Madonna – Give It 2 Me (Video)

Whoop! Madonna’s new video for “Give It 2 Me” has found its way to YouTube. (Holy cow, it was deleted while I was typing this post up! That was quick.)

123654My thoughts:

  • Madge looks fab (she’s been looking lovely lately – check her out at an amfAR event and at Cannes!) as she wiggles and gyrates through the video.
  • The beginning moments of the vid rather obviously echo the dance studio set of “Hung Up.”
  • Pharrell pops up every so often and at first seems to just come out of nowhere but soon it all gels.
  • The amusing yet catchy “get stupid” bit in the song is given a fair visual representation with quick edits and expressive poses from Madonna.
  • I was hoping the video would have more energy – and maybe feature Madonna doing more than pose and such – but the editing and effects give it some movement.

All in all, it’s a bit of a dull video. It’s good, but not great. I suppose M blew the budget on “4 Minutes”! But it’s OK, Madonna. We still love you! :)

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Madonna – Hard Candy (2008)

I was super-excited about Hard Candy‘s release, and you know what? Madonna delivered.

I had my doubts about the album, sure. Awhile back, I wasn’t too worried about the rumored urban direction in which the album was headed. I think Madonna has proven that she can handle any genre she wants to handle. But the demos of “The Beat Goes On” (reworked into “Beat Goes On”) and “Candy Shop” (which was left pretty much as-is) didn’t seem to hint at a great album.

And then “4 Minutes” was released, and my excitement for what was now called Hard Candy was re-energized. 30sec clips of the album tracks were put online closer to the album’s release and my excitement hit a new high. This was going to be an awesome album!

A little before 12:00 AM April 29, I got an email from iTunes telling me I could download my pre-ordered copy of Hard Candy and I put whatever I was working on aside to listen.

You really shouldn’t get as hyped up as I did for this album because you’re just going to feel a bit let down. At least, that is, on the first listen. I liked the songs, of course, but it wasn’t the awesome album I had heard in “4 Minutes” and those 30sec clips. Over the next week, though, I played the album over and over again, and I can firmly declare that Hard Candy is indeed awesome.

Is it my favorite of Madonna’s most recent releases? Probably not (yet). Confessions On A Dance Floor takes that place. It was released during my first semester of university and I have a huge soft spot for it – besides, it’s a brilliant dance album.
4910707a15But Hard Candy – whoa! It’s the freshest Madonna has sounded in years and even more than that, it’s fun! Haters will continue hating, saying that Madonna’s just trying to stay relevant by working with hip names like Justin Timberlake and Pharrell, that she’s having some sort of mid-life crisis, singing lyrics like “see my booty get down.” But who else could make clinging to relevancy at almost-50 sound so good? (All together now, “4 Minutes”-style – Ma-donn-uh!)

What I love most about Hard Candy is that it sounds like it might have been made by any pop pretender-to-the-throne out there, and yet, it could only have been made by Madonna. There’s this indefinable fierceness that runs through the whole album that cannot and will not ever be duplicated. Declarations like “my sugar is raw,” “I can go on and on and on” (really, the whole of “Give It 2 Me”), and “I know I can do it better” pepper the album and remind us that Madonna is most certainly the Queen of Pop (as if we could forget!).

GI2MPic2222The only track on the album that I don’t care for is “Candy Shop.” I’m sorry, but it’s weak. Really weak. The “my sugar is raw (sticky and sweet)” bit is cool, but the rest isn’t great. Luckily, it’s followed by “4 Minutes,” which you’ve probably heard by now so I won’t go over how cool it is again. :) “Give It 2 Me” didn’t grab me on my first few listens – the bass and synth lines sounded kinda cheesy and the chorus seemed a bit… well, weak. It’s still not my favorite song on the album but it’s full of energy and the lyrics are too cool for school! Love that “get stupid” part. I have no idea why, but it’s fun.

