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Album Review: Madonna “MDNA”

So after lots of teasers, Madonna’s new release MDNA, her 13th studio album, has finally dropped. And apparently it’s already dropped into the hands of many anticipating fans, having broken pre-sale records on iTunes.

So let’s start with props where they’re due. First of all—Madonna and her crew certainly know how to market their product. From her featured appearance at the Superbowl halftime show, to soliciting help from modern divas like Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. (who both appeared at the Superbowl and on the album), to strategic releases of downloadable singles through iTunes, to actually releasing the record a day ahead of the other week’s releases, the Madonna marketing machine has been running on all cylinders, and so far the buzz they’ve generated is paying off.

Second—props to Madonna herself for showing she can still kick it with the pop/dance divas at age 53. ‘Nuff said.

So the big question is: is there enough substance within the record itself to match all the buzz?

Nope. Not really.

Not that it’s necessarily a bad record. It’s certainly a cut above some of Madonna’s previous work, and for Madonna fans—well, it’s pure Madonna. It’s all there, from the danceable grooves, to the overt sexuality, to the scandalous/borderline blasphemous religious references, to the occasional honest confessional, to the fiery defiance. Anything you like about Madonna, you’ll find it on MDNA.

It’s just that, well…we already have that stuff, on twelve other records. And frankly, times have changed, for better or worse. Had this record been released in a previous decade, it would have been just as scandalous as her other shenanigans, perhaps even more so. But today, when other modern artists are pressing the boundaries even farther, it’s like: meh. It pains me to say this, but context alone has eliminated the shock value of this record. It’s a slightly updated sound, but content-wise, there’s nothing groundbreaking about it—it’s basically more of the same.

Bottom line: MDNA is a fine Madonna record, and it will get people dancing (it is, after all, a dance record), but all Madonna really proves by it is that she can (sort of) keep up. I have no doubt this will sell a lot of records, but it will likely be the Madonna brand that sells the records—not the music itself.

ALBUM RATING: 2.5 stars (out of 5)

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About the Author


Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

Posted in: Pop Music


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