Divorce, Pain and Moving Forward On the Dance Floor
In 2008 Madonna divorced her second husband, film director Guy Ritchie, after eight years of marriage. The turmoil in the relationship animated much of Madonna's 2008 album Hard Candy. Now it is the residual anger and pain that lie at the heart of MDNA and its bracing dance music. Fortunately, for listeners, Madonna doesn't wallow in her misery. Instead, she delivers both wit and wisdom earned in her lifetime of 53 years. "Gang Bang" is a full throttle camp revenge fantasy that is likely to be a late night club and party favorite. "I Don't Give A" finds Madonna musically flipping off any would be critics of her life, including the ex husband. However, Madonna does take responsibility as well in songs like the bonus track "I F**ked Up" owning mistakes but not asking for pity. The latter proves once again that when Madonna places herself at her most vulnerable in songs she also radiates a warmth that is powerfully engaging.
Madonna + William Orbit = Magic
William Orbit co-produced nearly all of the tracks on Madonna's masterful 1998 album Ray Of Light. He also worked on tracks for her 2000 album Music. On MDNA the pair reunite for six of the songs, half of the standard version of the album. It is on the William Orbit productions that MDNA hits its peaks. "I'm a Sinner," which manages to sound both personal and universal in its lyrical sweep, is clearly a musical descendant of their Grammy Award winning "Beautiful Stranger." With its rock and roll heart and country influenced litany of saints dressed up for the dance floor, "I'm a Sinner" will make you want to dance. On the song "Love Spent," Madonna discusses the role of money in the downfall of her marriage backed by a musical contrast between banjo and sweeping electronic washes of sound that ultimately adds up to a refreshing, contemporary, radio friendly pop sound. Their collaboration on "Masterpiece," a Golden Globe winning song created for the film W.E., is simply one of the most beautiful ballads of Madonna's career. There is an artistic synergy between William Orbit and Madonna that has resulted in some of the most brilliant moments in Madonna's musical history and they continue here on MDNA.
Top Tracks On 'MDNA'
- "Gang Bang"
- "I'm Addicted"
- "I'm a Sinner"
- "Love Spent"
An Album Worth Hearing and Individual Songs That Are Brilliant
MDNA is rewarding to hear all the way through, and it is one of the best pop albums released so far in 2012. However, as with all of Madonna's previous collections, fans are likely to pick and choose among the best tracks here to add to an extensive legacy of great pop and dance music. When matched to her overall career, "I'm Addicted," with its high octane tribute to love as a drug, and the inevitable comparisons to the drug MDMA, the rocking dance beats of "I'm a Sinner," and sheer beauty of falling in love with a "Masterpiece" rank among Madonna's best. Unfortunately, the cheerleader pop of "Give Me All Your Luvin'" and aimless froth of "Turn Up the Radio" are among the most disposable of Madonna's creations with lyrics that sound like they were scribbled out in an effort to pad the album with a few extra songs. As a fan, there is plenty of top notch Madonna music here to make MDNA a worthy purchase. At the age of 53, Madonna remains creatively relevant with important stories to tell while always knowing how to make us dance.