The Entertainment Critic Music Review By James Myers
Release Date: 04/29/2008
Label: WARNER BROS / WEA
Catalog No.: 421372
Sales Rank: 6
Madonna: Primary Artist
Stevie Blacke: Strings
Wendy Melvoin: Guitar
Dan Warner: Guitar
Hannon B. Lane: Keyboards
Timbaland: Drums, DJ
Andrew Coleman: Guitar
Justin Timberlake: Guitar, Background Vocals
Monte Pittman: Guitar
Madonna: Producer, Executive Producer
Chris Gehringer: Mastering
Mark "Spike" Stent: Engineer
Hannon B. Lane: Producer
Andrew Coleman: Engineer
The Neptunes: Producer
Justin Timberlake: Producer
Giovanni Bianco: Art Direction
Ron Taylor: Digital Editing
Alex Dromgoole: Engineer
Marcella "Ms. Lago" Araica: Engineer
Hard Candy’s Tracks
1 Candy Shop 4:15
2 4 Minutes / Justin Timberlake 4:03
3 Give It 2 Me 4:47
4 Heartbeat 4:03
5 Miles Away 4:48
6 She's Not Me 6:04
7 Incredible 6:19
8 Beat Goes on / Kanye West 4:26
9 Dance 2night 5:03
10 Spanish Lesson 3:37
11 Devil Wouldn't Recognize You 5:08
12 Voices 3:39
REGARDED AS "ONE OF THE GREATEST POP ACTS OF ALL TIME", SHE HAS BEEN DUBBED THE "QUEEN OF POP" BY THE MEDIA
BEGINNING WITH THE RELEASE OF HER SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM IN 1983, MADONNA ROSE TO STARDOM PRODUCING THREE CONSECUTIVE NUMBER ONE STUDIO ALBUMS ON THE BILLBOARD 200; LIKE A VIRGIN (1984), TRUE BLUE (1986), AND LIKE A PRAYER (1989). THOUGH THE ENTERTAINER FACED COLDER CRITICAL RECEPTION AND MORE MODEST SALES ON SUBSEQUENT ALBUMS EROTICA (1992) AND BEDTIME STORIES (1994), SHE GARNERED CRITICAL ACCLAIM WITH THE RELEASE OF HER SEVENTH STUDIO ALBUM RAY OF LIGHT (1998), WHICH OPENED AT NUMBER TWO. MADONNA CONTINUED TO REMAIN IN THE FOREFRONT OF POP MUSIC WITH FOUR MORE CONSECUTIVE NUMBER ONE STUDIO ALBUMS; MUSIC (2000) AMERICAN LIFE (2003) CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR (2005) AND HARD CANDY (2008).
MADONNA IS RANKED BY THE RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA AS THE "BEST SELLING FEMALE ROCK ARTIST OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY" AND THE SECOND TOP-SELLING FEMALE ARTIST IN THE UNITED STATES (BEHIND BARBRA STREISAND) WITH 63 MILLION CERTIFIED ALBUMS. ACCORDING TO GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, SHE IS THE "WORLD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL FEMALE RECORDING ARTIST OF ALL TIME” AND THE TOP EARNING FEMALE SINGER IN THE WORLD WITH AN ESTIMATED NET WORTH OF OVER $400 MILLION, HAVING SOLD OVER 200 MILLION ALBUMS WORLDWIDE. BILLBOARD REPORTED THAT HER 2006 CONFESSIONS TOUR HOLDS THE RECORD FOR THE HIGHEST GROSSING CONCERT TOUR BY A FEMALE ARTIST. ON MARCH 10, 2008, SHE WAS INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME.
MADONNA MADE HER ACTING DEBUT WITH THE LOW-BUDGET FEATURE FILM A CERTAIN SACRIFICE (1979) AND WENT ON TO STAR IN THE 1985 BOX OFFICE HIT DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, HER FIRST STARRING ROLE. SHE THEN STARRED IN THE RELATIVELY UNSUCCESSFUL SHANGHAI SURPRISE (1986), BODY OF EVIDENCE (1993), THE NEXT BEST THING (2000) AND SWEPT AWAY (2002) — IN ADDITION TO NUMEROUS SUPPORTING ROLES AND CAMEO APPEARANCES. SHE ALSO STARRED IN THE BOX OFFICE HITS DICK TRACY (1990), A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992) AND EVITA (1996) — BASED ON THE MUSICAL OF THE SAME NAME, WHICH EARNED HER A GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS - MOTION PICTURE MUSICAL OR COMEDY.
