by breakingthefragile USER (128 Reviews)
April 16th, 2012 | 7 replies

Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Madonna's sound sounds great on MDNA, as for Madonna herself, not so much.

MDNA is in no way a big deal. It may be Madonna’s first album in a while, but the content here is nothing for even die hard fans to go crazy about. But music can be good without being anything really special, and listeners should keep that in mind while listening to MDNA. This music may not push Madonna’s sound in any real massive new direction, and it certainly doesn’t push Madonna’s sound above and beyond the state of current pop music, (which Madonna became praise-worthy of doing in the first place) so Madonna ends up adjusting and adapting to modern music on this album instead of furthering it.

Madonna never claimed MDNA would be something no one has heard before in pop music, or a return to her roots, she obviously just wants this to be a satisfactory record that shows that she’s still got it despite her age and the amount of time that’s passed since Hard Candy. And the modernization of the music aspect of this works surprisingly well. MDNA is heavily electronic oriented, infusing her typical preference of poppy dance numbers with echos of euro-dance, and even some tiny hits of deadmau5-ish dubstep on a few tracks.

This is pop electronica that sports many dimensions in its moods, not just the standard, giddy, and cartoony ring-tone syth-beats female signers like Ke$ha sing over. The music often alternates between gleeful and upbeat snaps and bops, to grinding, and hip invigorating downtempo club booms, frequently all within the same track, and the sleek production makes sure it all comes together smoothly and without rough edges, unlike the random mess of keyboards and over-the-top sexuality that was Hard Candy.

For another shot at modernization, Madonna also incorporates rapping into a couple of tracks, courtesy of Nicki Minaj. This also works surprisingly well with the music, as Nicki is only featured as a guest on the tracks, and she makes great use of the little time she has on the record, delivering some appropriate rhymes that flow well with the records attitude. Also, it’s interesting to hear Nicki rap over more production heavy, and more club-dance oriented beats than that of her own.

The transition from Madonna’s singing into Nicki’s rapping isn’t an abrupt change in styles, because of how well of a choice Nicki is for a rapper here. She blends in well because if a male rapper was in her place instead, he wouldn’t bring the estrogen and sexuality Nicki brings that fit with Madonna and her themes, and a change in gender would be inevitably abrupt as it always is anyway, the style change is eased by the consistent lustful personalities of both Nicki and Madonna.

On the topic of sexuality, while containing tracks such as “Girl Gone Wild”, “Give Me All Your Luvin’”, and “Gang Bang” MDNA is actually more subtle in its sexuality than Hard Candy was despite this, but even if it is a welcome decline, even the slightest amount of sexuality would be better off eliminated from the album, as there is the overlaying and inescapable distraction of Madonna’s notable age. The issue is that in a possible method to sound young, Madonna only goes for a light pitch in her voice and has absolutely no leniency in her delivery, resulting in Madonna sounding very robotic and very emotionless on this album.

Just listening to the Chorus of the first track “Girls Gone Wild” will show how Madonna doesn’t bring the convincingly sexy, lustful, and flexible tones of the character needed in the execution to match what she is singing about. She’s sounds very bland, dull, and plain, and for tracks that are supposed to be dance evoking, the music does it’s job, but not the women at the helm.

There’s no differentiation in her melodies, as she just consistently keeps this same soft pitch in each track that lacks the urgency, and energy of younger modern day pop stars, and makes everything she is saying sound anything but interesting. She doesn’t even cohesively gel with her backing music, it sounds like there’s Madonna’s voice, and the music is just separately there on the side.

Overall, Madonna’s goal and intention is, and always was, to make good music, and she accomplishes making good and relevant MUSIC with this album from a lot of attention and care, although she herself did not transition over as well as the music itself did.

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user ratings (136)
other reviews of this album
caiocoletti (3.5)
MDNA definitely will get you hooked....

dylantheairplane (2.5)
And no one is surprised....

MonstersInsideMe (2.5)
Madonna + Cliché Dance Beats + Rehashed Image = Laughable, yet Listenable Attempt...

stsoy (3)
Madonna can do much better...

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 16th 2012


Album Rating: 2.5

This isn't really a bad review but your whole justification as to why the album is acceptably subpar doesn't really make sense. If she wanted to make an album that was just average she wouldn't have bothered at all, obviously she was trying for something excellent but didn't succeed.

April 16th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

@dylantheairplane When I said "satisfactory" I in no way meant to say average. Are you saying an artist can't strive to make the best album they can make without attempting to make something new?

April 16th 2012


Album Rating: 2.5

Well I mean realistically no, but if you strive to make an album that isn't as good as your past work who would want to listen to it at all

It is one thing for an artist with a catalogue like Madonna to step back and say, okay, I've reached the peak of my career and the chances of topping that are slim, but usually they still try to put out a good solid piece of work, which MDNA is not. It is very much a regression.

April 16th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

Well what I was saying is that, I think with this, Madonna tried to make an album just as good as everything else she's done, by putting just the same amount of heart and effort into it, but for different reasons. She gave her best as always to make an album that was just as good as her past albums that moved pop forward, but with the intention of it being an album content with the times and content with her sound at the moment, instead of her goal to be a revolutionary in music. What I'm saying is you can make two albums and try to make them the best you've ever done, and you can do one with the intention of it being revolutionary, and one with the intention of it being very pleasing. Of course it's most likely the revolutionary one is going to be the best, but you can still give your all with the mindset of it being an amazing album without intending it to be revolutionary. I think Madonna has realized at this point in her career that she's done being a pop pioneer, but I don't think she's realized it might be time to call it quits already.

Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2012


and even some tiny hits of deadmau5-ish dubstep on a few tracks.


April 17th 2012


Well written, pos.

September 25th 2013


Album Rating: 2.0

This is the follow-up collaboration between Madonna and William Orbit, after their collaboration on Ray of Light. They can do better than this. It's a shame that this album came out so bad, very disappointing.

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