Shock-Pop Diva: Madonna's 'MDNA'

Madonna seems more single-minded in her pursuit to shock on her new experimental album ''MDNA'' than ever before

Madonna
MDNA Deluxe Edition
Interscope/Live Nation
$15.99
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”Girl Gone Wild” is another driving Benassi production, and forget those trite lyrics, it’s the music that makes you wanna hear it over and over again. Press play and start walking, especially on a busy street, or at the gym. I swear it’ll get you moving better than even most dance songs do.

To my ear, MDNA most closely resembles Bedtime Stories in its techno sonic explorations – mostly for good – and American Life in its lyrical provocations – mostly for bad.’

Even with nearly a decade behind us, I still think American Life is Madonna’s worst album, with its unfortunate experiments in rapping and in Mirwais-induced minimal techno. Mirwais doesn’t return to the fold with MDNA, but the set does get bogged down with unfortunate rapping – this time from Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., who gunk up two tracks apiece.

MDNA is ostensibly a break-up album, but Madonna isn’t much of one to express pain or show weakness, so it’s easy to overlook that unless you get the Deluxe Edition. Two of the four original songs here feature Madonna expressing some heartache, even fault, about the failings of her relationship to Guy Ritchie. Most impressive is ”I Fucked Up,” a slow, determined ballad that briefly twitches with a dance flight of fancy in its bridge, as Madonna dreams about could-have-beens. ”I fucked up, I made a mistake; nobody does it better than myself,” she sings, with conviction. And even though she ends the sweet song on a slightly sour note – ”I wish I could have you back, maybe one day,” she sings, pausing before the coda, ”or not” – you still appreciate the rare, heartfelt confession.

”I Fucked Up” is certainly superior to ”Gang Bang.” The song is captivating in its musical heart, with its Orbit and Demolition Crew-produced pounding heartbeat rhythm. But above that are sirens, tires skidding and gunshots, and Madonna essentially rapping about how she had to kill her ex to get on with her life. ”I want to see him die,” she shouts, ”over, and over, and over…” she climbs her register with each ”over” until she’s practically having an orgasm.

”Now if you’re gonna act like a bitch,” she sasses, followed by a gun shot, ”then you’re gonna die like a bitch,” and another pop.

Talk about fucking up.

Download These: ”I’m Addicted,” ”Falling Free,” ”I Fucked Up”

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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