Madonna's new album, Hard Candy, has arrived (sort of, on MySpace, ahead of its April 29 release date) and I took some time this morning to listen to each track and capture my first impressions. Madonna is 49 years old, but if 4 Minutes wasn't hint enough, I can assure you this is far from adult contemporary.
In true Madonna fashion, she's reinvented her sound once again with the help of collaborators including Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Nate "Danja" Hills. Overall, the album has an irresistible insistence that you get up and shake your booty, but nothing stands out as particularly unique or sounds like something we haven't heard before.
These are just my first impressions, though, and over time, the album could surprise me. To read my first thoughts on each track and let me know yours,
Think about when you first heard Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back" or Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" — or, for that matter, Madonna's own "Ray of Light." All of those tracks were fresh takes on pop hooks and techno beats that made my ears instantly sing — and I can't say that any of Hard Candy's tracks had that instant wow factor. But for what they are — dance anthems — they're pretty fun, and there's no question they will be instant club hits and added to many a workout playlist, so read on:
- "Candy Shop": This song is a fun way to kick off the album, as Madonna purrs that she'll be your one stop candy store, sticky and sweet. So, uh, that's a sex metaphor. Her falsetto is impressive and the beat is really catchy. There are even bongos!
- "4 Minutes": We've already heard this track, but now in the context of the rest of the album it's one of the strongest by far.
- "Give It 2 Me": This song is upbeat, happy, and all about dancin'! It has that strobe-light synth effect that makes you feel like you're smack-dab in the middle of a sweaty club. And I'm pretty sure there's a lot of cowbell in there. More cowbell! There's a fun little breakdown with a guy's voice (Justin?) telling everyone to "get stupid."
- "Heartbeat": Another fun, upbeat song that I like during the verses more than the chorus. Another dude is crooning in the background once in awhile. This also has a breakdown with lots of cowbell and Madonna repeating, "See my booty get down." I'm definitely going to be jogging to this one. It reminds me of Britney Spears a lot when Madonna's up in her falsetto-girly voice.
- "Miles Away": This song starts out with a nice acoustic guitar riff, then beats are layered over it, and then kooky synthesizer chords are added. I like how simple this song is, and it sounds more like the Madonna I know and love than the other songs so far. Plus, it's about longing and missing someone instead of the dance floor and/or sex — which is an anomaly on this album.
- "She's Not Me": Clearly rooted in disco, electro claps and all. Kind of cute —with little "toot toot beep beep" whistles and talking about how no girl is as cool as her. Duh, you're Madonna.
- "Incredible": This song has a million different speeds and a lot going on. The verses are really sweet and I kind of wish it would chill out and stick to the simple stuff. It's totally schizophrenic. Add to that Pharrell moaning in the background toward the end, and I'm officially confused. But it's still pretty in the beginning.
- "Beat Goes On": More synth clapping here and a xylophone twinkling in a la Anita Ward's Ring My Bell. I like Madonna singing lyrics where she urges others to get up and dance because the time is now. The little chorus, "get down, beep beep" is cute and the bridge reminds me of her song "Jump." Kanye's rap is fun too.
- "Dance 2 Night": Another dance anthem with a simple, driving beat. This is her other duet with Justin, and it's just so-so. Not my favorite on the album.
- "Spanish Lesson": Sounds a lot like Justin Timberlake's "Señorita" and I kind of would rather listen to that instead of this. Meh. She literally teaches us Spanish: "Yo te quiero means I love you."
- "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You": This is a welcome vulnerable and haunting song to slow it all down. It's pretty, but I kind of wish I were listening to "Cry Me a River" instead, which is similar but superior to this by a long shot.
- "Voices": This song asks, "Who is the master? Who is the slave?" It's another slow and haunting song. I like it a lot, and the strings are a nice touch. It wraps up with a very dramatic ending, complete with an orchestral crescendo and what sounds like a church bell "gong!"
So what do you think? Have you given it a listen? Are you excited to own this one?