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Hard Candy is the eleventh studio album by Madonna realeased in the year 2008. It was the last album that was released by Warner Bros. record label. Records where she was for 25 years. On the album she has had cooperation of famous people like Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and Pharrell Williams. The album has pop, dance and r & b influences. Below is a discussion of some songs:
4 Minutes (featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland)
The song begins with Timbaland singing 'I'm out of time, I only got four minutes "repeated about ten times until you hear Madonna. It is an up tempo song with dance and hip hop influences where you mainly hear a kind of drum corps (marching band) in the background. You also hear Justin Timberlake on this track. It's reasonable number, but contagious.
Give It 2 Me
Give it 2 me go on a somewhat faster pace than the previous songs and has a fast beat in the background. It has more dance and electro influences with a sort of ticking (looks like a cow bell) in the background. It is a nice up beat song, but little original.
Incredible is a somewhat fuzzy song with a clear beat, but Madonna's voice sounds a bit strange and more in the background. During the singing her voice remains a little blurry and the beat is more to the foreground. Madonna raps almost more than singing and hip hop influences are clearly present. Not really my song.
Dance 2night (featuring Justin Timberlake)
Justin Timberlake does it again with this song and his style is clearly heard. The song has a slower beat but also a funky feel to it. It is a laid back song with both Justin and Madonna singing. The song will remain the entire time more mid tempo and sounds delicious.
The number has the Spanish Latin influence and has a good start with the guitar. I like Madonna singing in Spanish but then she gives the translation of what you is singing. It sounds a little childish and I would have preferred more serious lyrics. The guitar sounds good.
A reasonable album primarily with a few good songs like 4 Minutes with Justin Timberlake and Give it 2 me. In addition there are some weaker tracks that do not really come forward and what often sound the same. The electro pop is again evident and this often works for me but only with the up beat tempo songs and not the slow songs. In the slow songs the beat dominats too often. A reasonable album, but had expected better. Three stars.
"Hard Candy" is the title of Madonna's eleventh studio album that was released in April 2008 although by no means her highest selling album it still managed to reach number 1 in the album charts in 37 countries including the UK and America. Significant for being her final all-new release on the Warner Bros label before her greatest hits collection "Celebration" would end her 25 year contract and release Madonna to go on the Live Nation label in a deal worth an unprecedented $120million.
Described as being an "urban/dance pop" album Madonna did what she does best and enlists the help of respected and relevant producers and co-writers to help create a record filled with highlights. Bringing in Justin Timberlake and Timbaland on some tracks and Parrell Williams on others she manages to bring out the best from those around her and puts together a worthy follow-up to her 2005 dance orientated release "Confessions on a Dance Floor"
Opening the disc is "Candy Shop" a saucy; double entendre filled pop song which packs in plenty of references to all things "sticky and sweet". A fine opener to the album and a song that sets the mood for what is to come, not a favourite on here for me personally as Madonna plus sexual innuendo have been done to death in the past. Catchy though with a chorus that sticks in your head but a track that I can take or leave. 3/5
4 Minutes follows and now we are getting somewhere! A number 1 single in the UK and a collaboration with Justin Timberlake on lead vocals and includes Timbaland opening and closing the song with a bit of a rap. Classic Madonna here and some great lyrics (Hey! Don't be a Pri - uh- Madonna - sings Justin) as the two vocally joust their way through the song. One of my favourite tracks on the album and an all-time favourite Madonna song of mine 5/5
Keeping the momentum going brings us to "Give it 2 Me" a fast paced, anthemic song that fuses both club sounds and 80's Hi NRG. It never lets up in pace with Madonna declaring that she can go "On and on and on" I like to think that this song was written specifically to answer back at the critics who make digs about her age and even when performed 'live' Madonna sings whilst skipping with a rope as performed during the finale of her "Sticky and Sweet" world tour of 2008/9. A really great track on the album which reached number 7 in the singles chart. 4/5 from me.
A slight slowing down of pace for the next track, "Heartbeat". A mid tempo ballad with lots of drum beats and bass guitar, nothing exciting overall and a filler track. Notable though if you look on YouTube will find a performance of it by Pharrell Williams as it is actually his song that he wrote for Madonna. 3/5 from me
"Miles Away" follows which is a simple classical guitar and vocal number, the song benefits from not being overly produced and features strong, clear vocals from Madonna. Seemingly biographical the song is about being in love but being apart "You only love me more when you're miles away" sings Madonna and bearing in mind that the album was released before her split with husband Guy Ritchie I always find this to be a heartfelt song with hidden depths that has a well deserved place on the album. A fine song that deserved a higher chart position than number 39 when it was released as a single; although to be fair, Madonna did not promote it or release an official video to accompany the song. Another favourite of mine here and another 4/5 rating from me.