“Heartbeat” is all about dancing, a clear relative of “Into The Groove” but with a groove of its own. The skipping synths and bass-heavy beats of this track surround nice vocals from Madonna and one of my favorite parts of the album, simply for its… well, I dunno, but it’s something: the break with Madonna telling us to “see my booty get down” and then making some sort of noise like she’s hocking up phlegm. “Huh huh” indeed!

An uptempo ballad comes along next in the form of “Miles Away,” which will definitely be read into by critics and tabloid journalists as being about a forthcoming breakup of Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s marriage. Yeah, whatever. Take it for what it is – a bittersweet tale of long-distance love with beautiful vocals from Madge and a lovely melody. The best track of the album so far.

20080402ellehqvq545454545“She’s Not Me” and you better not forget it! This funky jam runs through the reasons why Madonna is the definite article and the others are just posers. “Incredible” is truly that – incredible. I can hear how it might be annoying to some, but man oh man, I love it! Brilliant beats, shining synths, and ultra-catchy all around, “Incredible” is also an epic of sorts. It has several different melodies and the last two minutes or so – when the male backing vocals start up – is infectious and fierce. My favorite track on the album, with “Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You” and “Voices” following close behind.

“Beat Goes On” is a heavily reworked version of the similarly named demo that surfaced last year, and it’s way better! Much more upbeat, more fully produced, and it overall takes what was good about the demo and enhances it. The rap by Kanye West fits and even adds to the feel of the track. “Dance 2night” comes up next and has a nifty bassline and even niftier drums. Justin Timberlake pops up again and turns the song into a duet, but “Dance 2night” seems to have more Madonna than “4 Minutes” does. Great stuff! Up next is “Spanish Lesson,”which seems to be either hated or loved by fans. Me? I rather like it! The bridge and chorus are breathtaking and the Spanish flavor of the track works and doesn’t sound out of place alongside the rest of the songs.
untitled4547Madonna albums usually get slower or sadder (or both) toward the end. I really like Madonna’s more downtempo, thoughtful tracks and “Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You” and “Voices” do not disappoint. “Devil” is gorgeous. That’s really all you need to know. Everything about it works – Madonna’s expressive voice is supported by wonderfully atmospheric production. It’s similar to “What Goes Around…” by Justin Timberlake (who co-wrote and co-produced this track) but better. “Voices” begins with a “Bohemian Rhapsody”-like intro sung by Justin. Biting lyrics, a particularly nice vocal from Madonna, and thick, string-soaked production combine to make this into a quietly epic ending. The song closes with the same haunting, clanging bell that featured heavily in the middle portion of the Confessions tour. Beautiful.

So. Hard Candy. It’s pretty darn good.

Deep thoughts (or not) about Madonna and the Beatles

ahdn2Whilst visiting Oh No They Didn’t, I came across a timesonline.co.uk article entitled “Madonna: more clout than the Beatles, all by herself . . . and wearing heels.”

A few bits from the article:

The Fab Four may have set the benchmark, but the Material Girl outstrips them with her sheer cultural impact…

On the one hand, what Madonna has done in terms of being female, and a female artist, is astonishing. Although the benchmark for all achievements in pop music will probably always be the Beatles, in many ways, Madonna’s intentions and impact on Western culture have been bigger.

The Beatles, for instance, didn’t do it on their own. The Beatles didn’t do it in heels. The Beatles didn’t have to overcome 2,000 years of the patriarchy before they left the house every morning. And, even at their most sociopolitically daring, the Beatles never displayed half the balls that Madonna did between 1989 and 1990…

Now, the points this article raises would certainly make a fascinating book (Is Madonna Bigger Than The Beatles? – now that would be a Number 1 bestseller!), but the issues touched on could hardly be covered thoroughly on a blog. Even so, I made the following comment on the Oh No They Didn’t post:

I absolutely adore Madonna but… I dunno. She’s definitely a pop culture icon and all but the Beatles were a phenomenon. Really, like another commenter said, it’s apples and oranges. Both the Beatles and Madonna are important in pop culture but for different reasons.

I do think it is terribly important, though, as the article points out, to acknowledge and consider Madonna’s success as a female artist in a largely male-driven industry. That said, I’m still not too sure that she’s ultimately “bigger than the Beatles.”

