Album: Hard Candy, 2008 Chic collaborators: Hey, it worked for Nelly Furtado. After years of mining the underground European dance scene, Madonna went all-American mainstream with Hard Candy, graduating from Britney-kiss to Justin-collaboration. Producers on the album include the ubiquitous Timbaland (its a story now when hes not producing a pop star) and Pharrell Williams. Mega-rapper Kanye West guests on the record. Back to roots: Madonna didnt say it, but Timbaland told a U.K. tabloid that that his songs with Madonna are kind of like Holiday with an R&B groove, referring to one of Madonnas early singles. Cross-platform branding: Where to begin? Earlier this year, Madonna saw the film festival release of her directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom. But the official release prep for Hard Candy saw Madonna strike a multitude of licensing deals, including Verizon, Vodaphone, Unilevers Sunsilk products and even Japans FujiTV. Fashion/beauty partner: Madonnas 4 Minutes has been seen in commercials for hair product Sunsilk, which culled images of Madonnas look through the year. Gimmick: Miley Cyrus and her pal choreographing a YouTube video in response to Madonnas 4 Minutes was cute. Madonna responding to it with a YouTube video of her own, in which she vacuums and tells the kids that they have to clean up after themselves, was odd. And then there was the Web video she gifted to gossip blogger Perez Hilton, in which she asked him who she loved more -- her or his dog. I can get down on all fours, she said in the clip. I chase balls, and I love a biscuit. Getting out the youth vote: The aforementioned Perez video, as well as a planned April 30 webcast on MSN. Additionally, her website has a new social-networking component, and a remix of 4 Minutes was given to Verizon/Vodaphone, and customers of the cellphone carriers were also allowed to preview Hard Candy. Controversy: All quiet on the Madonna controversy front, but with the official release of Hard Candy only days away, and a tour in the works, give it time, give it time. Continue Related: Read the Times' review of "Hard Candy."
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