We quicken the pace next with "She's not me" which always reminds me of an earlier Madonna song "Thief of Hearts" it's about infidelity and about being cheated on by your partner with a friend. "She's not me, she doesn't have my name, she'll never have what I have" sings Madonna in a fierce performance that is scathing and cutting. Always great at delivering songs with attitude this harks back to the early 90's incarnation of Madonna when she was at her bitchy best. A great song though and another favourite on the album for me. 4/5
"Incredible" follows which is one of the weakest songs on the album for me, co-written by Pharrell Williams again the song doesn't really go anywhere and is the only track that I actually skip on the whole disc. It is a generic, urban pop song that doesn't really sound like Madonna at all, it just goes on and on. Boring! 2/5...Next!
Ahh, this is more like it. "Beat Goes On" is the eighth track on the album and another favourite of mine. Featuring Kanye West and similar to Give it 2 Me it's another fast paced, dance track that has an insanely catchy chorus that you can't help but sing along to. Whack up the volume for this song and tap your feet to the beat, this is one of the strongest songs on the album and for me should have been a single release instead of Miles Away. 5/5
Keeping the upbeat pace sees "Dance 2night" follow and is another classic dance/pop song that although sounding similar to other tracks on the album is still a great addition. It's another to sing along to and fits in perfectly. Nothing new here though but a 4/5 song nonetheless.
At some point in most of Madonna's albums we get the obligatory "Spanish song","La Isla Bonita", "Who's that Girl", "Vera's" and even "Lo Que Siente La Mujer" (What It Feels Like for a Girl), all feature Spanish lyrics and "Hard Candy" would not be complete without "Spanish Lesson" a strange song, truth be told as the title explains what the song is all about. Cue Madonna singing a line in Spanish and then translating what she has said in English. A curious song and a complete change of direction from the rest of the album but fits in strangely enough. I can't say it's a favourite of mine though so only rates 3/5 from me
"Devil Wouldn't Recognise You" is next, and oh how I love this song. A simple piano arrangement accompanies Madonna's vocals in a sweeping, complex song that is a stark change from the upbeat dance songs that preceded it. Beautiful lyrics, a great voice yet incredibly catchy this is my second favourite track on the whole album and I absolutely adore it. Apparently written by Madonna and anyone else she could throw at it (Timothy Mosley, Justin Timberlake, Nathaniel Hills and Joe Henry in actual fact) this is a huge change of direction on the album but slows the pace down perfectly after the frenetic dance numbers. A perfect 5/5 from me.
The final track on the album is "Voices" and if "Devil" wasn't a big enough change of direction then this song tops it in terms of being different from the songs that came before. Written by the same team as "Devil" it is a slow, quirky almost hypnotic tune to end on and very, very strange when listened to on its own. It does fit on the album when listened to as a whole but as a standalone track it's definitely an odd'un. You can tell that I'm having difficulties actually describing this song as it is quite unlike anything else on here and the only person it reminds me of is Bjork when she was trancey and atmospheric. Still, a fitting track to end on and another 3/5 from me.
So, that's a rundown of the 12 songs on this album, which for me is one of my personal favourites from Madonna over the years. By bringing in some big names and allowing others to co write with her she put together an album that surprised many of her critics. As I always write whenever I review any of Madonna's work you can either love her or hate her but you can't deny that she has always been a relevant performer who knows exactly what buttons to push. Her album, single and tour sales are testament to her creativity and talent and though she has always courted controversy she will never fade into obscurity.
This album is a great example of someone who consistently knows what they are doing and 25 years after the release of her first album she came back with yet another disc that managed to set dance floors alight and sell in its millions.
For me this album rates as one of her best and receives a perfect 5/5 dooyoo star rating from me. As with all of her back catalogue of albums and singles it can be purchased from Amazon and every other music retailer where prices will differ depending where you shop. I would of course recommend this album to anyone; fans will already have it but for someone looking for some foot-stomping dance tunes with a few surprises and are willing to see past their conceptions of Madonna then this will certainly fit the bill.
Thanks for reading my review!
Following up Confession on a Dance Floor, Hard Candy is Madonn's 11th studio album. The big question is whether the original Queen of pop is still going strong on this effort?
I'm big fan of Madonn's classic material such as Like A Virgin & Cherish which all had a very distinctive sound, so far though I haven't been so keen on her newer experimental sound which she's used on her last few albums. However this album is slightly more appealing, and I would say a better listen than her last few albums. It's got a very RnB feel about it, although there are moments of pop & electro.
You will recognise the singles Give It To Me, 4 Seconds & Miles Away but there quite a few other stand out tracks on this CD. I particularly like Candy Shop, She's Not Me and Heartbeat. The songs are catchy so will get in your head & there are some brilliant vocals too.
When I first heard this album, I wasn't sure what to make of it but the more I listened to it, the more I started liking it, so I think it's a grower than you might need to give a little time to.
If you were a Madonna fan back in the day but haven't liked her more recent efforts, you might enjoy this. It's not like her classic sound but it is something a little different to give a try to.
A review of the standard twelve-track album that is available in physical or digital versions. A version with thirteen tracks was available on iTunes for a short period of time.
