But something happened on the way to the party: While the Material Dance Queen was having a good time feeling relevant with today's youth, her album leaked. Well, most of it. And she is so going to kill somebody. Lola, get in your room and take the Malawian kid with you! I'm gonna eat a carb!!
Or something like that. Anyway, we're here in New York, faaaaaar away from her 46-bedroom LA cottage, so we're safe -- until her army of publicists finds us. But here at MTV News (well, at least at Newsroom), we can't help but give these tracks a listen. I mean, the ten Madonna fans who still haven't found the leak online (big chunks of all the album's completed songs) need someone to tell them about it. So, here's our free-associative track-by-track, after the jump.
· Candy Shop: The album opener's weirdly R&B-ish, with synth straight out of Snoop's "Sensual Seduction" (you know, that 70's sound?) and Madonna putting a lil Erykah Badu in her vocals. Huh. Not bad, though. Oh, but there are some doozy lyrics. "Come on into my store, I got candy galore" -- for reals?
· 4 Minutes: If you haven't heard it already, you're not even reading this post.
· Give It 2 Me: A combo of LCD Soundsystem-style cowbell and Killers synth drives this tune. Not bad. You can totally picture one of those dance-driven, party videos the girl's known for. Let's call this a radio song.
· Heartbeat: OK, only a couple of songs in, and already the flat-sounding synth is starting to kill us. Just seems too thin and laid on top. Timbaland's pulled this kind of thing before, of course, but often with dudes whose vocals or rhymes are much richer or deeper to offset it. (Justin's a soprano for sure, but he hits some way more dramatic notes than Madonna can.) Gotta wonder if he tailored this enough to Madge's own vocal stylings? Generic tune. Update: Yikes, this track was produced by Pharrell. Thanks for pointing that out, readers. But the timbre of her voice still doesn't seem well-matched with this synth vibe.
· Miles Away: This song starts off with one of Timba's signature beatbox-style openings, and the blips and layers of sound continue throughout. Can't Madonna bust out without all that production underneath her? How about a straight-up pop tune?
· She's Not Me: OK, another radio song! A catchy, dance-y tune about getting jilted for another girl but staying sassy enough to be all like "go for it, you'll never be happy with that ish." (We're getting a little too "Will & Grace" with this.)
· Incredible: OMG, leave Madonna alone! What's up with all the crazy production? That's more electronics than a Yaz record! You almost can't make out the fact that it's Madonna singing at all. I mean, we're exaggerating -- but not by much. The few piano notes underneath are a reminder of the simpler arrangement that could have been. Sigh.
· The Beat Goes On: Pharrell guests on this one, and the personality in his vocals helps to mix it up a bit. That, and the fact that Pharrell's voice actually goes with the whole 70's R&B vibe. Seems like maybe the album concept was 70's R&B-meets-80's dance, but the mix somehow wasn't nearly bold enough.
· Dance Tonight: JT takes this track to town. But why does Madge sound all vocoder-ed? Is that totally intentional? Her vocals are definitely duller on this album than usual.
· Spanish Lesson: A return to "La Isla Bonita," and the awkward Spanish we've come to expect from Madonna. Awesome lyrics include "If you like my style / I can love you for a while." We think she's cleverer than that.
· The Devil Wouldn't Recognize You: Oooh, finally, a ballad! Right on! This track makes it even clearer that there must have been some kind of disconnect between Timbaworld and Planet Madge -- I mean, why wasn't there more of this material? She may not be the greatest singer of her generation (um, understatement), but if you give her room to breathe, Madonna can put attitude to tape. And that's what's absent from most of these recordings.
· Voices: The track opens with a Depeche Mode-style S&M-philosophical question: "Who is the master, and who is the slave?" Some Middle Eastern-y flourishes on this one, and more minor-chord in tone. Not one of the album highlights, but at least something a little more diverse.
Have you heard the tracks? Do you agree -- or are we totally off-base?