Thursday, May 08, 2008

Madonna - Hard Candy.

I'd like to be a fly on the wall when Madge goes into the studio to record her albums. Just to see how much input she has when it comes to the songs.
Being a person of such stature, bearing a name that surely not many people on this planet wouldn't recognise and a list as long as your arm of 'willing collaborators', I can't help but wonder just how 'involved' she gets.
Does she actually build the songs up from scratch, or is she given rough demos of songs that just need a polish up? Does she help with composing and experimenting or are the tracks pretty much laid out, just requiring her vocals. And what about the lyrics?

Well, whatever the case, this album sounds like it's been delivered to her on a plate. The Timbaland tracks are exactly that, with his signature stamped so heavily on the tracks they wouldn't sound out of place on an album by Nelly Furtado or even Justin Timberland....oops, I mean Timberlake. The Pharrell Williams produced songs give the same feeling. And that's the biggest issue with this album. It's well produced, no doubt about that, but the trademarks are so blatantly there, that Madonna's vocals don't add anything of much value. A fair few of the tracks name-check her and I can't help wondering if that might have been intentional, serving to remind the listener just who it is again.

Twelve tracks of pure, unadulterated pop music, this is. Nothing more, nothing less. The fact that it's a Madonna album should add some weight to it, but I'm just not feeling it. The overall sound is very 'now', very 'hip'. But then, with two of the biggest producers on the planet behind it, what else would you expect?!
It's not a bad album. I've given it a good listen and I must admit that it's becoming much easier on the ear after each play. It's taken a long time though. It's not that the songs are particularly bad, they're not. Well, most of them aren't. It all just sounds very average, when it should have sounded so much better than this. A case of expectation being too high.

Does she write the lyrics? I don't really care, to be honest. They're mostly in the Dire area, whilst keeping very close neighbours with Bloody Awful:

" I'll be your one stop (one stop)
Candy shop (candy shop)
Everything (everything)
That I got (that I got)
I'll be your one stop (one stop)
Candy store (candy store)
Lollipop (lollipop)
Have some more (have some more)"

In fact, any of the lyrics for Candy Shop are awful and unfortunately it's the opening track on the album. That will mean it's gonna be a single release. I'm sure I heard Madge on the radio a few days ago being asked which songs from the album she felt most proud of. She replied, "Candy Shop". Oh dear.
4 Minutes has been all over the air-waves for weeks now. I didn't like it much on the first few listens, but it's definitely grown on me. Although I still have a few issues listening to it and not smiling, remembering how Scott Mills totally destroyed it on his radio show by adding in extra brass. If you like 4 Minutes, then I'd be pretty confident saying you'd like the rest of the album. If the single has done nothing for you, then I suggest you don't bother with this one.
Don't expect to hear any real instruments on this album either. The whole thing sounds like it's come from a Keyboard. A few tracks sound suspiciously like those pre-programmed 'rhythm' tracks that are on Bontempi Keyboards. Oh no, hang on, I think there's a couple of times a guitar springs up.
In my opinion, Heartbeat is by far the best song on the album. If that's not a single, then she's a fool.

In conclusion....Madonna's Hard Candy....Meh.


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