For a lady who just clocked up her fiftieth year on the planet, you have to hand it to Madonna. As a recording artist and a celebrity, she is constantly in the limelight and has a staggering discography of singles and albums. The singer has now re-established herself as a recording artist so many times that associating the words 're-invention' and 'Madonna' is almost a cliché in itself.
Largely produced by The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo for those unfamiliar with the name) the album is written and/or produced by and/or featuring vocals from the likes of Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Justin Timberlake. Not surprisingly, it was an enormous global success and ranks as one of the singer's most commercially successful albums to date. Hard Candy is Madonna's eleventh studio album and the last that she'll release with Warner Brothers (save for a third greatest hits collection) before she moves over to the Live Earth label and, presumably, starts all over again. Notably, the disc almost brings the singer full circle as the sound and vibe of the entire album is not a million miles away from the 80s pop groove that first brought her into the public eye, albeit with a modern spin.
Hard Candy is not, therefore, so much a re-invention but a logical direction for the singer to take, particularly given the current trend and enormous popularity for urban/R & B music. Prior to the album's release, records produced by Timbaland were regularly hitting the top spot in countries all over the world and, arguably, Hard Candy was one of the less risky moves taken by the singer. On Ray of Light, Madonna's collaboration with William Orbit set a trend rather than following one and critics have argued that this is the least ambitious record that Madonna has produced since the beginning of her career. It's a slightly unfair criticism, given that nothing on Hard Candy sounds lazy, but the familiarity of Williams and West in the singles chart will certainly have given Madonna confidence that this was a sound commercial move.
Arranged across twelve tracks, Hard Candy is probably one of the most cohesive, consistent collections released by Madonna to date. There are no fillers or weaker links here, with every single track standing on its own merits and having a slightly different sound to the one before or after. It's a mood-jogging album that goes from creating a bitter, feisty atmosphere before launching into something altogether milder and poppy. Eighties influences abound across many of the tracks, with instrumental and vocal styles that are vaguely reminiscent of Madonna's earlier material, mixed up and re-determined for a more modern audience. The sound is instantly appealing but dangerously contemporary; this was always a disc that would sell massive volumes over a very short period of time but would be unlikely to have the longevity of Ray of Light or Like a Prayer, for example.
In keeping with Madonna's strong commercial awareness, the album was really only promoted via two single releases, which both feature at the beginning of the disc. It's another sign that Madonna understands both her audience and her market, acknowledging the reduced importance of singles in a market where people now download the tracks they want and discard the ones they don't. Again, critics have argued that the two single releases were the safest on the album, given only that they both feature guest vocals from highly marketable artists in their own right, but the fact is that they are also unquestionably strong songs. "4 Minutes" (a rightful number one in its own right) puts Timbaland back at the top of his game, producing a super-energetic, percussive stormer that combines the two vocals (Madonna and Timberlake) perfectly. The follow-up "Give IT To Me", rightfully showcases Williams' talents as a producer and writer and he even got to feature in the upbeat video. Madonna knows that many of her followers exist only to hear her in the clubs and, as with many urban tracks released these days, harder, house-based versions of both these songs were made available at the time of the album's release.
Given the singer's relative age, she generally holds her own here. Her vocals sound smooth and, at times, have a depth we've not heard before, although it must be argued that the heavily-produced sound of Hard Candy may have something to do with this. Stuffed full of samples, instrumentals, strong backing and other sounds, this album is probably the least reliant on Ms Ciccone's vocals of anything that she has released to date. It's unmistakably Madonna though; she pitches the balance between letting the producers have their fun and holding the reigns in exactly the way that we've come to expect. The only time that she really comes undone is when her age predicates the fact that some of the lyrics just sound strange. Tracks like 'She's Not Me' and 'Incredible' arguably feature words that sound a little odd coming from somebody old enough to be the target audience's grandmother. The singer is careful to back away from the parental advisory of previous works (no swearing here, thank goodness) but very occasionally it starts to feel like she's trying to be just a little bit too cool.
The production means that this is almost certainly an album best enjoyed intimately via MP3 headphones. So many of the subtle sounds and details are lost in a wider listening environment and certainly if you listen to this on a big stereo and then via headphones, you'll find things you didn't find before. The rattlesnake beat of' 'Incredible', for example, works so much better through headphones as do the percussive elements of tracks like 'Give it to Me' and 'Beat Goes On'. Surprisingly, the latter track is the only one that features a rap of any notability, but given that it's West doing it this time (Madonna's attempt on American Life was most unwelcome) then we don't really mind.
Given the time in her life, it's a remarkably impersonal disc too. Her rocky relationship with Guy Ritchie, her children growing up, her attempts to adopt - none of these things are immediately obvious here. Consider this against the beautiful lullaby Little Star (dedicated to the birth of her daughter Lourdes) or the biting resentment on Oh Father from previous albums and you can't help thinking that Madonna was bottling it all up. That's not to say that none of the songs has a message though. 'She's Not Me' hints at problems in her marriage (or is that inherent insecurity) and the track's descent from a very poppy feel down into something darker and more sombre suggests the real mood behind some of this music.
