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MDNA is Madonna's 12th studio album that was released on March 23, 2012 by Interscope Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Girl Gone Wild 3:43
  2. Gang Bang 5:26
  3. I'm Addicted 4:33
  4. Turn Up The Radio 3:46
  5. Give Me All Your Luvin' (featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.) 3:22
  6. Some Girls 3:53
  7. Superstar 3:55
  8. I Don't Give A (featuring Nicki Minaj) 4:19
  9. I'm A Sinner 4:52
  10. Love Spent 3:45
  11. Masterpiece 3:58
  12. Falling Free 5:13

Album BackgroundEdit

Following the end of her eleventh studio album, "Hard Candy" era, Madonna branched out into different ventures. She released her third greatest-hits album "Celebration", introduced her Material Girl clothing line, opened up Hard Candy Fitness centers across the world and unveiled fashion brand Truth or Dare by Madonna which included perfumes, footwear, underclothing & accessories.

She also directed her second feature film, "W.E.," a biographical piece about the affair between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

As filming for W.E. was in progress, Madonna posted a message on her Facebook page exclaiming: "Its official! I need to move. I need to sweat. I need to make new music! Music I can dance to. I'm on the lookout for the maddest, sickest, most badass people to collaborate with. I'm just saying."

She started working with producer William Orbit, with whom the singer had not collaborated since her eighth studio album, "Music."

Noting that they shared great camaraderie, Madonna felt that Orbit would align with her musical choices.

In July 2011, French DJ Martin Solveig was invited for a writing session in London. Originally Madonna had enlisted Solveig for one song, but they ended up composing three in total—"Give Me All Your Luvin'", "I Don't Give A" and "Turn Up the Radio".

In an interview with Billboard, Solveig felt that being Madonna's record producer would have been intimidating for him, so he avoided "thinking about the [singer], and do something that just makes sense".

Several other producers joined the album, including Allessandro "Alle" Benassi and his brother Benny Benassi, The Demolition Crew, Michael Malih and Indiigo.

Madonna enlisted female rappers Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., wanting to collaborate with "women who [...] have a strong sense of themselves".

RecordingEdit

On July 4, 2011, Madonna's manager Guy Oseary announced that the singer had begun recording the album.

The recording sessions took place at Sarm West Studios and Guerrilla Strip in London, Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas, MSR Studios in New York, 3:20 Studios in Los Angeles, and Free School in California.

The simplicity of songwriting appealed to Madonna and she was happy to be back in the enclosed space of a recording studio, after being always outside while filming "W.E."

In an interview with Channel V Australia, Solveig recalled that the recording sessions were smooth due to the camaraderie between Madonna and him.

After the three songs were composed, the producer drafted another track called "Beautiful Killer", inspired by the French film "Le Samouraï", a common interest with Madonna.

For Madonna, Solveig's "methodical" thinking was important since she could refuse anything during the process without thinking about hurting his feelings.

Solveig commented about Madonna's involvement in the production of the album: "She is as involved as you can be in the recording process. This was a very good and big surprise for me! I was assuming that she would spend only an hour or two in the studio per day and come and see where we were and say, "Ok I like this, I don't like that. I'll sing this. Bye!" And absolutely not... I mean we co-produced the track and it's not just written on the credits "co-produced by Martin Solveig and Madonna", we literally co-produced the tracks. I mean, at some point she wanted to choose the sound of a snare drum or a synth and that kind of stuff. She was really in the session!"

Madonna found that her taste in European music matched with Orbit's, resulting in the songs composed with him to be "incredibly quick and spontaneous" while they discussed about "philosophy or quantum physics".

While working with the Benassis, Madonna faced language problems since Benny was not fluent in English. She was shy, but ultimately asked Alle Benassi to be an interpreter which was difficult for all three, but eventually they were able to overcome it.

Madonna clarified: "With music it's so much about the vibe and the energy and you know when things are working and when they're not."

Album Title & ArtworkEdit

On January 11, 2012, the album title was announced by Madonna as "MDNA" during an interview on The Graham Norton Show.

Solveig revealed that it was M.I.A. who had suggested the name Madonna, noting "We were having a lot of fun with the initials. M.I.A. said, 'You should call your album MDNA because it would be a good abbreviation and spelling of your name.'"

When discussing the album on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Madonna explained that the title is a triple entendre, representing both her name and her DNA as well as a reference to the drug MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy).

Lucy Dawe, a spokesperson for the anti-drug campaign group Cannabis Skunk Sense, called the title "ill advised."

The record's artwork was shot by Mert and Marcus and directed by Giovanni Bianco. The deluxe edition was unveiled through Madonna's official Facebook page on January 31, 2012.

Jocelyn Vena of MTV News described the image as a "glamorous, deconstructed photograph" where Madonna "cocks her head up, her curly hair pulled back. She's wearing lots of mascara, bright red lipstick, a choker and a silky bright pink top. The photo has some kind of broken mirror filter over it, giving it a funky, dance-queen vibe."

Robbie Daw of Idolator compared the artwork to the singer's third studio album cover, "True Blue",with similarity in Madonna's blond locks and the tilting of her head.

The standard edition cover for "MDNA" was revealed on February 6, 2012. Its art direction included the same color palette and the distorted appearance of the deluxe version image, but featured a body-shot of Madonna in a red dress and gloves with jewelry.

Chart PerformanceEdit

"MDNA" received the largest number of pre-order of the album at the iTunes Store since it was announced in February 2012.

