Madonna’s ‘MDNA’ receives lukewarm welcome

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The music doesn’t stop for pop icon Madonna, and neither does the controversy, as the 53-year-old ‘Queen of Pop’ returns to the spotlight with her latest album ‘MDNA’. The uptempo record ‘MDNA’ sees Madonna continue her love affair with dance music in an album dedicated to club-friendly tracks. And Madonna has lost none of her ability to push boundaries, just as she did 25 years ago with themes of sexuality and youth rebellion. The title, ‘MDNA’-an allusion to the drug MDMA or ecstasy-has caused a stir, while the music video for the second single, ‘Girl Gone Wild’, has been slapped with an age restriction after YouTube deemed it too raunchy for under 18 year-olds. Madonna has said that the title meaning of her 12th studio album is threefold- a reduction of her name, an abbreviation for ‘Madonna DNA’, and a reference to ecstasy and the euphoria often experienced by its users. But some music critics haven’t exactly been blown away despite Madonna recruiting a bevy of top dance music producers, including house music DJ Benny Benassi, electro-pop duo LMFAO and her Grammy-winning ‘Ray of Light’ album producer William Orbit. The Los Angeles Times gave the album two out of four stars, saying it doesn’t “offer much in the way of innovation,” and that the iconic singer had “fallen behind…she is no longer setting the conversation in a genre she essentially invented.” The songs are tied together with hard bass beats and electro-synth tunes in uptempo dance songs like ‘Gang Bang’ and ‘Girl Gone Wild’. ‘Falling Free’ is one of the few tracks that change pace from the album’s dance-core theme, described by Billboard’s Keith Caulfield as a “gorgeous ballad.” The Golden Globe-winning song ‘Masterpiece,’ from the soundtrack of Madonna’s film ‘W.E.’ also stood out with its delicate acoustic guitar melody. The Guardian gave the album three out of five stars, calling it “business as usual” for the pop star. New York Magazine said “a lot of the music here feels hollow and strained…There is much expensive workmanship and machine-tooling around here, but not much…Madonna.”