But it's a mood that only pops up once or twice as Hard Candy is largely an exercise in the upbeat rather than the downcast. This is good 'anytime' music, before or after a night, in the car or on your iPod and it's instantly accessible. For some, this will make it rather more forgettable than they might prefer, but it's still a heavily played part of my music library. Apart from the two singles, the strongest tracks are probably the Kanye West collaboration 'Beat Goes On' and the wistful pop-ballad 'Miles Away' (the least successful single of Madonna's career, largely because it was released in digital version only.)
"Hard Candy" is far from groundbreaking, nor is it the best thing that Madonna has ever done. It is, however, a further reminder of the singer's ability to try different things and (generally) succeed in selling herself to one new audience after another.
I didn't believe it was possible to release an entire album of 'growers'. Hard Candy has proved me wrong. To be fair, as someone who is not all that fond of hip hop, I may have been subconsciously willing myself to dislike it, given the Timbaland/Pharrell production. In truth, I found it less hip hop and more the kind of dance based retro-vision that only Madonna can quite pull off. It successfully incorporates inspirations from the 70s, 80s and 90s whilst giving it a contemporary edge that feels so on the cusp of being ahead of it's time that it appears to arrive at exactly the perfect point in time.
Hard Candy consists of 12 tracks:
CANDY SHOP: Decent opener, though a bit repetitive and probably not a single, it sets the tone nicely.
4 MINS: The first single of the album and a straight-to-number-1 hit. The Timbaland/Timberlake/Madonna combo could barely fail.
GIVE IT 2 ME: So catchy, I love it. The second single from the album and my favourite track.
HEARTBEAT: I love to dance, and this song really encapsulates that for me. Another great track.
MILES AWAY: This is up there with Give It 2 Me as one of the best tracks on the album. A clear single and again, very catchy.
SHE'S NOT ME: Interesting piece about a relationship (musical?) rival. Like the album as a whole, this track grew on me.
INCREDIBLE: A head sticker, but for no clear reason. This is unlikely to be a single, but it has definite intrigue.
BEAT GOES ON: More Kanye West than Madonna. It may have a bit of single potential - but I'm really not sure about those high notes Madge!
DANCE 2 NIGHT: Another track featuring Justin Timberlake which doesn't perhaps have the single potential as 4 Mins but a good album track with a distinct 80's flavour mixed with modern R&B.
SPANISH LESSONS: I'm not so sure about this track. Something doesn't quite sit right. It's not a BAD track, but in the context of the album it is definitely the one that has me reaching for the >> button.
DEVIL WOULDN'T RECOGNISE YOU: One of the slower tracks on the album with a really strong underlying beat. There are shades of early Madonna here with a contemporary twist I can't resist.
VOICES: The second slower song on the album with a somewhat more hip-hop feel than Devil Wouldn't Recognise You. Again features some lovely 'shades of Madonna' that make for a fabulous end to this album.
© BondgirlK8 October 2008
Hard Candy is Madonna's twelfth studio album and she seams to have gone back to her raunchy roots if the cover is anything to go by! She has tried to make the album more urban but at the end of the day Madonna is dance and pop and there is no getting away from that, even recruiting Timbaland could not stop this album being poppy! The first song on this album was 4 minutes, a duet with Justin Timberlake that was an instant hit, very catchy and left us all humming it for weeks. Give it to me is not as good as 4 minutes but it holds it's own and is still a good song. My favourite song from the album is dance 2night. I really hope she releases this one next as it is such a tune! The rest of the album is very good there are no real bad points here it is a good well rounded album that most Madonna fans should have in their music collection.
I would consider myself a Madonna fan to some degree. I usually respect her for not conforming to the most popular bandwagons out there and trying to fill a gap in the market, like she did with the Confessions era.
This time however, Madonna has jumped on the biggest bandwagon going, and for Hard Candy enlisted the help of the hottest urban producers.
The first single from this album was '4 Minutes', a collaboration with Timbaland (who had been the hottest potato two years previously) and Justin Timberlake. Essentially this was Timbaland, Timberlake and Nelly Furtado's 'Give It To Me' single from a year before re-done. All the same people were involved, except replace Nelly Furtado with Madonna trying to be her and not doing it quite as well. The single was briefly addictive but like with a lot of Timbaland productions, it got old very quickly and didn't stand the test of time.
Second single 'Give It 2 Me' is quite classic Madonna. A less urban sounding pop song with a cheeky, addictive beat, and is a strong catchy song with effective riffs in the chorus section. Incidently this is by far and away the album's best track.
Aside from these, the album's only half decent tracks are 'Miles Away', again not as urban sounding and an emotive, credible song. Also 'Beat Goes On', a collaboration with Kanye but is a solid and catchy pop-dance affair guaranteed to get you on the dancefloor and possibly also 'Devil Wouldn't Recognize You', which sounds like a re-hash of Justin Timberlake's 'What Goes Around...'. This would have been a plausible idea if Rihanna hadn't got there first with 'Rehab'.
