Just like the Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake duet days of yore, Madonna is back once again to ride on the coattails of another starlet half her age. Nicki Minaj and MIA's offerings are the newest edition to Madonna's latest take on electro-pop, and as we were reminded by her Super Bowl performance back in February, it's a genre she would have been best advised not to get too hung up
kicks off with a dull first half, relying on the merits of autotune to carry off tunes such as Girls Gone Wild
, which is sure to be thumping throughout clubs, despite needing some Calvin Harris-esque remixing to give it that extra push. Cue two or three more half-hearted attempts at dance tracks before the real turkey of the album: Superstar
, which is so lyrically devoid it sounds as if Rebecca Black turned one of her high school love letters into a sickly sweet puddle of pop vomit.
Things look promising for old Madge at the halfway point of the album, however, as the gut-wrenching 'ooh la-la/you're a superstar' of track 7 trails off and the feisty 'tried to be a good girl/tried to be your wife' from I Don't Give A
kicks in. Lending itself to a more hip-hop style than we're used to, I Don't Give A
is an unashamedly funky, audacious up-yours to Guy Ritchie. The attitude on this girl-power-esque ditty is such that the unrelenting tones of Miss Minaj are really not needed, and the material girl would be best advised to release this single next.
That said, the true peak of the album is unjustly tucked away at number 11, in the form of the much slower love ballad Masterpiece.
The raw acoustic guitar touchingly complements the lyrics as Madonna coos over a lover whose beauty is apparently worthy of being displayed in the Louvre. The more cynical listener may find the tune pretentious, but it is a welcome rose among the thorns of the album's previous mediocrity.
The bonus tracks on the deluxe edition of MDNA have little to offer other than a bizarre depiction of the soundtrack to a five-year-old's birthday party: 'I know it's gonna be a good day/ooh yeah/today is my birthday.' Equally, I F****d Up
would be more lyrically rich than the rest of the album were it not for the vulgar title.
Madonna's latest offering certainly channels a range of emotions as she tries to contend with the likes of Rihanna in the dance charts. However, no amount of duetting with big-bottomed rappers can save MDNA
from falling rather short of the mark. Listeners who want nothing more than harmless fun should stick to Gimme All Your Lovin
, though somebody might want to warn Miss Ciccone that she spelt 'love' wrong.