If you were looking for the aural equivalent of a “middle finger gesture” you’re not going to find it on ‘Birthday Song’. Following ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’, Madge has teamed up with M.I.A for a second collaboration on the deluxe edition of ‘MDNA’.

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The track is oddly uncharacteristic of either artist. With its nursery rhyme melody and choppy beat, there’s a hippy dippy atmosphere to the track that, if anything, recalls Madonna’s 60s-ish William Orbit collaborations like ‘Beautiful Stranger’ (and, unsurprisingly, one of the key lines is “and the beat goes on” referencing the Sonny and Cher classic from 1967).
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For M.I.A, however, this is a million miles away from the urgent defiance on songs like ‘Born Free’ or ‘Paper Planes’. On ‘Birthday Song’ she sounds (*hipster gasp*) breathlessly zingy. If there was a Sesame Street puppet version of her, it would be trilling this melody about “my type of birthday, there’s no hangover,” whilst doing a hand-jive with Elmo.

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Still, on an album that’s garnered much press for its violent, cinematic lyrics, you can helped but be charmed by the contrast ‘Birthday Song’ radiates, with its pure, bright eyed happiness. The lovey-dovey chug of the track and the sentiment (“I know it’s gonna be a good day/Oh yeah, today is my birthday”) is enough to make Guy Ritchie smile. Well, maybe.

But the real way to judge its success is: could it displace ‘Happy Birthday’ as the song of choice on everyone’s candle blowing-out day? Possibly only in the Ciccone household.

Madonna, 'MDNA' - album review

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