If you’ve watched her astonishing Super Bowl performance – during which she even manages to make pop-rap numpties LMFAO seem sufferable – you’ll know Madonna has definitely still got it.
On stage, anyway, which is why she’s currently ensconced in a $120m deal with concert honchos Live Nation. Question is, in the post-Gaga pop climate: is Madonna irrelevant as a recording artist?
Trailer singles ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’ and ‘Girl Gone Wild’ fail to quash this suggestion. neither does ‘MDNA’ set the mainstream pop agenda the way previous Madonna albums have. Instead, it’s a collection of hard-edged electro-pop thumpers peppered with the odd trendy flourish: dubstep breakdowns, M.I.A. and Minaj cameos, production credits from house DJ Benny Benassi.
‘MDNA’ also has a couple of ballads, more lyrical clichés than every gnarly tune on the Magic playlist put together, and at least one song Guy Ritchie should skip. “I tried to be a good girl, I tried to be your wife,” Madge raps (ish) on that one, before declaring: “And if I was a failure, I don’t give a…”
So yes, there are ‘Did she really do that?’ moments as well as ‘Did she really have to do that?’ moments – the latter perhaps inevitable from a woman who became an icon before Rihanna was even born. But ‘MDNA’ is mostly filled with moments when listening to Madonna still feels like the most thrilling thing any pop fan could possibly hope to experience. Does that sound irrelevant to you?
Words by NICK LEVINE