This Wasn't The Original Album Cover
'Hard Candy' was Madonna's first album since 2005's massively successful 'Confessions on a Dance Floor'. The album cover features the pop star in front of a peppermint swirl, clad in a championship belt ready to fight, playing off the dichotomy of being both sweet and strong. The cover was a collaboration with photographer (and frequent collaborator) Steven Klein but it wasn't the first choice. Madonna told Rolling Stone in 2009, "I did a photoshoot with Steven Klein for my last album cover, and I painted my face black, except for red lips and white eyes. It was a play on words. Have you ever heard of the Black Madonna? It has layers of meaning and for a minute, I thought it would be a fun title for my record. Then I thought, 'Twenty-five per cent of the world might get this, probably less, it's not worth it.' It happens all the time, because my references are usually off the Richter scale." Madonna credits longtime manager Guy Oseary with talking her out of the original album cover and honestly, good call, Guy.
Madonna At A Milestone
Just as Madonna's pivotal album 'Ray of Light' was released the same year as she turned 40, 'Hard Candy' was released four months before Madge marked another major milestone -- turning 50 -- which means, as hard as it is to believe, Her Madgesty turns 60 this year.
Madonna Still On Top
Much ink and cyber space have been devoted to debating the relevancy of Madonna and in 2008, with the pop star approaching her 50th birthday, her relevancy and place in the ever-changing pop culture landscape was up for debate once again. But, as she's known to do, Madonna proved her critics wrong with "Hard Candy" debuting at number one on the Billboard album charts not only in the United States and Canada but in 20 other countries as well.
The Album Was Released Just Months Before Her Marriage Fell Apart
Six months after 'Hard Candy' dropped, Madonna and Guy Ritchie announced they were ending their almost-eight-year marriage. Speculation swirled about the reasons behind the split, but it seems distance doesn't always make the heart grow fonder according to to the "Hard Candy" track, 'Miles Away' which features lyrics like, "you always have the biggest heart when we're six thousand miles apart" and "uncomfortable silence can be so loud. Those three words are never enough when it's long distance love."
Teaming Up With Timberland
Madonna collaborated heavily with British producer Stuart Price on her previous effort, 'Confessions on a Dance Floor' but when it came to finding producers for 'Hard Candy' Madonna looked to her home and native land, teaming up with Timberland on five tracks.
She Got JT To Drop Trou
One of Madonna's Timberland-produced tracks was the dance floor-thumping '4 Minutes,' her duet with frequent Timberland collaborator, Justin Timberlake, who also co-produced 'Hard Candy." And when the pop powerhouses were in studio together the material girl convinced the former Mickey Mouse Club member to drop his pants. As JT recalled during his 2008 speech inducting Madonna into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he showed up to studio one day feeling under the weather and Madonna offered him a B-12 shot - but not in his arm. "She looks at me with that face," he recalled, "and she says to me, 'drop 'em' I don't know what you say to that so I immediately dropped my pants."
Pharrell Made Her Cry
Another American super producer with whom Madonna collabed on "Hard Candy" is Pharrell Williams who also appears on the track, 'Give It 2 Me.' While the song is one of the standouts on the album but it didn't come without blood, sweat, and literal tears. Madonna says the Neptunes member reduced her to tears during one of their sessions recalling, "Pharrell made me cry," adding, "You know when you get angry with someone and you're spitting snot. I was in a sensitive mood in the studio and I didn't understand the rhythm he wanted me to sing in, and he was giving me a hard time. I was taken back by how he was talking to me." Pharrell later admitted to the row, saying, “We went upstairs and had our little battle. It was cool and we hugged it out.”
The two quickly put their differences behind them and focused on making music together. He even joined her on a few stops on her Sticky and Sweet tour supporting the album so no hard (candy) feelings.
Material Girl Meets The Louis Vuitton Don
'Hard Candy' marked Madonna's first collaborations with a number of superstars, including Kanye West, who appeared on the track, "Beat Goes On". Apparently the two titans got on well as she later enlisted Yeezy as a producer on her 2015 album, "Rebel Heart." In addition a massive list of hits, Kanye and Madonna also share, how do we put this diplomatically.... healthy egos, but sounds like the duo worked well together with Her Madgesty later boldly declaring "Kanye is the new Madonna. Kanye is the black Madonna." Watch the throne, indeed.
The Supporting Tour Smashed Records
To support 'Hard Candy' Madonna set out on the 'Sticky and Sweet' concert tour in August of 2008. It would become not only her most successful tour, but the most successful concert tour ever by a solo artist, pulling in more than $400 million during its 80-plus stops around the globe. The tour broke Madonna's own record set previously by her 'Confessions' tour. Bruce Springsteen later broke Madge's record with his 'Wrecking Ball' and 'High Hopes' tours only to have Madonna snatch the title back with her 'Rebel Heart' tour in 2015/2016.
It Inspired A Fitness Club Franchise
Among many things, something Madonna is famous for is her rock hard physique and tireless dedication to working on her fitness. So it made sense when, in 2010, Madonna and manager Guy Oseary opened the first of what would be several Hard Candy fitness club in Mexico City. Since then the clubs have popped up in places like Russia, Australia, Germany, Italy, and, for a brief time, Canada. The Toronto location opened to much fanfare in 2014 only to be shuttered two years later and reopened under a different name and with no association to Madonna.