Candy Shop (Madonna song)
|Song by Madonna|
|from the album Hard Candy|
Sarm Studios (London)|
Record Plant (California)
|Hard Candy track listing|
"Candy Shop" is a song recorded by American singer Madonna for her eleventh studio album, Hard Candy (2008). It was co-written by Madonna and Pharrell Williams, while production was carried out by the singer and the latter's team, The Neptunes. An early version of the song was leaked on the internet on July 2007, but was quickly removed. "Candy Shop" is a pop song, featuring elements of hip-hop and R&B, with its instrumentation consisting of bongos and Spanish guitar. Lyrically, it uses the word candy as a metaphor for sex.
The song received generally mixed to negative reviews from music critics, who praised its production and catchiness but criticized its lyrical content. "Candy Shop" was certified Platinum in Brazil for selling over 100,000 digital downloads. It also charted inside the top 20 on Finland's download component chart. The song has been performed on three of Madonna's tours: Sticky & Sweet Tour (2008–2009), The MDNA Tour (2012) and Rebel Heart Tour (2015–2016).
Background and composition
In early 2007, it was reported that Madonna was recording songs with American singer Justin Timberlake for her upcoming eighth studio album. Later, it was also announced that record producers Timbaland and Pharrell Williams were working with her on the album, and Timbaland confirmed that a song titled "Candy Shop" was being produced by Williams. On July 2007, a demo of the song, titled "Candy Store", leaked online, but was quickly removed following copyright issues. "Candy Shop" was the first song Madonna and Williams worked on together. The latter recalled, "we were just in a studio, [...] and [Madonna] was like, 'Look, give me some hot shit.' I was looking at her like, 'She's saying hot shit?' She was like, 'What?' And I'm like, 'OK.' So we just worked and made it." Madonna stated during an interview with Q magazine that "Candy Shop", along with album track "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You", was among her favorite songs, "I love 'Candy Shop' cos it's cheeky and fun, and I feel it sort of represents the sassy side of me; the fun, sassy side of me. And I just love the way it sounds. And I love candy!".
Written by Madonna and Pharrell Williams, "Candy Shop" was recorded in October 2007 by Mark "Spike" Spent, Andrew Coleman and Alex Dromgoole at Sarm Studios, London. Spent and Coleman also mixed the track at the Record Plant Studios in California. Williams' production team, The Neptunes, produced the track with Madonna. It is a pop song with hip-hop elements, accompanied by beach bongos and Spanish guitar. Driven by a twitchy, syncopated drum pattern, the song lyrically uses the word candy as a metaphor for sex; Madonna sings, "Come on into my store/I’ve got candy galore", advertising herself as "your one-stop candy store". The lines, "My sugar is raw/Sticky and sweet" has been seen as a reference to oral sex.
"Candy Shop" received mixed to negative reviews from music critics. AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised it for capturing "Pharrell Williams' flair for slim, sleek grooves" and labelled it a highlight from Hard Candy. Caryn Ganz of Rolling Stone, noted that the "creative tension between Madonna and the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams crackles on the innuendo-laden opener 'Candy Shop'". Writing for Idolator, Bradley Stern criticized the lyrics but praised its catchiness, "set to a nice, punchy beat, Madonna weaves her voice around a hypnotic groove that practically dares you not to sing along. ['Candy Shop'] is all about letting loose and having a good time". He also opined that while it wouldn't work as a single "it more than serves its purpose as an introduction to Hard Candy". Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine wrote, "Pharrell makes his presence known a little too much [...] he manages to get Madonna to stretch vocally in ways she hasn't since Evita. That is, when she's not doing cheeky drag queen impersonations, with trannie-fierce moments sprinkled liberally throughout 'Candy Shop' ("My sugar is raw") [...] The song is neither sexy nor campy, and somewhere, Dita is throwing her head back, laughing hysterically, and cracking her whip in disapproval", the last part being a reference to the alter ego Madonna incorporated for her fifth studio album, Erotica (1992).
