He did not elaborate further.
Which got us thinking about what we’d like to hear from the pop trendsetter who’s done it all. More than 28 years into her record shattering career, Madonna really doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone – she’s the top-selling female artist ever, has had more top ten hits than Elvis (or anyone else, alive or dead) and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. But with Lady Gaga hotter on her heels than any other diva who’s made a play for her throne, Madge does have a reason to put out a killer album.
As longtime fans, we know what has and hasn’t worked for Madonna over the years. Read on for our thought on how she should approach her next record.
Stay Away From “Hot” Producers
Dr. Luke has worked wonders for Britney Spears (“Till The World Ends”) and Katy Perry (“Teenage Dream”). RedOne and Lady Gaga have the kind of connection that produces insta-classics like “Bad Romance.” Max Martin has become Pink’s go-to guy for recent hits like “Raise Your Glass.” Madonna should stay away from all of these people.
Here’s why: It didn’t really work last time. On Hard Candy, Madonna collaborated with Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Danja and Pharrell Williams. The results were mostly fine – we’re actually partial to her tunes with Williams, especially “Incredible” and “The Beat Goes On” – and she scored her biggest hit in years with the Timberlake jam “4 Minutes.” But her previous set, Confessions on a Dance Floor, was widely considered a return to form, and, frankly, running to of-the-moment producers in an attempt to score some easy hits felt cheap and a little desperate coming from one of the most forward-thinking minds in pop, particularly on the heels of her best album in years.
Make Some Real Dance Music
In the late-90s and early aughts, Madonna did something that no other pop star could do: She brought real dance music to America, and America liked it. She eschewed the conventions of pop music at the time, which was dominated by the bubblegum thump of early Spears and NSYNC, and opted instead to work with underground producers like William Orbit and Mirwais Ahmadzai to introduce electronic and house sounds that were completely foreign to domestic radio. She was rewarded with career-best reviews, reinvigorated album sales and multiple Grammy Awards for her effort.
With that in mind, we suggest she make a few phone calls. A good place to start would be with the Swedish trio Swedish House Mafia – Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell. With little mainstream fanfare, their latest single “Save the World” has racked up over 12 million views on YouTube. Axwell sits on DJMag’s list of the top ten DJ’s in the world. Others to consider from that same listing: Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren, both of whom specialize in the kind of progressive trance and house music that gets crowds moving (and M does have that massive 360, touring-recording deal with Live Nation to deliver on).
What we’re saying is, the best Madonna music has been born from like-minded collaboration with lesser-known dance producers she is herself a fan of, not from current production giants looking to throw their signature beats at the wall to see what sticks.
Write About Something
The weirdest thing about Hard Candy was the almost regressive nature of some of the lyrics. Music, Ray of Light and Confessions on a Dance Floor were buoyed by thoughtful, reflective lyrics about love, life and spirituality, while a track on Hard Candy had the then-49-year-old singer cooing the line “see my booty get down.” Yes, her signature theme – which we’d boil down to the universal catharsis and release only the dance floor can provide – was present on all these albums, but it wasn’t as smartly crafted on Candy as it was on her past efforts. Lyrically, decades-old albums like Erotica and Like a Prayer felt like more mature works.
Since her last album, Madonna has been through a lot, including an adoption, divorce and her return to New York. She’s also the only pop star in the world who can address what it’s like to be a sex symbol aging in full view of the public. Her age has led some pop critics to write her off entirely. Tell us what it feels like to have people turn their backs on you despite the fact that your hit-making instincts and songwriting chops are as sharp as ever, Madonna. We’re all ears!