I recently watched Madonna’s Truth or Dare on Palladia last week (yes, I watched it and admitted it) and felt obligated to write a review of the Material Girl’s 12th studio album, MDNA, which is available today.
Unlike some of Madonna’s contemporaries that have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Madonna will always be held to a different set of standards. Nearly three decades into her career, there is still an expectant buzz around her music. The ups, downs, and failed experiments of the Paul McCartneys or Neil Youngs of the world all feed into their mythologies. Pop music is certainly more cutthroat: you're only good as your latest and newest single.
If you have only heard the two singles from MDNA, no one would fault you for expecting another bomb like 2008's dismal Hard Candy. "Girl Gone Wild" and "Give Me All Your Luvin'"are 80’s influenced, pop-rave tunes; a style that diminishes Madonna's personality almost completely and sounds like the typical fare you’d expect to hear while working out at the gym. On the track "I'm Addicted," Madonna is reduced to chanting the album title simply to be heard over the banging drums.
There are, however, some highlights on the new album. "Turn Up the Radio" is the kind of song that recalls past glories such as “Open Your Heart” which made everyone fall in love with Madonna in the first place. The final batch of songs on the album were co-produced by her longstanding collaborator, William Orbit, and sound much more like the Madonna that fans have longed to hear since her Ray of Light era.
My favorite track on the album is actually the ballad, "Falling Free" which features only her voice, strings, and a sense of vulnerability; this song recalls one of her stronger ballads, “Live To Tell.”
I must say that at age 53, Madonna is comfortable in her own skin and still shines when she doesn’t attempt to follow the trends of today’s modern pop, the music that borrows so heavily from the playbook that she authored nearly thirty years ago.
The Showbiz Kids Rating: 5 out of possible 10
-Will Fisher, The Showbiz Kids