20080403elle01xn8I suppose only time will tell if Madonna is “bigger than the Beatles.” Musically, Madonna does not and will not ever eclipse the impact the Beatles’ songwriting had on the music world. (And I’m saying this as a rabid Madonna fan.) However, Madonna’s cultural impact should not just be dismissed because of that. If you strip Madonna’s career to the core you are left with an incredibly strong, powerful and determined woman who has remained relevant in a fickle industry for over two decades. Whether you like Madonna or can’t stand her, you can’t deny that fact.

But really, why does it have to be a competition? Can’t we appreciate the Beatles and Madonna without pitting them against each other? I know I do. It really is apples and oranges. So while it is interesting to compare the impacts the Beatles and Madonna have made on pop culture, sometimes you just gotta let it (will) be. :)

We’ve only got four minutes…

… to save the world! You simply must hear Madonna’s newest single, “4 Minutes.” I wasn’t so hot on it the first time I heard it (it was a rather poor quality radio rip, so that may have had something to do with it) but now – oh man! This track is awesome and will get you moving, even if you’re a couch potato like me! ;) What I like best about it – aside from those fantastic horns! – is that it follows Madonna’s recent trend of singing about life, the universe, and everything, but packages the message in a cool hip-pop sound.

gcomadonna4minutes11sv2To be perfectly honest, the leaked “The Beat Goes On” had me a little scared about the forthcoming album, and the leak of “Candy Shop” had me positively frightened. (I’ve since warmed a little to “The Beat Goes On” – though I stand by the criticisms I leveled at it last September – and look forward to hearing how it has been reworked for the album, but I’m still not big on “Candy Shop”.) With “4 Minutes,” however, my fears are gone. Hard Candy (dig that title!) is going to rock. (“I’m gonna kick your ass but it’s going to make you feel good”, incidentally, is how Madonna describes the album. And that’s why she’s the Queen!)

By the way, here is the official cover and track list for Hard Candy in case you haven’t seen it yet!

4910707a15Hard Candy
Global Release: April 28 2008 / US Release: April 29 2008

1. Candy Shop
Written by: Madonna and Pharrell Williams
Produced by: The Neptunes

2. 4 Minutes
Written by: Madonna and Justin Timberlake
Produced by: Timbaland

Background Vocals by: Justin Timberlake
3. Give It 2 Me
Written by: Madonna and Pharrell Williams
Produced by: The Neptunes

4. Heartbeat
Written by: Madonna and Pharrell Williams
Produced by: The Neptunes

5. Miles Away
Written by: Madonna and Justin Timberlake
Produced by: Timbaland

6. She’s Not Me
Written by: Madonna and Pharrell Williams
Produced by: The Neptunes

7. Incredible
Written by: Madonna and Pharrell Williams
Produced by: The Neptunes

8. Beat Goes On
Written by: Madonna and Pharrell Williams
Produced by: The Neptunes

9. Dance Tonight
Written by: Madonna and Justin Timberlake
Produced by: Timbaland
Background Vocals by: Justin Timberlake

10. Spanish Lessons
Written by Madonna and Pharrell Williams
Produced by: the Neptunes

11. Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You
Written by: Madonna and Justin
Produced by: Timbaland
Co-Produced by : Danja
Background Vocals by: Justin Timberlake

12. Voices
Written by: Madonna and Justin Timberlake
Produced by Danja
Co-Produced by: Timbaland
Background Vocal: Justin Timberlake

Madonna – Jump (2006)

I have to admit, I was rather disappointed with the remixes of the Confessions on a Dance Floor era. There were a few good ones, but mostly, the remixes were disappointing. A great album deserves great remixes, and the great remixes for COAD were few and far between.

R-862630-1187811708In my opinion, the best mixes were those of “Jump.” The Extended Album Version is just that, and is a nice elaboration of the original track. The Jacques Lu Cont Mix is dark, different, and very atmospheric, and the Axwell and Misshapes mixes are energetic, hard dance anthems. The “History” track included on the maxi single was, unfortunately, the remixed version, different from the original – rather brilliant – leaked clip. I’m still hoping that the original will be released someday!

