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MDNA on Spin’s Best Pop Albums of 2012 list

It’s not her breakup album (that was Hard Candy). It’s not her return to the club (that was Confessions on a Dance Floor). It’s not her midlife crisis (that was American Life). Madonna’s 12th studio album didn’t fit neatly into a box, so too many folks didn’t pause to figure it out. Their loss: MDNA is cheeky and glitchy and more fun than a flotilla of Nicki Minajs barking “I’m a business-woman!” If you can’t hear Madge winking her way through EDM stunners “Girl Gone Wild” and “Some Girls,” or retro bouncers “Give Me All Your Luvin'” and “I’m a Sinner,” you’re letting your assumptions about the Queen’s reign speak louder than her still-solid studio work. C.G.


Madonna Rebel Heart Tour Tickets and Dates
  • rabbitbunny

    MDNA-Madonna as artist crying her heart and soul out! MUSICAL GOODNESS!

  • rabbitbunny

    MDNA will forever be Madonna’s best record because it’s about her own life. Her second Rock Opera!

  • had so many lifes

    american life is a piece of art, mdna is a piece of crap

  • Angel

    Like most of you on this site I am a die-hard and think (maybe a little too) carefully about the method to her madness. So I will dissect it for anyone who cares to humor a deeper perspective on her latest contribution.

    The thing I love about MDNA is that for the first it seems she looked backwards at her own past journey whereas her previous albums seemed to look forward from her current journey. With her previous albums she assumed a certain persona and became that character, whether it be a troubled catholic school girl, a misunderstood mistress, an urban poet, a spiritual guru, a revolutionary, dancing queen or fighter. MDNA was simply about Madonna and the road she personally traveled. There were nods to ALL stages of her life. My husband and I had a theory that much of the songs were either from her perspective of other people in her life and the industry(Some Girls about wannabes like Gaga, Love Spent about Guy, I Don’t Give A about her public image, I’m A Sinner about The Vatican) and others were from the perspective of her fans, I’m Addicted could easily be the words of any of her fans as they listen to her music in the club, same with Superstar. Masterpiece sounds like it’s a song about her sung from the perspective of her past lovers and Girl Gone Wild could be a song she sings in the mirror. BASICALLY, she did the genius move of finally dissecting her own career and reworking the best moments for the 21st century. She has club worthy stunners, campy ditties, rock and folk inspired tunes. Throw in some classical strings and modern electronic elements and there you have it. Every part of Madonna we’ve ever loved.

    She only solidified my theory in her tour. MDNA in my opinion is her best tour to date. Confessions held the top spot before because it was so refined and cohesive beginning to end(not to mention it was MY virgin tour of hers) but after seeing S&S which was fun but less structured for sure, it lacked the “sexy” element and steered away from getting too dark. MDNA on other hand was Everything you’d want and expect and then some. She knew exactly what she was doing naming her album MDNA because that’s exactly what it is, the DNA of her Madgesty. In addition, the tour took us on her 30 year journey in just under 2 hours:

    Transgression: The early Madonna who thrived on controversy and challenged the religious right who has boycotted her since the beginning of her career. This section is all about selfishness and reckless impulsiveness with no absolutely no apologies for her actions.

    Prophecy: This section is all about enjoying the reputation the public bestows on her, whether it be good or bad and her proclamation and adoration for her fans.

    Masculine/Feminine: My favorite segment for 2 reasons. 1) It takes a magnifying glass to her most notable contribution to everything sex with many nods to one of my favorite eras: Erotica. More cleverly the second reason I love it is because she took the sexiest songs in her catalogue and told the story of her own sexuality. She comes out fierce and fashionable en vogue and then slowly strips down the walls. It’s almost as if she ages before our eyes. Like A Virgin was beautifully somber and her rendition gave a new meaning of the virgin she once was and still longs to be, all made more clear by the young man who’m she finally pushes away leaving her alone and (practically) naked in a final farewell to her affair with Sex.

    Redemption: All about picking herself back up and loving herself for who she is on the inside. She first proclaims and reinforces her love and addiction to her one TRUE love: dance music. Then she reconfirms her self-acceptance as a sinner and finally surrenders her humanity to a higher power. ( I also like to take note that she uses the same 3 singers to start and end the show. In the intro, the 3 singers represent a religious consciousness and in the end the same 3 singers evolve to a spiritual consciousness, exchanging their constricted black gregorian gowns for free flowing white Tibetan clothes. This in itself represents her evolution to something higher than any one religion) She finally drops into the ground from whence she came at the end of the Like A Prayer, as if transcending to another dimension.