Aside from these, the album sees her conforming to a popular urban sound mostly, and shows how hard she's fighting for relevancy. In particular you have 'Candy Shop', which is a laughable attempt to seem "hip" and "groovy", 'Incredible' which could put even the most hardened insomniac to sleep and 'Spanish Lesson' which is pointless, self-indulgent twaddle like 'Issac' was on Confessions.
I hope Madonna recovers from this blip and comes back with something less vacuous and try-hard next time. As they appear to be releasing the few decent tracks as the singles, she may not lose too much credibility in terms of the general public.
Hard Candy is the eleventh studio album from the chameleon of pop colloquially known as Madonna and the follow up to her 2005's hugely successful Confessions On A Dancefloor album.
Throughout her career, which spans three decades she has consistently proved to have her finger on the musical pulse and her ability to re-invent herself to capitalise on the trend of the moment is one of the most important factors that has contributed towards her phenomenal success. Another factor that has contributed towards the success of the world's biggest selling female artist is her ability to surround herself with the hottest people of the moment.
Hard Candy always promised to take a RnB direction and news that she was working with today's hottest people like Timbaland, Pharrel Williams, Justin Timberlake and Kanye West confirmed this to be the case. Always a fan of Madonna I was rather dismayed to hear that this album would have an urban/hip hop pop feel to it. "4 minutes" gave us a taster of what we could expect and also gave Madonna her 13th UK number one single. On first hearing this single I was not overly impressed and whilst I admit that the song did grow on me a little it still remains one of my least favourite Madonna singles to date.
Unlike previous Madonna releases I remained surprisingly reserved about Hard Candy and I had no immediate plans to rush out and buy it. The weekend before last however I did finally take the plunge and add it to my collection but it would remain intact inside its cellophane seal for three full days until I finally got round to playing it.
The album contains twelve tracks as below:
1. Candy Shop
2. 4 Minutes
3. Give It 2 Me
5. Miles Away
6. She's Not Me
8. Beat Goes On
9. Dance 2night
10. Spanish Lesson
11. Devil Wouldn't Recognize You
On the very play first I was actually amazed that I didn't hate this album and for me there were two obvious standout tracks. These being the upbeat and ridiculously catchy Give It 2 Me and Miles Away. Unlike Confessions On A Dancefloor where we are treated to uninterrupted beats and strange noises on Hard Candy we find a dozen much more normal sounding songs. These are on the whole proper songs, with good musical arrangements and for the first time for years these are also Madonna songs with strong lyrics. These lyrics are tales of regret, lost love and missed opportunities. It is easy to imagine that these are heartfelt words about all not being well in the Madonna/Guy Ritchie house.
The album kicks off with Candy Shop, which has to be an obvious choice for a future single. Pharrel's influences here are very evident and it seems for a moment that rather than take control Madonna has actually allowed herself to sit back and let the experts do all the hard work. This could also be said of 4 minutes where Justin Timberlake has a more prominent place than Madonna herself. Candy Shop is a song that is packed full of insinuations and double entendres. On Candy Shop Madonna briefly revisits her naughty Erotica days but lets Pharrel give it a beat that still works today. The result is a catchy little song that is a lit bit naughty in a Hanky Panky sort of way, but without the shock value that alienated a lot of her fans during her Erotica and Sex book phase.
Give It 2 Me belts out at a much faster and harder pace than its two predecessors. This is the second single to be lifted from the album (released in the UK on 14th July 2008). Like a breath of fresh air this is one of my favourite tracks from Hard Candy and is much more like the Madonna that I know and love.
Miles Away has wonderful lyrics which leave you thinking about the state of Madonna's marriage. This is quite a slow song but it is not a ballad. On Hard Candy there are no ballads but Miles Away and later on with Devil Wouldn't Recognize You are the closest that this album gets to a ballad. Miles Away is a standout track for me and one of the songs that I have listened to a lot.
She's Not Me is a song about Madonna Wannabees. It has been said that this could even be about Britney Spears who has previously worked with Madonna and was of course the former lover of Justin Timberlake. Here Madonna sings: "She started dressing like me and talking like me, it freaked me out, she started calling you up in the middle of the night, what's that about?" and later "She started dyeing her hair and wearing the same perfume as me, she started reading my books and stealing my looks and lingerie". Did Britney really stoop so low- I think not.
Spanish Lesson is one of the album's stranger moments, where we find Madonna giving us a string of Spanish phrases followed by their English translations. Didn't Geri Helliwell do something very similar to this a few years ago and if I recall that was wasn't very good either.
Beat Goes On will appeal to RnB lovers but didn't do a lot for me but then the album ends with an almost operatic opening to a track called Voices which made me sit up and listen again. After an intro that could have been inspired by Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody Madonna asks "Who is the master and who is the slave?"
