First Listen: Madonna ‘Hard Candy’ Review



Originally written here

This afternoon we went to a brilliantly decorated room in East London to hear the new Madonna album while sipping champagne & eating jelly beans. Sounds good huh? Well it was! Anyone fearing a full on urban attack – don’t worry. ‘Hard Candy’ is full of long disco pop songs – it just has some heavy beats! Here’s our track by track rundown:

1. Candy Shop: Here we go! Madonna wants to be our ‘1-stop candy shop – your lollipop’. Yum! This is produced by The Neptunes and is filled with bleeps and swirls. It ends with a ‘sticky but sweet’ rap by Pharrell.

2. Four Minutes To Save The World: You all know this one!

3. Give It To Me: Not a Furtado/Timbo cover but a Pharrell track that’s going to be the 2nd single. Let us tell you now – it’s mindblowingly amazing. There’s cowbells, twinkles and a funny vocoder you might have heard on ‘Music’. Think old school pop Madonna but fired up at 300 mph. There’s a funky break near the end where Madonna shouts ‘don’t stop!’, the music stops and a male voice sings ‘left to the right’.

4. Heartbeat: ‘Probably the 3rd single’, Heartbeat has a synthy 80s sounding intro. Madge tells us that ‘when I dance I feel free!’. There’s something about the melody when she sings ‘you know I feel it in my Heartbeat’ that’s really cute!.

5. Miles Away: This starts deceptively with guitar that reminds us of ‘Don’t Tell Me’. Is it going to be a ballad? Course not silly! 5 seconds in and here comes a pounding bassline. ‘I just woke up from a fuzzy dream, you won’t believe the things I’ve seen.’ This is the first song that doesn’t hold our attention all the way but it’s got a dreamy ending.

6. She’s Not Me: It starts with 4 claps and then all hell breaks loose. This is the tale of a jilted lover and has about 7 different elements. It sounds kind of like a sequel to ‘Deeper and Deeper’ with the passion, the fastness and the twirls. Totally hypnotic – it’s a Timberlake/land production but it could come straight from the disco house of Nile Rodgers. Oh and it would mix into Anita Ward’s ‘Ring My Bell’ perfectly. Also it’s REALLY LONG.


I love musicals, and am constantly amused by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s transition from odd looking famous man to cult television icon. He could give Gene Hunt a run for his money.

As well as enjoying John Barrowman as a ridiculous judge for the 3rd time, I’m even more interested than I expected in I’d Do Anything thanks to the appearance of Jodie Prenger. We attended the same tiny girls school in Blackpool and as she’s happily admitted on TV she was a lot bigger then! However she was always an amazing talent musically & drama wise. She was a main star in our production of Mikado and later went on to perform in a theatre version of Hot Mikado which I remember as being absolutely amazing. Plus from what I knew of her, Nancy would be the perfect role, she’s lively, bubbly and cares. I was a bit worried she was maybe coming across a bit too intensely but on forums people seem to like her, and whoever thought she could turn ‘Chasing Pavements’ into a song I’d like!

However the performance that throws up a strong contender was Keisha’s doing ‘Mad About The Boy’ on Saturday’s show. I’m not sure her destiny is Nancy but sounding like a young Shirley Bassey, her performance was absolutely mesmerising and confident.

Santogold – L.E.S Artists

Santogold first came to my attention thanks to her appearance on Mark Ronson’s ‘Version’. Since then her name has popped up everywhere where hype lives. I thought the hype was undeserved due to first single Creator being a bit of an MIA bang-a-long, but now her 2nd single L.E.S. Artists is knocking about and it’s brilliant.

Gone is the carnival style and in it’s place a Karen O style singalong with an epic chorus and the stole stealing lyric ‘I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up’. With Diplo & Switch behind her on production duties throughout her album, this is going to be one of the hippest albums of the year.

And while we’re talking of hype, I need to reassert my belief that the Vampire Weekend album is extraordinary. I listened to it on the tube on my way to work today and nearly cried ! at it’s brilliance. A Punk is also just one of those songs that gets the Popstarz dancefloor going regardless of whether you know it or not. And today’s final excitement is that I’m off to see Sara Bareilles perform a showcase in London at lunchtime. Hooray.