Friday, 25 May 2012

Madonna - MDNA : Album Review Chart Performance Peak

MDNA is 2012's most anticipated studio album by the Queen Of Pop, Madonna, who last released a studio album in 2008. It re-unites her with erstwhile producer William Orbit who produced for her on Ray Of Light in 1998 and Music in 2000. Aside from Orbit, other producers sourced for the album include Martin Solveig, Benny Benassi, Alle Benassi, The Demolition Crew, Indiigo and Michael Malih thus churning the most diverse set of songs for a Madonna album yet.

The album has several formats :
  • CD Standard explicit edition – with 12 tracks
  • CD Deluxe explicit edition – with 17 tracks; includes the standard version and 5 extra tracks on a second CD
  • CD Edited standard edition – with 11 tracks; omits the track "Gang Bang"
  • CD Walmart edited deluxe edition – with 16 tracks; omits "Gang Bang" and "I Fucked Up" and includes 5 extra tracks on a second CD
  • CD Japanese edition – with 18 tracks; includes the deluxe edition with an extra bonus "Girl Gone Wild" remix
  • Digital standard edition – with 12 tracks
  • Digital edited edition – with 11 tracks; omits the track "Gang Bang"
  • Digital deluxe edition – with 17 tracks; includes the standard version and 5 extra tracks
  • Digital iTunes pre-order deluxe edition – with 18 tracks; includes the deluxe edition and an extra bonus track "Love Spent" (acoustic)
  • Digital Smirnoff Nightlife edition –  contains seven tracks from the album plus one exclusive remix of "Masterpiece", four remixes (one exclusive) of "Give Me All Your Luvin'" and two exclusive remixes of "Turn Up The Radio"
  • Digital Nightlife UK Remix EP – includes three remixes of "Give Me All Your Luvin'", one of "Masterpiece" and three remixes of "Turn Up the Radio"
  • Vinyl deluxe edition – 17 tracks; includes the deluxe version on two 12" vinyl discs
* ^ ^ ^ source Wikipedia

    Having an interesting mix of producers made MDNA showcase various electronic sounds without sticking to a certain genre. The moods of the songs also differ from one another and do not constitute a main theme. Although most critics say it is Madonna's divorce soundtrack, only 5 tracks supposedly pertain to her ex-husband but the rest echo familiar sentiments on love and other light topics. The album flows rather well; beginning with the darker upbeat tracks, progressing towards the dance-y poppier ones then ending with the emotional ballads.


























    After 8 weeks, MDNA has still retained that appeal which drew fans to appreciate it's assortment. This adjusted tracklisting is made similar to the orginal. The only difference is that some bonus tracks were assimilated within the album in favour of weaker ones placed suitably so as to achieve a certain harmony when tracks are played in the new order.



    Girl Gone Wild opens the album with a solemnly rehashed Act Of Contrition intro then breaks into a floor-thumper of a pop-dance track. The refrain and chorus parts are particularly noticeable and make for good retention despite "girls they just wanna have some fun.." being a dead-ringer for that 80's track done by an erstwhile contemporary. Madonna sings about her good-girl-self getting seduced in a club and eventually letting loose (with the help of Tanqueray) to misbehave being "a bad girl anyway..." Critics lambasted the lyrics as lame but what can you really do in a club except dance and go wild? Madonna simply wants to impart the message of fun in the song. It's pretty clear she wasn't in one of those deep and political modes to say the least especially when she tells everyone to enjoy. The vocals are well done with that sultry disco touch... Read Full Single Review
    Vocals: 2, Production: 2, Lyrics: 1, Chorus Strength: 2, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (9/10)




