Madonna wants us to dance the heartbreak away on MDNA. The record, set to drop on March 26, has some of the finest musical moments we've heard from the pop legend in the last few years, recalling the finer songs and themes she explored on Ray of Light and Confessions on a Dance Floor.
It's clear that Madge had her heart broken, most likely by her former hubby and British auteur, Guy Ritchie. She explores the pain of life post-divorce on many of the songs on the album, and most of the time, it works perfectly. Madonna really understands heartbreak and she understands even better how it can empower someone to be a better person.
While all the buzz seems to be about "I Don't Give A" and the bit too on-the-nose confessions she makes about her divorce (where she even sings about falling off a horse), her anger is even darker on the William Orbit-produced "Gang Bang."
Sparse at times and always punctuated by a pulsing beat, it's incredibly hard. It's the type of record you'd expect to hear at some after-hours club that your really edgy friend knows about. It's about falling completely in love and falling more deeply into hate when it's over. Serving as a pop-song revenge fantasy, Madonna sings, "And I'm going straight to hell/ And I've got a lot of friends there/ And if I see that b---- in hell/ I'm gonna shoot him in the head again/ 'Cause I wanna see him die/ Over and over and over."
On the disco-tinged "Love Spent," Madge sings about feeling like nothing more than a bank to a former lover (she did have one very costly breakup from Ritchie), and on the remorseful, melodic "Best Friend," she admits, "Your picture's off the wall, but I'm still waiting for your call/ And every man that walks through the door/ Will be compared to you."
"Superstar" is light and airy, recalling some of the singer's highlights from the '80s. The mid-tempo's production, which comes courtesy of Hardy "Indiigo" Muanza, certainly helps distract from some of the sillier lyrics that have Madonna comparing her boy toy to famed dudes like Al Capone and James Dean.
If anyone was wondering why she called the album MDNA, all they need to do is look to "I'm Addicted," the super club-thumping track full of bleeping noises, spare moments and then big chugging ones, which are filled out with loopy instances. It's about letting go and loving someone completely: "Now that your name/ Pumps like blood in my veins/ Pulsing through my body, lighting my mind/ It's like MDNA and that's OK." MDMA, of course, is the drug also known as ecstasy, giving the track the perfect metaphor for love on the dance floor.
While most of the album addresses the highs and lows of falling in love, "Some Girls" is all about Madonna proclaiming her awesomeness. Another Orbit jam, it's a crunchy, robotic, thumping anthem that puts Madonna right in the center of female empowerment. "I'm not like the rest," she proclaims, as if anyone would ever question that. "Some girls are second best." On the chorus, she declares, "Some girls are not like me/ I'm everything you've ever dreamed of/ I got you begging please."
One of the highlights is "Turn Up the Radio," which sounds like it was born to be this summer's feel-good anthem. It's bright, happy and fun, all about letting go of the past. Over Martin Solveig's sunny production, Madge sings, "It was time I opened my eyes/ I'm leaving the past behind/ Nothing's ever what it seems/ Including this time and this crazy dream."
She's not wrong to be that confident on this album. She's certainly in the groove. And the album is full of strength, but it's also her vulnerability that rounds it out. If fans thought "Give Me All Your Luvin' " and "Girl Gone Wild" are what this era is all about, they are only seeing pieces of the MDNA puzzle, that's only completed when listening to the album from front to back. In the end, this album is a drug worth taking.