Talia Soghomolian from musicOMH, was negative in her review, "A couple of years ago, 50 Cent opened a boutique with the hit 'Candy Shop'. Now it's time for Madonna to lead us up the path to her own confectioner's shop, one that is alas limited in flavours. There are only two, to be precise: not so sweet and downright unsavoury". Helen Brown, from The Daily Telegraph compared its sound to Madonna's 1987 hit "La Isla Bonita", but ultimately concluding that it was "sweet and a bit naughty, but forgettably flavourless". A reviewer from Blender called it a "glucose-tolerant" take on the 50 Cent track of the same name in which Madonna "hawks her reconstituted hotness". Drowned in Sound's Tony Robert Whyte panned the track, calling it "unbelievably more atrocious than the 50 Cent song". Allan Raible of ABC News, opined that "["Candy Shop"] sports the sort of skuzzy funk that the Neptunes have perfected, complete with winkingly cheesy synth-line accents". In Brazil, "Candy Shop" was certified Platinum by the Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos, for exceeding 100,000 digital downloads, while in Finland, it peaked at number 21 on the download chart in August 2009.
The first performance of "Candy Shop" was on the Hard Candy Promo Tour of 2008; Madonna, wearing a skintight black suit and a lace top, appeared on the stage while sitting on a throne with a golden walking stick, as the music of the song started. Images of confectionery flashed on the television screens flanking the back of the stage as Madonna and her six dancers gyrated in choreographed dance moves. That same year, the song was performed as the opening number of the Sticky & Sweet Tour. Similar to the promo tour, Madonna appeared on a M-shaped throne dressed in a Givenchy-designed dress, sitting with her legs spread apart and holding a staff in her hands and was accompanied by dancers in bondage themed costumes, while the backdrop screens depicted images of gumdrops and candies. For the 2009 extension of the tour, the backdrop video for "Candy Shop" was replaced by a new one by artist Marilyn Minter, featuring imagery of a giant tongue licking and spitting out neon-colored icing. Madonna also wore new opening outfit designed by Riccardo Tisci. The live performance of the song at River Plate Stadium of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was recorded and released on the live album, Sticky & Sweet Tour (2010).
For The MDNA Tour of 2012, Madonna performed "The Erotic Candy Shop", a mashup of "Candy Shop" and her 1992 single "Erotica", in a French Cabaret setting. Niv Elis from The Jerusalem Post gave the performance a positive review, writing that it "showcases Madonna at her visual best", while Scott Mervis from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, noticed that "things got racy, as she was groped by dancers while singing 'my sugar is raw'". The performances at the November 19–20, 2012 shows in Miami, at the American Airlines Arena, were recorded and released on Madonna's fourth live album, MDNA World Tour.
"Candy Shop" was also included in the final section of the Rebel Heart Tour (2015–2016). For this section, Madonna worked with designer Jeremy Scott for party-inspired costumes. She wanted a "Harlem-flapper-meets-Paris-in-the-Twenties" look, and Scott came up with the final dress adorned with thousands of Swarovski crystals. For the performance, the dancers were dressed in Golden Twenties-inspired costumes while a female dancer appeared topless. Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani pointed out the singer's fondness for the track, as it was the third consecutive time she performed it on tour, "[her] obvious enthusiasm for the song has practically willed it into becoming a staple, fitting between her signature hits 'Music' and 'Material Girl'". The performance of the song at the March 19–20, 2016 shows in Sydney's Allphones Arena was recorded and released in Madonna's fifth live album, Rebel Heart Tour.
Credits and personnel
- Madonna – writer, vocals, co-producer
- Pharrell Williams – writer, background vocals, producer
- Chad Hugo – producer
- Spike Spent – mixing, recording
- Andrew Coleman – mixing, recording
- Alex Dromgoole – recording
Credits and personnel adapted from Hard Candy album liner notes.
Charts and certifications
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