Nicki Minaj and a cameo from M.I.A., is a whole lot of fun. Solveig and Minaj also combine on I Don't Give A.

As Madonna's first new album since the career-spanning Celebration, one would be forgiven for hoping this semi-self-titled release would be the next coming of one of the world's most popular artists. From time to time MDNA does sound reinvigorated but what inevitably hurts is the range of producers making for an uneven listen, with tasteful moments sitting uncomfortably next to cheesy main room house.

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A mixed review from The Age:

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Madonna (Universal) ★★★

NEARING the end of her third decade in the industry, the name Madonna is still big enough to open media doors, to be an automatic subject of debate and review. Even when discussing contemporary cultural lightning rods such as Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., our discourse often turns on compare/contrasts with Madonna at her peak of performance, image, music and media manipulation. It's been a while, however, since those opened doors guaranteed any kind of stay at the centre of things. This is despite constant, some might say frantic, efforts to remain fashionable. Madonna doesn't do consolidation and examination in depth; her currency always was being smart enough to distil what's current.

Unfortunately, what worked spectacularly for the first 17 years has been wildly inconsistent this century. Given 2008's Hard Candy was decidedly rubbish, we're due a decent album and MDNA should be a refresher course in why Madonna Louise Ciccone outgunned and outlasted pretty much everyone who came up with her. But it isn't.

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Not for lack of effort, though - as an extended version of this album with 17 tracks across 68 minutes shows. So, among its seven producers, MDNA finds her back with William Orbit, who helped redefine her with the very good Ray of Light; sharing vocals with Minaj and M.I.A.; leaning heavily on often thumping dance-floor sounds; and working whatever angle she can to generate some tabloid-goosing outrage.

It is the last element that is the first sign of this album's significant weakness: trying too hard. Gang Bang has a recurring, abrasive scratchy rumble that is promising but its petty-crime narrative's language (''Drive bitch, and while you're at it, die bitch'') reeks of look-at-me. More laughable, though, are Girl Gone Wild and I'm a Sinner whose Catholic-girl-in-heat lines have you yawning before you get to ''Hail Mary full of grace, get down on your knees and pray''.

And really, if you're going to use Minaj and M.I.A, you want to make sure they don't outshine you so easily and the songs aren't as trite and disposable as Give Me All Your Luvin' (saved from being the worst song on the album only by the empty Some Girls) and I Don't Give A.

Interestingly, the latter is one of three songs, including one of the bonus tracks, that address the end of her last marriage. She moves from bitterness there to reflective (the winning, lightly electronic ballad Falling Free) and even a bit of humility (the unfortunately flatlined electronic pulse of I F---ed Up). What a pity equal thought was not given to the just plain dumb lyrics of Superstar or the melody of the just plain dull Masterpiece. And what a waste that she didn't pursue more compelling pieces of hands-in-the-air dance such as I'm Addicted and Turn Up the Radio.

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Can't see this one either from The Herald:

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Madonna: Album review: MDNA

SO far this is that rarest of things - a Madonna album arriving minus a global hit single.

The two doses of MDNA so far - Give Me All Your Luvin' and Girl Gone Wild - were overwhelmingly underwhelming.

Like the misguided R&B of Hard Candy, MDNA finds Madonna arriving at the tail-end of a trend - banging Euro house and electro-pop. Sure she's done that sound since Lady Gaga and Rihanna were zygotes, but the fact is there's nothing as good as Gaga's Bad Romance here.

Her shuffling with LMFAO at the Superbowl indicated her goal for this album - to get back on pop radio and appear "down" with "the kids" without having to stoop to Twitter or interacting with fans and their dreaded hydrangea.

There are good moments on MDNA, but it's not Madonna at the top of her game. Turn Up the Radio is yet another song about the power of music (she summed that up perfectly in Into the Groove back in 1985). She's at her best when she's being radio-unfriendly. Gang Bang showcases her obsession with death and murder, while producer William Orbit, who reinvented her career with Ray of Light, serves up a curious mix of bleeps and bullets.

