Madonna’s ‘MDNA’ is potent stuff

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Madonna is a bitch out of order, a bat out of hell and a fish out of water. At least that’s what she compares herself to in the song “Gang Bang,” off her brand new album, “MDNA.” The album officially comes out tomorrow, though it leaked online late last week.  Madge’s claim about being broken, angry and alienated is a succinct self-analysis.

It’s been four years since her last album of new material, the longest gap of her nearly 30-year career, which would explain the fish-out-of-water feeling — to say nothing of the fact that her last album came out a full six months before the debut of another Italian-American with a stage name, a penchant for shock value and a monster-load of blond ambition, Lady Gaga.

As far as the bitch-out-of-order and the bat-out-of-hell, her venomous personal lyrics on this album make it difficult to distinguish Madonna, the pop legend from Madonna, the mortal whose eight-year marriage to director Guy Ritchie ended in a bitter divorce.

“I tried to be a good girl, I tried to be your wife,” she sings on “I Don’t Give A.”

It is this vulnerability that gives “MDNA” its vitality. And this uneasiness of being thrown into a different life situation almost makes it acceptable  for her to sing like a teenager about drinking too much Tanqueray and “Tweetin’ in the elevator.” Comparing a new love to Mike Jordan and Abe Lincoln in the same song? Well, that’s just silly. But she seems to acknowledge there’s a personal crisis at hand, where impulsive behavior is the norm, singing, “I know I shouldn’t act this way” in “Girl Gone Wild.”

This confessional intimacy also makes it difficult to criticize Madonna for imitation, which she does indulge in a bit on “MDNA.” To that charge, the material girl is just as much of a smart shopper as she’s always been, using the baddest guest stars (including Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.) and the best producers (including Martin Solveig and William Orbit) to bring her sound into now.  If she can’t define the times, she’s certainly not going to be behind them. And really, anybody she’s borrowing from wouldn’t even be making music if it weren’t for her. The racecar basslines, pumping beats and Skrillex-style monster breakdown would seem forced if not done properly. But it’s Madonna, and even if she is a fish out of water, she can always get into the groove.
 

Add it up

The chemical makeup of the deluxe edition of ‘MDNA’
   
Approximate number of times the words “girl” or “girls” are used: 63
Approximate number of times the word “bitch” is used: 13
Approximate number of songs that are most likely about Guy Ritchie: 6.5
Number of previous Madonna hits referenced by title: 3
Number of Nicki Minaj guest appearances: 2
Number of songs with spoken prayers: 2
Number of songs where a banjo is clearly audible: 1

Deluxe it up

The deluxe edition clocks in at more than an hour, which can be a little exhausting, but it features perhaps some of the best songs, including an almost punky duet with M.I.A. called “B-Day Song,” and the plaintively titled and emotionally raw, “I F—ed Up.” Madonna may have not been the one to make an F-bomb acceptable in a pop song (that honor belongs to Cee-Lo, obviously) but she sure as hell can make it her own.


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