You how sometimes you start reading a book and it’s not that good, but you feel guilty ditching it because everyone else likes it and you feel like you should too? That’s how I felt about Madonna’s new album, “MDNA.” After a couple days of listening, I just wasn’t enjoying it, so I gave myself permission to stop. I view it as a sign of maturity.
Unfortunately, Madonna is fighting maturity (a.k.a. aging). “MDNA” finds lots of wannabe club songs in addition to songs that sound just plain silly for someone her age (53) to be singing, songs with titles like “Gang Bang,” “I’m a Sinner” and “Girls Gone Wild.” If Demi Moore has taught us one thing, it’s that we don’t want to know about middle aged mothers going wild. The fact that she has aligned herself with some younger artists, such as Nicki Minaj, is a thinly veiled strategy to make it seem like she is much more youthful than she is.
If I had liked the songs, I could have forgiven the lyrics and subject matter in the songs on “MDNA,” but that wasn’t the case. Most of the songs were either a) boring, b) sound like Madonna was channeling her inner robot, or c) Auto Tuned to within an inch of their lives. Many of the songs on “MDNA” reminded me of Britney or J-Lo, which might be the sound Madonna was going for, although it seems like she should be above—or at least beyond—that sound.
The expectations were high for “MDNA,” largely because it received the large advertisement possible: the Super Bowl halftime show. Lest we had forgotten about Madonna and her awesomeness as she navigates middle age, she was there to remind us how great she once was by putting on a performance that would have been a lot more successful had she done it 20 years ago (and please don’t tell me she looked great “for her age”- that just means she wasn’t that good by a younger person’s standards). It was during that show that she, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. introduced us to “Give Me All Your Luvin’”, only the song was overshadowed by M.I.A.’s flyaway middle finger. That song, along with another that features Nicki Minaj (“I Don’t Give A”) are two of the more successful songs on “MDNA” because they’re infused with a bit of energy, but that may just mean that we should listen to more Nicki Minaj.
In my opinion there is very little that is interesting or creative about the songs on “MDNA,” and from an accomplished artist with 30 years of success behind her I expected more. It’s sad, in a way, that Madonna is trying to sound so young and hip rather than evolving and using both her life and musical experiences to give us something interesting. “MDNA” sounds like a formula from start to finish, and it could have been any artist who stepped in with the vocals. This album made Madonna seem more like a follower than a leader in her field.
Better luck next time, Madonna. I’m here for a consult if you need me. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the next Nicki Minaj album.
Filed under: Album Reviews