    Perhaps the darkest of all MDNA tracks, Gang Bang is the No. 1 fan favourite. This is nothing anyone has heard of before. Surprisingly, the controversial song title doesn't relate to what the song is about. Madonna; in mocking monotone vocal, chants the murderous lyrics of wanting to kill an already dead lover all over again in Hell! "And i'm going straight to Hell. And i've got a lot of friends there. And if i see that bitch in Hell, i'm gonna shoot him in the head again..." Bad Madonna revisits her violent nature as seen on the What It Feels Like For A Girl video. The sound of empty shells, police sirens and speeding cars give you an imaginary view of another violent video if one gets conceived. With it's general throbbing beat, the chorus isn't that prominent anymore and cannot be picked up by a regular listener. Interestingly, an urban-sounding demo of Gang Bang leaked in mid-May and gave fans a high-pitched version of the track that could've been cut from the same line as Revolver.
    Vocals: 1.5, Production: 2, Lyrics: 1.5, Chorus Strength: 1, Mainstream Appeal: 1.5 = (7.5/10)



    This song sums up MDNA to the core! I'm Addicted has all the elements of an upbeat electro-pop single that grows addictively with every listen. "Now that your name pumps like the blood in my veins. Pulse through my body, igniting my mind, it's like MDMA (That's okay).." The song infuses the album name repeatedly towards the ending which arguably would have helped to sell more MDNA copies if this track is to go on constant airplay. Excellent track.
    Vocals: 2, Production: 2, Lyrics: 2, Chorus Strength: 1, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (9/10)



    Guy O. confirmed this to be the 4th single off the album which would seem a safe choice given the song's radio-friendly qualities: upbeat, danceable and positive vibes. Turn Up The Radio could be remotely similar to BEP's I Gotta Feeling and Craig David's Insomnia. The only drawback is the rather uninteresting chorus ("Turn up the radio, don't ask me where i wanna go. We gotta turn up the radio.") and the draggy bridge part between 2:16-2:50 which seems like an everlasting half-a-minute down-tempo interjection. It could've been cut to 15 seconds then compensated with chorus repetitions till the end because it is supposed to be a dance track!... Read Full Single Review.
    Vocals: 2, Production: 2, Lyrics: 1, Chorus Strength: 0.5, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (7.5/10)




    Undoubtedly manufactured pop, Give Me All Your Luvin' was conceived to be the cheering anthem for the Superbowl . By the time the song starts, one wonders if the album theme steered from it's edgy direction. This song could never stand side-by-side Gang Bang or I'm Addicted as it sounds detached in a different genre. Nevertheless, it's bubbly and youthful sound make for one retentive number... Read Full Single Review
    Vocals: 1, Production: 2, Lyrics: 1, Chorus Strength: 1, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (7/10)




    Some Girls starts off well with that "this could be awesome!" thought. There's something about the stanza progressions and Madonna's vocal declarations that make it interesting: "Some girls got an attitude. Fake tits and a nasty mood. Hot chick when she's in the nude..." and then the beat kicks-in. The energy increases until 00:39 when it flattens with the refrain and drops as the dreary falsettoed chorus sets in. This is just an observation but as the same refrain-chorus pattern repeats after the second stanza, you already know the song has no more tricks in store until it eventually ends.
    Vocals: 1, Production: 1, Lyrics: 1, Chorus Strength: 1, Mainstream Appeal: 1.5 = (5.5/10)



    Now we're back to the MDNA theme with Beautiful Killer placed firmly in the middle of the album and not as a relegated bonus track. Solveig literally delivers the goods in this fine production harnessing the Queen Of Pop's fascination with the beautiful bad guy. Imagine Madonna back in the Papa Don't Preach storyline; the only difference is that she runs off in her slight baby bump with a handsome murderer! "Can't really talk with a gun in my mouth. Maybe that's what you've been dreaming about. Cause you're a beautiful killer, with beautiful eyes. A beautiful killer and I love your disguise." The song is structured the way most Madonna songs have been done in the past. You actually remember the chorus and want to hear it over and over again. The distinct strings : violin, viola and cello are prominently used instead of electrobeats giving it a late-90s-Suzie Katayama approach.
    Vocals: 2, Production: 2, Lyrics: 1.5, Chorus Strength: 2, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (9.5/10)



