Review: Madonna-MDNA

(Courtesy of idolator.com)
Madonna is back! I went into buying it and then listening to it with an attitude of, “let’s see”, and I was slightly thrown off. Listening to MDNA is a bit like listening to a mash-up of Ray of Light and Confessions on a Dancefloor. It reminded me more of Ray of Light and not just because Madonna brought back producer William Orbit for about half of the tracks. It seems these days, Madonna’s albums reflect what’s going on in her life. Ray of Light reflected the birth of her daughter Lourdes, who you’ll hear singing back up on MDNA‘s “Superstar” and it reflected all those voice lessons she got in preparation for Evita. Is Madonna a better singer now? Maybe. 
So what’s going on in Madonna’s world now? She’s a divorced mother of three, Loudes will be 16 this October, and Madonna is telling us all about it. The divorce part that is.
I see the album divided into two parts: the first half, which includes the new single “Girl Gone Wild”, “Gang Bang”, “I’m Addicted”, “Turn Up the Radio”, “Give Me All Your Luvin'”, “Some Girls” and “Superstar” is the fun half of the album, it’s got all the dance, clubby stuff. “Gang Bang” is especially interesting; does Madonna have an obsession with guns? And I love that she brought in the talents of Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., but I don’t like the track featuring M.I.A “B-day Song”-it’s dreadful but it’s only on the Deluxe Explicit Edition, which is what I purchased. 
The album’s “OMG, I’m divorced!” part starts with the track, “I Don’t Give A” featuring Minaj. What follows are some the album’s more beautiful tracks. I love “Falling Free”, “Love Spent” and the track that was written and produced for Madonna’s directorial debut W.E. “Masterpiece”. The bonus tracks on the Deluxe Edition are okay, “Beautiful Killer” is the best. Plus, we get a remixed version of “Give Me All Your Luvin'” by LMFAO, who joined Madonna at the Super Bowl and they are said to be joining the pop singer for some overseas tour dates.
MDNA is not my favorite Madonna album, but it’s a diverse journey that’s worth listening to, it’s a good ride. And for fun, here’s the awesome video for “Girl Gone Wild”:
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It Was A Dark And Stormy Stage…

Yes, I know. You were probably expecting some sort of rambling about Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show and M.I.A.’s middle finger, but frankly, I’m bored with all that. In short, it was a good show, and I was glad to see marching snares get so much exposure this year as they were also there for the National Anthem which Kelly Clarkson kicked ass on. I’m glad the Giants won, let’s move on to this…
(The hell?!? Courtesy of Lady GaGa on Facebook)
This is the conceptual drawing of Lady GaGa’s new gigantic tour stage. And the by-line on the picture says “THE BORN THIS WAY BALL 2012-2013” so we should see some tour dates for later this year rolling out anytime now. On the first viewing, this son of bitch is huge! And I’m not sure it will fit inside an arena, because I think the drawing is intended for an outdoor venue. Plus, if it’s as big as the concept, floor seating will be very limited, in fact the area that is enclosed by the walkway is called “The Monster Pit“.  According to GaGa, this area will be for fans who arrive first, those who camp out all night, and those who are dressed for the ball. And that’s all the details Mother Monster has provided at this point. Oh, and the Monster Pit will be General Admission, oh boy!
I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but I’m going to say it again…I WANT TO SEE LADY GAGA!!! Especially this time and if I have to spend every penny to my name, I will do it. It will be interesting to see what the tickets will cost considering Madonna has just announced her world tour schedule and her prices? They run $45-$300 and VIP packages run from $250-$1,250. She says these prices, much like her love, are justified. Would I turn down tickets to see Madonna? Absolutely not! But, $300 bucks for a possible nosebleed seat? Because I know that halftime show wasn’t worth $300. I’m hoping GaGa can be a little more fair with her upcoming ticket prices, especially for that general admission Monster Pit area.  

