Madonna’s ‘MDNA’ sends pop lesson to young guard

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Jostling for space with younger rivals like Lady Gaga, Madonna brings a grown woman’s voice to her new album ‘MDNA’, out on Monday, on which the 53-year-old Queen of Pop evokes the pain of her divorce. Since her last album, the dance-flavoured ‘Hard Candy’ in 2008, new faces have crowded into the space long ruled by the Material Girl: Rihanna for sexiness, Lana Del Rey for edgy glamour, and the ever-theatrical Lady Gaga.
So when Madonna announced she was working on a new album, the music world raised a sceptical eyebrow: put frankly, can a woman in her 50s still set the pace in a youth-driven pop world? The first track from the album, ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’, which Madonna performed at the Superbowl last month, failed to win over the music press. But critics have since given a thumbs up to Madonna’s 12th studio album, which leaked on the Internet this week ahead of its release. “Madonna is still very much the Queen of Pop,” wrote the US magazine Billboard. “Nearly 30 years after first hitting the Billboard charts with her debut single ‘Everybody’, Madonna is still showing the world how it’s done.” Madonna teamed up with a host of carefully chosen collaborators for ‘MDNA’, most notably M.I.A, the British hip-hop star who set tongues wagging at the Superbowl with a brief flip of the middle finger to the cameras. The album — whose title is a play on the nightclub drug MDMA — is peppered with hedonistic dance tracks, but they share space with highly personal pieces in which Madonna alludes to her 2008 divorce from British director Guy Ritchie. Several tracks — both gentle ballads and harder hip-hop-flavoured pieces — are odes to her failed marriage. Hot on the heels of a record-setting Super Bowl halftime show last month, Madonna is set to hopscotch around the globe in support of her new album, in most ambitious world tour ever on May 29.