Friday, March 30, 2012

Madonna - MDNA (2012)

It is often a true sign of a master to make things look so deceptively effortless; after all, Madonna's only had three decades to perfect her craft.  It is perhaps this very reason that some critics, on first glance, has given her 12th album the brush off.

A four year hiatus after 2008's Hard Candy, she appears re-energised with a renewed sense of purpose.  Perhaps it's to reclaim her throne borrowed by Lady Gaga; perhaps it's to lay a solid groundwork for Interscope Records (This being her first away from Warner Brothers since 1982); perhaps it's a freedom cry after her divorce from Guy Ritchie.  It's also her 30th anniversary celebration in the business.

Enlisting world-class dance producers Benny Benassi, Martin Solveig and long time collaborator William Orbit as well as artists M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj, she has kept her sound fresh with a contemporary bite.

MDNA (An obvious play on MDMA aka 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine aka Ecstasy) has all the elements of a great dance-pop album:  Pumping rubbery bass with thumping beats, edgy and pulsing electro flourishes, robotic jerkpop to ragga-monster raps via M.I.A. and Nicki keeps proceedings fierce on the autobiographical and attitude-laden I Don't Give A (ala Kanye West's Monster); whilst boppy cheerleader girlpop and pseudo-operatic choir provides the balance between the harder club tracks and the radio-friendly ones.  Heck, there's even a cod banjo moment.

A close cousin of La Isla Bonita features a brief sampling of herself sampling ABBA on Masterpiece (Hung Up/Gimme Gimme Gimme).  The requisite slow sad song replete with strings on Falling Free is arguably not the best song to close Disc 1.
The pace picks up again on Disc 2 and it's obvious her strength is in the upbeat numbers.
My recommendation would be to listen to both discs as a whole.

Self-recrimination, confession, surrender, regret, anger, defiance and resolution all make for heady themes on a genre (pop) generally devoid of such depths.

Girl Gone Wild (Uncensored, NSFW):

Give Me All Your Luvin' (Feat. M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj):

Her half time performance on 5/2/2012:

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

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