What pop culture-related blog would be complete without a review of the new Madonna album, MDNA? So – here goes; my take on each track follows. It’s kind of a fun album, so weigh in with your own thoughts.
Girl Gone Wild – Pure dance magic. Love this song and love the video. Yes, it’s retro, the video is straight from the Erotica days and the music is what Vogue might have been if it was released on the Ray of Light album. I literally have not been able to get this song out of my head. I swam a mile and a half the other afternoon singing this song in my head over and over and over. Sadly, this means I’ll be sick of it in about a week.
Gang Bang – It’s dark. You’ll find yourself wondering about the story behind the song, but it’s hard to grab a realistic narrative from the music. With lyrics like “how could I move on with my life if you didn’t die for me, baby,” it’s a bit severe at times. Some critics have panned it, but I think it’s a great example of Madonna/William orbit collaboration. It reminds a little of something you might have heard on the Kill Bill or Romeo & Juliet soundtracks
To those who feel the lyrics are juvenile, you can put things in perspective by remembering Madge’s lyrics from the Music album – “I want to singie, singie singie like a bird on a wingie, wingie wingie…” enough said.
I’m Addicted – With lyrics like “when did your name change from language to magic,” this number feels disconnected, but not in a bad way. It feels a little like the part of a dream when you’re starting to wake up. It’s melodic, but not in an expected way – you think the song is taking you in one direction and then suddenly it zags and takes you to a completely different place. I’m not crazy about the MDNA chorus at the end… it’s a little self-indulgent. That’s something that happens on the LUV track too. It’s distracting from the music.
Turn up the Radio – A feel good song in the spirit of Donna Summer meets Petula Clark. Yes, I went there. The song is boppy and pleasant, but it’s essentially a re-imagination of Down Town…. I’ll still listen to it, but it’s not an emotional stunner.
Give Me All Your Luvin – If you’re a big fan of early Madonna, this is the song for you. It is derivative of the Borderline era music that we all grew up on… ok, well some of us grew up on. The net/net? It’s catchy and well produced, but it’s sooooo sweet. It actually makes me a little uncomfortable. The chanting of her own name during the chorus in this tune is the second example of self-indulgence that distracts from the music.
Some Girls – I really like this one, but I think it’s because it’s a new story for Madonna. This album is an interesting combination of stuff you’ve heard before and new stories that you haven’t. Some Girls falls into the “what’s new” category. Caveat – some die-hard fans will liken this song to the track “She’s Not Me” from the Hard Candy album. I disagree – that song was about a cheating lover, this one is about finding an identity. What she does with this tune is talk to us about herself, but in the third person. It’s also put to a very cool club beat and a great vocal track.
Superstar – Again, this emerges from the depths of the Borderline era – like dinosaurs rising from the tarpits, fully in tact and hungry. It’s an ok song. It’s very sweet and it’s got a nice simple melody. But – the lyrics are syrupy and a little silly. Not my favorite.
I Don’t Give A – OK, now we’re getting into some serious existential shiz with this track. This is the other side of “American Life” the first track on the album of the same name. The music is intense and sucks you in, but it’s a little over the top. ” I’m gonna be OK, I don’t care what the people say” – it rings a little bit of Michael Jackson in his post child abuse trial work. I love the Nikki Minaj overlay, and the Carmina Burana-like score at the end of the piece is lovely – it is very much a throw back to the drama in mid nineties dance music. Awesome, if a little rich.
I’m a Sinner – This brings us Madonna in her upper register set against a beat that would be more at home on the Music album…. It’s good and I could totally see myself playing it on long drives and just rocking out to it. But, it’s not a song to think about – it’s a little short on substance. That’s ok – not everything has to be deep. It’s groovy and I’ll boogie to it. Of note – she actually addresses most of the major saints in this tune – from St Sebastian through to St. Anthony….
Love Spent – This is simply a masterpiece. It’s somewhat akin to Die Another Day, but it is Orbit/Madonna at their creative best. It brings in a lone banjo track and merges it into a lush bouquet of synth pop, then marries it to great vocal, again with Madonna in her upper register. There is some pretty interesting meaning behind the lyrics – “hold me like your money, tell me that you want me, spend your love on me” – it is not Earth shattering, but it makes you reflect on your own priorities. While I love, love, love this piece, it is also somewhat derivative of the lesser known tunes from the Like A Prayer era. If you listen to the two tracks – Oh Father and This is Not a Love Song, you’ll see a lot of similarities in the sounds.
Masterpiece – This goes straight to the days of Take a Bow. I almost expect there to be a bullfighter in the video. That said, it’s a beautiful ballad. Enough said – if you like soft, thoughtful Madonna, this is your song.
Falling Free – Very cool, lush ballad. This song received a lot of praise from the critics. It’s beautiful and again, the lyrics are nice and lend themselves to self reflection – “when I move a certain way, I feel an ache I kept at bay; a hairline break is taking hold, a metal that I thought was gold.” The music cradles you, brings you along in a floating, dancing way that lulls and pulls at you. You feel a little like you’re floating, then slowly sinking, up and down…. It’s beautiful and complex at the same time. If you ask me, much more thought went into the last three songs on this album than all the rest.