In the United States, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 359,000 copies sold, making it Madonna's biggest first-week sales since "Music."

It became Madonna's eighth chart-topper and her fifth consecutive studio album to debut at number one. The album's sales were aided by her tour audience, who had an option to receive the release as part of their ticket purchase.

Around 185,000 copies of the first-week sales reportedly came from the album-ticket bundling. The next week, it sold 48,000 copies while moving down to number eight on the chart.

"MDNA" had a sharp 86.7% decline in sales, the then largest second-week percentage sales drop for a number-one debuting album of the Nielsen SoundScan era.

The album was present on the Billboard 200 for a total of 13 weeks. Additionally, MDNA debuted atop the Billboard's Dance/Electronic Albums and stayed on the chart for 38 weeks.

In October 2012, it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of 500,000 copies. As of March 2014, it has sold over two million copies worldwide.

Critical ReceptionEdit

Upon its release, "MDNA" received positive to mixed reviews. At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 64, based on 34 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".

Andy Gill from The Independent felt that the record represented a "determined, no-nonsense restatement" of Madonna's brand of music, after the underwhelming response she had received for Hard Candy.

Rolling Stone writer Joe Levy rated the release 3.5 out of 5 stars, describing it as a "disco-fied divorce record". He described the music composition as suggestive, but found depth in the content after repeated listening.

Priya Elan of NME called MDNA as "a ridiculously enjoyable romp" while finding that lyrically they were the most intimate songwriting that Madonna had ever done.

Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani found the album to be "surprisingly cohesive" in spite of the multiple producers, and commended Madonna and Orbit's compositions as among the best.

Shirley Halperin from Billboard felt that Madonna was correct in not creating retro sounding music like her peers and believed that the singer's intuition in knowing what's popular in the musical landscape was beneficial for the album since EDM was becoming popular at that time.

Also from Billboard, Joel Lynch opined that "while it didn't quite seem to resonate emotionally with fans upon its release, it certainly has its moments."

Nick Levine, from BBC News, pointed out that "there's no denying MDNA delivers thrills [...] but also has something the last two Madge albums lacked: ballads, both of which are quite lovely".

He concluded his review by saying that "[MDNA] isn't just a good pop album, it's a good Madonna album too."

Orbit's production received positive feedback from critics. Simon Goddard of Q listed MDNA as Madonna's best album since "Ray of Light" as did Chicago Tribune reviewer Greg Kot, who felt that Madonna outdid on the Orbit-produced tracks.

Caryn Ganz from Spin rated the album 7 out of 10 and said that "if there's one producer who knows how to pluck Madonna's heartstrings, it's Orbit".

Writing for The New York Times, Jon Pareles summarized that it was Madonna's "pop instinct" and ability to craft hooks that helped the record become a success musically.

In his consumer guide review, critic Robert Christgau gave the album an A– rating. He preferred an alternate track list of the record, highlighting the slow-tempo songs like "Falling Free", "Masterpiece", "Love Spent" and "I Fucked Up."

According to Jennifer Gannon, from Irish website State, "what MDNA offers is the ideal that pop doesn’t always have to be the newest, craziest thing to be effective; it doesn’t have to deny the past to be relevant.

Mixed reception came from AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine, who described MDNA as "flinty" and "excessively lean" as a result of "cool calculations" in developing the music and catering to the contemporary music market.

Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly found "all those reminders of her work ethic [in the song 'I Don't Give A' as] exhausting."

Emily Mackay of The Quietus noted a "lack of ambition" and accused Madonna of "playing it safe" on MDNA.

The Observer's Gareth Grundy was ambivalent toward the record's "clumsy rave-pop" tracks, feeling that "the more relaxed, less stentorian tracks sparkle". He opined that the second half of the release "sounds as if it's been borrowed from an entirely different and much better project".

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian viewed the album as "neither triumph nor disaster", writing that it "turns out to be just another Madonna album".

Similarly, Instinct's Samuel Murrian concluded that "there is no such thing as a bad Madonna album; MDNA, though, is the closest thing there is to a lifeless one".

Graham Gremore from Queerty felt that "had it been released by another pop artist — perhaps someone younger and less established — it may have fared better. But coming from an icon like Madonna, it was, put simply, a disappointment."

Helen Brown of The Daily Telegraph panned the songwriting as "horribly cliched" and criticized Madonna's constant need to look and sound like a teenager in the tracks.

Pitchfork Media's Matthew Perpetua found most of the record as "shockingly banal" and "particularly hollow, the dead-eyed result of obligations, deadlines, and hedged bets".

Maura Johnston of The Village Voice criticized Madonna's vocals and her incorporation of EDM as insincere.

Los Angeles Times writer Randall Roberts felt that the composition suffers from "familiarity" and MDNA was evidence that Madonna's music had become regressive.

Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club criticized its "electronically manipulated" vocals and "big, generic Euro-dance beats", calling MDNA "competent, but equally perfunctory."

Wiriting for Turkish newspaper Radikal, Yazi Boyutu called it a "parody of the real Madonna [...] an unnecessary and ridiculous dance album".

The Advocate gave a scathing review of "MDNA", writing: "Lacking a central image or theme, MDNA instead relied on uninspiring beats and silly references to guns and partying. Singles like 'Give Me All Your Luvin' and 'Girl Gone Wild' were so vapid, they made Taylor Swift songs look like cuts from a Joni Mitchell album. Almost instantly forgettable."

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