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Less agony, more ecstasy
Celina Murphy, 10 Apr 2012
But here’s the funny thing. As much as I genuinely believe that it must suck to be a paparazzi-hounded, perpetually misunderstood superstar, the gripes on MDNA leave absolutely no room for sympathy. Our forthcoming mistress of ceremonies does nothing to bridge the gap between normal people problems and Madonna problems, devoting the album’s token sad song to whining about how gorgeous her boyfriend is (“It hurts so much to be in love with a masterpiece”). Two-time guest star Nicki Minaj hits it on the head when she says, “See, I really can’t relate to your Volvo…”
And that’s another thing. Why Madonna decided to invite a truly brilliant lyricist like Minaj – at her best spitting,”I’m not a business woman, I’m a business, woman!” – along to show her up is beyond me. Trivialities? There’re all here. Clichés? You got ‘em. Madonna’s like a moth to a flame, like a bat out of hell and like a fish out of water, all at once.
Also in rude health is her rather annoying habit of referencing her own songs in her lyrics (‘Lucky Star’ pops up in ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’’, John Travolta allegedly gets into the groove on ‘Superstar’ and the scorned subjects of ‘Some Girls’ are sweetly deemed to be ‘Like A Virgin’). But believe it or not, Ms. Ciccone has aimed for new heights of arrogance on MDNA by sampling herself… kind of (‘Love Spent’ incorporates elements of 2005 hit ‘Hung Up’, or at least the same Abba song that gave that track its body).
Then again, egotism is what Madonna does best, and to my great delight, on MDNA she’s chosen to steer clear of the things she’s not so good at, namely, singing with any kind of vocal embellishment and attempting to write profound lyrics. Sure, she pulls out the religious card on three tracks, but rather than being preachy or profane, it’s merely to show how delightfully unangelic she can be.
So, for all its flaws, MDNA is easily Madonna’s best record in a decade. With the help of some of the greatest beat-makers around, the Queen of Pop has created a truly addictive and proudly narcissistic club-friendly album, a pulsating, throbbing 50-minute tribute to herself. You could say it’s like a prayer. At least you might if you were Madonna.