Stylist’s Anita Bhagwandas went to the playback of Madonna’s twelfth studio album MDNA, at Abbey Road studios earlier today (Wednesday 7 March). Here is her initial, unedited track by track reaction.
Girl Gone Wild
Dancefloor-filler and, I’d imagine, possible future single. It’s both catchy and forgettable in equal parts with its foot-tapping electro swerve and light-hearted lyrics.
What am I expecting from a track with such a subversive title? Gaga-esque polish, pulsating baseline and hooks polished until they’re super slick. This track definitely delivers, right up until the final few bars when it’s ruined by an addendum of gangster rhetoric – “You’re gonna die bitch,” Madonna wails as Lourdes sits at home with her head in her hands crying ‘Mother you’re so embarrassing!’
Much of the same club-friendly dance, and yet, this filler track is one of those jaunty little ditties you might hear on the catwalks at fashion week. Lots of bleeps and cyber-pop melody, but the real question is whether it alludes to the double entendré suggested by the album name? Whatever she’s addicted to – be it young men or a little botox – there’s certainly not a hydrangea in sight.
Turn Up The Radio
Imagine what this sounds like from the generic moniker and pat yourself on the back. More of the sweet dance sensibility with a little retro euro-pop thrown in for good measure, but at this point in the album the adage ‘quality not quantity’ seems to be loitering poignantly.
Give Me All Your Luvin’ feat Nicki Minaj & M.I.A
It’s the first single from the album and although queen M is working with some bright young things, if this song were a pudding it would most likely be a macaroon. Something you really crave but saccharine and ultimately so unsatisfying you end up eating the whole box. Madonna would object-naturally. She’s good like that, darn her willpower.
Things are looking up, and it’s all down to producer William Orbit who worked with Madonna on the brilliant Ray Of Light and with Pink, All Saints and Blur’s emminemt 13. It’s synth-laden, sultry and brilliant – more like this please.
We’re back to the same sugary retro-pop. But the bigger question is what’s with these song titles? Are they the tracklist to Madonna’s mind? We get that you’re great Madge but give us mere mortals a break from your too-cool song titles and down-with-the-kids attitude.
I Don’t Give A
Monkeys? Two-hoots? Aside from her slack sentence finishing ways, there’s a real sense of vigour and originality to this fully developed, techno-tinged track. Then Nicki Minaj pops up again to add a little rappity-rap over the top for an added bonus.
I’m A Sinner
We know, we saw that naughty book you put out a while ago Madge. This retro, Ronette’s inspired pop ditty differentiates itself from the rest of the album with the church-like references galloping sixties crescendo.
Credible and cool, this is how we want to hear Madonna, someone who’s used her experience to enhance her records rather than jumping on any passing bandwagon. This too-brief melody plays electro softness against delicate strings to impressive effect.
A little slab of balladry with Madonna realising her own immortality “After all, nothing’s indestructible” she sings gently. It’s a softer approach with a silky melody that cuts a more grown-up swathe than anywhere else on the album. It’s also the theme to W.E, and this stripped back approach is arguably the route this album should have taken.
Hollow, melodic strings make this one of the few tracks that’s truly a little different – and, predictably it’s produced by Orbit again. Although it’s not quite as catchy as a few of the big shouty, dance floor fillers these dream-like, euphoric vocals and stripped back arrangement is the best we’ve seen her in years.
Words: Anita Bhagwandas
MDNA is released on Interscope on 26 March