    Encore: She emerges from another dimension and it’s all about the Celebration of Madonna and her true legacy which at the end of the day always goes back to one thing. Making US move on the dance floor.

    Phew, that is my take on the genius of MDNA. Yes, I sound like a fanatic, but that’s only because I am. Obviously I don’t know if that was exactly what she hoped to achieve with this album and tour, but that’s what I took from it and like any art, it’s always open to our own interpretation. I know one thing, Madonna is a force to be reckoned with and she knows exactly what she is doing every step of the way. She has truly changed my life. To be a woman with so much power and to realize one day that not everything is what it seems and to still stay in the pop world and fight for something bigger than pop music is impressive. She is more conscious than she was and manages to use pop music as a vehicle for her activism because she knows if you want people to listen in this modern world, you gotta get down and dirty. After all, it IS a material world. Long Live The Queen!

    Now if only she would release MDNA in theaters in 3D. Just think, 3Decades of Madonna call for an extra special release. She’s never done 3D and if miley cyrus and glee can sell out 3D concerts, there’s no doubt she could, especially with those phenomenal background screens. It would feel like everyone in the audience really was on MDMA…just sayin ;)

  • die another day

    wtf? american life was m’s last outstanding album. all released afterwards are bullsh…

    • Madgefan

      American Life was the last album she took creative risks. She’s been playing it safe ever since.

  • delight

    this album will be appreciated in the future because people will forget how more of the same it was on the date of its release.

  • Love Spent

    “MDNA” is a good album. It has very good songs but it also has very bad songs:

    Girl gone wild
    Gang bang
    I’m addicted
    Turn up the radio
    Some girls
    Love spent
    Falling free
    Beautiful killer
    I fucked up
    Best friend

    Give me all your luvin’
    I don’t give a
    I’m a sinner
    B-day song
    Give me all your luvin’ (Remix)

    The album had a horrible promotion which didn’t work

    Only 3 singles were released and only one of them is really good “girl gone wild”

    “give me all your luvin” is the worst song on the album so it shouldn’t have been released as a single. Instead she should have released good songs like “Love spent”, “Masterpiece”, “I’m addicted”, “Gang bang”, “Beautiful killer”, etc…

    There was no need to do a duet with Nicky Minaj and Mia.

    The MDNA tour had a horrible setlist and horrible outfits, etc…

    To sum up: the MDNA era was a terrible mistake (the biggest mistake Madonna has ever made)

    I really hope the next album is as good as the albums “Ray of light”, “Music” and “Confessions on a dance floor”

    And I really hope the next tour is as good as the tours “The confessions tour” and “Sticky & sweet tour”

  • Luca Adami

    MDNA is one of my fave madge’s albums and I even love more American Life..the title track itself is delicious..all that bleeps made me want to dance and Nobody knows me is absolutely fantastic..and what to say about Love profusion?..simply wonderful..and MUSIC of course is one of my fave too..Don’t tell me is a pure Madonna anthem and impressive instant is fabulous…instead sorry to say but True Blue had Open your heart which is absolutely a masterpiece and of course Live to tell but Papa Don’t preach…well I’m so tired of listenung to it…oh well I forgot to mention Confessions on a was so beautifulland my standout track was How High…and talking about MDNA how can you not love Love spent?..i’m addicted?..I’ve fucked up?…don’t know maybe I’m a bit strange but I love these albums…better than Ray of light…though Drowned world is always been one of my favourite Madge songs

  • Pedro

    What i can read is crap. How can someone has the gusto to say that True Blue is bad? Seriously? For me MDNA is a great album and i don’t care what pretentious fans might say.

  • rabbitbunny

    Thanks Caryn! MDNA IS HER BEST RECORD because Madonna always looks to the future. A Masterpiece! Madonna Forever!

  • ditas cowboy american life

    don’t tell me what m currently does is art!!!! she left art behind long time ago…



      • Guest

        From what I saw of that tour, I wasn’t very impressed.

