Hard Candy: Sweet or Sour?

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 12:37 AM

You lie to me right through your smile, I've seen behind your eyes
Now I'm sober, no more intoxicating my mind, Even the devil wouldn't recognize you…
- Madonna, Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You

Artist: Madonna
Album: Hard Candy
Release Date: 4.25.08

Enter a digital battleground of rhythm and beats. Hard Candy is a clever disguise for a war raging between Timbaland’s team and Pharrell’s posse to save our pop diva in distress from an inevitable fade away from relevance. The verdict: a valiant effort on both parts as Madonna narrowly escapes the dying of her limelight with this compilation of hip pop. I didn’t know much about Madonna musically beyond her unavoidable singles in the past and her videos. I’m not now, nor have I ever been a Madonna fan but at the request of readers on Sound-Savvy, I gave it a listen...

Appropriately titled, this album mixes Madonna’s sweet pop style with some hard-hitting hip hop beats. On the lead single 4 Minutes, which features Justin Timberlake, Madonna gets into the groove and goes one place she’s sure to have a hit: the clubs. Opening the album is it’s Neptunes counterpart Candy Shop, a percussion heavy dance number by the Neptunes. Metaphorically, this song is a reminder of Madonna’s musical span – with 11 albums under her belt she’s proven her ability to make music for everyone. Dance 2Night has a disco flavor, reminiscent of some of Madonna’s early work but the cameo from Mr. Timberlake keeps the track current. Other dance floor tracks include Heartbeat (not quite as upbeat, but catchy), and the catty She’s Not Me. The latter is borderline girl fight and the material girl rags on her replacement: She started reading my books and stealing my looks and lingerie…She’s not me, she’ll never have my name...Overall the project lacks sensitivity in the vocals, which Madonna grasps at on Miles Away, a nod to the notion that love is stronger at a distance, but too much distance tears at the heartstrings: You always love me more, miles away, I hear it in your voice when you’re miles away…

Mack’s Pick: My personal favorite track is Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You. The beat is super hot, and is by far the best meshing of Madonna’s vocals with any beat on the CD. The piano lead on the beat sticks out, and Justin rips the bridge with an operatic-esque solo that could curl toes.

If you can overlook the fact that Timbaland’s beats are so busy that you forget whose album this really is, along with the fact that Skateboard P overshadows her on the rest of the tracks, then it’s actually just okay. Nothing really new here, but then again, Madonna’s pushin half a century with a tenure in the biz that’s half her age. There isn’t much new ground for her to cover and be successful. That being said, I hope Madonna realizes that there’s no longer a need to justify her love of the music anymore, she can take a bow while she’s still ahead.


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