My Mandatory Best Music Of The Year Blog

I’ve been dreading writing this one, and mostly because I wanted to make the post a little different. I don’t want to just count down the songs I like. Instead, I’m going to focus on artists, albums, and maybe throw in a song here and there. 
Any “year end” list will have this lady at the top of it:
(Idolator.com)
ADELE! I just read she has sold more records in a year since Usher did it way back in  2004. Over 5 million copies to be exact. Unbelievable. I keep wondering why Adele has been able to accomplish all of her feats. She continues to prove pop music is a chameleon. It doesn’t have to be flashy or overproduced, it just has to be simple and simple always works. With two Grammy wins under her belt, she will no doubt add all six she is nominated for at the 2012 ceremony. “Rolling in the Deep” is a song I will never get tired of. And although she has a laundry list of terrific self-penned songs, I love a good cover song performance. Here’s Adele at the iTunes Download Festival in London in July covering Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, I’m still speechless.
Speaking of downloading, I thought I would be bold and buy at least one cd this year and I don’t regret it. The Foo Fighters returned this year with the Butch Vig-produced Wasting Light, oh yeah. Recorded in Dave Grohl’s garage/home studio, this album is a rock supernova and it’s very heavy. It’s definitely the best rock record I’ve purchased in the last few years; it makes me miss my rock radio days.

(coverdude.com)
Next up, I had only heard about indie pop band Foster the People, but I had never heard any of their music until I saw them on Saturday Night Live in October. Sometimes the combination of indie and pop don’t quite go together, but this band makes it listenable and really fun. I immediately downloaded (yes) their debut album Torches and it’s good stuff. I bet if you turn on the radio for a while, you’ll hear their crossover hit, “Pumped Up Kicks” which has some bold lyrics but the catchiness takes away from all that, well done!

(artofplaylist.com)
Another album I downloaded was country, yeah I know, and I NEVER buy country anymore. Hell on Heels is the debut record from the trio Pistol Annies including hitmaker Miranda Lambert, and her pals, Ashley Monroe and KY native Angaleena Presley. What I like about the Pistol Annies is that their kind of country borders on the side of folk, now that’s a good combination. No wonder acts like The Civil Wars, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and last year’s Grammy darlings Mumford & Sons are basking in the new country folk movement. I’ll admit, I’m a fan of traditional country music, like Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Dolly Parton, and so forth. The Pistol Annies build on that downhome philosophy and sound. Here is “Boys from the South“, I recommend the whole album.
(blog.gactv.com)
Okay, this is getting to be long and I know I will suffer mightily at the hands of my fellow Little Monsters if I don’t mention that 2011 wasn’t too bad for Lady GaGa. Born This Way was released in May and it went multi-platinum very quickly. In fact, you may remember online retailer Amazon.com offered the standard copy of the album for $.99 and all hell broke loose, and the record ended up easily selling over a million copies in its first week. The discounted price sales prompted Billboard to change its policy on counting sales on albums sold lower than $3.49, if it’s lower, it’s not counted towards official sales numbers, which is lame.  In 2011, GaGa dueted with Tony Bennett, she had her own Thanksgiving special on ABC, and she wrapped up her Monster Ball Tour, which I missed, and I’m still sad about it. But when the new tour rolls out, hopefully next year, I don’t care the cost, I’m there!
As for 2012, new albums are on the way from: Nicki Minaj, Maroon 5, Mumford & Sons, Jay-Z, Green Day, Muse, Paramore, the reunited Soundgarden, maybe No Doubt, and the most anticipated by far will be from Madonna with Ray of Light producer William Orbit back at the helm. The singer will team up with Minaj and M.I.A during her even higher anticipated Super Bowl halftime show in Indianapolis in February with the first single, “Gimme All Your Luvin’“…I can’t wait.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!

GaGa by Lifetime????

