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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 15 October 2013
This album is better than you think...

1. Candy Shop - An unimpressive opener. This is M's fave track on the album. Huh. The chorus is cool but the lyrics are awful. 6/10

2. 4 minutes - Yes, this is quite good! This is M doing RnB and succeeding. I like it. 10/10

3. Give it To Me - This is okaaaay. It is thumpin and driving, but a little soulless at the same time. I don't think Pharell suits M. 7/10

4. Heartbeat - Saying that, Heartbeat is the standout track in the album, about feeling music in your blood. Again the lyrics are a little clunky, but the whole feel of the song is brilliant. 10/10

5. Miles Away - Great pop song! 10/10

6. She's Not Me - This doesn't sound like M. I found myself listening to list thinking 'Where are you Madonna!!!'. There is a bit M seeping through towards the end of the song, but this sounds vapid and dull. 5/10

7. Incredible - This is a weird one. The first 3 mins are dull as dishwater, but the last 3 minutes [yeah, this is 6 mins long...] are FANTASTIC! It is about steering a relationship back on course. Last 3 mins. Woo. 9/10

8. Beat Goes On - No song should be called 'Beat Goes On. Sonny and Cher did that, come on M, think of something else! I would have called it 'The Beat Goes'. But hey, that's just me. This is quite a nice lil rnb song. Kanye does his thing. The original version of this song is MUCH BETTER!!!!! Look it up on youtube. 8/10

9. Dance Tonight - Ahh, a perfect pop song! This is nice pop/funk thing, kinda reminds me of Bedtime Stories album. Lyrics a bit clunky again, but a good track. 8/10

10. Spanish Lesson - This is good. WORK! Lots of silly lyrics with a latin/rnb beat. Nice! 9/10

11. Devil Wouldn't Recognize You - This is about someone who is SO NAUGHTY they would even fool the devil! HO ho! The pace is slowed down and everything is a bot moody now. This was performed brilliantly on the Sticky and Sweet tour. 9/10

12. Voices - Ahhhh. M. This is it. A diatribe against Guy. A fast upbeat song that is quite dark, and feels kind of odd. Worth a listen. 9/10

13. Ring my Bell - Lazy rnb. M, please don't ever worth with the Neptunes again!!! 6/10

Yes, this is not her best. However, it is better than you think.
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on 26 August 2014
My relationship with this album was a long, rocky but ultimately fruitful one. For me, Hard Candy is nothing less than Madonna's most underrated album; yet I'm confident that time will only help its cause and that sooner or later, it will be rediscovered and gloriously reassessed.

When Hard Candy came out in 2008, I purchased it without thinking twice. I had absolutely adored Confessions on a Dancefloor and fervently hoped to find the same kind of glittery chutzpah on Hard Candy; however, I was in for a sore disappointment. I intensely disliked the album, not so much because of the music itself but because of its general direction. Back in the late noughties, including hip-hop and R'n'B-flavoured featurings on female singers' hit songs was all the rage, more often than not to cringing results. Great potential hits were maimed and tainted by uninspired, generic drabbles from the hottest names in hip-hop and R'n'B-dom, and the whole trend reeked of cheap commercialism and quick cash-ins. When I saw that the Queen of Pop herself was caving in and following that trend, I was absolutely dismayed.

After the brazen approach of Confessions on a Dancefloor, which had wielded such brilliant results and ultimately led to the creation of a vibrant masterpiece of disco-pop wizardry, this docile change of direction and apparent yielding to the hot trend of the moment felt not only like a disappointment, but also like a complete and absolute betrayal. It also showed alarming signs of an unpleasant capitulation to some underlying anxiety about ageing: the artwork was airbrushed to an absurd point, the art direction as a whole was ridiculously tacky, and Madonna's dalliance with Justin Timberlake, then at the top of his game, seemed like a cheap and rather transparent trick to prove everyone -- including herself -- that she was still relevant and perfectly able to keep up with younger contenders to the Pop Throne. The whole idea of making an R'n'B-flavoured album in 2008 was as boringly safe and unimaginative as it could be, and to team up with then-ubiquitous Timbaland to do so was just SO utterly vanilla -- even Bjork had collaborated with the guy at that point, for crying it out loud! Sadly, it seemed that Madonna was indeed cheapening herself by pledging allegiancy to the latest musical trend instead of boldly anticipating it as usual -- or even kickstarting it, for that matter.