      • HH

        S&S and MDNA are not really great tours…

      • You’ll See

        You’re right the sticky & sweet tour is her best tour. It’s a true masterpiece!!!!!!!

      • Luca Adami

        I don’t agree…sticky and sweet was her most boring tour…MDNA is great and confessions was great

  • TPill

    MDNA was a decent pop album for those of us who wouldn’t be caught dead with a Katy Perry or Rhianna album, which I’ve got to assume, there’s quite a few of us. Hard Candy was M trying to appeal to that audience (and failing, somewhat). MDNA was Madonna back to just being her self and succeeding, comfortably. For those who hate it so much, I hear Lady Gaga has a new one coming out.



      • k

        Shades of Blue maybe???????? L horse faced cagas has stolen everything else.

  • I tow the line

    Well said!! To me, MDNA is her best album since Music (and I am a fan of everything in between).

  • cctv

    I kicked mdna into the bin after just 2 weeks of its release and it also makes me don’t wann hear a new m album for the next 4 years…

  • hollywood

    the midlife crisis is hard candy and mdna

  • F it

    to make this one short…

    a cheasy, cheap, lacklustre album full of clueless lyrics and beats.

    • Oscar Hamptonshire

      Concur F it problem Madonna assumes. Trends shall get ahead of those. Currently, popular this attitude bought. Dismal
      sales Hard Candy last release former. Label wasn’t received to
      much Dance Techno. Madonna was innovative using diverse.
      Ray of Light 1998 Madonna using same. Producers bad idea over the years what happen? Madonna, shall discard William Orbit and Timberland! MDNA wasn’t popular fade trying. Appropriate groove those writing saying. Great title
      what ever LiveNation has. Support Madonna judgement due contract. Madonna shall fans listen new title. 2013 or when!

  • Tomek

    midlife crisis – American Life ? What a bullshit !!! I’m sick of people criticising this album. It’s her absolutely one of the best albums from beginning to end. This album is epic, masterpiece. Her voice, lyrics, songs, the whole concept, etc. AL was her last proper video, and I love the era when she performed at HMV or MTV and sang Like a prayer first time for years, loved the image…

    • K

      Dear Tomek,

      Taking the context into consideration, those words don’t necessarily have to mean a bad thing. Sometimes good things can come out of “the crisis” that we go through regardless of whether the crises is in the childhood, adolescence, midlife or old age . We all have that at one point or another in our lives. Even though we grew before and continue to grow afterwards, the growth process in the crises period can be the biggest, the best and the most influential one. I agree with you on American life. It is one of the best albums ever. Here is how I interpret it: Artistically and intellectually American Life was the biggest growing period of Madonna. With Confession she proved her continuing marketability and ability to deliver another polished dance album with broad international appeal. With
      Hard Candy Madonna ditched her goldigging husband and went back home to reconnect with old school rhythm, NY and America. She had her biggest selling single in years (4minutes) showed chemistry with Justine Timberlake, proved that she still had the sexiest back on S&S tour, had
      some unreleased great dance tracks, Beat Goes On and Candy Shop, and other great tracks Miles Away, Devil wouldn’t recognize you.

      MDNA is a sharply contrasted album, by casual listening it is hard to find the redline( if there is a contrast we therefore
      can’t speak of a synergy). MDNA is definitely not an easy listening or easy album to identify with. But artistically is very rich, diverse and deep. So it is indeed another solid recording work regardless of its sales which could have been
      much higher with other promotional choices and strategies.



    • ScottnNYC

      People are allowed to have opinions. “American Life” is many people’s least-favorite Madonna album. Don’t take it so personally.

      • Guest

        I think his post doesn’t sound very negative affected by different opinions.

  • K

    This is a very good and pointed review. MADONNA CANNOT BE BOXED IN. That is also the strong point about MDNA. It is unfortunate that the pop world likes things boxed in for mass consumption. But when an artist reaches the level where
    Madonna is at right now, and I must say there is NO other artist alive who comes close, then she can afford doing things her own way.

    The MDNA is not the making nor breaking of Madonna. Madonna was made on her own when she declared to the world “I am not
    ashamed”, “absolutely no regret”, You live and you learn( “live to tell”) and “express yourself”. And she has proven to be unbreakable and unstoppable too: Erotica, American
    Life, Hard Candy. All Madonna studio albums have become a part of my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I appreciate
    them as they are, because I know that they are a phase and should be considered individually and should not be compared to her previous work.

