Is The New Madonna Album THE SHIT Or Just Shit?

It's always sort of a downer to realize that Madonna is in her fifties. This was, after all, a woman who embodied carefree youth with hits like "Borderline" and "Like A Virgin". Heck, she even sorta grew up in front of us with the ambitious and soul-searching "Like A Prayer" album which took all sorts of musical and thematic chances, like any artist wanting to shed their embryonic skin.

Of course, Madonna never stopped finding ways to titillate the masses, going so far as to release the "Sex" book, seeing her shed her inhibitions ... and clothing.

It was at this point that our beloved Ms. Ciccone seemed to lose the plot. I mean, she had literally created the template by which all other female pop stars must abide and now here she was scouring European dance clubs for the latest hip sound. Imitation, emulation, what have you, it has not always been flattering to see Madonna feeling she has to try and keep up with such lesser fringe artists.

So it is on her new album, MDNA, that Madonna opens the album with a spoken-word apology before jumping into the completely predictable dance track "Girl Gone Wild". "Gang Bang" follows and the listener has to remind themselves that they're listening to an album made by a woman old enough to be Lady Gaga's mom. If you didn't know this was Madonna, $5 says you'd never know it. This might make for a tolerable Ke$ha song, but in the Madonna canon, this one's an also-ran.

Despite the played-out title, 'Turn Up The Radio" is actually a refreshing return to unabashed pop that she seems to have spent the better part of the last 20 years trying like hell to avoid. "Give Me All Your Luvin", which most of us heard for the first time during her Super Bowl halftime performance continues the hook-fest, despite a production style that seems to lack faith in the material. "Some Girls" continues the cavalcade of titles we've all heard before (in better songs) and loses herself in vocoders and autotune.

"Masterpiece" arrives near the end of the album just as we're ready to hit the "EJECT" button and rescues the album from the myriad of crazed "producers". Sadly, it's the production that keeps this really great song from truly taking off. In the hands of Pat Leonard, this is a song that could have put Madonna back on top. Still, it's great to hear Madonna take a stab like this and it gives this reviewer hope that she'll dispense with the trend-chasing next time and just allow the songs, and her voice, to shine.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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