The result failed to impress me, all the more so as I don't especially fancy hip-hop and R'n'B. Sure, I liked a couple of tracks, and even had an instant crush on "Miles Away"; but I couldn't get over Madonna's musical and aesthetics choices regarding that album, and after listening to it for a couple of weeks, I shelved it for good and didn't touch it until very recently.

Since 2008, many things happened in the Pop Realm: Timberlake was kicked out of orbit by a younger Justin and virtually sank into oblivion, and Timbaland slowly but surely moved out of everyone's radar. Cringing hip-hop featurings stopped appearing for no good reasons in songs, and music just moved onwards to new trends without as much as a glance backwards. And now, in 2014, I finally listened to Hard Candy again, and I had an epiphany.

Taken out of its original context, this album is an absolute gem. It IS a Pop masterpiece after all, this time with a sticky hip-hop and R'n'B sugarcoating instead of the disco one of Confessions. The hooks are massive, irresistible and gloriously poppy and the whole album sparkles with unique details: Timberlake's imperious and playful "Ma-DON-nuh!" interjections on "4 minutes", the Bananarama inflexions of "Give it 2 me", the subtle string outro of "She's not me" and many more. Even "Spanish Lesson", which I absolutely hated back then, now sounds to me like a joyful and tongue-in-cheek pastiche of "La Isla Bonita". This is an album that begs to be rediscovered and enjoyed to the fullest, and it so fully deserves it. As for the tacky artwork, let's just remember that Madonna does not have the visual flair of Bjork and that her albums' artworks have always been quite simplistic, if not a tad crappy. It really doesn't matter, because we're here for the Pop Magic, and Hard Candy definitely has the Pop Magic in spades--and so does Madonna!
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on 17 September 2013
I have been a Madonna fan for years! Despite most of my friends not liking her music at all! For me, her worst album was American Life, only about 2 decent songs on there! Her best albums by far were "Ray Of Light" and "Music"! Despite "American Life", I have always kept the faith in Madonna to produce good music! "Confessions on a Dancefloor" was still not amazing, but much better than American Life! After hearing the track "Miles Away" in a bar in Italy, I realised I didn't have the "Hard Candy" album so bought it! I was pleasantly surprised to see another person I am a huge fan of part of the producing, the one and only Justin Timberlake! Naturally, I am more drawn to the Timbaland- Timberlake songs rather than the Pharell Williams songs that are on there! Interestingly enough, the old school groove kind of music is what Timberlake is into these days rather than Pharell, yet the Pharell songs definitely sound the most old fashioned on this album! All in all, Hard Candy is no Ray Of Light or Music, but it is still a catchy album with a nice Timberlake input!
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on 5 May 2013
I initially reviewed this on June 15, 2008. I personally feel that the cd was overall very strong and entertaining. I admit that I can understand the viewpoints of both the positive and negative reviews. However in my opinion this cd helped solidify why Madonna still is and continues to be a shining example to others to always follow your dreams and that anything is possible. This cd is the type of cd that grows on you each time you listen to it. With that being said here are my opinions on each of the songs

candy shop 8/10 : a very strong song with exotic beats that would be perfect for a dance club.

