Female Singers R Us
DIVADEVOTEE: is terrible with time...

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Album Review: Madonna "MDNA" Terrible, Bad or Just Average? I'm Not Even Sure!




Going solely on my first listen of Madonna's twelfth studio album, MDNA, this was how I was going to open the subsequent review:

I'm going to dust off a word to describe Madonna's new album, MDNA, that by its very usage, in the 21st century, will probably make it applicable to me, but it’s so apt that I don't really have a choice. Simply put, MDNA is kinda "Naff".

However subsequent listens have warmed me to it, but not in a way that I feel entirely comfortable with the set. There is still a gnawing sensation that something isn't right with it, but I can't seem to put my finger on it. The reason I include this is because it doesn't feel like the book is fully shut on this review, but for it to be timely it has to be published now. Further listens to the album, or opinions from you guys, may have me reconsidering my thoughts on it and if that happens they will be placed right at the bottom, and the rest of the review will be unaltered. Anyway, let me take my meds and get on with the real review

REVIEW:

Unlike past albums, MDNA doesn't feature the creation of a new Madonna persona, booo, but instead it borrows, for much of the album, from two past incarnations to furnish the majority of the sonic landscape. Think of it as the freaky love child of 2005s Confessions On A Dance Floor production wise and melodically inspired by 1999's Beautiful Stranger's psychedelic 60s vibe. It's a marriage that doesn't always work and I'm addicted and I don't give a are a particularly poor result of this pairing.

The production itself, helmed by Alle Benassi, Benny Benassi, Demolition Crew, Free School, Michael Malih, Indiigo, William Orbit- who I was most excited about, and most let down by-, Martin Solveig is great, though not revolutionary. Those worrying that Madonna was going to be following trends with this release to stay relevant can breath easy because though MDNA does touch on current trends, like dubstep ( hear Bang Bang's closing half) electro-pop, and Nicki Minaj *snigger*, whether for better or worse, it is still in its own lane: with a slightly edgier brand of electronica but in large part thanks to it's retro melodies.

There are flashes of (almost) greatness: Love Spent marries the two contrasting styles of the production and melody great, Girl Gone Wild sounds like a modern take on Confessions' Sorry and Gang bang’s dirty, thumping bass and grimy vibe would have sounded out of this world if sang by someone with an edgier voice. But the real star in this bag of oddness is the aptly titled Masterpiece, that ironically wasn't even recorded for this album, instead coming from the soundtrack of the Madonna directed/co-written W.E. Here there is life, humility and a maturity in the lyrical content, the production and, most importantly, in Madonna's vocal delivery: all things that are so sorely missed on much of the album.

Madonna has never been a powerhouse vocalist, but she has been a capable one, despite what many think. She already demonstrated a wealth of variation to her voice in its tone, timbre, weight and her overall technical ability on the 1995 ballads album Something To Remember and her work on the Evita soundtrack. But new album MDNA finds her variation limited to either sugary and thin-Give Me all Your Lovin'- or monotone and flat- Bang, Bang/ Some Girls- for the majority of tracks. It could be argued that those were the styles called for, but even with that being the case the vocal delivery is nearly always anything but an asset to the solid production it’s layered over. However, as noted above, salvation is found on Masterpiece and another ballad, the telling Falling Free. Both providing proof that Madonna does still have the ability to sing pretty darn good, if the material is there.

MDNA is an oddity to me. I like the production but the melodies, at times cheesy lyrics and Madonna's voice really holds the set back for me, to quite a large extent I might add. If Madonna had come harder and more aggressive I might have bought into it, but to me she sounds bored, and aloof- which is odd considering her absence from the music world and the amount riding on this. But what does she care, as she says on I Dont Give a, "I don't care what the people say, I'm gonna be alright...If you have a problem, I don't give a....". Sentiments I do not doubt!

Rating: C-



THOUGHTS, DEVOTEES?

43 comments:

  1. "I Don't Give A" in some moments seems to be targeting Gaga. I'm a monster, but i try to be the most impartial i can about these battles. Madonna's voice sometimes sounds more like a background stuff than really a lead vocal. Only thing that makes me have some minutes of fun is the production.

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  2. Hello!
    I'm not gonna say much))
    The album is extremely overproduced, by the end my head starts aching (every time I listen to the album).
    The majority of the songs are weak.
    Madonna once again (remember Hard Candy) sounds like a crazy rubber duck)))

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  3. I do quite like it, it's not my favourite Madonna album (True Blue, Erotica & Ray of Light are mine) and I can see references to Erotica more prominantly in regards to some of the lyrical content and attitude, which at times can come across as immature but fun nevertheless!

    The production for the most part is of a good standard, it definately feels clean and fresh (even although electronic music is all over the joint lately). It

    There are duds in there too though....Girl Gone Wild is ok, but just ok by the skin of its teeth. I'm Addicted is a tad boring....The highlights, I would agree are the ballads, Love Spent, Turn Up The Radio...

