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.
1. Girl Gone Wild
Dancefloor-filler and, I’d imagine, possible future single. It’s both catchy and forgettable in equal parts with foot-tapping electro swerve and light-hearted lyrics.
What am I expecting from a track with such a deliberately subversive title? Gaga-esque polish, pulsating baselines and hooks polished until they’re super slick. This track definitely delivers all of that, 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!’
3. I’m Addicted
Much of the same club-friendly dance, and yet this filler track is one of those jaunty little numbers you might hear on the catwalks at fashion week - it's all swagger. 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.
4. Turn Up the Radio
Imagine what this sounds like from the generic moniker, and then pat yourself on the back. It's 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.
5. 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 and some choclate digestives to boot. Madonna would object, naturally. She’s good like that - darn her willpower.
6. Some Girls
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 on Blur’s emminemt 13 album. 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? Give us mere mortals a break from your too-cool song titles and down-with-the-kids attitude Madge. Mega-cringe.
8. 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 sonic bonus.
9. I’m A Sinner
We know, we know. We've seen your outfits, and that naughty Sex book you put out a while ago, Mads. This retro, Ronette’s inspired pop ditty differentiates itself from the rest of the album with the church-like references and galloping sixties crescendo.
10. Love Spent
Credible and cool, this is how we want to hear Madonna, as 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 with a rare note of tenderness. 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.
12. Falling Free
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