Orbit is the saviour here - great ballads Masterpiece and Falling Free are the kind of classy songs those complaining about the pop world's most flexible 53-year-old should love.

Those looking for an insight into her split with Guy Ritchie can focus on I Don't Give A - "I tried to be your wife, diminished myself and I swallowed my light". This is balanced out by I F---ed Up ("You brought out the best in me, and somehow I destroyed the perfect dream") and Best Friend ("Every man that walks through that door will be compared to you forever more").

So it's another frustratingly mixed Madge bag. Confessions on a Dancefloor saw Madonna do this party-record genre so much better. This is more concessions to a dance floor.

Madonna - MDNA (Universal)

Stars: ★★★

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Here's a better one from The Vine:

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MDNA is Madonna’s 12th studio album and—most interestingly—her first since Lady Gaga’s ascent to stardom. Thankfully, it doesn’t try to outdo Gaga’s theatrical quirks or mimic the Material Girl’s glory days. Instead, the ageless pop star concentrates on what she does best: tight dancefloor anthems loaded with sexual politics.

Madonna does recruit former collaborator William Orbit (from 1998’s Ray of Light) on several tracks, but also taps France’s Martin Solveig and Italy’s Benny and Alle Benassi, as repeated co-producers, among others. She's said she set out to make a truly rhythmic album—from production to vocal phrasing—and the bulk of these songs bounce off the walls. If there are certain indulgent touches along the way, it’s mostly a disciplined, sculpted dance-pop record.

‘Girl Gone Wild’ heralds MDNA with a bad girl’s confession to God that fits into the Madonna continuum somewhere close to ‘Like A Prayer’. If its bubblegum chorus appears set on autopilot, it’s catchy and firmly grasps the clubby techno that defines MDNA. ‘I’m Addicted’ later shows much more conviction, stuttering what might otherwise be a forgettable chorus (“I’m addicted to your love”) and, more importantly, finding empowerment in a La Roux-style steeliness of spirit.

Madonna’s vocals sound eerily young on the innocent-minded throwback ‘Turn Up the Radio’, even as her bubbliness on ‘Some Girls’ belies pointed critiques of other ladies. Lead single ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’’ bottles pop abandon while tapping a newer generation, with guest turns from a brooding M.I.A. and cartoonish Nicki Minaj. Minaj also guests on ‘I Don’t Give A’, hijacking Jay-Z’s classic “businessman / business, man” line while stealing the show. That said, its harmony-rich, faux-operatic finish is easily the album’s best structural surprise.

The best actual song is ‘Love Spent’, a love-of-money lament with rhymes that are sophisticated next to the purposeful simplicity elsewhere. “I guess if I was your treasury / You’d have found time to treasure me” she sings, before trying out the iffy $100 pun “Frankly if my name was Benjamin / We wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.” It’s fizzy synth-pop devoted to the dark side of materialism, and it includes both a fleeting lick of that ABBA sample from Madonna’s ubiquitous 2005 hit ‘Hung Up’ and the cynical final line “Hold me in your arms until there’s nothing left.” (Maybe thank Morrissey’s co-writer Alain Whyte, who has a credit.)

It’s to Madonna’s credit that the songs that initially feel weakest on MDNA fare better after multiple visits. The Golden Globe-winning ‘Masterpiece’ may be a soppy romantic tribute, but it’s also an effective ballad. And as silly as Madonna sounds comparing her subject to Abe Lincoln and Bruce Lee on ‘Superstar’, she makes it sweet as well as earnest. On the other hand, ‘I’m A Sinner’ diverges from its club-ready mantra (“I’m a sinner / I like it that way”) with lyrics about riding a “magic bus” and then a “Hail Mary” bit that references Jesus and a few saints too.

Still, all of this works. All except ‘Gang Bang’, a would-be confrontational track from the perspective of someone mingling lust with death. It’s slow, grinding and full of passé trash-talking -- the only song that’s not imminently repeatable.