I think that Hard Candy has some good songs on it but it is not as good as a lot of her previous work. This album marks the end of her contract with Warner Brothers so it could be argued that her heart was not fully in it, but I don't actually believe that. Madonna is a perfectionist and puts 100% into everything that she does. I think that on Hard Candy she has made two obvious choices. Firstly she has taken a RnB route to try and win back a lot of her American fans that deserted her in droves with her anti-American American Life album and secondly she has recorded twelve songs that are less inclined to make good singles but collectively will appease her fans and maybe also find a new audience for her. This is probably another shrewd business move as Madonna knows that singles sales are now so low that it is album sales that she would be much better concentrating on.
Madonna may be about to turn 50 but she does still seem to have her finger on the pulse!
I've never been that into Madonna. She's sleazy and seedy in all the wrong ways. For years now, she's shocked her way into relevance with lesbian kisses, bondage sessions on film, and unneccessary rants at kids concerts which involves far too many expletives. Nearing 50, Madonna still hasn't grasped the fact that you can be controversial without acting like a 12 year old who has just discovered the "f*ck" word. But every now and then, she comes up with a record that is just good enough to forgive her her stupid diversion antics and her thin voice. Her last album Confessions On A Dancefloor cleverly borrowed beats and sounds from a bygone era and minced them up for a relentlessly fun dance album.
Never one to rest on her laurels though, Madonna this year buys in the writing from the ever dull Timbaland. She's a clever old bird, that Madonna, because she knows that with Timbaland comes a bag full of other trickery including the obligitary duet with high pitched warbler Justin Timberlake.
The album opens with the low key and stripped back Candy Shop. The backing vocal in the chorus provides the hook for Madonna's sexed up rantings about "My Sugar is Raw". I dont actually know what that means (answers on a postcard please), but it sounds dirty and will no doubt appeal to Madonna's loyal fanbase.
A familiar dramatic opening leads into current number 1 4 Minutes. Madonna's duet with Justin Timberlake provides much amusement as she wriths and wriggles her way through a cringeworthy video with a manboy half her age, and whilst he outsings her at every turn. Its always worrying when a lead single isn't any good, because you wonder what the rest of the material is like. Thankfully, the opener has already surpassed this dross by at least a mile.
What seems like it might be the highlight of the album comes in at track 3. And its a blinder. Give In 2 Me is a real toe-tapper with broken synths, and Madonna's electro'd voice belting out a singalong chorus that will stick in your head for days. "No-one's gonna stop me" Granny Ciccone sings, and it seems that she's right for the moment.
Appropriately, Heartbeat opens with exactly that. The album takes a slightly interesting turn here, as this song is quite soulful despite getting another of Timbalands broken beat treatments. Madonna reaches the high notes well enough for this to be an enjoyable track that verges on balladry.
Miles Away goes slightly acoustic in the beginning, but soon brings in another of Timbaland's RnB vibes. "I just woke up from a fuzzy dream" Madonna chucks out as the track kicks off. I found myself warming to this track, despite being mildly bemused by how samey it was to start with.
She's Not Me throws in an interesting 80s sound, with Madonna most likely paying homage to herself. The lyrics are a bit banal for a woman of her age, but the track itself is as polished as Hard Candy gets. The chorus is as poppy as the album gets, and I really did find myself enjoying it.
Incredible is nothing of the sort. It sounds like a Britney reject, and Madonna's voice is mostly unrecognisable as its thrown through the mixer for a by-the-numbers r'n'b track. When Madonna is recognisable, she sounds bored.
Beat Goes On zaps a bit of life back into the album, with Kanye West lending his soft-ish grunts, oohs and ahs to the start of the track. When I saw on the sleeve that Kanye, I was dubious, but the two of them actually sounds like they are having a riot, and its a much better duet than the Justin / Madonna duet.
Dance2Night has another input from Justin Timberlake, with Madonna telling us "You dont have to beautiful to be understood, you dont have to be rich and famous to be good" - just what we need, the richest woman in pop telling us what we dont need. Its a good track though, and will fill a few dancefloors at the christmas night out.
A bit of a latino flavour to the Spanish Lessons, as Madonna tells us the Spanish for "I Love You". The song is rotten though, and I couldn't even sit through it all.
Things slow down then for Devil Wouldn't Recognise You. An urban backdrop quite suits Madonna's vocals here as she lays it bare. This is as ballady as the album gets, but unfortunately Timbaland is a bit inept when it comes to drawing the heart out of his acts.
"Who is the master, who is the slave" opens album finale Voices. Its slightly remiscent of Madonna's early 90s Erotica period. Its a fitting close to the album though, with Madonna and the backing vocalists coming together to bring it to a suitable finish.
I wanted to hate this. All the snobbery in me screamed Madonna, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, get me out of here. But actually, its a fairly polished, if slightly unremarkable collection of songs. Ironically, the worst thing about it is the current single 4 Minutes. It wont secure Madonna's throne very much, despite initial good sales. This is more in the vein of American Life and Bedtimes Stories than Madonna's best work. However, it will hit paydirt with the current crop of pop fans who will enjoy the cross over of pops biggest female and the current king of r'n'b.