    I think some of us Madonna fans have actually been boxed in our own mindsets. We miss our own favorite era and version of Madonna. This is really limitative on our part. Maybe we are too
    hung up on the pop thing, while Madonna never aimed at pop world to begin with. She saw the pop world and then reached down deep within her, took out and expressed her own take on it. Her take has always been different than what we expected. Sometimes we got her message and unfortunately sometimes we didn’t.

    But as fans we should make up our minds too. Do we want the innovating Madonna as she is and always will be, going with her own instinct and expressing her own take on what is happening around her, or do we want the pop 100 version of Madonna, or do we want another ROL. To tell you the truth I haven’t made up my own mind about that yet. And because not being able to make up my mind, I appreciate all of Madonna’s phases and albums. All of them are unique. I cannot even dare to choose one era over the other. Because I know if I did that I would regret missing the other eras.

    I used to refer to the album True Blue as my favorite. But now I don’t do that anymore. Because, by doing that I would do injustice to other Madonna albums. But come to think about it, the reason True Blue always pops up in my mind has probably to do with a special part of my own life/ my
    youth. I was “in trouble deep, yet I had made up my mind to make it” . To me that album is like a great book which I took to heart and never let message get out of my mind. But since then, other Madonna works of art have also enriched my life. So absolutely no
    regret: MDNA is one of the best albums of the year, even though its promotion strategy was not.

    • Kaka

      True Blue really ? Barely 40 minutes of music and songs like Jimmy Jimmy ? I mean REALLY ?

      • sylvie

        Methinks we got a youngster here who doesn’t remember when albums could be less than 60 min. Lots of albums clock in at 40 min. or less. Most of them from before the 90’s, and CD, when a 60 min. album would probably have to be a double album. And Madonna has done a lot of fluff like Jimmy Jimmy, all of it pretty damn delicious.

      • my love is dangerous

        true blue is crap…except the singles…

      • K

        Most of the songs from True Blue are among all time great, classic hit singles. How many artists and how many big albums nowadays have that all in one place????? The rest of the album was also true pop fun such as Where Is The Party as well as great lyrics such as Love Makes the World go around. That album is by any standard one of the greatest album. That was one of the few perfect polished albums before things became digitalized. Lyrically and vocally True Blue is one of Madonna’s best. It was filled with great dramatic, romantic, pop
        dance tracks. Nobody in his right mind can listen to Papa don’t preach, Live to Tell, La Isla Bonita and claim otherwise.

        Nobody makes albums like that anymore. They just don’t have the mindset, style freshness, dedication and passion like that anymore. It is really no wonder that True Blue became Madonna’s all time best Selling Studio Album worldwide. This is not to take away credits from other great Madonna work, but is only meant as acknowledgment of the greatness of that album.

        I have never skipped one song from that album and it always stands out among all my CDs. The album Sleeve is also one of the most stylish and artistic shots of Madonna.

      • Lou

        All of it is good. It’s natural, melodic and not overproduced. A fine album.

      • K

        “Make love not war we say
        It’s easy to recite
        But it don’t mean a
        Unless we’re gonna fight
        But not with guns and knives
        We’ve got to
        save the lives
        Of every boy and girl
        That grows up in this

        There’s hunger everywhere
        We’ve got to take a stand
        Reach out
        for someone’s hand
        Love makes the world go round
        It’s easy to forget
        you don’t hear the sound
        Of pain and prejudice
        Love makes the world go

        They think that love’s a lie
        But we can teach them how to
        Love means to understand
        Reach out for someone’s hand
        everything you do
        Comes back in time to you
        We have to change our
        Before it gets too late”
        From the visionary Madonna, included on the True Blue Album and was performed for the first time during the live Aid.

      • Lou

        Jimmy Jimmy is lovely.






      • K

        Thanks for sharing that with us. Every single art that you mentioned had its own uniqueness. So I would not want to skip any of them at all. From the Music album, the song Paradise Not for Me is my favorite. ROL is an all time Diamond.

      • Kanaan

        tnx for sharing, I hat RI tour it is her worst tour to date!!!!!