TITLE: Hard Candy (well, 58% of it, anyway)
RELEASE DATE: April 29, 2008
WEB DEBUT: April 20, 2008
ONE-LISTEN VERDICT: As expected/dreaded, Hard Candy is pretty much Madonna’s attempt to recreate the success of Nelly Furtado’s Loose, and the seven songs that have leaked so far are making me wonder if it’s going to simmer the way that record did in my consciousness, i.e., an inititally grating dance-pop album that revealed its best track months after its release-date press cavalcade. “Miles Away,” Madge’s other collaboration with Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, and Danja, would seem to fit that bill, as it’s a wistful dance-pop ballad that uses the quickly strummed guitars of “Like I Love U.” Otherwise, Madonna seems to be chasing trends from years gone by, particularly the use of cowbell to give dance tracks an “edgy” feel: “Give It To Me” is a cowbell-studded track that has a Pharrell cowriting credit and feels much longer than its four and a half minutes, and you can’t help but wonder how much less flabby the song would be were, say, James Murphy assisting Madonna in her creative decisions instead. “She’s Not Me” has a dark vibe (and no cowbell, somehow), but it’s torpedoed by its adolescent Single White Female lyrics. Bad lyrics also plague “Incredible,” on which Madonna sings in a head-voice yowl that makes her sound even younger than she did when she was wearing fingerless gloves and rubber bracelets, but the hypercolored club-banger nature of that track renders the line “sex with you is … incredible!” at least a little less eye-rolling.
Madonna’s career has been marked by her turning her flaws into assets, and subsequently exploiting them to the hilt; judging by these seven songs, though, the current musical marketplace has made her a little wary, hence her turning to the producers of two-years-ago’s moment to help her get her moxie back. Whether her attempt to make the next generation of 15-year-olds care about her as much as the last three or four have is up for debate.
HARD CANDY [ONTD]