A couple of weeks ago, Madonna released her first new album in four years. A definite improvement from her last album, Hard Candy, MDNA has grown on me over the past few days. It seems that every year that Madonna reinvents herself she tries to break into the young pop demographic, releasing songs like “4 Minutes,” and most recently, “Give Me All Your Luvin’.” Every time, she brings that sense of complete confidence that only comes with being a music legend.
As confident as she is, her audience doesn’t always have the same faith. Her newer songs have had their moments in the sun, but they have never quite reached the status of her early classics like “Vogue” and “Like a Virgin.” “4 Minutes” may have recruited Justin Timberlake and got its four minutes on Glee. But 20 years after its release our generation still knows “Like A Virgin” and in 20 years I don’t know think we’ll be able to say the same for “4 minutes” or for the new “Give Me All Your Luvin’.”
One of two of the singles from MDNA, “Give Me All Your Luvin’, is catchy and features popular artists like Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.. The song is fun but doesn’t exactly pack that attention-grabbing punch. Minaj and M.I.A. move through the song supporting Madonna and screaming her name (“L-U-V MADONNA”), but their edgy, hard-hitting styles seem a little awkward next to Madonna’s light 80s sound. Madonna still sounds like, well, Madonna, but with faster, more current beats.
I have to admit, when I think of Madonna, I tend to think of being a kid and dancing around to “Celebrate” at a Fun Craft birthday party, hanging out with some girl friends and singing into hair brushes. Songs on her new album with titles like “Gang Bang,” just seem like they’re working a little too hard to be in this generation. Hearing the lyrics “drive bitch” come out of Madonna’s mouth just isn’t incredibly satisfying.
That being said, some of the songs are just classic Madonna. Lyrics like “Ooh la la you’re my superstar” are reminiscent of her old style. Other parts of the song like “you’re my Abe Lincoln coz you fight for what’s right” I can’t decide whether to scorn or love, but I’ll think love, for their sheer “what?” value. The second single on the album, “Girl Gone Wild,” is my favorite of the bunch. The electronic sound allows Madonna to find the place where 80s and 2012 mesh and find harmony. The techno sound fits her voice well and the lyrics sound more like her and less like she’s trying to fit into a new generation. I urge anyone and everyone to check out the music video. It is properly R-Rated, but if you’re up to it, Madonna and her chiseled male back up dancers definitely make a statement. I couldn’t help watching it and thinking: how the hell is that woman 56?
The album has already hit the top of the charts, sending Madonna to the top of the Billboard 200 for the eighth time. One more hit album and Madonna may dethrone Barbara Streisand. All in all, Madonna is better when, she (as one of her songs is titled) “Don’t Give A.” I love Madonna for her beauty and confidence and her ability to just be Madonna. Her better songs are the ones without Nikki Minaj and M.I.A., when she isn’t trying to rap and tailor her songs to followers of the Young Money crowd. Madonna isn’t Nikki Minaj, and lets be honest, no one wants anyone but Nikki Minaj to be Nikki Minaj. Listening to MDNA is a fun time if you take Madonna for what she is: 80s and a little electronic, romantic in the way people were in the past. She sings about love and desire without the expletives or straightforward sexual references. Listening to “Superstar” right now, I’m feeling the urge to dance around a little in Libe Café. Watching “Girl Gone Wild,” I can’t help wanting to be that fierce at her age. I can’t help wanting to be that fierce right now. Will this album go down in history? Probably not. But who gives a — it’s Madonna.