New tunes and such!

There have been several new music leaks/releases/previews recently, so here are my faves of the lot:

  • Oh, Britney Spears. Personally, I think the poor thing should quit the biz for awhile and sort herself out, but I quite like her new single, ‘Gimme More.’ I’ve never been a fan of Britney but I’ve never actually hated her music, and ‘Gimme More’ is a pretty nice urban-electro cut.
  • Oh, Madonna. ‘Candy Shop’ leaked and frankly, I’m not digging it.
  • Mylène Farmer protégé Alizée is coming out with a new album (Psychédélices – what a cool title!) in November and first single ‘Mademoiselle Juliette’ will hit radio stations in late September. Catchy as all get-out and beautifully produced!
  • It’s in the trees! It’s coming! …Kylie’s comeback, that is! ‘2 Hearts,’ produced by Kish Mauve, will be out in November. So far we have the original Kish Mauve demo to listen to – NO Kylie vocals here, folks, but you get the idea of what the song will sound like. To me, the track seems to have taken its direction from ‘Some Girls’ (Rachel Stevens) and, strangely enough, ‘Spirit In The Sky’ (Norman Greenbaum) – and it sounds great. Once Kylie works her magic on it, this will be the single of the year.

Speaking of Kylie, here’s a pic from her upcoming calendar. kyliemovellanIs anyone else reminded of Doctor Who‘s Movellans? :)

untitled454545

On and on and on the beat goes…

untitled14548
By now you’ve probably heard ‘The Beat Goes On,’ the recently leaked Pharrell-produced Madonna track. It’s… well, it’s kinda… weak. Actually, no, it’s definitely weak. It pains me to say that about a Madonna song, but really now. The song’s “sound” is several years old, the lyrics are dull and uninspired, and it’s just not very good.

A few reviews I’ve read of the song have said ‘TBGO’ sounds like it could have been a Bedtime Stories-era b-side. This makes me sad. I quite like Bedtime Stories, and its sole b-side, ‘Let Down Your Guard,’ is a fantastic little track. I can certainly hear why ‘The Beat Goes On’ is being compared to some of Bedtime Stories‘ hip-hop-lite tracks, but the difference between ‘TBGO’ and something from Bedtime Stories is that songs like ‘Survival’ and ‘Human Nature’ had heart. ‘TBGO’ feels empty and cold. The lyrics say nothing new or meaningful, and the production is stark and bland.

In addition to creating trends, Madonna is known for taking a trend and making it totally her own. With ‘TBGO,’ Madge is doing what almost every other female pop singer is doing right now. That’s why this leak is so disappointing. There’s nothing unique about it.

It’s not a bad song, of course. The bridge (‘Always a bridesmaid, never the bride’) sounds cool and the chorus, while not great, is catchy. The ‘Instrumentation’ bit is the best part of the song. It’s just that you expect more from Madonna. But, it is Madonna, and so I bet the upcoming album will be great. ‘The Beat Goes On’? Well, there’s always one album track that you skip. ;)

Hey You!

from liveearth.msn.com

“Inspired by Live Earth, Madonna has written a new song titled “Hey You,” which is available exclusively on MSN, free of charge, for seven days. “Hey You” was produced by Pharrell Williams and Madonna and recorded in London. Madonna will perform “Hey You” as one of the headliners for Live Earth U.K.… at Wembley Stadium in London on July 7, as part of the 24-hour, seven-continent Live Earth concert series.

As the exclusive online destination for Live Earth, MSN is pleased to offer this song in conjunction with Madonna and is proud to donate 25 cents for each of the first 1 million downloads to the Alliance for Climate Protection, in support of Live Earth.”

This song is somewhat ballad-y but I’d say it has more than a little of an anthem quality to it. It’ll sound excellent performed live and will definitely get the crowd pumped. The song is free of charge until May 24th so don’t put off downloading it! :)