Album Review: Madonna, “MDNA”
I recently sat down with Madonna over tea to chat about her new album, MDNA. I was a little scared to talk to her at first, considering she’s one of my idols, but she was extremely pleasant and fun to talk to, for a while, at least. We had a very lively — dare I say, sassy — conversation.
OK, not really. But ever since I first listened to this record, I’ve had an ongoing imaginary conversation with Madge about it. And I figured that rather than writing a traditional review, it would be more fun to just share that conversation with you. I thought about letting Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. jump in at some point, but decided that this album really isn’t their fault and it’s Madonna I need to have words with.
So, here we go. Remember: this conversation is completely made up.
Kelly: Hey, girl! You look fab! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me.
Madonna: Did you just call me “girl”? Don’t do that again. I am Madonna.
K: I’m sorry. I’m a little nervous.
M: It’s OK. I would be nervous around me, too. I am Madonna, after all.
K: Congratulations on the release of your new album, MDNA.
M: Thank you. I know you were very excited about it.
K: I was, especially after I heard you were working with William Orbit again, since he produced one of my favorite records of yours, Ray of Light. But I have to admit, I was also a little bit scared.
M: Why? You love me.
K: This is true. And that’s why I was scared. I mean, I hated your last album, Hard Candy, with the heat of 1,000 suns.
M: It’s a shame you feel that way. I am going to pretend you don’t.
K: OK, well, that’s your choice. But it might come up again. Let’s move on, though. I want to talk about the new album.
M: Good, because that’s all I want to talk about. Tell me how much you love it.
K: I don’t think I can do that.
M: Why? You are unable find the words to adequately express just how much you love it?
K: Not exactly. I don’t love it, Madonna. I’m sorry. I wanted to, I promise.
M: I don’t think you tried hard enough. Please explain yourself.
K: Alright. Let’s start with the first track, “Girl Gone Wild.” I think this song is a lot of fun and it really makes me want to dance. It reminds me of “Celebration,” one of the new tracks from your last greatest hits compilation of the same name. I had high hopes that all of MDNA would sound a lot like that song.
M: Why on Earth would you think I would create music that sounds like other things I have done previously? That’s silly.
K: Um, we’ll talk about that in a second. First, I want to talk about some of the lyrics of “Girl Gone Wild.” Are you trying to throw shade at Cyndi Lauper with “Girls they just wanna have some fun/Get fired up like a smokin’ gun/On the floor ’til the daylight comes/Girls they just wanna have some fun”? Or is that a tribute to her?
M: What? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I would never wait almost 30 years to reference the biggest hit of someone who was once considered my biggest rival in the pop world. Also, I’m much more relevant than that.
K: OK. If you say so. Before we move on to the next song, I just wanted to tell you that the “Girl Gone Wild” video is hot as hell. I had already suspected I was a gay man in another life, but my reaction to this video confirmed it.
M: Thank you very much. Wait until you see me perform this live. You will transform into a gay man as you’re watching me. It will be fabulous.
K: I wish I could see you perform live, but I can’t afford tickets. I am broke and unemployed.
M: Oh, how sad for you.
K: OK, let’s move on to “Gang Bang.” Exactly how hard were you trying with this? My guess is “too hard.” Also, how many times did you watch the Ryan Gosling film Drive while you were writing it? Is your character supposed to be one of The Driver’s new clients in the unmade sequel, which I’m guessing you’d like to call Drive, Bitch?
M: I do not watch modern films that I was not involved with. Also, I am edgy and hardcore.
K: I’m not going to disagree that you used to be very edgy, though I don’t know if I would use the term “hardcore” to describe you. But edgy, definitely. However, I don’t think you’re creating the edge anymore as much as following it, which makes me sad.
M: The edge will cut you, so I’d suggest you be careful here.
K: Wait, what?
M: Never mind.
K: Let’s talk about “I’m Addicted” and “Turn Up the Radio.” These songs are fun! But we need to discuss lyrics again. I think “I’m Addicted” is a great dance track, but was it really necessary to repeat your album’s title over and over again at the end? Unless this song is about your addiction to yourself, then I guess that makes sense. But I’m really hoping you’re not so self-involved that you would write a song about being addicted to yourself.
M: Of course I’m not that self-involved. I mean, I know I’m fierce, but I don’t need to scream it from the rooftops or anything. I’m Madonna. I would be far more likely to write a song from the perspective of someone else who is addicted to me.
