So, March was a slow month for new singles. Basically, aside from the new Justin Bieber single “Boyfriend” that was released just today, (which I kind of love, by the way,) it was kind of a lot of the same stuff – leaks from the new Nicki Minaj album, (which I am expecting to be GOOD,) and the bonus tracks from Katy Perry’s re-release of “Teenage Dream,” (which I am still mad is a re-release instead of doing a new album,) and kind of the same things that I talked about in last month’s New Single & Leaks Roundup. I felt like that would be kind of repetitive and boring and just not something I particularly want to do. However, there were a couple of new albums that leaked in the past week that I really wanted to talk about, so I figured I would do an album review post instead of the single reviews that I normally do for the last Music Monday of the month. There was a third album that leaked last week that I had wanted to talk about, as well – The All-American Rejects’ new record, “Kids In The Streets,” – but I got kind of stuck on these other two and haven’t listened to it in full yet. This fact alone can probably tell you that these are going to be positive reviews. These two albums are so good, in fact, that they have managed to knock me off of my near two month streak of listening to Lana Del Rey every night when I went to sleep. These two albums could also not be more opposite but are both absolutely brilliant in their own right. That having been said, let’s get on with the reviews!
MADONNA – MDNA
On March 27, 2012, (tomorrow,) Madonna will release her 13th studio album, “MDNA,” here in the US. The album leaked in full nearly a week ago and I have been listening to it pretty incessantly ever since. “MDNA,” like much of Madonna’s recent work, is mainly dance-oriented and puts a focus on more fun, uptempo tracks. The difference between “MDNA” and a lot of Madonna’s recent work, however, is that it gets very dark in a lot of places. The production on this record was mainly split up between current pop super-producer Martin Solveig, DJ and producer Benny Benassi and one of my personal favorite collaborators of Madonna’s career, William Orbit. William Orbit produced perhaps Madonna’s greatest record, in my opinion, “Ray of Light.” When I heard that he was taking part in this album I was really excited to see what they would come up with. What they did come up with were some of the album’s best tracks, like “Love Spent,” “I’m A Sinner,” “Masterpiece,” and, most of all, the insane and over-the-top, dubstep-inspired rage-filled track “Gang Bang.” This is absolutely one of my favorite tracks on the record. Benny Benassi only produced 3 tracks on the record, including the current single and one of the album’s standout tracks, “Girl Gone Wild,” a brilliant, high energy dance track. My personal highlights on the album, though, are the tracks produced by Martin Solveig. These include the albums lead single and Super Bowl Halftime Show feature, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” as well as some of the album’s strongest tracks, “Turn Up The Radio,” “I Don’t Give A (featuring Nicki Minaj,)” and one of the most fascinating and seemingly personal tracks of Madonna’s career, “I Fucked Up.” I really cannot recommend this album highly enough. In particular, if you are looking for music to provide the soundtrack to any type of exercise or for getting ready to go out at night or any time you just need to get yourself hyped up, it is absolutely perfect! Definitely check it out!
THE HUNGER GAMES: SONGS FROM DISTRICT 12 AND BEYOND
“The Hunger Games” is a book trilogy about a futuristic world in which the government forces teenagers from the 12 different districts of what was once North America to go into an arena and fight to the death on national television. It has underlying themes of rebellion against the government, a love triangle, the struggle to survive, etc. I am absolutely obsessed with this book series and just saw the film over the weekend, which was absolutely amazing, as well. As a companion to the film, not so much a soundtrack as none of the music is actually featured in the film. Instead, it is a selection of songs inspired by the story. This album features primarily acoustic-based or folk type music, from artists including Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Neko Case, Maroon 5, The Decemberists, Arcade Fire, etc. The entire thing is absolutely brilliant. The standout tracks, in my opinion, are definitely the two Taylor Swift tracks, “Safe & Sound” and “Eyes Open,” both of which are nothing like anything Taylor has done before but are absolutely stunning songs. In particular, “Safe & Sound” is a heartbreaking, epic ballad about trying to comfort somebody in the face of a horrific situation. Another favorite is the track “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder” by The Secret Sisters, relative newcomers to the music industry. It is an absolutely stunning track. The Neko Case track, “Nothing To Remember,” is another favorite. Also, the Maroon 5 track “Come Away To The Water,” is an amazing track and I really didn’t recognize that this was a Maroon 5 track at all, as Adam Levine’s voice sounds so different and really kind of extraordinary on this track. Another track from the album that is surprisingly brilliant is a song called “The Ruler & The King” by Kid Cudi. Just seeing the tracklisting I kind of assumed a Kid Cudi track would be incredibly out of place on this record but it is really a gorgeous track and so much different than one would expect from Kid Cudi. This album really is a brilliant companion to the film and books. If you are a fan of the books or the films, I highly recommend this album. Even if you are not, this record is amazing. It is definitely worth checking out.
So, there you have a couple of new album reviews for the month of March. I am hoping that April will be a lot more active of a month, as far as music goes. We’ll see! In the meantime, I wish you all a beautiful week to come and a beautiful life!