    Just when you're enjoying the urban dance beats, the song has already wrapped up! I Don't Give A... finishes too fast without the listener grasping the stanza lyrics. Good thing that the chorus is intelligible and strong. Madonna's rapping has vastly improved from her American Life attempt. "You were so mad at me. Who's got custody? Lawyers suck it up. Didn't have a pre-nup!" This is no doubt a diss to ex-husband Guy Ritchie! Nicki Minaj features on rapping chores once more, rhyming businesswoman with business woman 3 times then fire with fire 4 times! On balance, IDGA is  an impressive number if not for the over 40 seconds of outro that trivially extends the song. Instead, it could've really benefited with an additional chorus repetition in lieu of the lengthy outro.
    Vocals: 1.5, Production: 1.5, Lyrics: 1.5, Chorus Strength: 2, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (8.5/10)



    On first listen, I'm A Sinner could be a re-worked Beautiful Stranger or as others say, It's Amazing. Orbit should have produced something not familiar from the last decade. The overall vibe of the song is very catchy electro-pop. Catholics shun this song since it's an open invitation to sin and that it makes being a sinner seem cool. "All the boys, all the boys and girls wanna be like us tonight? I'm a sinner i like it that way!" sings Madonna with lively gusto and mentions the Catholic icons and saints toward the end of the song. Although she didn't offend them, it's sacrilegeous nonetheless: "All the saints and holy men, catch me before I sin again!" There could have been a thousand topics she could sing about instead of proclaiming to everyone she relishes being a sinner! However, Madonna won't be Madonna without the regular Catholicism sneers she makes at every opportunity. She's done this tactic countless times and seriously needs to put this gesture to rest as it has gotten more boring than offensive. The song could be a single for it's poppiness but no radio would play this. Being a Catholic, i listen to this track with caution.
    Vocals: 1, Production: 1, Lyrics: 0.5, Chorus Strength: 1, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (5.5/10)



    What's so astounding about this song is that the first Spend-Your-Love-On-Me-half contains a different chorus hook to that of the Love-Spent-modified second chorus which takes over after 2:25. This song undoubtedly cements Orbit's production genius and screams for a single release! Madonna sings the financial woes of her divorce flawlessly too: "Now you have your money, spend it till there's nothing! Spend your love on me..." There's no need to elaborate further, Love Spent is clearly one of MDNA's finest tracks.
    Vocals: 2, Production: 2, Lyrics: 2, Chorus Strength: 2, Mainstream Appeal : 2 = (10/10)



    The annoyingly amplified drum machine and intermitent electronic beeps ruin what could've been a very passionate ballad. If the instrumentation consisted of spanish guitar, keyboards, synths and violins prominently, Best Friend would be standing proud with the likes of You'll See, Love Don't Live Here Anymore or The Power Of Goodbye. Does this happen when club remixers attempt at down-tempo numbers? Madonna's chorus vocals remind you of her singing back in the early days when her attacks were raw and unabashed. The blending of voices from 2:20 onwards ("I lost my very best friend. Not gonna candy coat it and I don't want to pretend...") put in mind how she did it then in Bad Girl. The stumble in production notwithstanding, this is very tasteful. I'll be desperate for a trip-hop mix of this track!
    Vocals: 2, Production: 1, Lyrics: 2, Chorus Strength: 2, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (9/10)




    Masterpiece is a ballad that tells of the singer's admiration for a loved one through simple metaphors. It could have very well mirrored the film W.E (which Madonna directed) as evident on the lyrics' toying with royalty and art impressionism: "An impressionistic painting, tiny particles of light. It seems to me that's what you're like, the look-but-please-don't-touch-me type." Orbit helmed the production with contributions from Jimmy Harry. Madonna sings some lovely vocals over the stripped-down production's acoustic accompaniment. Her voice evokes emotion and smoothly delivers albeit using falsetto at some point. She doesn't feel the need to belt and over-sing the final parts thus giving the song an almost linear tone. Though this is a triumph on the down-tempo department once again, Masterpiece isn't nearly as enchanting as that of another Orbit production: her underrated 2000 melancholic ballad Time Stood Still lifted from the soundtrack of The Next Best Thing in which she starred... Read Full Single Review
    Vocals: 1.5, Production: 2, Lyrics: 2, Chorus Strength: 1.5, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (9/10)




