Being a Madonna fan is difficult. You give a lot, you get very little.
I’ve had a few weeks to get to get to know her new album and am thankful for one thing – it’s not as bad as 2008’s Hard Candy. Hard Candy only had one good song on it – ‘Devil Wouldn’t Recognise You’ which sounds like a Justin Timberlake outtake, not a Madonna song (he was co-writer and producer on the track). There was one other, ‘Miles Away’ at which I could sigh and say ‘OK I suppose this will do’ and was good for a sing-song live, but Hard Candy was a contract-filler album, her last studio LP for Warner Brothers before moving to Live Nation so our expectations should never have been particularly high for it.
That means that we her fans have been waiting since October 2005, when ‘Hung Up’ was released, for some decent material from our pop queen. Since then I know she’s been busy getting divorced, moving continents and making a so-so movie, but imagine someone you knew and liked didn’t text you back or ever send you a birthday card and essentially ignored you for SIX AND A HALF YEARS. You probably wouldn’t be their friend anymore. So that’s why many reviewers have concluded that, quite rightly, most Madonna fans are crazy – how else to explain our rabid loyalty and blind love.
The Madonna fan, aged at least 30 and legally adult is not going anywhere. She had her major pop phase 20 years ago and isn’t interested in what’s new on Youtube. What has Lady Gaga got to show her that she hasn’t seen before? Her pop needs are mature; she wants to be entertained, dazzled, go to the occasional concert. She’s not about to replace MDNA in her affections with Katy Perry. Don’t be daft.
Madonna fans are like her neglected pets. Maybe that’s why she’s used the word ‘bitch’ so many times on the new album. Gaga has her affectionately-named monsters but we are just bitches. We are such masochistic suckers. Madonna only grudgingly loves her fans because they’ve made her ridiculously bloody rich. Sigh.
On MDNA it’s clear that she’s not speaking with a British accent anymore. There are tacky treadmill beats, awkward collaborations, sub-Britney dubstep-breakdowns and silly lyrics, but it’s redeemed by tracks like ‘Falling Free’ and ‘I Don’t Give A’ because they sound like Madonna in spite of everything.
The reason that I think that MDNA actually might be a quite good pop album is that my Madonna fan friends each have different favourite tracks and have admired and criticised different bits to me. And so, using this reasoning I will for the moment conclude that it’s not that bad. And quietly wait for some Stuart Price remixes to filter through the internet.
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