The regular edition of MDNA is wisely kept to a dozen tracks, while the deluxe version adds the ridiculous assassin valentine ‘Beautiful Killer’ (“Like a samurai you can handle the heat”), the okay ballads ‘I Fucked Up’ and ‘Best Friend’, the M.I.A.-guesting ‘B-Day Song’ and a “party rock remix” of ‘Give Me All Your Luvin.’” They’re all silly and don’t hold up nearly as well as the proper album.

MDNA may be all about Madonna sticking to her strengths and re-establishing herself as a viable brand, but there’s also a daring, offbeat track in the closing ‘Falling Free’. It’s wide open and oddly passive, with piano and lurking strings, and a co-writing credit from respected multi-hyphenate Joe Henry. All spectral ambience, it sees Orbit and Madonna strip away the very rhythms that make MDNA so kinetic. Musically and lyrically, it’s heartfelt and potentially cheesy. But it’s also a gasp of fresh air that’s more Kate Bush than Lady Gaga.

Madonna has her work cut out for her in 2012: she’s facing more challengers to her throne than ever before, and she’s a middle-aged pop star in an industry fed on ingénues. But MDNA is satisfying in the best way, hooking us early with the wiry production and then upping our investment with emotional nuances. Beyond her savvy as a co-writer and co-producer, she’s still just a great pop voice. And here Madonna sounds neither weary nor artificially young. She sounds eternal.

Doug Wallen

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Here's one from Time Out Sydney:

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Madonna's MDNA Four Stars

This weekend Time Out eagerly wheeled through Madonna's latest, MDNA. It probably won't win over the unitiated, but for fans burned by Madge's last outing, the album is a fine return to form (form being latter-day Madge's serviceable dance-pop). Here's our take, one song at a time...

Girls Gone Wild (3.43)

MDNA’s opening salvo is its statement of purpose: there will be prayer, there will be a ‘newly single’ vibe and there will be Euro club beats. Lots. Of. Them. What there won’t be is an overabundance of instantly grabby hooks (despite all the bouncy, staccato “desi-i-i-i-re” business). Still, the Benny Benassi-produced track recalls Confessions on a Dancefloor; which is a good thing – even if we’re not kicking off with a bang, at least we know we’re not sucking on Hard Candy anymore.

Gang Bang (5.26)

Madge is possessed by a mouthy Nancy Sinatra in this way-OTT experiment produced by Mr Nelly Futardo, Demacio Castellon: “Bang bang, shot you dead, shot my lover in the head” goes the strangely jaunty chorus. It’s mostly spoken against a bassy throb, and it mostly works, despite some bizarre lyrical flourishes – Madonna yelling, “Now drive, bitch!” feels wrong, but there are probably English chauffeurs who’d disagree. And the dubstep breakdown that grinds the song to its finale is pretty awesome, like Skrillex remixed by Megatron.

I’m Addicted (4.33)

More Benassi fuzz-noise here, a ‘your love is my addiction’ series of mish-mashed build-ups that will work in clubs and on jogging tracks... not likely to do much for you elsewhere. The "M-D-N-A" chant at the end ain’t half bad, and the post-chorus snare palpitations excite, but overall this is overcooked. Should have been taken out about ten minutes earlier and rested.

Turn Up the Radio (3.46)

The album’s best moment is a thow-way-back: a synth-driven and fluttery ode to the pulling power of music that feels delightfully “old Madonna”, with some house inflections. The lyrics are goofily bland – “Drown out the noise and turn up the volume” – and French DJ Martin Solveig knows when to push a Guetta-style build and when to throw in a hard break. It may not quite be the bliss-fest that is Kylie’s more brilliant ‘All the Lovers’, but by God it's a fan-pleaser.

Give Me all Your Luvin’ (featuring Nicki Minaj and MIA) (3.23)

The album’s first single was roundly panned… and rightly so. It’s a pop music ‘Turducken’: a decent bit of old-school Madge stuffed with turbo-speed Nicki Minaj and some lazy-sounding MIA, then wrapped in a Gwen Stefani-style cheerleader chant. The kind of thing you dream about when you’re feeling all mushy at Arq, but will really just gives you a stomachache. A shame, because the main thread is solid. And Minaj is always good – but squished into a 10-second bracket, she sounds like Vicky Pollard explaining why she barged into the recording session.

