Gaga, M.I.A., Nicki: thanks for keeping the stage warm. But now Madonna is back, stripping it all away, getting down to the basics, and returning to her regal roots—and ours.
MDNA, her 12th studio album, opens with a confession to remind us that Mo is a bad girl perpetually asking for forgiveness. Then, quicker than you can say “Go and sin no more,” she reclaims the dance floor with “Girl Gone Wild.” Go ahead—throw that fist up in the air and start pumping, Wild Girl.
As Saturday Night Live’s “Stephan” might describe it, this CD, with its 17 killer tracks, has evvvverything: You want to dance or work out? Try “Some Girls.” Do you want to listen to an old friend spill her heart out? Try “Best Friend.” Do you want to test Houston’s new noise pollution restrictions, throw the top down, and just drive? Try “Turn Up the Radio.” Do you need a kind word to get out of bed? Try “Give Me All Your Lovin’.” Want a little bluegrass pickin’? Try “Love Spent.” Do you like the sound of a choir of oompa-loompas singing backup for her? Try “I Don’t Give A.”
She takes a swing or two at ex-husband Guy Ritchie with “I F–ked Up”—and connects. Her collaboration with William Orbit on “Masterpiece” from W.E. reminds us why she bested Sir Elton John for this year’s Golden Globe Best Original Song statuette. Orbit also wears producer’s goggles on “I’m Addicted.”
In “Gang Bang,” we could probably have done without hearing a bullet casing clink on the floor following the lyric “Shot my lover in the head,” resulting in his death so she can live. But is she lamenting a lost lover, or Jesus? Somewhere, Rick Santorum is lying in a fetal position, trembling.
In a recent interview with The Sun, Madonna expressed her intent with MDNA: “I hope I inspire women and give them strength to deal with life, no matter what comes their way.”
Mission accomplished, Madonna. Interscope/Geffen/A&M (interscope.com).