MDNA: Review

by sunnyfong

Since I magically have the whole album, I might as well do a bit of a track by track review for all those fans anticipating the March 26th release of Madonna’s MDNA. All around a solid record with a few songs that are complete fluff that only end up dragging the album down to a mediocre level of cheese. I don’t understand what Madonna’s fascination with urban music is but her roots are in dance and electronica. Straying into Nicky Minaj territory just doesn’t work. While I appreciated Hard Candy and Timbaland is obviously very talented, it was time for Madonna to move on and go back to what she does best: add her voice and lyrics to electronic music. I’ll review all of the songs except a few that were already released and some only available on the deluxe version.

Girl Gone Wild
The second single and a weak link. It’s does work as a first song as it sets the tone of the album and tells the listener what kind of mood she’s in. Madonna seemingly wants to dance, fuck and let loose. But the lyrics are cheesy, the production is sparse and the sound is outdated. Eurodance at its best or worst. Love that intro though: a reference to Act of Contrition from her Like A Prayer album.

Gang Bang
Starts out as a Mika-esque thumper (no surprise as he’s one of the producers) and goes into a neat kinda Tarantino-esque guitar-heavy song where she describes shooting her lover in the head despite being a little scared to. Then it ends with Madonna going into darker territory: hijacking her lover’s car and telling him to “drive bitch” presumably with a gun to his head. This definitely stands out and it’s like no other song she’s ever written or sung.

I’m Addicted
Very catchy hard disco track where it crescendos into a Josh Wink trance in your pants club anthem.

Turn Up The Radio
Catchy. Part “One More Time” by Daft Punk, part Katy Perry, part Confessions. It’s an uptempo summery hit with some nice hooks but again, a little bit on the cheesy side.

Some Girls
Awful. The beat is unpleasant, the timing is a little awkward, the production is just awful. Half the time you can’t hear what she’s saying and she’s just drowned out by this awful song itself. Should’ve been taken off the album completely.

A mid-tempo R&B jam that sounds very west coast. A catchy hook but peppered with horrible lyrics and an outdated sound. This could be something Hilary Duff sings. I can’t even describe it.

I Don’t Give A
I don’t give a fuck about this song. It’s an awful staccato Hard Candy-ish in-your-face song about strength, resilience and haters hatin’. Again, outdated, non-edgy Lil Wayne type feel to it. I will probably never listen to this again.

I’m A Sinner
This song uses William Orbit’s signature beat a la Beautiful Stranger (in fact, I think it might be the same beat) but there’s a touch of Brimful of Asha thrown in. At one point, Madonna sounds like a little like a Bollywood singer. She calls out to the saints to redeem her and laments about Jesus Christ on the cross. But it’s actually an upbeat song about doing what you want to do. Definitely has a nostalgic, slightly Nancy Sinatra vibe to it.

Love Spent
An off-beat banjo melody (!) opens this song about Guy Ritchie’s alleged greed. Similar to Justin Timberlake’s Lovestoned, this starts off as an uptempo song but halfway, changes into something else: an uber William Orbit atmospheric slowjam. It even changes to a different tempo and lower key. It could be two completely different songs if not played together. Then the ballad builds up to a hard techno track layered with pop vocals and a little industrial breakbeat. I think this last half of the song is sheer brilliance and I wish the whole album was basically this: Ray of Light 2. The lyrics are dripping with double irony and analogies about Guy Ritchie, money, love and exhausting their funds.

Beautiful Killer
A light but dance-y number that could’ve been on Confessions. It has a bit of an 80’s sound but with a slight nod to disco. The first guitar note that repeats throughout is very similar to the first guitar note in No Doubt’s Don’t Speak. And some parts are the same melody as Die Another Day but instead of being overly produced, this is a classic pop song with catchy hooks. Again, her lyrics are awkward at times but the production makes up for it. She sings slightly off key if you have a discerning ear but it’s just nice to hear vocals that aren’t incredibly distorted for once. I enjoy the 80’s string work near the end.

Falling Free
The last song on the non-deluxe album, Falling Free is a catchy ballad showcasing some of Madonna’s best vocal work on this album, if not all time. With Joe Henry, her brother-in-law and respected folk singer, around to fine-tune the lyrics, this track is in good hands. It’s truly Madonna at her best. Lush strings, Orbit’s bleeps used sparingly and a classic melody. The only issue I have with this song is Madonna’s enunciation. She does sound like she’s singing in a British musical in some parts but forgive her pseudo-accent and we’ve got one of the most beautiful and strong Madonna songs we’ve heard in a long time.

It’s an eclectic mix of delicious pop, thumping club anthems, industrial, house, disco, trance, loungey drum and bass and electro. She definitely sounds like she’s in a very different place right now artistically and emotionally. With Confessions, Madonna was in the front seat telling where Stuart Price to go. With Hard Candy, it seemed like she was a passenger in the backseat along for the ride. With MDNA, she’s the driver but she’s got the top down, driving at high speeds and she’s not afraid to go into oncoming traffic.