After three decades in the music business, a splashy Super Bowl halftime performance, and months of endless hype, Madonna's 12th studio album, MDNA, hit shelves on Monday. It's Madge's first new album since 2008's Hard Candy, which was pilloried by critics and largely ignored by consumers. But now, some tastemakers are hailing MDNA as the superstar's "best album since Ray of Light," which was released all the way back in 1998. Is the Queen of Pop poised for yet another musical comeback?
Yes. It's that good: Competing against a growing crop of pop-diva upstarts, Madonna is blatantly "throwing down the gauntlet" on MDNA, says Eric Diaz at Geekscape. With bitter, gritty songs like the vengeful "Gang Bang" — which addresses her divorce from Guy Ritchie — and the euphoric dance track "I'm Addicted," Madonna "sounds more creatively fresh and new" than anyone who's been in the business for three decades "really has any right to." MDNA is "one of her best albums yet."
"Madonna's MDNA: The Geekscape review"
No way. It's cringe-worthy: "In the age of Gaga, this simply won't do," says Aidin Vaziri at the San Francisco Chronicle. MDNA is nothing but a compilation of overworked tracks that blatantly rip off other artists. "Love Spent" and "I'm Addicted" sound like the result of "downing too many energy drinks in the studio." A baffling eight songwriters cobbled together the subpar "Gang Bang." And "Give Me All Your Luvin'" flops, largely because Gwen Stefani "already did the same thing better."
"Album review: Madonna, MDNA"
It's not perfect. But it's pretty good: Judging only MDNA's first two singles — "Girl Gone Wild" and "Gimme All Your Luvin'" — the album seems like a "clumsy rave-pop" dud, says Gareth Grundy at the U.K.'s Guardian. But the rest of MDNA soars. "Turn Up the Radio" recalls "Into the Groove" and "Open Your Heart" — the "kind of giddy, live-for-the-moment tune that made everyone fall for [Madonna] in the first place." The flirty "I'm a Sinner" and vulnerable ballad "Falling Free" also hint that, at 53, Madonna still has a fascinating musical future ahead.
"Madonna: MDNA — review"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How a degree from Duke University dashed my dreams of buying a home
- Four annoying sounds you need to stop making
- Half the world's population lives in these 6 countries
- The best online movies to watch this weekend
- This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever.
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- 10 things you need to know today: August 23, 2014
- Innocent before proven guilty? The bizarre bipartisan rush to clear Rick Perry
- How collaborative innovation led to the experimental serum for Ebola
- What Keeping Up with the Kardashians can teach America about interracial marriage
Subscribe to the Week