Only Madonna can turn every new album launch into a global affair. (MDNA, Madonna’s 12th studio album, at the time of writing, has topped iTunes charts worldwide). An artist to be still very much in demand and as exciting and influential as ever after three decades in the business is truly remarkable. As we all know, Madonna is notorious for her constant reinvention and her undying desire to defy age. However, staying relevant with current music trends to appeal to a young generation could also mean an utter disappointment for her long-time loyal fans who are no longer in their teens and who now expect some depth of artistry and maturity from the icon that she has become. Unfortunately, that’s what is lacking here on MDNA.
That being said, MDNA, is not a terrible album though I won’t call it revolutionary. It is in fact much better than 2008’s Hard Candy. Madonna being Madonna, only having a little too much fun this time and not being too ambitious. Let’s just put it that way. But all essential Madonna elements are there. Infectious choruses and killer hooks? Check! Explicit, racy and often mindless lyrics? Check! Controversial themes and spoken messages? Check! Radio-friendly songs and clubs-can’t-handle-me dance tracks? Check!
Honestly, I hated the lead single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’” when it first came out but now I’m serioulsy hooked. All I needed was to hear it play in the clubs a few times. The second single, “Girl Gone Wild”, on the other hand, does not need a second listen. It immediately grows on you like a fungus. “I Fucked Up” is a song adorned with a simple melody and a universally relatable topic (the title says it all!!!) “Falling Free” finds Madonna trying her hand at poetry (When I move a certain way, I feel an ache I’d kept at bay. A hairline break that’s taking hold. A metal that I thought was gold). “Falling Free” and “Masterpiece” (a Golden Globe winner for Best Song, taken from her movie “W.E”) showcase not only her familiar nasally voice also the flip side of Madonna, stripped free of dance beats, gimmicks and engineered vocals. Two of my favorite songs.
“Gang Bang” (The song has nothing to do with its provocative title sadly) and “Some Girls” both sound so Electro-to-the-extreme that even her singing voice is unrecognizable. “I’m A Sinner” (reminds me of “Beautiful Stranger”) and the euphoric “Love Spent” (I don’t blame her for asking the club-goers “Have you seen Molly?”at a recent event); with tracks like these, I believe the presence of Molly would be such a delight. These stellar dance tracks also welcome back her “Ray Of Light” collaborator, William Orbit. Obviously, there is so much chemistry between the two. “I’m Addicted” and “Turn Up The Radio” are also great club anthems that could do well as her next singles.
Age is nothing but a number to Madonna. Even so, for her, at 53, to be singing a song like “B-day Song” is unforgivable. It’s one of those songs that you would feel ashamed for playing accidentally on your iPod shuffle during a party. “Best Friend” and “Beautiful Killer” do nothing for me as well. “I Don’t Give A” is allegedly about her ex-husband but it is rather unflattering and a bit juvenile. And that Nicki Minaj girl does get around eh? She’s guesting on every musician’s album. What’s next? A duet with Andrea Bocelli?
Many critics are saying that Madonna is “trying to hard”, “not acting her age” or worse, comparing her to some new comers. I don’t think it is fair at all for she is at this stage in her career where she does not need to prove herself anymore. She does not need to dress up some DIY Halloween costumes or be overtly sexual to shock the public. Madonna to be honest has done it all, frighteningly to a point that there’s nothing left to be done. It is true she does not stretch herself too much with MDNA. Although I enjoy this album as it is, I would have liked her to be more musically experimental. No boundaries are pushed. No rules are broken. That is so un-Madonna. In fact, she plays it too safe and therefore neither artistic growth nor innovation can be witnessed. I bet it is time we demand “Ray Of Light – Part Deux” from the queen.