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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

DJBB Goes MDNA

On the track, "I Don't Give" (a Fuck, as is clearly heard despite the auto-tuned back-up), Nicki Minaj raps: "You original than Gaga," and, a tad later, "There's only one queen and that's Madonna," just before the song's Benedictine-like chant at end. (I'm assuming Ms Minaj is trying to express "more original," not "less." Though sometimes less is more, they say.) Madonna is certainly determined to prove she's reigning queen of popular dance-music on this album, and MDNA has a brand-new melodic edge for her; an edge seemingly forged by processing the style and structure of Lady Gaga songs. Madonna's edge of glory, mayhaps.

Nonetheless, MDNA is a beauty of a beast, the greatest of glory holes in terms of sonic portals, and Madonna's back in her disco element, thank... well,... God, I suppose!

Any album that opens with Madge intoning, "O, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee" is stepping off on the right foot as far as I'm concerned. (Recital is from the "Act of Contrition," for the uninitiated.) Especially when it segues into the first track, "Girl Gone Wild." The upbeat dance track sets the tone for most of what is to follow, both in terms of its dance-floor rhythm and its breaching the consistent theme of good girl vs bad. The Madonna/whore syndrome, if you please. No Catholic will be able to resist her leitmotifs. I'm reaching for the incense as I give it another listen. "I'm a Sinner" is also contagious as a neo-disco track, and I wouldn't be surprised if it shows up on a future episode of GCB, frankly.
The second track off the album, "Gang Bang" (maybe owing a slight debt to Sonny & Cher's "Bang Bang"), is one of my favorites, especially with its driving electro-beat. Plus, I mean, the chorus "Bang, bang! Shot my lover in the head" can really be something to motivate you to dance, put your hands up in the air, celebrate and even sing along. (Distinctly a Gaga-influenced number in my book.)

"Addicted" is a love song set to an NRG beat, while "Superstar" is another winning track about the joys of romance, with a very Madonna-of-the-'80s structure to it. (All it needs is a Shep Pettibone remix.) Think Cherish 2012.

"Give Me All Your Luvin'" was a hit at Madge's Super Bowl half-time spectacular and the first single off the album, topping both Billboard's dance/club and pop charts.
But "Turn Up the Radio" is also sensational, both as a radio-pandering pop tune and for the dance-floor. It's being readied as the third single (the second being "Girl Gone Wild," now climbing the charts). Richard ("Humpty") Vission already has a killer remix of this.

MDNA concludes with three ballads. "Love Spent" is disco-tinged, pleasant, and suitable for remixing. I am already haunted by Madonna's "Masterpiece," theme song from her film, W.E.. Its lounge flavor is suitably suave for its sophisticated conceits. The tune frequently replays in my mind (a good sign for the song, perhaps less good for me). And I love the unofficial Harry Poppers club remix. "I'm so in love with your masterpiece," warbles the songbird without any apparent sense of irony; oddly naive this once.

Finally, "Falling Free" is an afterthought; a mellow way to bring closure to one of the best albums of Madonna's long, long career. When this "girl" goes wild, the world of dance music gets wilder, too.

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