Single Review: Madonna, "Love Spent"

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October 14, 2012

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-Spent-150×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”150″ />Thirty years ago, Madonna released her first single. In the years that followed, she dominated radio formats across the dial, but never released a single targeting the country market. Until now.

“Love Spent” opens with a banjo riff that recalls the Dixie Chicks at their twangiest. That countriest of country sounds plays alongside the synthesizers and strings that are more typical of a Madonna record. But much like everyone’s favorite country crossover artist, what’s most revealing are the lyrics that target a past beau. In this case, it’s an ex-husband, not an ex-boyfriend, who made off with her money and

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left the love behind.

“You played with my heart, ’till death do we part, that’s what you said,” she pleads, after wryly noting that “if my name was Benjamin, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.” It fits so neatly into the well-worn themes of love gone wrong that have always defined the genre, making it an instant country classic.

It may seem a stretch to imagine Madonna finding favor at country radio. Not because of her pop sound, of course, but because of her age. At 54, she’s a quarter-century older than the handful of female artists that get country radio airplay, despite being able to run rings around them in terms of talent. Her facing off against those whippersnappers should produce enough drama to make network television scribes green with envy.

I know, I know. It’s a stretch to pretend that Madonna could realistically compete on the country charts. Despite any surface similarities between the throbbing dance beats of “Love Spent” and, say, the current #1 country single, there’s one key difference that’s certain to sink Madonna’s chances in today’s country market.

Her record has a banjo on it.

Written by Madonna, William Orbit, Jean-Baptiste, Priscilla Hamilton, Alain Whyte, Ryan Buenida, and Michael McHenry

Grade: A

Listen: Love Spent

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14 Comments

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  1. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    You’re flirting with disaster by even insinuating that this a country song because of the banjo, given the chart drama this past week. That’s like saying Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw should be on the Rap chart.

  2. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t think there is a single female country singer on the charts right now with the talent of Madonna. So if this song is any good (and I haven’t listened), I would love for country radio to embrace it.

    Sadly country has been too loathe to embrace country songs by pop stars like Jessica Simpson and Jewell. But its a shame because a lot of those songs are better than most country radio fodder even if their “country credentials” aren’t ideal. I’m not interested in that anyway. I think country music would be much invigorated if pop stars were willing to turn their talents to country songs from time to time. It would make country radio more entertaining!

  3. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Well, I wouldn’t call it a country record per se (The banjo isn’t particularly prominent anyway), but it sure is cool! Still, I’m somewhat baffled that this is being released to the country market, as I don’t see it fitting in well on country playlists.

    By the way, out of curiosity, where did you find out that this was being marketed to the country format? Is the above version the one being sent to country radio?

  4. The_Trouble_With_The_TruthNo Gravatar says:

    If this gets pop airplane it will count towards the country chart thanks to the new system. The death of country music thus begins. Do I think this being released after the changes is coincidence, I think not. Welcome to the new world of country music, thanks billboard for putting the final nail in the coffin.

  5. KentNo Gravatar says:

    What John said. Yes, the banjo makes those 15 seconds of the song sound country. But the rest of it is still leagues more pop than even WANEGBT.

    But The_Trouble_With_The_Truth has a good point. If it’s marketed as country, I guess it’s a country song, right? Right?!

  6. Michael A.No Gravatar says:

    Funny, my first thought when I read that it was being released to the country market was not that it would have a hard time charting because it was too pop, but, rather, because Madonna was too old. Even sadder, I think it stands a better chance of getting country airplay than pop.

    Beyond all that, I think it’s a great song and hope it does find an audience. This and “Girl Gone Wild” were my favorite songs on the new album. Saw the tour this week. Amazing.

  7. AndrewNo Gravatar says:

    Given the changes to Billboard’s formula, I fully expect this to be #1 within a couple weeks. Though hopefully it doesn’t get any traction on Mediabase.

  8. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Hahaha. You never cease to amuse me.:)

  9. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    That this review was taken seriously says all that needs to be said about the current state of country radio and the country music charts.

  10. Mike J.No Gravatar says:

    The tiny bit of banjo doesn’t overcome the fact it sounds like it belongs on Tetris. I think Kevin’s comment says it all quite appropriately.

  11. MarkusNo Gravatar says:

    Wait…. So this wasn’t released to country radio?

  12. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    No, it wasn’t. Kevin wrote this review as a joke.

  13. MarkusNo Gravatar says:

    Hahaha.

    Well he sure fooled me.

  14. AdeNo Gravatar says:

    ‘Love Spent’ is a wonderful song. Don’t miss the acoustic version. It’s very intimate, beautifully orchestrated, with a great balance between personal grief, regret and anger, perfectly expressing the time after a relationship ends when someone comes to terms with what went wrong. MDNA is a great album, pity for the poor choice of singles, ‘I’m a Sinner’, ‘Love Spent’ and the sublime ‘Falling Free’, in my opinion her best song ever, should have been singles along with the haunting ‘Gang Bang’ and experimental ‘I’m Addicted’.

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