HARD CANDY SOLD 100,000 COPIES IN THE UNITED STATES UPON ITS FIRST DAY OF RELEASE
THIS CD IS THE 7TH WHERE MADONNA HAS DEBUTED AT #1
THE RECORD IS HELD BY BARBARA STREISAND WITH 8 #1 DÉBUTS
THE ALBUM HAS SO FAR DEBUTED AT NUMBER ONE IN 27 COUNTRIES
“Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mindYou just keep on pushing my love over the borderline”
Chorus from Madonna’s “Borderline”
There are 2 distinct phases to Madonna’s career; the first was her wildly popular dance music of the 1980’s when we first meet the free spirit, sexy dresser that revolutionized women’s popular music; the second is the social, modern impressionistic political/religious commentary that many of her older listeners struggled to understand. Her new album, Hard Candy, represents a fusion of the 2 with a return to definite dance music, mixed with deep, searing lyrics that may be best listened to alone at home in the dark. Dance fever meets the urban legend in Hard Candy. This is her last studio album to be released under her contract with Warner Brothers, and last week it debuted at # 1 to an accepting audience that has been waiting for her eventual return to moving dance and pop music.
Not that this album doesn’t have a hip hop feel; it clearly does, but at its heart it is a pop/dance record with “an urban direction.” Her collaborator, Justin Timberlake in a recent interview stated, “It's kinda like 'Holiday' with an R&B groove." He went on to say "It’s an R&B/pop/dance record, but it’s still Madonna... A couple of times I pushed her in a direction where it took a minute before we saw eye to eye. Her approach was, 'Well, I just haven’t done that' and I was like, 'Yeah, that’s why you should do it.' This is why the album has pop/dance music reminding us of her origins and sharp, edgy, pointed lyrics that make you feel ever so slightly uncomfortable. But as a mix, it works and for those old dance music fans, it seems to be close enough.
The album features vocal appearances by Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West along with production credits from Timbaland, Timberlake, The Neptunes, and Nate "Danja" Hills as well as co-production from Madonna. Wendy Melvoin is guest guitarist on "She's Not Me".
My favorite song on the album is "4 Minutes" featuring Justin Timberlake. "4 Minutes" has reached number one in twenty-three countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Greece, Switzerland and Norway and the United World Chart. Madonna holds the record for the artist with the most number one hits worldwide. The beat and production are unmistakably Timberlake, and this one borders on a rocker.
The other great songs on this one are “Candy Shop” and “Give it to me” which will be released as a single in July. “Candy Shop” in particular proves my point. It has a dance number sound that reminds you of songs, “Like A Virgin” and “Material Girl,” but if you listen closely to the lyrics and check out the Madonna the sadist bombshell on the cover, (did you know that she is 49 years old, sure couldn’t tell by that cover), you get the feeling that we are discussing dominatrix behaviors, and thus she has somehow managed to maintain her controversial content. The first time you hear, “Give it to me” it definitely identifies itself right away as a classic Madonna song. Rhythmic, moving and fun, this one sounds like a perfect dance number; one you will be hearing blaring out of car windows all summer long. It has that “let’s play it again,” over and over and over quality to it. I may well be the biggest smash on this CD.
Overall this album is off the hook. You cannot listen to the music and sit still and maybe that’s what her fans want from her. Rolling Stone said it best, “Hard Candy is the work of "a songwriting team of American chart royalty" that help "revisit her roots as an urban-disco queen.” Watch for her new tour to start around August. For all you dance fans, the material girl is back, but she’s leaner and meaner; older and wiser. I think you’re going to like it all the same. This one is a reminder of the original greatness of a uniquely American artist that had young girls all over the country “Going Madonna.” This one is a keeper for a hot, summer day.