    With lyrics reeking of subtle spirituality: "The face of God that stands above, pouring over Hope and Love. That all of might, and life, and limb could turn around and love again," Madonna should keep taking this direction towards the light. Profound verses last heard in Ray Of Light strengthen the piece all the more. Falling Free is the brightly positive flipside to the haunting darkness of Mer Girl. This song glowingly ends the standard edition album. The vocals are somewhat nasal but compelling nonetheless. Listeners are treated to a harmony that puts Dear Jessie lingering in mind.
    Vocals: 2, Production: 2, Lyrics: 2, Chorus Strength: 2, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (10/10)



    After pouring her frustrations and anger out since the beginning of the album, Madonna offers an atonement song. "I'm sorry, je suis désolée. I wish I could take it back but I can't..." goes she while verbalizing numerous activities that could've transpired had the domestic split never occurred. I Fucked Up's affecting arrangement reminds me of Dannii Minogue's Hurt In Love that starts off with a fast beat then slows down in the middle and goes fast again till the end. The opposite pattern is done with IFU as it starts down-tempo then goes fast in the middle and slows down until it finishes. Had the "F"-word not been used, this track may be an AC Hit! A lot of synonymous words could have been used instead of it. However, Madonna's controversial creativity had to surface resulting to it remaining within the realms of the album's explicit edition only and never to be fielded for general appreciation.
    Vocals: 2, Production: 2, Lyrics: 1, Chorus Strength: 2, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (9/10)



    Not entirely acoustic since the violins and electronic keys still hover in the background, Love Spent Acoustic triumphs once more with the addition of Priscilla Renea's chanting. "Oo nah, Oo nah, Ahh me taahb, Oo nah, Oo nah, Ahh me taahb, Ee plu-ri-bus u-num rah." or whatever the line goes nevertheless added to the song's already winning appeal. This is another observable proof that Madonna sounds better on laid-back productions.
    Vocals: 2, Production: 2, Lyrics: 2, Chorus Strength: 2, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (10/10)



    Superstar is a lack-lustre ditty that go arm-in-arm with Give Me All Your Luvin' for sounding detached from the rest. Here, Lourdes Leon is a fully supportive daughter on backing vocals. Madonna may be singing this to her present lover as she likens him to her idols back in the past decades (Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, James Dean, Al Capone, Marlon Brando, Bruce Lee, etc...) while attributing the routines of modern times ("You can have the password to my phone. I'll give you a massage when you get home."). The chorus suffers from passé wordings "Ooh la la you're my superstar. Ooh la la that's what you are." Does star always need "you are" rhyming along? Every kid can attest with "Twinkle twinkle little star. How i wonder what you are?" This should have been a bonus track!.. Read Full Single Review
    Vocals: 1, Production: 1, Lyrics: 1, Chorus Strength: 0.5, Mainstream Appeal: 2 = (5.5/10)





    Another suitably-placed bonus track, B-Day Song presents M.I.A on lazy backing vocals so lethargic it makes birthdays depressing. She did sing (?), hardly call it a rap, on the bridge section but that wasn't enough to liven things up despite Madonna's efforts to sound like a "happy girl". The overall treatment harken to the bumpy '60s influence. Nice try though, but just enough to close the album on a mid-level energy note.
    Vocals: 1, Production: 2, Lyrics: 1, Chorus Strength: 1, Mainstream Appeal: 1 = (6/10)


    Average Score for 17 Tracks 
    8 / 10

    After defining each track in a revamped listing, MDNA is a strong return-to-form album that is undoubtedly Pop. This is rather unlike to Madonna's last outing, 2008's Hard Candy that leans heavily on Urban/R&B numbers. Strong as it is, MDNA would have benefited a lot more if it adhered to a majority producer. The album may be cohesive but the songs would be more unified if say, only one or two producers were doing the job. It actually has more than 4 producers whose works never resembled that of the other. One can tell that Orbit's outputs were audibly different to Solveig's whose songs also do not sound like Benassi's or The Demolition Crew's. The less number of producers doing more songs has already proven successful with her thematic past albums like Ray Of Light (William Orbit majority), Music (Mirwais Ahmadzaï majority), and Confessions On A Dance Floor (Stuart Price majority) as best examples. In this contention, an Orbit-Solveig pairing would have been as remarkable as the Benassi-Orbit or Solveig-Benassi combinations. The old adage: less is more would have made MDNA an equally formidable collection like it's predecessors if not better.


