Release Date: Jun 14, 2019
Record label: Interscope
Her provocateur credentials are revitalised to an extent on Madame X, with socio-political themes embedded in its essence and current societal discord interpreted through an inimitable dystopic lens. A chameleon-like reputation for reinvention is secured and self-referenced, as she occupies various personas, such as a head of state, a freedom fighter and a spy in the house of love. This consistent transience extends beyond its premise to a multilingual scope; fluidly flitting between English, Portuguese and Spanish, delivering lyrical wit with an economy that has proved a definitive trait of her oeuvre.
Madame X is the rare album from a veteran artist that puts earlier records in a different light. Ever since the 1980s, the conventional wisdom about Madonna claimed she brought trends from the musical underground for the purpose of pop hits, but Madame X -- a defiantly dense album that has little to do with pop, at least in the standard American sense -- emphasizes the artistic instincts behind these moves. The shift in perception stems from Madonna embracing a world outside of the United States.
Bold, bizarre, self-referential and unlike anything Madonna has ever done before, 'Madame X' finds the star with a glint in her eye (the one without an eyepatch, that is) Madonna's latest persona 'Madame X' borrows her name from the historical figure Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau : a socialite and occasional muse who scandalised genteel French society when she bared naked flesh – her entire shoulder, would you believe it – in a portrait. And while Madge's own eye-patch wearing interpretation prefers taking a more enterprising approach to the current job market (Madame X is a mother, a child, a teacher, a nun, a singer, and a saint many among other things) it's a fitting moniker for a record that restlessly explores all sides of contemporary pop at full divisive pelt: visiting Latin pop, all-out Eurotrash, gloomily percussive trap, NYC disco, house, and reggaeton. READ MORE: The ages of Madonna - the evolution of an icon During its most reckless moments, 'Madame X' is bold, bizarre, and unlike anything Madonna has ever done before.
There is a case to be made for classifying Madonna, in 2019, as an underdog. Granted, it requires overlooking the superstar's grotesque wealth and enduring ability to command some sort of an audience with every public move. But her status as a pop star has degraded considerably in the last 15 years. Whereas they once inspired awe, or at least controversy, her live televised appearances of late tend to yield mockery.
M adonna is in her fourth decade of what we now somewhat suspiciously call appropriation, a pick-and-mix skill set that has previously laid the singer open to accusations of unoriginality or, worse, cultural hijacking. But when the patented Ciccone filtration system gets it right, the process is just shy of alchemy. Sexualised Catholicism, at the dawn of MTV, was Madonna's first stroke of kismet.
W e all get old, but never at the same age. Some of us are old when we're children, bringing briefcases to school and talking to adults at family parties; others leave uni with the thrill that they never have to go clubbing again. Most of us think we're doing pretty well, then we find ourselves nodding appreciatively at something in a Boden catalogue and suddenly death is real.
Expecting the unexpected is the wrong way to go into 'Madame X', after all, this is Madonna. If anything, expecting the expected (and then some) would be a more appropriate way to digest what really could be the most bizarre album of 2019. Madonna's edge has always been the shock factor. When it comes to lyrics and music videos, she practically invented it.