Madonna returns: Madame X Reviewed

Madonna is taking a lot of flak at the moment, some of it her own doing and some of it not. There is nothing new there, Madonna has always been a target, from wearing crucifixes to posing naked to adopting African children and now it seems she’s mainly getting grief for not being dead. Every article always starts with Madonna (60), as if that gives it some context. I’m a lifelong fan of Madge and have my own thoughts on the way the world is reacting to her and the way she in turn, is reacting but that’s not what this post is about.

Madonna has released Madame X and it would be a shame if it got caught up in all the ridiculousness and didn’t get it’s moment to shine and shine is should for on the whole, it’s a belter. With that in mind, I’ve done my own track by track review to let the music speak for itself. She’s gone number one in 60 countries with this album so she doesn’t really need my help but I like to have my say.

Medellin

It’s a bit of a false start with this one. I love the track but the only thing that belies the overall tone of Madame X are the haunting vocals of Madonna. If people are expecting a full on carnival they will be out of luck. The song itself is great and the chemistry with Maluma is unmistakable. I love that this was her first real artistic statement since turning 60 and we got a totally unrepentant Madonna in full bridal wear. If the press were expecting twinset and pearls, they’ve got the wrong lady.

Dark Ballet

The critics are calling this album Madonna at her most bonkers and this track throws us in at the deep end. Once again our heroine is going full out to take on the church and what could be mistaken as a ballad turns into a crazily original rant. The accompanying video is wonderful, highlighting the pain we inflict on those different to us. We are now firmly in Madame X territory and Madame X is pissed.

God Control

The hallucinogenic trip down the rabbit hole doesn’t stop as Madonna takes on gun control in this epic that, for me, is the highlight of the album. I love that Madonna is taking musical and lyrical risks at this stage in her career when she could be forgiven for playing safe and recreating Holiday and Vogue for money. Some of the lyrics are a bit clunky but we’ve always forgiven Madonna for this because her earnestness is still there, like her or loathe her you can’t accuse her for not using her platform to do her best to make change.

Future

A bit of a low point for me. If the last two albums of Madonna’s have felt like trend chasing instead of the trend setting, then this track goes back to chasing. She performed it to scathing reviews at Eurovision and the singer she duets with, Quavo is monotonous and dull. Sorry but this is where the album drops a couple of gears for me.

Batuka

This will be great live but the call and response gets a little grating for listening to regularly. I love that she is drawing from all sorts of inspiration for this album but the track doesn’t seem to go anywhere. It’s passable background noise but that’s about it.

Killers Who Are Partying

A beautiful background track is ruined by Madonna’s probably well-intentioned but ultimately awful lyrics. I’m sure they looked good on paper but it all sounds a bit entitled “I’ll be gay, if the gay are burned” etc. Come on Madge, you can do better than this.

Crave

The album starts to get better at this point. We’ve had this track for quite some time and I know that its divided fans but I love it. It’s simple and catchy and a lovely summer tune to sing along to.  I really hope this makes it to the live shows because it sounds like a real Madonna tune to me.

Crazy

I can’t decide with this one and it will bear a bit more listening to. It’s catchy and I can imagine it growing on me but at the moment it’s buried amongst some of the stronger tracks for me. The song seems a bit cluttered with a country style chorus and a few shoehorned Latin lyrics to try and make it fit in.  I love the self-referencing to Like A Prayer though and the same old Madonna laughing in the face of adversity, this is the Madonna I love.

Come Alive

Love this track. It’s joyous and I can’t wait to learn the lyrics to so I can sing it at the top of my voice (in the car obviously). It reminds me of Madonna when she is calling people to the dancefloor to dance our troubles away. At the moment the press and world in general seem to want to finally push Madonna into the box they have been trying to fit her into for 35 years and a track like this shows they won’t win which, as a fan, is heartening and puts a smile on my face.

Extreme Occident

This track has made the least impression on me, either good or bad. I quite like the lyrics and the sentiment but I haven’t focused in on it with the first few listens. I always think Madonna is rubbish at choosing track listings of her albums and sandwiching this track between two bangers means you lose it. I will probably change my mind upon further listening.

Faz Gostoso

This is amazing , I can’t love it enough. It’s Madonna ready to dance but this time it’s a Portugese dancefloor with her duetting perfectly with Anitta. It’s been the most popular of the new tracks since the album was released so let’s hope a video will be following.  I’m going to have to learn the Portugese lyrics just so I can sing along because who can resist.

Bitch I’m Loca

The carnival party is at full swing now with Maluma making a welcome return for this gleefully bonkers track. When I saw the name of it, I feared the worst, that she was going to do a remix of Bitch I’m Madonna but I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is the album at its most fun and a great antidote from some of the darker corners she has thrown light on with Madame X.

I Don’t Search I Find

Wow, what a tune. It’s the Madonna of Music and Ray of Light with a good dose of Justify My Love thrown in for good measure. It’s classic and modern all at the same time and is an epic track that will surely find its way amongst Madonna essential playlists.

Looking for Mercy

Another song I thought was going to be rubbish which I absolutely love. The Madonna of Like A Prayer is singing to God about her hopes and failings and the chorus is irresistible. She may be pushing her sound with this album and for that I applaud her, but with this track she takes us back to old school Madonna to fuse the whole thing together and that is the clever artistry that Madonna always brings but never gets the credit for.

I Rise

I probably would have ended the album on the last track and popped this in between Extreme Occident and Faz Gostoso but that’s the beauty of Spotify, I can do what the hell I like. I do like this song but it’s a bit meh and nowhere near some of the great tracks that Madonna has spoilt us with.

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