Like many of these collaborative projects, the artist at the forefront gets slightly lost in the material. Madonna is somewhat lost in the hit factory stylings of Timbaland. But never one to go down without a fight, she puts her kinky stamp all over the album both lyrically and visually. And I'm sure her newly announced Sticky and Sweet tour will put pay to any inklings that she has lost her touch.
If ever there was an artist that did not require an introduction it would be Madonna, the Maradona of the music industry and the most successful solo female artist in the world. 'Hard Candy' comes as Madonna's eleventh album spanning over a career that first began in 1982, and will be the last album of original material released from her on the current contract -- although you could say it is a certainity that she shall continue to be present in the studio despite being a few months over her 50th birthday. The butt of many jokes, it is undeniable that shall still looks in great condition as she jumps around in leotards, and doesn't exactly fit in with the half-dead, nursing home impression that some give of her.
Through the 'ages' Madonna has certainly been consistant at releasing a sound that matches where ever music is at that point in time, and if you look back at footage of Madonna singing 'Like a Virgin', you can hardly believe you are watching the same person when you see the progression to the likes of her rapping on 'American Life' or dancing to 'Hung Up'. You are likely to have a preferred preference to which Madonna sound you like the better (if any) depending on what decade you were born in. She is also an artist that has brought her public exposure through the years by creating new ways of being controversial, whilst sexuality may not shock anyone anymore, adoption stunts similar to Angelina Jolie and lesbian kisses with Britney Spears have created their own stir.
"No boundaries and no limits."
Madonna's follow-up to her dance album, 'Confessions on the Dancefloor', was always going to have a more contemporary feel when you saw the list of R&B producers that were working with Miss. Music; Timbaland, The Neptunes, etc. When the first single from the project shrouded in mystery was first released, I was pleasently surprised by just how well a collaboration between Madonna and Justin Timberlake could work, the hugely popular Trousersnake is young enough to be her son. It could be easy to draw comparisons between '4 Minutes' and look back at when Madonna worked with JT's ex, Britney, for the collab on 'Against the Music'. I guess you'd have to get a time machine to see who Madonna actually worked better with, but I wouldn't mind being a fly on the wall in the studio when you hear about some of the andecdotes Madonna has shared, tugging down Timberlake's trousers to give him a shot in the ass. And that's not in a mother/child relationship way.
'4 Minutes' is one of the tracks of the album, and is one of the few tracks that Pharrell Williams doesn't have a credit on. Although you do get the nostalgia of Madge singing 'tick tock, tick tock.' This creates a mixture of the R&B infulence, as well as dance, and is an example of why Hard Candy is such a solid pop album. One of the most interesting aspects of the album that has gone relatively unnoticed is that recently graduated Kanye West also throws himself on to a track with the woman that graduated thirty years back, for 'Beat Goes On'. Unfortunately the track sounds about two years too late, having said that if you liked music in 2006 and/or are diehard Kanye then you should appreciate this. I'm slightly uncomfortable with how long some tracks are, as 'She's Not Me' and 'Incredible' both have moments of excellence, although lose out on that perfect five-star rating as they drag on. Perhaps these tracks were designed to dance to, but that's not what I thought this album was about, and you will grow bored, likely to be skipping tracks before the end.
"You wake up in the morning, next to your new lover, she might cook you breakfast, and love you in the shower."
'Dance 2night' is the second time on the album track listing that Madonna decides to abreviate the word 'to', because that must be a modern touch she was looking for. I don't think we need to be told to abreviate, because if we want to we will, but thankfully txt-speak isn't the most standout aspect of the packaging. Rather it is Madonna dressed in another of her wrestling leotards, this time with a championship belt wrapped around her waist ready to battle. With a big swirly pink lollipop in the back, I guess this is supposed to be the visual impression of what agressive candy is. Just incase you have forgotten what you have listened to previous, Justin Timberlake once again lends vocals and brings up the subject of 'saving the world'. I feel the track is good on its lonesome, but is a poorer version of what we have already listened to. Having slammed Madonna for her long-lasting tracks, I must praise her for finally throwing in a ballad after ten tracks, and 'Devil Wouldn't Recognize You' is inspiring lyrically. There's no real need to touch on vocals, as if you've ever heard Madonna before you will know exactly how you expect her to sound, and there are no huge notes and her ordinary voice is what sets her aside from the likes of Mariah Carey or even Leona. Comparing the artist on charisma would be an unfair comparison however.
Hard Candy is a celebration that proves Madonna can still cut it no matter what her age, and although this is unlikely to turn anyone that was never a fan, this is pop perfection. The album tops itself off with 'Voices', where the beat sounds everso slightly like something off a Mark Ronson project. The introduction is dull, 'Spanish Lesson' is oddball, but for every gap there is at least three minutes of interest. Another collectable for the Madonna fanatics, and they can collect their album sleeve (plus CD) from April 29th 2008.
"Who is the master, and who is the slave?"
