I’ve spent the last two decades locked in an oddly Pavlovian relationship with Madonna: She puts out a single, and I start salivating in anticipation of her album release date. So imagine my confusion that upon the release of “4 Minutes,” her new duet with Justin Timberlake (pictured, with Madonna, at the latter’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction earlier this month), I’m experiencing symptoms of dry mouth and general ennui. The expected rush of anticipation over her upcoming Hard Candy disc (due April 29), well, it’s just not there. So what gives? Listen to the single, “4 Minutes,” after the jump, and we’ll discuss.

addCredit(“Justin Timberlake and Madonna: Kevin Mazur/WireImage”)

Well, for starters, “4 Minutes” just isn’t all that. Madge and Justin’s vocals are so buried in the bloopy-horn mix, the single might as well have been released by Computers No. 1 and 2. But I think maybe, deep down, it makes me feel a little depressed that Madonna is working with Justin and Timbaland in the first place. I mean, isn’t she supposed to be out mining the underground dance scene looking for the next funky producer whose sound she can co-opt and foist on an unsuspecting public? Shouldn’t she be inherently opposed to latching onto the producer du jour, especially when said producer just finished working on the new Ashlee Simpson?

I dunno, perhaps it’s too much to expect Madonna to give us the old razzle-dazzle some 25 years into her music career. I’ve got “Burning Up” and “Bedtime Story” and “Beautiful Stranger” and “Music” and “Nobody Knows Me” in regular rotation on my iPod — and maybe that’s enough. I’m just wondering if anyone else is feeling as ambivalent as I am about Hard Candy, or if I’m perhaps the only Madonnaphile experiencing such blasphemous thoughts? Discuss!