Some Girls (3.24)

Swedish producer Klas Ahlund (responsible for Ke$ha’s great ‘Blow’) and William Orbit (who worked on Ray of Light) squeeze Madge into android mode here. How they manage to remove even more personality from her voice, we don’t know, but hearing it float characterless above their rich and infectious looping beats, we’re glad they did. It works. Still, it must be said, there’s a creepy Japanese sex robot thing going on when she sings, “Wrap your arms around my neck, it’s time to steal some hugs today.”

Superstar (3.55)

You might be keen to dismiss this one: we won’t. It’s one of the album’s strongest, and again – take the hint Ms Ciccone – it’s all about throwback. Simple, Lourdes-light, and almost dumbly poppy – “ooh la la you’re my superstar, ooh la la that’s what you are” – and with some meta conjuring of one her own biggest hits – “You’re like Brando on the silver screen” – it’s unambitious, saccharine and would pair nicely with a bottle of passion pop and a good Molly Ringwald montage.

I Don’t Give A (4.19)

This dubby bit of braggadocio has us fighting an internal battle. On the one hand, we feel it’s a bit off that poor Guy Ritchie not only has come out of his divorce looking about three feet tall, but now has to put up with a lyrical lashing like this: “I tried to be a good girl, tried to be a wife, diminish myself, swallowed my light.” But then… well we just want to dance. Minaj is given a chance to shine here. Though hearing her just reminds us of when Madonna herself would release straight-out pop gems as good as ‘Starships’. Sigh…

I’m a Sinner (4.52)

Another good Orbit-produced track, big on the smiley ’60s vibe and reminiscent of ‘Beautiful Stranger’, her song for the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack. Oh and there’s more prayer – “Hail Mary, full of Grace, get down on your knees and pray” – plus a run-through of your most important saints and what they did – “St Anthony lost and found, Thomas Aquinus stand your ground, all those Saints and Holy Men, catch me before I sin again.” Clangy and snare-stuffed, it’s a great bit of sexy pop. Stick around for the breakdown.

Love Spent (3.46)

‘Love Spent’ begins with plucky guitar, and if that makes you think, ‘Don’t Tell Me’, you won’t be the only one. And while there’s nothing country about this – with stressed strings, tinkered-with vocals and fast, fumbling beats, it’s like a delicate rave – the two tracks share a darkness. If you’re wondering who might have inspired said darkness, check out the lyric: “You played, with my heat, til death do we part, that’s what we said. Now you have you have your fast car, women and bars, it’s gone to your head… Love me like your money, spend it til there’s nothing.”

Masterpiece (4.00)

It’s pretty, and a nice change from the rest of the album’s insistent “get your ass on the floor” vibe, but this ballad never takes. Orbit does some nice work with the minimal, bass-click-click beat, but given her limitations, Madge really needs a strong melody when she slows things down. ‘Masterpiece’ does not provide. What it does provide is one helluva lyrical clunker in the opening truism, “If you were the Mona Lisa, You’d be hanging in the Louvre.” And it may well give some pop-loving student a nice thesis topic: the popularity of museum-based extended metaphors in pop music in 2012 (see Regina Spektor’s newby … if you must).

Falling Free (5.13)

Rich strings, a light tinkle of keys, the occasional spot of electro disturbance… this is the better ballad of the album’s two. It’s also evidence that Madge might have spent time too much time across the pond – it sure sounds like she’s picked up some kind of Celtic lilt. If the rest of the album would feel right turned up to 11 in some skeezy Ibiza club, this is more suited to frolicking in the Sire or a poignant moment’s reflection in King’s Landing.

Bonus tracks

Of the bonus tracks, ‘I Fucked Up’ is the one most deserving of a place in the album proper. Lyrically honest and with kicky beats that skitter beneath like muffled firecrackers, it’s an awesome sign-off. Even if Madge does sound like a tipsy toff being dared to say the F-word.

