Monday, April 28, 2008

Hard Candy - Madonna

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Some might have been thrilled and excited about Madonna working with Timbaland (and by extension Justin Timberlake) and The Neptunes on her new album, Hard Candy. Me? Well despite recognising their talents, I felt it was a backwards step. For the majority of her career Madonna has led the agenda, not followed it and virtually every pop ingenue under the sun has already recorded with them. The transparent attempt to appeal to the American market once again (Confessions On A Dancefloor had the lowest percentage of American sales of her career) has led to to an unusual state of affairs. After leading the way for two decades, and changing the face of pop music more than once, Madonna is content to follow the path already trodden in the all consuming pursuit of a hit.

Lead single, 4 Minutes is a decent enough affair but bodes ill for the album at large. Whilst not expecting any genuine insight from Madonna lyrically these days its a song that has no real discernible personal traits at all. Indeed, its a song that any of Timbaland's pop beauties could polish off in their sleep.

As if to highlight this, next single Give It 2 Me is the kind of track that Britney Spears would have done rather well...about four years ago.

And its a problem that besets great swathes of the album. It's generic where once it would have been unique; its attempt to keep up with, or follow, trends, rather than setting them.

Of course, it's Madonna, so its far from a dull album and being as engineered towards the mainstream as it undoubtedly is it's bound to keep her in Top 10 singles until the next album comes along. But, and it's a big BUT, it's a frustratingly disappointing affair. Madonna can do better and her producers certainly can.

To put it into perspective, it's a notch below Britney Spears' 2007 album, Blackout and certainly a notch below Madonna's last effort Confessions On A Dancefloor. Let's hope she can get back to her best next time around.

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