4 minutes 7/10 a good collaboration with timbaland and justin timberlake with a strong horn.

give it to me 8/10: an excellent pairing with pharell that makes excellent use of the drums and conveys a message that you are here to win in life and that she will continue on regardless of what others may say.

heartbeat 10/10: One of the best songs on the cd in my opinion. I listen to this track alot on my way to work.

miles away 9/10: sounds inspired from love profusion but a beautiful song on how love can be appreciated even more in a long distance relationship.

she's not me 9/10: One of my other favorite songs about a woman telling her man that the other woman doesn't compare to her but does it in a groovy and fun way.

incredible 8/10: This song grew on me after the second listen and I like how the song praises her love in a very sensual way.

beat goes on 6/10: Another song grower but in my opinion is a listenable song about having fun and enjoying the moment.

dance 2 night 6/10: An ok song for mellow slow dancing moments.

spanish lesson 7/10: An interesting song with some spanish words in it that may not compare to la isla bonita but is still very strong and upbeat with singing about a girl who loves to fall in love and adds the catchy phrase "when you do your homework.

devil wouldn't recognize you 10/10 A very strong and magnetic song about her wanting to release her lover but keeps coming back to him more and more.

voices 7/10 A good collaboration with Justin Timberlake. Madonna carefully crafts an original masterpiece with this song with making the listener think about the societal master and slave roles.

All in all I think that this "Hard Candy" by Madonna cd is perfect to listen to for a good and uplifting emotional boost.
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on 28 April 2008
To be honest, after hearing that Madonna had teamed up with Timbaland, I was rather apprehensive about the release of "Hard Candy". Admittedly, I am not entirely a hip-hop fan, although I did enjoy the album "Loose" by Nelly Furtado, also produced by Timbaland. "Hard Candy" was released a day earlier in South Africa (Sunday, 27 April) and, after listening to it, I can only say that Madonna has definitely exceeded my expectations. In fact, to be honest, the last album that made me smile this much was an album released almost two decades ago - "Like a Prayer". I could perhaps also throw "Ray of Light" in here too. Although Madonna has scored some major hits since "Like a Prayer", like "Vogue", "Deeper and Deeper", "Frozen", "Ray of Light", "Music" and "Hung Up", she has not since then produced an album as exhilarating as this. I thoroughly enjoyed "Confessions on a Dance Floor", but there were only really three or four potential singles from that album.

"Hard Candy", I can assure you, contains at least six potential singles, and that is no lie. I don't quite think it was accurate to describe "hip-hop" as the main influence on this album. Sure, there are definite hip-hop stimuli, but fans both old and young will find the material far more dance-oriented than it has been made out to be. In fact, there is something for everybody on "Hard Candy". Some tunes have a definite 80's groove, 70's disco and stomping 90's dance. Madonna has certainly proven her staying power with this album.

The album opens with the tune "Candy Shop". With no disrespect at all towards Madonna, this sounds very much like a track from Nelly Furtado, from her album "Loose". The song is definitely not the strongest on the album, but is indeed catchy with repeated lyrics declaring 'Sticky and sweet, sticky and sweet'.

"4 Minutes" was for me personally, a bit disappointing. I suppose I expected a bit more for a first single release. However, it has proven popular on the world charts, reaching the top 3 in more than 30 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, South Africa and France.

The third album track, "Give it to me", really put a smile on my face and will put a smile on the world charts too. It is undeniably catchy - a stomping dance track with a beguiling chorus that sticks permanently in your head. This is a definite third or fourth single release and will likely be a huge hit.

"Heartbeat" mixes hip-hop with both 80's synth and early 90's trip beats. Not a possible single, but the track is honest, in your face and hummable. Madonna also tests the upper realms of her pitch potential, and succeeds with ease.

"Miles Away" - oh wow! Beautiful guitar, deep grooves, alluring lyrics and oh so captivating. This is Madonna at her poetic best! 'You always love me more...miles away' is clearly an ode to her sometimes long-distance relationship with Guy Ritchie. This begs to be released as a single.