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The Courier Mail:

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Madonna shows how good she can be on new album MDNA

FOR years now the story about Madonna has mostly been about the celebrity rather than about her music.

Perhaps that will always happen with someone who blazes as bright as she has. Then again, in the past decade there hasn't been much new music worth getting excited about.

And that's a pity, because her last really strong record, 1998 album Ray of Light, was an exciting collision of pop music and electronica, a sonic trip that still stands up today.

Of late, Lady Gaga has taken over the Madonna mantle as purveyor of colourful techno-with-attitude to the masses, and she's done it with songs not a million miles removed from you-know-who. No doubt Madonna's competitive instincts have been fired: here she co-produces and co-writes every track, and brings UK electronic whiz William Orbit, her collaborator on Ray Of Light, back to the fold.

There is still some dancefloor fluff: the fingernails-on-chalk ditty Give Me All Your Luvin' seems to be aimed at the pre-teen market.

Granted, no one goes to Madonna seeking Leonard Cohen-style lyrical insights. And on songs like Gang Bang - the title is not the worst thing about it, I'm afraid - you certainly don't get it.

I'm Addicted is better, a throbbing slice of electronica. And she can still come up with effortlessly breezy pop of the kind with which she brightened a million '80s parties, songs like Superstar and the daffy I'm a Sinner.

It helps that she has something to write about with the break-up of her marriage: an air of melancholy suffuses the later tracks and that suits her well. There is Love Spent, a bust-up tune that mixes pounding beats, '80s-sounding synths and even some banjo.

Masterpiece rejects the disco/techno paradigm, a lilting tune that's Latin-flavoured, both rhythmically and melodically. Even better is Falling Free, with its almost trad-folk melody set against a stirring string arrangement. It's really beautiful, and musically adventurous. Tracks like these and an ace pop song called I F---ed Up on the bonus disc are a reminder how good Madonna can be when she's being serious.

Would she sell as many records if she did it more often? I like to think so, but the answer is probably not.

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Guest groovyguy


Luv this review. It hits the nail on the head!

Next Magazine

MDNA - The Right Track

Madonna’s new album might not be her best, but it still manages to prove her abilty to shoot down critics in a world of increasing imitators.

I think not only do we suffer from racism and sexism and things like that, but we also suffer from ageism, that once you reach a certain age you aren’t allowed to be adventurous or sexual. I think that’s rather hideous. A lot of people have said, ‘Oh, it’s so pathetic. I hope she’s not still doing that in 10 years.’ But who cares? What if I am? What—is there a rule? Are you supposed to just die when you’re 40…Why? Life is long.”—Madonna in 1992 at age 34

On MDNA, Madonna’s 12th studio album, she seems to have entered the Wild West—she’s shooting people, telling people to fuck off, a sinning girl gone wild. And she is indeed traversing uncharted territory—a pop star attempting to stay relevant at 53, nearly two decades after she defended herself in the opening quote.

Critics have long gunned for Madonna. And throughout she has proven a champion, pioneering new paradigms for being a pop star—from her theatrical stage shows to her business model to her constant evolution of looks and sounds (now all prerequisites for pop divas). But along the way she has tackled issues much bigger than stardom or herself: from feminism (helping redefine the ’80s/early-’90s model), sexual orientation (co-opting and celebrating homosexuality in her work) and spirituality (rarely have pop songs shared such spiritual ecstasy as “Like a Prayer” and “Ray of Light”).

On MDNA she traverses preconceived notions about age and, in many respects, succeeds. Ever the excellent collaborator, M works a winning formula: tapping rising dance producers (here Martin Solveig and Benny Benassi) and harnessing their sound for a more mainstream pop audience. And for safe measure, she also enlists Ray of Light producer William Orbit.

