The queen of pop returns to what she knows best on her 12th studio album: dance tunes and heart ache. And while there are some catchy songs here, most of the songs are filled with generic music, lackluster lyrics, and oddly cold vocals. Now I love Madonna to death, but here she truly does sound like she’s trying to keep up with the current trends in music rather than doing her own thing and it shows.
The album opens with the fun, synth filled “Girl Gone Wild.” This is a song that will definitely grow on you if it doesn’t grab you the first time you hear it. Madonna sings about girls wanting to have some fun over booming electronic beats that sound like every other electronic beat on the radio. Regardless of the repetitive music the song is still pretty good. It’s catchy and something that you can dance to late night in the club. If anything this shows that Madonna still knows how to make a catchy tune.
The next song “Gang Bang” is not so great. It continues with the electronic synth beats, but Madonna sounds really robotic and cold here. I guess it fits the music and the tone of the song, but it sounds like she’s trying too hard to be edgy here, especially considering the song title. The lyrics are also repetitive with her repeating “bang bang” every other word. The song gets really confusing when in the middle of the song the bass drops and the dub step starts. It doesn’t seem to fit the song all that well, but then again I’m not a fan of dubstep so I could be wrong. It’s not a horrible song, but there are better to be found here. The song also runs on too long with Madonna suddenly going into a rant demanding “Drive bitch.” Again, it just sounds like she’s trying way too hard to be edgy when she doesn’t even have to try that hard in the first place.
While all the songs can be catchy, most of them just don’t grab your attention and are too easy to tune out. Also, sometimes the songs just sound cheesy. The first time you run into this is “Turn Up the Radio.” The song itself isn’t bad and the message is pretty good, but the synth at the beginning sounds like a bad 80’s song to go along with a bad 80’s movie. But the song that exudes cheesiest in the worst way is “Superstar.” It begins with mindless “ooh la las” and that’s forgivable, but it enters into “what the hell is this” territory when she sings “Ooh la la you’re my superstar/Ooh la la that’s what you are.” In one line she even says “Superduper star.” I can’t believe Madonna actually wrote this. It sounds like something that sound be on Barney or something that should be sung by Debbie Gibson, young Britney Spears or even Tiffany. Yes, it sounds like teeny bop cliche’s rolled into a song. I really don’t know why this is on the album, but I wish it wasn’t.
For me the music is what brings the album down. I have nothing against electronic music and there are times when it sounds really good here (“I’m Addicted”), but most of the time it sounds like the same beats and rhythms Katy Perry and Rhianna uses in their songs. It just very generic and cold. It would have been different if the electronic music was broken up with other songs that have different music, but it’s basically there until the last two songs. This makes it seem like Madonna went with the electronic/synth trend in music rather than doing her own thing. Many people will disagree with me, but I feel the album would’ve been better if there was less electronic influence.
But it’s not all bad for MDNA. There are two songs that are stellar and show why Madonna is still a highly influential musician today. “Masterpiece” is a slow track where Madonna sings about a lover who’s the most wanted masterpiece. The metaphor may be a little weak, but it’s still a pretty song. She sounds great here; she sounds like her natural self rather than some cold robot. Another thing that’s nice about this track is that there is little to no electronic music here. Just an acoustic guitar that has Latin flavor. It’s a really great song that’s reminiscent of her classic stuff.
The other great track on this album is the closing track “Falling Free.” This is another slow track that has her prettily singing along with minimal music. When we do get a hint of music it’s on the classical side with violins and beautiful piano playing. There are bits in the song where she’s auto-tuned, but it’s little enough that it doesn’t get annoying or take over the whole song. She really opens up on this track and lets her emotions bleed. It almost reminds you of “This Used to be My Playground.” It’s a beautiful song and shows that even though she’s had some rough patches in the latter part of her career, the girl has still got it. It’s also a very startling way to end the record.
Overall the album gets 7/10. While this is an improvement from her last record, there aren’t many songs that really pop or have that same flavor as her other songs. The music feels generic at times and some songs are just really cheesy. There are some beautiful songs here that could go on to be classics. If anything this is probably Madonna’s most emotional album with her opening up about her divorce from Guy Ritchie and her life as a single mom. The album may not be perfect, but it proves why Madonna will always be the only queen of pop.
What do you think of Madonna’s latest album? Do you think it’s better than her last effort? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.