    I just got my copy an hour or so ago so only judging on a whim and saying overall I think its pretty good...Maybe the songs I am not so sure of will become growers...watch this space...

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  4. That is a great word, "overproduced"! I agree!

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  5. I think if i could get over the sound of her voice on the majority of the songs I could really get into it. I've never had a problem with Madonna's voice before, but on this set i actually feel a little embarrassed with her delivery. Perhaps subsequent listens will take the edge off of it.

    I agree Erotica, True Blue and Ray of Light are brilliant albums but I tend to  have enjoyed all of Madonna's past incarnations. I even really liked "American Life"- and I know that was a song that many fans felt a little red faced about, what with the rap- so I'm surprised I've got such an issue with this album.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYduJw5LyFM&ob=av3e  

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  6. I though American Life was a pretty solid song (the album too)!

    I get you with the voice, its like a combination of her younger years in timbre but with too much processing on it, kind of makes her sound a little spiky! It's a pest too considering she sounds stunningly beautiful in Falling Free, Masterpiece and even I F**ked Up..

    I have listened to it all about 4 times now and it is getting easier but there are defo songs I dont like ie B'Day Song...ugh...horrid!

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  7. Lol crazy rubber duck!

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  8. I'm convinced she hired a third grader to write "Superstar." 

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  9. I feel like i'm the only one who honestly enjoyed the album. Maybe it's because I went in not expecting anything spectacular or amazing. I may be part of the younger generation of Little monsters and beliebers but I truly enjoy all of Madonna's past work. I only wish I was alive to see it through rather than look at Decade old recordings and old Vhs's my parents kept. And to be honest I completely enjoyed the album. It may not be on par with some of her glory records (Vogue, Ray of light, True Blue) but it definitely seems to be of higher quality than many of the other records that are hitting shelves nowadays. Whether it be Girl Gone Wilds fun party dance beat, Turn up the radios escape theme, or Masterpiece's beautiful melody the entire record definitely stands out (like all of Madonnas work) and in this case in a good way.I agree that Madonnas vocals weren't exactly solid in this but seeing as she isn't really known for her voice and I particularly don't love her for it either, I won't judge her on that part. Some of the lyrics do seem a bit childish but I feel she makes up for it in the beauty of many of the actually solid records on this. If the album was Missing Gimme all your loving and Superstar I would be able to listen to it all the way through without complaining. And in all honesty the LMFAO Part Rock remix of Gimme all your loving is actually bearable to listen to and actually enjoyable for me. That is if you like a hot dance track of course. I would give it a solid B. 

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  10. I feel like i'm the only one who doesn't like it Brian and I feel like I'm forcing myself to get into it. However, on next listen I'll  keep all the comments in mind and try and hear what you guys are all hearing.

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  11. "Maybe it's because I went in not expecting anything spectacular or amazing." That's a really big deciding factor. I was expecting WAY to much. But I mean, how can you not? It's Madonna! Anyway "Give Me All Your Luvin'" should have been a sign but I was keeping my hopes up because last year Beyonce released a horrid lead single (Run the World) and her album was fantastic! Well the overall critical reception has been generally positive according to Metacritic. 

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  12. Hahaha, I had to Google the meaning of "naff."

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  13. Lol I forgot the word existed...

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  14. Hannah you are going to make me kill myself! I ain't over the hill yet! lol

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  15. I've learned not to get my hopes up on anything large unless im assured that my expectations will be fulfilled. That way even if it isn't amazing material you won't get disappointed. With Give me all your luvin I kind of hopped off the Madonna wagon for awhile. Like when Lady Gaga released Judas I was expecting a lot more of her work back when she was original. Then when I listened to the album I was like "I payed 13 dollars for this?!" DX. Im hoping Christina's next lead single will be a hit. Because I don't want her work to diminish in quality like so many others.

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  16. i think it will be a "good" but not solid album.you know why 21 was so great?it was solid '-',good songs,a theme...if an album is not like that now,you just gotta download the 1 or 2 good songs and thats it :/.i think it will miserably fail...i just want to believe its not gonna be like that...

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  17. I think you are right about a theme or consistent thread needed for an album to really shine, but I dont think MDNA has it. 

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  18. Ha - 'naff'. That's exactly the word I would have used to describe 'Hard Candy' too. So, MDNA is neither 'Skill!' nor 'Mega!' if we want to converse entirely in 80s-speak.

    Still - 77 solo singles in one career is pretty impressive. I agree with you though - vocally she doesn't seem to try too hard anymore.

    Confessions is still my favourite album of recent times - it had a really clear direction throughout.

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  19. I love 'Run the World' Hannah! But I will admit that I seem to be the only person on the planet that does. lol.

