REVIEW: Is MDNA Madonna’s Latest Triumph Or Tragedy?

I took some heat a while back for daring not to approve of “Give Me All Your Lovin,” the lead single from Madonna’s upcoming album, MDNA, out March 26. I stand by what I said about that song, but, having heard the rest of the album, the album is far better than the first single lead us to believe.

Actually, “Give Me All Your Lovin’” stands out on MDNA—not necessarily as its weakest track, but as the one that just doesn’t really fit. It’s more like an outtake from Hard Candy, a happier, bouncier song than seems appropriate here. The rest of MDNA is meaner, darker, harder—well, at least as mean and hard as mainstream dance-pop can be.

Mainstream dance pop made by Madonna, anyway.

“Gang Bang”—written by Madge with assist from William Orbit, Mika, Jean Baptiste and others—is about as dark as MDNA gets. It’s a smoldering track that finds Madonna fantasizing about shooting down her lover—a kind of beat-heavy inverse of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang.”

“Some Girls”—a personal fave—is of the same strange ilk as Gaga’s “Heavy Metal Lover,” hitting hard but burning relatively slow. Cue the copycat accusations. (How ironic.)

There’s plenty to read into the Ciccone/Ritchie divorce on MDNA: On “I Don’t Give A,” Madge and Nicki Minaj rap at breakneck speed about the fast-paced life that someone couldn’t deal with, apparently. But the Material Woman is a bit more contemplative on “Best Friend,” admitting to the things she misses about her ex over synths and a skittering beat.

MDNA is big on beats, in fact, but there are some interesting flourishes: I’m thinking of the banjo plucked on “Love Spent” and the strong vocal timbre on quieter ballads “Masterpiece” and “Falling Free.”

At 16 tracks—plus a teeth-grinding LMFAO remix of “Give Me All Your Lovin’” on the deluxe edition, MDNA has plenty of padding but there aren’t nearly as many forgettable tracks as on some of her previous releases. “Girl Gone Wild” and, you know, that other song, are taking up all the airplay, but the best tracks have yet to be heard.


MDNA will be released on Monday, March 26, on Interscope Records.