Two Divas, Both Alike in Mononyms

Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker reviews two albums from two one-named singers: Madonna's Hard Candy and the self-titled release from Swedish pop singer Robyn.

Madonna Indulges with 'Hard Candy'

Next week, Madonna returns with her 11th studio album, called Hard Candy. Today, the former Material Girl — who turns 50 this summer — released a sneak preview of the entire album on her MySpace page. She's doing everything possible to stay musically relevant.

You know how twisted pop music has become? Madonna, superstar and icon and mogul, is begging for a hit.

Madonna's new single, "4 Minutes," is an airtight, spit-polished production loaded with current stars, designed to send the message that Madonna still matters.

Unlike some of Madonna's career highlights, this album takes no chances. Madonna is recycling what has worked for other artists recently – marching band horns as used by Kanye West, a beat from producer Timbaland and a vocal cameo from Justin Timberlake.

Beyond that single, the album has several high-revving dance tracks that might make you forget that Madonna is pushing the half-century mark. And then there's "Candy Shop," an electrobeat bonbon in which Madonna celebrates her eternal hotness. She keeps talking about how her sugar is raw, and after the first few times you can't miss the faintest hint of desperation. You realize she's trying to convince herself. And trying way too hard.

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