    MDNA made an unprecedented iTunes record for being Number 1 in 51 countires on pre-orders alone. On it's eventual global release, it topped the world charts with sales of more than 700,000 units. In the US, the more than 350,000 copies sold gave Madonna her 8th Number One Album on the Billboard Top 200 moving up to second Barbara Streisand's record of 9 chart toppers. It also topped the UK Album Charts to earn her 12th Number One Album there and surpassing Elvis Presley's record of 11 number one albums. 

    Chart Performance Peaks for MDNA

    Australia                          # 1
    Brazil                                # 1
    Canada                             # 1
    Croatia                             # 1
    CzechoSlovakia               # 1
    Finland                             # 1
    Belgium (F)                      # 1
    Greece                              # 1
    HongKong                       # 1
    Hungary                          # 1
    Ireland                             # 1
    Israel                                # 1
    Italy                                  # 1 
    Mexico                              # 1
    Netherlands                     # 1
    Poland                              # 1
    Russia                               # 1
    Scotland                           # 1
    Spain                                 # 1
    Sweden                              # 1
    Turkey                               # 1
    UK                                     # 1
    USA                                   # 1 
    Denmark                           # 2
    France                               # 2
    Norway                             # 2
    Portugal                            # 2
    Switzerland                      # 2
    Austria                              # 3
    Estonia                              # 3
    Germany                           # 3
    New Zealand                    # 3
    Belgium (W)                     # 3
    Japan                                # 4
    South Korea                     # 4
    Iceland                             # 6
    Taiwan                             # 6
    Slovenia                           # 7
    South Africa                   # 16


    Promotion of the album never happened. Madonna's management only used one Facebook interview and Spotify streaming to create some buzz for netizens. Madonna also signed up to Twitter during the global release and interacted with fans online. Loyal fans took to social media and online fora to spread awareness for the album to casual and non-fans who never knew Madonna had an album out. Criticisms were divided though reviews upon the initial week of release were mostly favourable giving MDNA a Metacritic Score of 64/100. However; due to hectic rehearsals for the world tour, no TV and Radio pluggings occurred which hurt it's succeeding weeks' charting. With no hit singles to sustain and create public interest, the album plummeted to Number 8 in the US on it's second week and continuously descended out of the Top 40 by the 5th week. It also fared badly in the UK as it dropped to Number 7 on the second week and languished on the nether part of the Top 40 on the following weeks. Naysayers then jumped at the chance to discredit Madonna's relevance and laughed off the album as a flop! Most noteworthy was the claim that MDNA only shot to No.1 in the US after fans who bought tickets for the tour optionally received a copy of the album which counted towards the charts. Such claims were subsequently rubbished as fans acknowledged they were not forced to get the album and would have bought elsewhere anyway. The bundling offer just made it more convenient for them to buy it upfront. While the total worldwide haul of MDNA now is put to more than a million units sold and increasing, many don't view with admiration anymore but with distaste considering the magnified weakness of it's chart performance.


    For all the events that transpired on the early half of 2012, MDNA undoubtedly made headlines and stood out for the right and wrong reasons. It had managed to keep itself in one-piece amidst the criticisms and dissenting opinions. Thriving on these, it even kept itself afloat within the Top 100 of most countries' charts when releases of other artists having no promotion would have already been eradicated. Madonna and her management should have realized now, with the underwhelming succeeding weeks' performance of MDNA (and of the fizzled singles), that without traditional promotion even a good album may fail to sell itself on it's own merits given the stiff industry competition. Madonna only has her loyal fans and her legendary status to thank for a decent album performance. As she embarks on her sell-out MDNA Tour, may she have these thoughts to ponder on her next album release lest she undergo the same if not worse circumstances. Surely, as Queen Of Pop, she has much to do in order to keep leading the pack.


