Madonna, Queen of Everything, has just released her 12th studio album, MDNA. Almost four years have passed since her last effort, Hard Candy. And a lot has happened since then, including a highly publicized divorce from husband Guy Ritchie in late 2008 and the release of “W.E.,” her self-directed film. But Madonna’s current mantra du jour is probably best captured in the new album’s most defining lyric:“I need to dance.”
Madonna’s in a rapturous state of mind in 2012, and the bulk of her latest effort — a thundering, explosively defiant breakup album full of searing club cuts, blood-soaked revenge anthems and swoon-filled psychedelic ’60s pop ditties — seems to be tripping on acid… or, more accurately, ecstasy. After all, Madonna’s cheeky album title, MDNA, is a nod to the euphoric club drug. Looks like Madonna’s in a state of dance floor transcendence once again.
Madonna teamed up with the likes of Martin Solveig, the Benassi Bros. and William Orbit (of Ray of Light fame), and the result of all of that forward-thinking production is one of her most youthful and high-energy records since True Blue — and one of her better albums, period. MDNA serves as a reminder of what Madonna has always represented (and what many pop stars these days fail to truly grasp): fun.
We couldn’t just let a new Madonna album hit the streets without giving you our track-by-track breakdown. Here’s everything you need to know about MDNA.
1. “Girl Gone Wild“ — “Oh my God,” Madonna declares during the album’s opening moments, channeling the “God” opening of “Like A Prayer” with a spoken rendition of “Act of Contrition” (which made its first appearance on her 1989 album Like A Prayer — full circle). From there, Madge quickly dives into a booming Benassi-produced club banger, playing like a lighter take on Benassi’s mix of Madonna’s own “Celebration” from back in 2009.
2. “Gang Bang“ — “Gang Bang” is not only the highlight of the record, but a highlight of Madonna’s career. Revisiting the role of the scorned songstress from Erotica’s “Thief of Hearts” whom she first played almost 20 years ago, Madonna delightfully wields a weapon while in hot pursuit of her ex-lover across a dark, throbbing beat. With a gritty dubstep breakdown (a nod to Britney’s dub-pop masterpiece “Hold It Against Me“), gunshots and bullets dropping to the ground, “Gang Bang” plays as violent as the bloodthirsty, Quentin Tarantino-friendly lyrics imply. “Now, drive bitch!”
Read more of our track-by-track breakdown of Madonna’s MDNA after the jump. The album is in stores today.
3. “I’m Addicted“ — The lifeblood of MDNA. “I’m Addicted” revels in the ecstatic state of “Ray of Light,” the trance of “Get Together,” and throws in some rather unexpectedly poetic lyricism to boot: “All of the letters push to the front of my mouth/ And saying your name is somewhere between a prayer and a shout,” she cries. By the time the chants of “M-D-N-A!,” kick in during the final seconds, there’s no looking back — it’s aural addiction.
4. “Turn Up The Radio” — Martin Solveig’s summery big room Euro-House anthem (a la “Hello”) is practically begging to be the next single from the campaign: “Don’t ask me where I want to go, just turn up the radio!” Madonna demands, seemingly blasting away the demons in her head at full volume.
5. “Give Me All Your Luvin’“ — The Super Bowl single! (That’s how it’ll go down in history, anyway.) Aided by a kicky surf guitar and a solid electronic pulse, the Solveig-produced track packs a power punch of self-congratulatory revelry and cheer-tastic choruses (“L-U-V, Madonna!”). While the two blink-and-you’ll-miss-it verses by M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj feel phoned in, the song’s “Hey Mickey!”-like structure is enough to get my pom-poms in the air — even if it’s one of the album’s least compelling moments.
6. “Some Girls” — The darkest cut on the record, apart from “Gang Bang.” “Some Girls” is Hard Candy’s “She’s Not Me” injected with a gallon of battery acid. “Some girls got an attitude/ Fake t**s and a nasty move,” Madonna ferociously declares on top of the gritty electronica beat recalling Norwegian duo Royksopp’s “Vision One” — or even Britney. Not surprising — “Piece of Me” producer Klas Åhlund co-produced the song.
7. “Superstar” — Madonna’s positively slap-happy on this breezy, summer-friendly pop number, co-produced by Hardy “Indiigo” Muanza and Michael Malih. She’s offering massages and giving away the password to her phone (which, from what I’ve gathered, is either “GuyRitchieSux1” or “ILuvBrahim”). To make it even more of a family affair, Madge’s daughter, flawless style icon Lourdes, provides a lovely background harmony.
8. “I Don’t Give A“ — That rap in “American Life” was hard to swallow, even for the most devout Madonna fans. (“The room is full of hot-tays“? I try to forget.) Luckily, she’s got the formula down a hundred times more convincingly on the defiant “I Don’t Give A.” Tripping on top of a ballsy electronic hip-hop beat, Madonna lays down the business: “You were so mad at me/ Who’s got custody?,” she raps. And then comes Nicki Minaj, spitting out one of her most ferocious features in ages: “There’s only one Queen, and that’s Madonna… bitch!” she growls. Damn straight.
9. “I’m A Sinner” — 1999’s psychedelic, ’60s-tinged “Beautiful Stranger” gets a touch of divinity on MDNA in the form of “I’m A Sinner.” Ever the pious pop princess, Madonna rattles off a dozen religious figures above bouncing drum beats and swinging guitar riffs.
10. “Love Spent” — This song. This SONG. “Love Spent” plays like 17 electronica songs (and a banjo!) smashed into a rocket and catapulted into deep space. “Hold me like your money, tell me that you want me/ Spend your love on me,” Madonna swoons. All at once, the song suddenly shoots skyward: “Love spent, wondering where the love went,” Madonna croons above 8-bit twinkling electronica and a four-to-the-floor stomp: It’s not a ballad, not yet a club banger. Oh, and a complete masterpiece.
11. “Masterpiece” — It’s fitting to follow up a masterpiece with another, no? The Golden Globe Award-winning theme from Madonna’s film W.E. begins the record’s soft touch down back to Earth. With its poetic lyrics and gorgeous orchestration, “Masterpiece” is an instant classic addition to Madonna’s back catalog of stellar balladry.
12. “Falling Free” — The album’s gorgeous final comedown finds Madonna delivering unexpectedly rich vocals above tender orchestral production and light electronic textures, courtesy of Orbit. Madonna’s prim and proper delivery mixed with the lovely violin strings makes “Falling Free” feel nearly royal: a fitting finish for the Queen.