Review: Madonna-MDNA

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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”:

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:
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.

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!

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.
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 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.

I Love Elton John, But…

What’s not to love about Captain Fantasic?  I guess you could say this was his week; it was “Elton John” week on American Idol, although he did not appear on the results show, and he had the dubious distinction of being both host and musical guest on SNL.  It’s no secret, I have NOT been happy with SNL, especially this season.  Season 36 has been extremely lackluster in the funny department with only a few highlights and I attribute all of those to Nicki Minaj’s appearance; who was even the host that week? (Jesse Eisenberg).  Now if a non-actor, like John, is a host, naturally the writers should try and take advantage and maybe they should try and not make too many gags/jokes that only focus on the host.  Unfortunately, that did not happen.  I would say 70 percent of last night’s skits were all about playing on John’s sexualtiy, which really SNL?  We all know Elton is gay!  And sure, if John was all about it, that’s great, but to a regular viewer, it’s a little insulting.  But even more insulting, a cavalcade of who’s who in Hollywood were there to join in the fun.  Tom Hanks appeared in 2 skits, and in the abysmal “Laser Cats” digital short.  New Knicks acquistion, Carmelo Anthony appeared twice-WHY?  Then out of nowhere, Jake Gyllenhaal popped up during Weekend Update.  I joked on Twitter, I fully expected John Goodman and/or Sarah Palin to pop up.  And one ex-castmember, Will Forte, also appeared, reprising his role as dim-witted ESPN Classic commentator, Greg Stink.  If Elton was all about not caring and having a good time, mission accomplished; and his musical performances with Leon Russell of course were great.  I think I’m more excited about the musical guests this season than anything else.  FYI-next week-another Brit, Helen Mirren is hosting, musical guest-Foo Fighters!!!  Yeah, when I saw cowboy Elton John ride in on a unicorn, I gave up! I blame this man:
Lorne Michaels, you’ve had a great run, but you may want to consider either stepping down or you may want to get rid of your entire writing staff…sorry Seth Myers…even Weekend Update is not funny anymore, unless Aunt Linda’s there…Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?