01, Candy Shop (4.15), 2*
02, Four Minutes ft. Justin Timberlake (4.00), 4*
03, Give it 2 Me (4.47), 4*
04, Heartbeat (4.03), 3*
05, Miles Away (4.48), 3*
06, She's Not Me (6.04), 4*
07, Incredible (6.19), 3*
08, Beat Goes On ft. Kanye West (4.26), 4*
09, Dance 2night (5.03), 3*
10, Spanish Lesson (3.37), 2*
11, Devil Wouldn't Recognize You (5.09), 4*
12, Voices (3.39), 3*
This was a must buy as I love the new Madonna and Justin Timberlake single 4 minutes, so this was a must have.
This album delivers a fresh sounding Madonna with a bit more edge to it and you will not be dissappointed with the outcome.
This is 2008 and Hard Candy certainly returns Madonna to the throne of Queen on Pop with a little added crunch. Although I never thought she got off the throne.
This is also the 1st time that she's taken a back seat and not produced anything on her album. Instead she has gotten in Timbaland, Timberlake and Pharrel to name a few, which have helped the appeal of this album a greta deal.
My favourite songs are: 4 Minutes, Give It 2 Me, She's Not You and Beat Goes On.
Here's how I rate each track:
1. Candy Store 8/10
2. 4 Minutes 10/10
3. Give It 2 Me 9/10
4. Heartbeat 8/10
5. Miles Away 8/10
6. She's Not Me 10/10
7. Incredible 7/10
8. Beat Goes On 8/10
9. Dance 2Night 7/10
10. Spanish Lesson 6/10
11. Devil 7/10
12. Voices 7/10
An overall good album from the Queen of Pop but the 1st half of this album is better than the 2nd.
I am sure that Hard Candy will be in your list of Top Albums of 2008 and is a must have for every music collection as Madonna is one of the best around.
After the massive Worldwide smash of Madonna's last album "Confessions on a dance floor" comes her 11th studio album entitled "Hard Candy"
Now i was a little worried when i heard that Madonna would be changing direction completely with this record from her previous (which she usually does) the reason i was concerned was that heavy rumors were going around that it was going to be a pure hip hop / rap album.
Dont get me wrong, i am a fan of this music but i couldn't really see Madonna pulling off that style of music, thankfully i was so wrong!
Hard Candy is one of the best albums she has released to date and i am not being bias as i am a massive fan,but this record really does deliver the goods.
This time around she has worked with the musical darlings of the moment : Justin Timberlake, Timberland and Pharrel Williams and Nate "Danja" Hills.
I know this team is nothing new and that it seems that she is the last star to work with them, but as they say "Save the best to last"
This is also Madonna's last album with Warner Brothers for whom she has been with since the very beginning of her career and i am sure they will be VERY happy with the sales which no doubt she will pull in. She is now signed with Live Nation for all future projects.
This album consists of 12 brand new tracks, including the current number 1 hit with Justin "4 Minutes"
The feel of this album isn't really hip hop at all, it is more of a modern Rnb sound with that classic Madonna dance vibe,and to be honest there isnt one track on this album that i would skip
The whole theme seems to be urgency, either with saving the planet (Not MJ style) aswell as keeping relationships alive.
There is also a special edition of this available which includes 2 new remixes of 4mins and is packaged with hard candy promo sweets.
Here is the tracklist for the album and an outline of each song :
Candy Store - Madonna's fave track on the album, a very tongue in cheek song about her sugar being raw.Classic Madonna
4 Minutes - Current single with Justin, very dancy with great horn arrangements
Give It 2 Me - Second single to be released - fast dance paced record,very similar to "Runaway lover" from the Music album
Heartbeat - My faveorite song on the album, old sounding Madonna with a modern twist, possibly her best song this decade
Miles Away - upbeat ballad where she sings about how you always love me more when you are miles away, a song about Guy maybe?
She's Not Me - A great slow starter which ends with a massive Jesus christ superstar sound, a song about somone trying to copy her style and get with her man. Also features Wendy on guitar from Wendy and Lisa Prince fame
Incredible - This track features guest vocals from Pharrel and Madonna sings in a true 80s bratty voice
Beat Goes On - Totally diffrent from the internet leak, another Pharrel track and this is sooo good, very 70s funky sound, reminds me a little of MJ's "dont stop till you get enough" Also has a guest rap from Kayne west
Dance Tonight - Probally the weakest track, featuring Justin Timberlake
Spanish Lesson - a very bizzare track which Madonna was going to leave off the album.I am glad she didnt as it is totally diffrent from the rest of the album, fun and catchy
Devil Wouldn't Recognize You - another upbeat ballad, would make a fantastic single or a great movie soundtrack number
Voices - Great album closer, very haunting and will be amazing live. Madonna sings about who is the master and who is the slave. Very sexy
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Candy Store
2 4 Minutes
3 Give It 2 Me
5 Miles Away
6 She's Not Me
8 Beat Goes On
9 Dance Tonight
10 Spanish Lesson