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Album Review: Madonna, Hard Candy

First impressions of Madonna’s new album from the official Warner Bros. Canada listening party at an exclusive Toronto night club.

Artsculture
Artsculture gets a first-listen to Madonna's new album, Hard Candy. Artsculture

Naaz reviewed the album at the official Warner Bros. Canada listening party at an exclusive Toronto night club. Here are her first impressions of Hard Candy, track-by-track after just one listen to each song:

1. “Candy Shop”

At first, I didn’t think “Candy Shop” was the best track to start the CD with, but after hearing it with a Sour Apple Martini in hand, let’s just say it grew sweeter on me. “Candy Shop” may not be the top track on the CD, but it’s filled with a lot of funky beats and cool rap-like lyrics. All of this leaves you with a sweet tooth for some more Hard Candy. 8 out of 10

2. “4 Minutes”

If you haven’t heard this track on mainstream radio stations yet, you will. A lot. Nightclubs will bust out this track like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I don’t like or hate this song, but I wouldn’t voluntarily listen to it if I had a choice. It sounds like Madonna and Justin Timberlake are ushering in the circus. 4 out of 10

3. “Give it 2 Me”

When I first heard this song, a phrase popped into my mind: “Sexual Electro Lounge.” I love the fusion of ’70s disco with lounge and electronic music in this track. “Give it 2 Me” is definitely a musical buffet for the ears; a variety of beats and tones will make you want to hit the nearest roller disco with short-shorts and long, striped socks in hand. I picture Glen Quagmire from Family Guy getting groovy to this song when trying to get jiggy with a chick. The only thing I don’t like about this track is the abrupt change in tone and pace three-quarters of the way through, but after that misstep, it returns back to its cool, original beat. 8.5 out of 10

4. “Heartbeat”

The tone and beats make for easy and enjoyable listening. There’s maybe just a teeny-weeny hint of an ’80s feel at the beginning of this track. “Heartbeat” is catchy and addictive. 10 out of 10

5. “Miles Away”

This track really brings it all back home: you fall in love with Madonna all over again. The beats and musical lyrics produce a tune you’ll wanna sing in the shower. Those of you in a long-distance or difficult relationship are really gonna love this one. The essence of “Miles Away” is: “You want me when you can’t have me.” This song may hit the mainstream — and trance DJ’s may jump on it too to produce what I hope will be a mind-blowing track — and will just explode on the music charts. 10 out of 10

6. “She’s Not Me”

On first listen, I didn’t like or hate this song, but it grew on me when I heard it a second time at the club. The beginning sounds very roller disco and is infused with lounge music. There is an abrupt change in tone and pace which, like “Give it 2 Me,” is harsh but then you’re brought back down to the funky lounge that makes this track great. The end of the song includes some funk lyrics followed by electronic music and classical undertones. A sweet ending to a sweet track. 8.5 out of 10

7. “Incredible”

I liked this track slightly better when I heard it at the club. I particularly enjoyed the blend of musical sounds and instruments, for example, when the drum and shaker are played simultaneously. However, the abrupt change to a rock music beat is a little over the top for me. Following the rock tune, you’re brought back to the electronic vibe of the song. The sudden shouting of “OOOOOOOHHH!” and Madonna’s lyrics, “Sex with you is incredible” is embarrassing to hear and just too literal. Madonna’s “Incredible” lyric and the “oohing” goes on way too long. 6.5 out of 10

8. “Beat Goes On”

I don’t love or hate this song, but I wish there was more done with it. After all, it features the lyrical talents of Kanye West. There have to be better lyrics than “Get down / Beep, beep / Gotta get outta your seat.” Kanye really brings a great breakdown at the end and bumps this song up to passable status. 5 out of 10

9 “Dance 2Night”

A complete waste of space because the tone of the song is so déjà vu and the lyrics add no depth or meaning. “You don’t have to be beautiful to be understood. You don’t have to be rich and famous to be good. You just gotta give more, more, more than you ever have before. And you gotta move fast, fast, fast if you want this good thing to last.” I’m moving fast, fast, fast forward to the next track. ‘Nuff said. 2 out of 10

10. “Spanish Lessons”

I’d probably salsa to this song a couple of times and then totally forget about it. It’s a poor attempt at infusing musical styles (salsa meets the circus?) and beats. And what’s the lyrical bit about Madonna telling someone to do homework? “If you do your homework baby I’ll give you more. When you do your homework get up on the dance floor.” It’s okay, I think I’ll stay in the library and do my homework, Madonna. Please, don’t give me “more.” I’ve had enough. 3 out of 10

11. “Devil Wouldn’t Even Recognize You”

This track has grown on me a lot. The song has some edge that carries itself over from beginning to end. The lyrics and tune sound rough-and-raw in a very original way. I also love the sound of rain in the background. It really adds to the tone and mood of this track. “Devil Wouldn’t Even Recognize You” would resonate with those that have been in an unhealthy relationship, where they’ve been the target of undue manipulation. 8 out of 10

12. “Voices”

Why is this track even on the CD? I don’t know what “Voices” is even about. Schizophrenia? What is Madonna talking about when she says: “Who is the Master? Who is the Slave?” The only risk well-taken is the slight hint of Persian music at the end. 4 out of 10

AVERAGE RATING: 6.5 out of 10

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