Madonna’s new album MDNA is less than the sum of its parts. The blame falls on her denial/delusion regarding her age. While she is an icon and has been since first bursting on to the music scene, she achieved the status by consistently reinventing herself. Based on this record, it seems she finally ran out of ideas.
The techno-flavored ‘”Girl Gone Wild” begins with a short, religion-inspired monologue. Once the filtered vocals finally kick in they make Madonna sound like Britney Spears (not in a good way). Despite Madonna’s many incarnations her age and music seem dissonant. Fifty year old women gone wild are scarier than girls gone wild.
“Gang Bang” is industrial-inspired techno over which Madonna whispers for an edgier effect. “I’m Addicted” follows. Here the vocals ring truer to her signature style but the classic-pop is accompanied by lyrics that should be coming from a lustful teenager, but they’re not.
The beat is pretty good. But unoriginal on “Turn Up The Radio.” “Give Me All Your Luvin” featuring M.I.A and Nicki Minaj is fun, mainly because of the collaborators. Their input spices up what otherwise would have been a boring song with a “don’t play the stupid games cause I’m a different type of girl” theme. Ironic, considering the paint by numbers feel of this album.
A monologue kicks off “Some Girls,” a bonafide dance track with an LMFAO feel. Madonna sings about being the perfect lover for a man she’s interested in. Hearing a 54 year old sing a song that would have better suited Kim Kardashian is hard to take seriously. It feels like she’s losing her dignity in a failing attempt to stay relevant.
Fortunately “Superstar” has a kick ass beat and features some playful vocal work, especially during “ohlala your my superstar, ohlala that’s what you are.” Unfortunately the track is lyrically totally lame. Madonna compares her lover to multiple historic figures like Lincoln, Caesar and many others. This just makes me think of her age as I’m trying not to refer to it.
“I Don’t Give A,” featuring Nicki Minaj bumps although it seems to be about Madonna’s breakup with ex-husband Richie. Nicky’s rapping spices up what otherwise would’ve been a meh song, although the choir and instrumental ensemble towards the end were nice.
“I’m A Sinner” makes me believe Madge misses the 80’s since there are numerous religious references on the track. It has been approximately three decades since “Like a Virgin” and the provocative nun costumes, it is time to stop. Despite the good beats, lyrics like “I’m a sinner, I like it that way,” are naïve and childish.
A missed opportunity arrives with “Love Spent” which drops its acoustic underpinnings for a been-there-done-that techno finish. Next up is “Masterpiece” with an electronic drum beating over another acoustic melody. It is the first track where Madonna’s vocal ability is evident and thankfully she sings about love without that “girl gone wild” crap.
Chimes or electronic strings appear on “Falling Free” with somber and organic vocals floating over them. The music and lyrics are refreshingly more creative which is welcomed on this record. On “Beautiful Killer” Madonna’s vocals and lyrics are more elaborate but the melody sticks to the techno train.
“I Fucked Up” is mellow and paced picking up slightly towards the end. In contrast the “B-day Song” has a more up-beat tone. The lyrics “I’m a happy girl. It’s my birthday song, in a happy world” seem to be written for Lordes but in that case, Lordes should have sung the song
“Best Friend” rolls around with lyrics sounding like something a depressed teenager in a relationship with a naive guy might have written. Happily, the remixed “Give Me All Your Luving” by LMFAO is last. It’s a cool club track that may be better than original. Think of it as the “Party Rock Anthem” circa 1980.
I firmly believe that a 50 year old can make a great and youthful album, however to constantly refer to herself as a “girl” (especially if you have not been one in forty years) is no longer acceptable. Madonna is trying too hard. Collaborating with young talent is fun and keeps established talent relevant, however aging gracefully is important, otherwise the youth may mistake you for a joke.
Out of 5
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