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  20. Hey Diva just something to think about- Try to listen to the album causally. Attempt to listen without analyzing. I realize when I am really into a song and try to pick out every little thing I do more to make the song negative compared to the positives. Maybe just trying to carelessly loose yourself in the music rather than listening with an analysis attitude will help you enjoy the album.

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  21. Haha, I eventually warmed up to it! 

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  22. Haha, that's why I never pay money for music! But yeah, I really need to adopt that philosophy of not getting my hopes up. I'm looking for to Christina's new stuff too, even though I'm not that big of a fan, actually not a fan at all, but I like some of her stuff. It's going to interesting to see the direction she takes after "Bionic". Hopefully a different one.  

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  23. Agreed. The slightly rocky thing she did with Linda Perry on 'Stripped' worked well for her...as did the retro vibe on 'Back to Basics'...let's see where she goes next. Dance-pop doesn't seem to suit her that much anymore.

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  24. I don't like most of the album, but like a friend of mine said this album is like fast food, eat it without thinking too much about its content or quality, just enjoy it. I guess I can't do that.

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  25. Okay, my thoughts on the album (DD so you're head won't explode, haha): So overall I though it was generic garbage minus Masterpiece and Falling Free. "Gang Bang" was pretty interesting and unique but didn't add that much originality to the album overall. I also agree with Nahu and Brian when they say it's not really an album to be taken seriously and it's more for causal listening. And despite being a little overproduced it still sounded like it was written and put together in a few days. Is a 53 year old woman really singing "You're my super duper star"? Really? But whatever. Don't get me started on her voice. I think that's one of the main things that's keeping me from liking this album. I prefer music with substance but I don't at all mind listening to music just for the sake of listening to it for fun, but her voice just makes it painful to listen to. I'm just really tired of all the pop/electro/synth/dance music. But then again I don't particularly like any of Madonnas albums. I mean, I love some of her songs but there's not an album where I'd go "Oh that's my favorite!" But each of her albums kinda have a distinct sound and I would have to say Bedtime Stories would be my favorite sound.  

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  26. wow i completely agree masterpiece is the only song that i honestly from the get go liked
    the lyrics are weak and her voice isn't very strong at all 
    i also dont like her decision to collaborate with nicki 

    idk but i guess my expectations were to high i mean i just came off madge stans constantly brutally bashing gaga for being boring and a wannabe 
    so i thought that the queen of pop had something incredibly spectacular planned to take back her throne 
    - its kinda of sad also that her vocals have taken a backseat on this one - i enjoy the production more than her actual voice here 

    anyway i wish her well i just think since shes 53 she should stop trying to be overtly sexual and stop trying to present herself as a young 20-year old sex icon

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  27. You guys are right! I enjoyed her pop-rock material and balladry. I will, however cry like a little girl if she drops anything remotely electonic.....

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  28. Amen!! Thank you for saving my head too!

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  29. Thats the advice brian gave and am definitely going to try it

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  30. Good idea! I think I'll put it on in the background while I'm doing something else!

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  31. I think lack of direction is one of my beefs with this album. Madonna's dumped one of the things she was renowned, and great, at doing.

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  32. Don't say 'beefs' just to sound younger, we all know you use words like 'naff' really ;oD xx

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  33. I don't think it's even madonna's voice on the album, I think she's used a sound alike with some heavy post processing, it just doesn't sound like her when you really listen.

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  34. As always, I loved reading your reviews. 

    -Mike from TGJ 
    @Sublime00 

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  35. Having had a BFF that got it first and loved it, I was expecting much more.  But surprise - I actually kind of hated it.  Had to force myself through it.  Masterpiece was the only song I really liked and who knows what that means considering Mo says she didn't even want to write that one and chucked it out in a short time just to have one on the movie.  It's so derivative it's painful.  Just as stale as a week old bun.  

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  36. I think Madonna should return to her origins and see what can improve, instead of creating a 100% electronic album who she is only is a part of the lyrics.

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  37. I think Madonna should return to her origins and see what can improve, instead of creating a 100% electronic album who she is only is a part of the lyrics.

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  38. what is disheartening is that after 3 decades in the business you would think madonna would be a true artist who would include more meaningful lyrics in her songs - and honestly this is nothing different than what maybe britney spears would offer 
    and while people constantly bash gaga for copying madonna - madonna has done nothing revolutionary in this album 

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  39. Really guys??ur tellin me she could SING??ever??How is she ANY different-sounding from Britney spears??at her best she sounds average verging on the boring with her very mediochre voice.As for the new album,please,she should just retire gracefully!Nobody should be subjected to seein a tired,haggard over-airbrushed granny prancing around in leotards&spreading her legs suggestively with most of her tits hanging out!Please Madge,ur music is a pile of shit!

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