"She's Not Me" is a dig at some floozy who has clearly upset Madonna enough to proclaim that 'she doesn't have money; she'll never have what I have'. However, this description in no way illustrates what a breathtaking track this is - single number three or four without a doubt. This track sounds like something that could belong on a 'teen movie' soundtrack, especially towards the middle when we are greeted by a bubblegum, up-tempo surprise. It has incredibly catchy lyrics and the bassist deserves a gold medal. This is yet another stomping club track and fans of European singer, Mika, will also be very impressed. However, Madonna makes this 'single' her own.

"Incredible" is a synth-based, hip-hop-mixed, fresh tune. Definitely not a single but, again, could likely become catchy with time.

"Beat goes on" is, for sure, single release number two. What a fantastic job Madonna and Kayne West have done on this track. I'm apt to say that this is my favourite track on the album, and my favourite in many years. The chorus is so captivating, I have no doubt in my mind that this will be Madonna's biggest number one for many years. It's a beautiful dance groove that can simply be described as "mesmerising". If I do dare criticise this track, it would have to be the minute-long "rap" in the middle of the song, which appeared to be out of place.

The remaining four tracks, "Dance 2Night" (reminds me of Wham's "Young Guns (Go for it)", "Spanish Lesson" (the weakest track), "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You" and "Voices" can mostly be regarded as pleasing. The only possible single release here though would be "Devil Wouldn't Recognise You", a catchy ballad that gets better with each listen.

Well done, Madonna. She will indeed surprise many, many people with this album. This album might not be regarded as Madonna's best, but it certainly beats "Bedtime Stories", "Music" and "American Life". It has come at the right time, and is polished, immaculate and enthralling.
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on 4 November 2015
A fantastic album from the number one 4 minutes and the great dance single give it to me. You know it's a great album when you wonder why more songs should of been released as singles like she's not me and the beat goes on and candy shop.
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on 28 January 2014
It took me a long time to like this album. In my opinion this is one of Madonna's best albums if you exclude the out dated sounds of 80s and 90s or early 2000s (I still bump on Erotica, Like A Prayer, Into The Groove and Like A Virgin) However. HARD CANDY.
I purchased the VINYL edition and yet I don't own a turn table, the obvious reason for purchasing the VINYL Special Edition is because of the exquisite Candy Swirl Effect on the record one is Blue the other is Red Pink Not just that it also has a 3rd vinyl disc of two 4 Minutes remixes and in addition to all that a CD of ALL tracks! (I would prefer if we got a cheap slipcase with cover but all you get is just a cheap slipcase -I know I'm being demanding in here-)
The Music
It's not secret that Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake are the sound of 2013. Grammys 2014 and 20/20 Experience sales are enough proof. And those two fellas are the producers of this 2008 album.
1)Candy Shop 4/5
Lame at first listens but once you are used to it you will be saying "My Sugar is RAW" everyday.
2) 4Minutes 4/5
A little bit overrated but still fun
3) Give it 2 Me 5/5
I love the deep meaning of this track. Don't wait for anyone, have trust in yourself, do what's in you mind and success will be on his way.
4) Heartbeat 5/5
See my booty get down like!!
5) Miles Away 4/5
Kind of boring but sometimes it works well in a certain mood frequency. You can feel Justin Timberlake's production in this.
6)She's Not Me 4/5
Took me a long time to like this track. Funny lyrics and an amazing outro.
7)Incredible 3/5
I didn't get into this track since it's only sex related
8) Beat Goes On 6/5
Damn! This is the best track in the album. Pharrel and Kanye (even though I hate Kanye) but the beat and the deep meaning of this song is just TOO GOOD! Way too underrated in my opinion.
9)Dance2Night 5/5
In my opinion it's better than 4Minutes.
10) Spanish Lesson 3.5/5
Sometimes fits my frequency sometimes not but it's totally listenable I don't get the urge to skip it.
11) Devil Couldn't recognize You 4/5
If you love JT this will be the first track you get into after the singles. But you'll get over it once the album grows
12) Voices 2.5/5
Weakest track in the album. "Are You Walking The Dog, Or The Dog Walking You?" Excuse me!! despite that the sound in this track is a little bit buzzed which makes it unclear.