I suppose we knew this was coming sooner or later but Lifetime is going to produce a bio-pic about Lady GaGa.  Why?  This news comes hot on the heels of Amanda Knox’s exoneration AFTER her spotlight in the LIfetime real life rotation (UPDATE, the network is re-airing the film next Tuesday night, a week after Knox’s guilty verdict was overturned with added sentences before and after).  What the hell happened to Hayden Panettiere anyway?  
Anyway, back to GaGa.  The UNAUTHORIZED film will be based on the UNAUTHORIZED biography entitled Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady GaGa.  Nice.  The book was written by New York Post writer, Maureen Callahan.  Yeah, that sounds trustworthy.  So this means without GaGa’s approval or involvement, the casting could be really difficult.  Ya think?  To be fair, GaGa’s story is pretty film-worthy, but is it Lifetime-worthy?  I would hate to see GaGa’s story get skewered like another pop diva’s.  Oh how must we forget Madonna: Innocence Lost, UGH!  The blame lies with FOX TV, not Lifetime, on that disaster.  So who will take on the role of Mother Monster?  GaGa has said in the past she would like Marisa Tomei to play her, but isn’t Tomei like too old; she’s 46 going on 47.  I never quite got that logic.  I would like to see an actress who can, in fact, sing and dance, but let’s remember, this is Lifetime, the production budgets are nowhere near the amounts seen for big Hollywood productions.  And you don’t always see big name actresses gracing the Lifetime screen.  If the movie succeeds or fails, it will all be on the casting.  Someone who can pull off the look now AND the look then:
And who knows?  Once GaGa hears about this, it may not get a toe off the ground.  I’m sure we’ll read her about her reaction very soon!  Oh boy.

Jo Calderone Overkill? And Other MTV VMA Musings…

Was I the only one who wasn’t surprised by Lady GaGa’s, er, Jo Calerone’s antics last night?  No, but I think GaGa’s move was genius with a dash of overkill.  I mulled over whether of not I would even be interested in the VMA’s past GaGa’s rough and rousing opening performance of “You and I”.  To be fair, I missed most of the first hour of the show (True Blood, hello?!?), though I did see Jo Calderone’s opening monologue (too damn long!) and then his performance complete with Queen’s Brian May joining Jo on-stage. 
When I turned on the VMA’s after I returned to my apartment, I saw Jo again and I thought “is he the host?” since MTV decided at the last minute to go without one.  Then he started another long-winded speech about Michael Jackson Video Vanguard winner Britney Spears.  After a dance montage of some Spears’ hits, Calderone then presented her the award.
Clearly, Calderone/GaGa wanted another Britney make-out moment a la the Madonna/Spears/Xtina threesome of the 2003 show, but after some awkwardness, it didn’t happen.  DARN!  It makes me wonder how much of the whole Jo Calderone schtick was rehearsed and how much was “let’s see what happens”.  MTV’s bleep machine was working perfectly, so that’s why I question how much was planned.  I’m assuming Beyonce’s pregnancy was planned…I’m already over that, not really over her, but over the hype. 
I felt bad for Adele, yes she won 3 awards, they were all technical, but I’m sure she was a little overwhelmed with the MTV machine.  All she has to do is sing (last night, “Someone Like You”) and the crowd respects her, it’s too bad that silence only lasted a few minutes.  It was like a different awards show.  Same thing with the Amy Winehouse tribute; it was heartbreaking to watch the footage of Tony Bennett and Winehouse recording “Body and Soul” for Bennett’s upcoming second duets album.  The Bruno Mars performance of “Valerie” was really good and it was high-energy. 
The only other moment that stood out for me was looking at this:
Katy Perry’s “cheesehead” mystery hat as she accepted Video of the Year; I like her, but her fashion choices are below par more often than not.  She was the other big winner with 3, whoopee zip!
So that’s what I thought….but I couldn’t resist one last shot.

