Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. Candy finds her dropping her Kabbalah string on the dance floor and readopting an American accent to offer up an unpretentious, nonstop dance party.
  2. 80
    It's fun to hear here negotiate the contours of Top 40 pop for the first time since "Like A Prayer," without any European house music hose-head gumming up the pleasure and catharsis with mediative schmaltz. [May 2008, p.73]
  3. Whenever Hard Candy threatens to get boring, something always happens to recapture your interest, but the three songs in which Madonna actually seems to forge a genuine connection with her musical helpmeet leave the rest of the album in the shade.
  4. Even when she wrestles with Pharrell's abrupt stylistic changes or lets herself get absorbed in a Timberlake melody, Madonna still finds her way back on top.
  5. Thanks to the blunt force of her personality, Hard Candy feels perfectly concerted, without a whiff of desperation.
  6. We live in a Madonna world. And as long as she keeps releasing albums as vivid, relevant, distinctive and modern as this, we will for a some time yet.
  7. All in all, Hard Candy could be the greatest swan song to a pop career this side of Let It Be, if you wanna get all hyperbolic about it.
  8. Madonna and some of music’s edgiest producers have again brought an underground sound to the forefront of pop music.
  9. The entire album is a self-declaration of Madonna's stamina, but it also reflects a woman who clearly feels like she's in a furious battle against time. Her legacy is already assured, so scoring another U.S. hit is just icing on the cake but she acts like she doesn't know it.
  10. '4 Minutes,' with Timberlake, is already a top three Billboard Hot 100 hit, and harmonious ballad 'Miles Away' might be some of her best work yet. But it feels familiar.
  11. 60
    And though it sometimes plays safe, Hard Candy could be her most unpretentious and consistently enjoyable pop record since Like A Virgin.
  12. Hard Candy is a let-down after 2005's triumphant "Confessions on a Dancefloor." Still, your disappointment is tempered by the certainty that there'll be another Madonna album along in a bit, and it would be a foolish man who wrote off her chances of scaling the heights again.
  13. Overall, Hard Candy sounds a bit too much like Madonna’s trying to catch up with the American R&B princesses. Having said that, she holds her own for the most part, and when her own voice shines through, she reminds us why she’s outlasted so many.
  14. Q Magazine
    Hard Candy is the sound of pop's ultimate superbrand consolidating her success. [June 2008, p.134]
  15. Mojo
    Flowing with an easy energy, it's the last track on an album that shows Madonna still firmly on the dancefloor, but with her eyes now turning to the USA. [June 2008, p.106]
  16. Hard Candy is a serviceable and sometimes very good pop album that also happens to be a confusing and even dismal Madonna album.
  17. Timbaland's productions are the weaker links on this frustratingly ordinary album.
  18. This time, Madonna is just another singer drawing on the chart appeal of Timbaland, Timberlake and Pharrell, which makes this particular piece of candy taste like a sour ball: It's appealing to fans, but it's not for everyone.
  19. So yes, a solid enough album by the standards of most pop tarts, but from the mistress of innovation? Pretty mediocre.
  20. It is overpopulated with recycled pop that is indistinguishable and artificial, something Madonna’s soothing arpeggiating vocals cannot alleviate.
  21. Hard Candy is as a rare thing: a lifeless Madonna album.
  22. Overall, Hard Candy lacks subtlety and is overworked and overproduced.
  23. Quite evidently her attempt to court an urban audience after the disco leanings of this record’s immediate predecessor-–whatever 'urban' actually means nowadays-–Madonna’s sidestepping outside of her shimmer-pop comfort zone has resulted in a well-intentioned failure of an album that will be a commercial success regardless of any critical indifference.
  24. Hard Candy sounds bloody expensive, but has precious little to declare except an infatuation with its own reflection in a nightclub mirror.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 557 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 73 out of 557
  1. IanR
    May 25, 2008
    As a huge Madonna fan, I'm disappointed. Never has she sounded more bored and more like a guest on her own songs. Enlisting the help of As a huge Madonna fan, I'm disappointed. Never has she sounded more bored and more like a guest on her own songs. Enlisting the help of Timbaland and Timberlake reeks of desperation, and this half-baked effort contains no Madonna classics and only a handful of tolerable songs. Her worst studio effort without question. Full Review »
  2. SeanF
    Dec 5, 2008
    Fantastic considering the worst song on the album was a number 1 Hit!
  3. Mar 27, 2020
    This album is too cohisive. Some songs (like "Heartbeat" and "Miles Away") could be even better if someone other than The Neptunes wouldThis album is too cohisive. Some songs (like "Heartbeat" and "Miles Away") could be even better if someone other than The Neptunes would handle those tracks production. Full Review »