It becomes clear early in the album that there are some dark demons to exhume. “Gang Bang,” one of her most intriguing, edgy tracks in years, serves up some serious revenge-fantasy drama. “Beautiful Killer” (among the album’s more radio-friendly tracks) ends in a gunshot and gleefully borrows a melody from another M song about killing: “Die Another Day.”

Madonna reserves some serious artillery for both critics and her ex-husband Guy Ritchie—and delivers the confessional goods with the similarly titled “I Don’t Give A” and “I Fucked Up,” two of MDNA’s strongest tracks. Throughout the album, in fact, she goes deep into the divorce—clearly leaving her angry, scared and vulnerable. And the most relatable she’s been in ages.

There’s still some frothy fun to be had here. “Turn Up the Radio” is the album’s most obvious hit (honestly, should’ve been the first single)—classic Madonna updated with some Solveig savvy. “I’m Addicted”—while a trite concept—is adapted into a delicious dance-floor stomper.

In the Madonna oeuvre, MDNA is definitely better than Music, but not her Ray of Light or Like a Prayer best. But you can’t fault someone for continuing to be adventurous, sexual, not giving a fuck and making an album that any primadonna half her age will envy. Leave it to Madonna for setting yet another new pop paradigm and—bang! bang!—once again winning the Wild West.

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The (rather large) Q review.


Wow Thanks for posting !

Excellent Review !

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OMG, funkyd. :inlove: I was not going to buy that stupid rag, but rather just read it in the shops. I buy Mojo and Uncut anyway - sadly no review from Uncut. :(

ETA: Actually I'm more interested in this review than I thought, it's Simon Goddard who's wrote books on Moz, also was an Uncut writer. Great stuff, wouldn't expect that. Cheers my Celtic brother. :thumbsup:

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Veja Magazine - Biggest magazine in Brazil (translation):

SHE WANTS THE THRONE BACK - With MDNA, your 12th album, Madonna shows why she still is the biggest icon of pop music.

It's not easy being Madonna. That means, for example, be challenged every moment by young and willing singers, which still keep the insolent manner that she had at the Like A Virgin times. Or has sold 300 million albums and brought many innovations to the music and dance that every release of her is analysed with much more rigor than any other pop star. Or spending nearly three decades breaking down barriers of behavior and sexuality and, at 53, having to march alongside lasses to confirm yourself as a sex symbol. On the other hand, has never been easier being Madonna: in a scenario in which singers like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears copy much more the daring behavior of Madonna than her flair for music, does not take much effort to beat the rivals . MDNA, the 12th album of Madonna, is not even your best. But handily outperforms the competition.

Madonna produced the album with a multinational team - the english William Orbit, the french Martin Solveig and the italian Benny Benassi - all discovered by Madonna when they still have no career. In tracks like Gang Bang, she flirts with dubstep, a rhythm on the rise among the electronic tribes. Others bring the raps of Nicky Minaj and M.I.A. (both presents at the legendary Madonna concert in the final of the Super Bowl in February). But Madonna rarely goes out of her comfort zone: dance music, with influences from disco and electronic pop, and ballads. In this area, Falling Free, with climatic keyboards and a string arrangement of good taste, deserves to rank among the best songs from her catalogue.

For those who have made an anti-abortion song (Papa Don't Preach) and protested against the Iraq War (American Life), singing that "girls just wanna have fun", as she does in Girl Gone Wild, it may seem a step backwards. But this facet of modern goody is succeeded by seven spiteful songs directed at her ex-husband, Guy Ritchie. "Wake up, ex-wife / This is your life / I tried to be your wife / Diminished myself / And swallow my light," she sings in I Don't Give A. Really, it's not easy being Madonna. But still is a lot better than be Lady Gaga or Katy Perry.

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SomeofShane, I believe the Mojo review appears on this page (Lucy O'Brien, who penned Madonna: Like an Icon and other music works).

Thanks! Love Lucy! And that was an excellent review! Now to read Q!

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all reviews in Germany have been very bad. i am really surprised about this, because Germany showed some major LUV for her in the past decade (contrary to the 80ies or 90ies). anyone from there knows what happened?

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