    The verdict:       Commendable Music - Scant to no promotion + Timely Release   = 
    MODERATE SUCCESS   (7/10)

    Your Attitude ?

    8 comments:

    1. Ateng, dahil sa pagpo-promote mo eh nagustuhan ko ang Girl Gone Wild ni Madonna. BIG hit siguro 'to kung pinromote niya muna ang album at singles bago mag world tour para naman makasabay sa mga kanta nito yung mga manonod sa concert niya. Sayang nga lang ang nagmadali siya sa rehearsals ng tour.

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      1. Thanx melanie dear! yan ang DAPAT niya ginawa kaso priority ang $$$ sa world tour. sana di na maulit sa susunod na album.

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    2. you are optimist with score. Best friend 9/10?

      you need to listen other music. my MDNA score : 6/10

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      1. i'm an optimist my friend. and i give credit when it is rational enough. Musically, MDNA is an 8/10. it's only the promotional aspect which brought it a notch down to 7. :-D

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    3. Where can you see the number of albums sold? Somehow I feel bad if it does not sell over 5 million, and I want to follow how many are sold during the tour...

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      1. they don't usually update the units sold ASAP as it takes time to consolidate information. you can check the MediaTraffic site for an estimate of the world sales for MDNA. if you want a breakdown for every country, you need to go to each country's official tracker, but that would be rather tedious dont you think?

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    4. In the USA sales have been horrible. MDNA sold well really only on day ONE in March when all the pre-sales and Bundling sales were counted. Sales fell big time in week 2 (really in DAY 2) and more in week 3 and more in week 4. For MOST weeks after the March release MDNA sold LESS than 500 copies a week meaning it was not even IN the Top 200 albums sold Billboard chart most weeks. Even now with our Madonna IN the USA her MDNA sales have been horrible. I just do NOT get it! Her GMAYL single tanked in the US. It got play from the sattelite stations her mgmt controls for 2 weeks but after they stopped playing it, the song died since other stations never added it. GGW peaked for 1 week at #108 so it never even got IN the Billboard Hot 100 and TUTR has not even Bubbled Under the Hot 100. THAT is unreal for a Madonna single with a video. Yes she got to #1 on the Dance Chart but that chart is foolish and any Madonna single will do that. Nearly any major artist gets one week atop that Billboard Dance Chart. Years ago that chart mattered when an artist needed to SELL the maxi CD singles and 12" singles. Madonna did that. Not it is called Club Play and it is really a tool for the music industry to manufacture these #1s. Anyway, the MDNA album is a damn good one and she is IN the USA working her butt off yet Americans are not buying her album. I find it rather sad if you ask me. Madonna deserves better!

      ReplyDelete
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      1. MDNA is not a weak album, it was just a victim of fatal mishandling and mismanaged promotion. Thanks to the blunderous tandem of Guy O. and Interscope! The true reason why MDNA fell-out of the US Top 200 during it's second week was the fact that almost ALL of the fans who wanted the album got it on: 1.) pre-order, 2.)bundling, 3.)normal retail & download purchase by the 1st charting week. Since MDNA was never promoted traditionally, casual fans and non-fans never bothered buying during the succeeding weeks hence the decline and lack of sustaining sales for the album.

        Give Me All Your Luvin' was within the Top 5 in about 13 countries (#1 in Canada)(Top 40 in more) and Girl Gone Wild peaked at #106 on week10 at the US Hot 100 and achieved modest Top 20 placements in about 10 countries (Top 40 in more). They're already forgotten in America but were loved in other parts of the world. Turn Up The Radio was severely overdue in it's release that all momentum and enthusiasm for the single had died in many parts of the world by the time it officially came out..

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