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Can Madonna make a comeback at 53?

With a new multimillion-dollar record contract, the Queen of Pop hopes it's not too late to re-conquer the music charts

No surprise: Madonna is staging another music comeback. The singer signed a new three-album deal yesterday with Interscope Records, for which she'll earn a base of $1 million per album. (She split with her longtime label, Warner Brothers Records, in 2007.) She also announced that the first of those three albums will be released in March 2012, soon after her high-profile Super Bowl halftime performance. Madonna's last album, 2008's Hard Candy, was one of her least successful yet, and her latest directorial effort, the film W.E., has been ravaged by critics. Are the odds of a comeback stacked against her?

It's not looking good: Madonna simply isn't as popular as she used to be, says Josh Grossberg at E! Online. Her previous album Hard Candy was a commercial disappointment. Along with 2003's American Life, it's one of only two Madonna albums that failed to achieve platinum status, even though it boasted Justin Timberlake and Kanye West as collaborators and a modern "urban flavor." And since Hard Candy, the music scene has been dominated by new, improved Madonnas like Lady Gaga. Even so, the original is "still a music force to be reckoned with.""Can Madonna make comeback in Lady Gaga-dominated world?"

Of course she can make a comeback: This makes way more sense than those ridiculous deals being made in baseball, says Kyle Anderson at Entertainment Weekly. Albert Pujols' lucrative 10-year contract will pay him into his 40s, even though his stats prove that he's on the decline. At an album-every-three-years rate, Madonna will be 60 when she releases her final record under the Interscope contract, which seems comparatively acceptable considering that she "has been an innovator and a shape-shifter for the entirety of her career." If "stylistic shakeups" like the recently-leaked "Masterpiece" are any indication, she shows no signs of stopping. "Madonna sings three-album contract with Interscope, continues comeback run"

Either way, this is a wise business decision: This is a surprisingly "rational deal," says Peter Kafka at All Things D. The kind of money Madonna's being offered, may seem like chump change "she would have laughed at in the past" — especially considering that Bruce Springsteen signed a $100 million deal with Sony not that long ago. Yet Madonna is "long past her music-selling peak, and the music industry is a decade past its peak, too." If she still wants to make a splash on the radio, she needs a record label behind her to "deliver the Big Reach." All things considered, this is "a very reasonable contract.""Stunning news: Music industry acts rationally"

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