Yesterday I was lucky enough to get an advance listen to Madonna’s much-anticipated new album MDNA, and I’m thrilled to tell you that it’s exactly the return to form fans have been hoping for from the Queen of Pop. A nice mix of dark, heavy club jams, mid-tempo electronic and some truly lovely ballads, MDNA has something for every sort of Madonna fan.
While we’re only now getting a snippet of the video for the album’s second single, “Girl Gone Wild,” listening to the album already has me thinking ahead to her next single. That’s how loaded with hits this thing is. Frankly, I can name three songs that I’d have gone with as the lead single over “Give Me All Your Lovin,” and I’m on the record as liking that song just fine!
But the real winner is as obvious as the nose on my face and I can’t believe Madonna didn’t lead with it. The song is “Turn Up The Radio” … and it’s the best thing she’s done since “Hung Up.”
Perhaps she’s just knowingly waiting until early May to drop the track as an official single because she knows it’s a perfect summer song. It’s a big, anthemic dance-pop wonder with glittery synths and fun lyrics like “I don’t know how I got to this stage / Let me out of my cage cause I’m dying / Turn up the radio, turn up the radio / Don’t ask me where I wanna go, we gotta turn up the radio.”
She needs freed because she’s ready to have a good time, you see! There’s a propulsive energy here that feels authentic and alive. The calculated perfectionism of some of Madonna’s club jams can leave you feeling a little chilly but that’s not the case here. In my notes I scribbled the words “effervescent” and “happy.”
“You feel the wind on your face and your skin and it’s here that I begin,” Madonna sings as the music cues up. It’s almost like she knows this is a song designed to be listened to at full volume with the windows down.
There are quite a few potential hits on MDNA but “Turn Up the Radio” is the most accessible to a mass audience. Take, for example, “Gang Bang,” another song I really liked. The song is a dark and aggressive club track with gunshot sound effects and a pounding William Orbit beat. It also contains some of the album’s stronger lyrics – “I thought it was you, and I loved you the most / But I was just keeping my enemies close” – and a driving chorus (“Bang bang, shot you dead / Shot my lover in the head / Bang bang, shot you dead / And I have no regret”). But while I can see it playing deep into the night at a New York City nightclub, I can’t see it being embraced by Top 40 radio.
“I’m Addicted” isn’t anywhere near as dark and is more typically Madonna than “Bang” and could work well as a single – but it’s a walloping dance track that would probably be better served if it were preceded by a big hit. It’s a great song, one that deserves some attention, and I think any hesitation radio programmers might feel about adding it to their lineup would be assuaged if they felt there was demand for it.
“Turn Up the Radio” could be the song that creates that demand. Give the people what they want, Madonna. Make it your next single!