Just Sink Your Teeth In…

I keep believing Lady GaGa will only get bigger and bigger with each video.  Some are already saying the first video for “Born This Way” is underwhelming, oh hell no!  Anything but.  As with the majority of GaGa’s clips, this is more of a mini-movie and this mini-movie has to be the most intriguing yet.  GaGa keeps saying everything tied to the new album is a “birth”, and we get to experience it two very different, yet similar births.  The birth of good:
 And it’s complete with lots of fluid, as a real birth is.  I love the sci-fi narrative GaGa herself tells and she’s accompanied by Bernard Hermann’s theme from Vertigo….very dramatic, and I totally got a Metropolis vibe.  However, there is a flip-side to the good, the evil. And evil’s birth is just the same only she pulls out a machine gun instead of a um, head????  (Unfortunately, there were only a limited number of stills, and I don’t have the Evil GaGa)  After about 2 and half minutes of back story–The Manifesto of Mother Monster, Gaga then circulates among her disciples as the actual track starts:
 GaGa, though still thin, has definitely tone up, and yes, those pointy, alien-like shoulders will be around for a while.  I would love to see how much work that takes everyday.  The choreography is exactly like it was on the Grammys, only we never see the rubber robes and dresses a la full body condoms.  The second chorus introduces this look/scenario:
 It’s playing on the whole “good vs. evil” theme.  Mostly, the video is strange, dark, and tongue in cheek.  I was waiting for a Madonna homage moment, and at the very end, I got it!  GaGa is shown with a gap in her front teeth, sound like any pop icon you know?  Take a look again and many more times at this strange trip:
 BRAVA!

Same DNA Indeed!

Oh yes, I fondly remember this moment from October 2009 on Saturday Night Live; two music icons, Madonna and Lady GaGa compete for diva dominance in a sort of hilarious fashion.  I’d say Madonna is either really flattered or really pissed at GaGa today. 
“Born This Way” is phenomenal; I’ve already listened to it countless times, but I noticed something, it has a very familiar melody.  I won’t go to the trouble of posting “Born This Way” alongside “Express Yourself” but I think you already know the almost identical similarities.  The melody is pretty much dead on, only sped up a bit, plus GaGa evokes a little “Vogue” with her raps in the song.  Now I look at this two ways, Madonna can cry foul and she should have already with GaGa’s “Alejandro” video, or she can be honored and really is any kind of good pop music original these days?  Of course not.  It’s neat that we already have that familiar melody in our heads; we are ready and willing to listen and by God, make a purchase. (I’ve decided Target may have the better deal, all iTunes is doing is reducing the price on GaGa’s other cds, lame)  I will purchase it, oh yes I will…May 23rd–or earlier or the Grammys–can’t get here fast enough!

GLEE Against the Music…

Okay, so the “Britney/Brittany” episode was no Madonna tribute episode, but it was really awesome!  I know many fans may be disillusioned with the many tribute episodes coming up in season 2 (I’m sorry, but the Rocky Horror one should be epic!) however, putting Britney Spears back in the spotlight is not such a bad idea.  Rachel/Lea Michele made the comment that “we grew up with Britney Spears…” and so did many other Glee fans, hey, me too by God!  The episode wasn’t so much a tribute/fantasy, but a way to re-discover all the magic Spears was once capable of.  She’s only 28, almost 29, but Spears may have something left to offer.  I guess my only complaint is that all of these Britney fantasies were experienced at the expense of nitrous oxide, thanks Uncle Jesse!   It’s Glee’s second journey into questionable drug use, after season one when Terry Schuester supplied the gang with speed.  But hey, we all live and learn; that’s how the world of high school is these days, Glee just makes it fun.  I think I may download some of this week’s gems…
Carry on!

Madonna Better Watch Out For Alejandro!

I’m serious about this!…With Lady GaGa’s new 8min and 43sec epic video for her current single “Alejandro”…she ups the ante like never before…we all know Xtina can’t even touch GaGa, much less, imitate her…I pray she doesn’t try to rip off this one…it’s in a class by itself…somehow, GaGa manages to roll Madonna’s videos “Express Yourself”, “Vogue”, “Justify My Love” and a dash of “Like a Prayer” into one truly imaginative mini-movie…it’s as if GaGa re-invents the whole game…which naturally, is what she does best…this is my favorite so far…take some time and awe in GaGa!

Not Myself Tonight????..indeed!

Well today is the big day Christina Aguilera’s video for her new single “Not Myself Tonight” hits the web…all I can say is: really?…I’m sure this will be blogged to death, but why is Xtina ripping off everybody???..yes, we know she has been ripping off GaGa for a while, but this video has some definite Madonna overtones…and you’ll see them all over the place…on the upside, the song is not bad at all…I dig it, but she really needs some originality concerning her wardrobe, make-up, hair, and image…please!…she preceded GaGa for God’s sake! Happy Friday and enjoy!