K: Uh-huh. OK, so “Turn Up the Radio.” I really like this song! It has an old-school Madonna vibe to it and I feel like it could’ve been right at home on Confessions of a Dance Floor, with a few tweaks. And the lyrics didn’t make me embarrassed for you!
M: Um, thank you?
K: You’re welcome. I feel the same way about “Some Girls,” which sounds a lot like it could’ve been inspired by your former tour mate, Robyn.
M: Oh, you mean the Swedish girl who you think is going to inherit my crown as the Queen of Pop?
K: Yep, that’s her. You should work with her on your next record. I really think you could do great things together. Maybe you should even get her to produce you, or you could work with her producers.
M: I do not need career advice from an unemployed music “writer.” Also, did you not hear Nicki Minaj say at the end of “I Don’t Give A” that there’s only one Queen? And that’s ME? I told her to say that and she means it.
K: OK, fine. Let’s get back to discussing things that make me embarrassed for you: “Give Me All Your Luvin’.” I mean, really with this song? You are a grown-ass woman. Why are you spelling it “luvin'”? Also, I think it’s cute when you refer to your old songs every once in awhile, but it’s kind of ridiculous here. This song is just really dumb, Madge. I can call you Madge, right?
K: OK, but really. D-U-M, Madonna. See what I did there?
M: You are not as clever as you think you are. And I am about to walk out of here.
K: Oh, please don’t! We have so much more to discuss! Like, “Superstar,” for example. This song is even worse than that “L-U-V” crap. Like, these lyrics are “I Love New York” bad. What in the hell were you doing when you wrote this? Hanging out with the girls who have a crush on Rocco? Listening to this song not only makes me embarrassed for you, but it makes me angry. I mean, come on. “I’m your biggest fan, it’s true/Hopelessly attracted to you/You can have the password to my phone/I’ll give you a massage when you get home.” YOU ARE AN ADULT! I’m not saying you shouldn’t write youthful lyrics, but you are not allowed to write lyrics that sound like they came from the diary of someone whose favorite book is Twilight.
M: Maybe that is my favorite book.
K: Oh, please. Don’t even.
K: “I Don’t Give A.” This is the sequel to “American Life,” right? And it’s supposed to be a diss against your ex-husband, right? You know what would’ve worked better? If you would have covered the Peaches track of the same name.
M: Are we almost done here? I have a yoga class to make more fabulous.
K: OK, we can speed it up. “I’m a Sinner” is a perfectly great dance track and I do not find it embarrassing at all. “Love Spent” sounds like a song you meant to include on American Life – is that a banjo?
M: Of course it’s an actual banjo and not just a synthesizer that sounds like a banjo.
K: Anyway. The banjo is entirely unnecessary. Otherwise, this song doesn’t bother me and had you included it on American Life, I might have thought it was one of the best tracks on there. So, good job, I guess?
M: Can I go now?
K: Well, I guess you can go if “Y-O-U you wanna.”
M: Shut up.
K: Sorry, I had to. OK, so, “Masterpiece.” I really hated this song the first time I heard it, but it doesn’t bother me so much now. It also sounds like you meant to include it on American Life. Do you have a vault of songs you left off that record that you’re just trying to figure out what to do with? Is there a vault of Confessions cast-offs somewhere that you could put on records instead?
M: (silent stare)
K: Alrighty then. I really like “Falling Free.” It sounds very Music-esque or Ray of Light-esque and that is a good thing.
M: Those were pretty great albums, weren’t they?
K: Yes! They were amazing albums! So you should understand why people are shaking their head when you release an album like Hard Candy or like this one. We want the Madonna back who releases good albums that are fun and have a little bit of substance.
M: OK, I’m leaving now.
K: But we haven’t talked about the tracks on the deluxe edition yet!
M: I don’t give a… (she storms off in a huff)
K: Fine then, be that way. (yelling after her) But I was going to say mostly nice things about the deluxe tracks! Like, “Beautiful Killer” and “I Fucked Up” are pretty good, although the lyrics of the latter are kind of cringeworthy. And I like “Best Friend,” but it sounds like it’s being performed by a bored robot.
M: (yelling from a distance) I don’t caaaare! I’m done with yooouuu!
K: (still yelling after her) “B-Day Song” sounds like it was written by the same tween who wrote “Superstar” and I’ll bet it’s one of the most embarrassing things M.I.A. has ever been involved with. And you should have never let LFMAO anywhere near you. Do you have any idea where they’ve been?
K: She’s not coming back, is she? Do you think she’ll agree to talk to me about W.E.?