In all. A great Madonna album that didn't do much to her career but I highly enjoyed it personally. It takes a lot of time to grow in your ears. It took me around 3 months in order to. Be patient.
Don't miss Sticky & Sweet Tour DVD or Blu-Ray.
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on 3 June 2014
Bought the double vinyl of Hard Candy from amazon,have been a collector off Madonna vinyl for a number of years.I ordered this expecting it to be the swirl effect pink and blue vinyl,I was very surprised and very very happy to find that this was the even more rare misprint of the vinyl ,with one vinyl been completely pink and the other vinyl been completely blue.Very very very happy with purchase and the songs on album are great.
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on 15 April 2013
Hard Candy is honestly an album that some Madonna fans will like and some Madonna fans will hate. The follow up to the masterpiece Confessions On A Dancefloor is not as good but you can't call this album terrible, she pushes away from her dance floor genre to R&B and pop and there is some dance in there aswell. I did enjoy this album but not as much as Confessions On A Dancefloor.
***Top 5 Tracks***
Candy Shop
Beat Goes On
She's Not Me
Give It To Me
Miles Away
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on 3 December 2011
Madonna was always out to have her say, of that nobody ever had any doubt, like her or not. Madonna has always done her thing. She does not, here, and look at the result. She's making the same mistake Michael Jackson made with Invincible; she doesn't trust her voice. Madonna should age with grace. She should let go of her sex symbol status. She doesn't need it anymore; her last four albums are musically brilliant, making Hard Candy even more a sour mouthful.

Where is the heart? Why did M need Timbaland, Kanye West and Justin Timberlake? Surely she knows, after her previous efforts, how to remain relevant. Timbaland, West and Timberlake haven't half the talent that William Orbit and Stuart Price have, or Mirwais Ahmadzaï and Bloodshy & Avant. Almost every song is overproduced ad nauseam, with hardly any space to breathe not filled by guest vocalists chanting "it's Madonna" or similar generic slurs. Even the album title says nothing. What inspired Madonna to make it?

"Miles Away" and "Voices", and the majority of "Incredible" (until it suddenly turns into practically the definition of the preceding paragraph), are the only real heartbeaters on the album. "Miles Away" is wistful and emotional, a moving listen that was wisely released as a single, and the closing track "Voices" is an atmospheric sonic landscape that really should've been explored more. But then there are awful songs like "Candy Shop" and "Beat Goes On", neither of which has any heart. "4 Minutes" wears off fairly quickly, too.

Some songs are good listens but their hollow heart leaves nothing. There are even potentially great tracks that feel so over-produced and hollow (prime example, "Dance 2Night"). Even the excellent "Incredible"; a wonderful, wonderful track, but the final two minutes are near unbearable. They are so shallow, with "get your hands up", lines, guest vocalists yelling "boom" and, most of all, M actually singing "Sex with you is incredible". That's narrowing the effect of the song down a bit much.

There is very little trace of Madonna Louise Ciccone here. It's like she's lost her nerve. Hard Candy completely sells out on her audience that she has enthralled for twenty years. Bad move. But hey, M is known for experimentation. She tried something here she hadn't tried. Something she shouldn't have tried either, true, but let's hope that she'll re-invent herself yet again and stay true to her voice. And stay miles away from Timbaland.

American Life was raw and hard to get into, but underneath its rough exterior beats such a warm heart. By contrast, Hard Candy is a smooth and shiny, but almost completely hollow, shell. I ask you, which would you prefer? Even her single "Hey You", if not super-produced, feels warmer than the bulk of this album. Don't turn into a Norma Desmond, Madonna. You still have it; use it, please. I'm begging you, as a fan.

UPDATE:
Madonna's new album MDNA is an answer to all my wishes. Hard Candy is passable, check out MDNA instead.
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