Hard Candy

Did a lady old enough to be my mom just announce “My sugar is raw / sticky and sweet”? Barf. Instinct dictates to hate everything about this CD—like the fact that the career shape-shifter relies on youthful superstar producers like the Neptunes to sell her new incarnation—but it’s hard to deny the pop sensibility here. The simple hooks and electro feel keep Madonna closer to the ’80s than she was probably comfortable with (you can almost see her in the studio saying, “This is what they want?”). Sure, Hard Candy is clichéd: “Heartbeat” features a heart beating; “Give It 2 Me” is about giving it to her and “Beat Goes On” documents, um, the beat going on. And sure, the album is best when paired with hard drugs, but even without them, it’s still a fun listen. (It’s mostly a Pharrell album anyway.)