Madonna: Madame X review – Big, ballsy and more than a bit bizarre ***


Album: Madame X

Artist: Madonna

Label: Interscope

Genre: Pop

Very few living artists compare to Madonna for cultural impact and musical legacy. Over almost four decades in the public eye she has caused controversy for merely existing. On Madame X, her 14th studio album, she uses various personas and borrows heavily from Latin hip hop, dancehall and reggaeton to steer the power of controversy into something positive.

The album begins with Medellín, on which she is joined by the Colombian rapper Maluma. It’s a quirky, low-tempo island song – and very much a Marmite one – designed to get you moving, its “One, two, cha-cha-cha” refrain telling you exactly what to do.

The playfulness of Medellín is quickly overshadowed by Dark Ballet and God Control, songs that take an experimental stand against authoritarianism and gun control through distorted Black Mirror-style pop. Now that’s a mouthful.


While she sounds like a circus ringmaster on the fritz on Dark Ballet, which samples The Nutcracker, God Control rattles together a gospel choir, gunshots, vocodered vocals and disco beats to basically shake our shoulders and tell us to wake up, sheeple.

Recorded between her homes in New York, Lisbon, London and Los Angeles, Madame X sees Madonna go global in her musical quest for peace and equality, singing in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

While the gypsy taunts of Killers Who Are Partying miss the mark (“I’ll be Islam if Islam is hated, I’ll be Israel if they’re incarcerated, I’ll be Native Indian if the Indian has been taken,” she drawls), the gimmick-free, uplifting ballad I Rise is more earnest.

Opening with a snippet of We Call BS, the viral speech made by the young gun-control activist Emma González, who survived the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last year, she sings: “Freedom’s what you choose to do with what’s been done to you.” Madonna knows the power she wields, and as a long-time advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV, she plays that card very well.

Madonna takes on numerous characters, and many, many accents, to create a wild and varied universe that’s reflective of the general doom the world is swilling around in

The most interesting moments come when we hear how she navigates the personal. Removing the brand and the bravado, she breaks it down on Looking for Mercy. She shows strength in her weary cry for empathy, removing the many layers of armour she has had to wear as Madonna the icon.

But don’t confuse this need for love as a weakness. On the zorbing 1990s disco song I Don’t Search I Find, complete with Vogue-style sass, she reminds us that she always gets what she wants. “Finally, enough love is coming…”

Madonna’s choice of collaborators is the album’s strongest suit by far. The Brazilian pop star Anitta joins her on Faz Gostoso, a Latin-tinged seduction track that comes fitted with a carnivale breakdown – alarms, sirens and drums all piling up – and the American rapper Quavo joins her on Future, a sun-kissed call for progress.

Ever altering her identity, either physically, spiritually or emotionally, Madonna takes on numerous characters (and many, many accents) to create a wild and varied universe that’s reflective of the general doom the world is swilling around in. “Madame X is a secret agent. Travelling around the world. Changing identities,” she says in the album’s teaser video. “A nun. A singer. A saint. A whore. A spy in the house of love.”

Her voice is heavily disguised throughout, pushing the sometimes manic concept of this album even further. Standing up against technological, social and political distortion, it’s a big and ballsy production that’s so bizarre in places, you can’t help but be impressed.

More at IrishTimes

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Available tickets to Madame X Tour @ BAM

A small number of house seats to the sold-out launch of the Madame X Tour at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) are available via a contribution to this non-profit organization.

Tickets are available for a donation of $5,000, which will support BAM’s artistic and educational programs. Donations are tax-deductible in the U.S. (less $507/ticket).

If you would like access to these house seats please contact BAM’s Patron Services team at 718.636.4182 or

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Madonna has another new image for her 14th album Madame X but the music hits you instantly with its vitality and variety, its omnivorous hunger ****


How do you solve a problem like Madonna? That was the question in 2015 when she released her last album, Rebel Heart. And it still applies today, only more so.

Once the empress of the hit parade, she has now gone ten years without troubling the Top 20. Her UK album sales, according to Wikipedia, have plunged from 1,340,000 for Confessions On A Dance Floor (2005) to 76,500 for Rebel Heart. Even in a falling market, to lose 19 record buyers out of 20 looks like carelessness.

Her music has become poor to middling, and her judgment can be even worse, as shown at last month’s Eurovision Song Contest. But she remains a big draw: she’s on the cover of this month’s Vogue and is booked to play 15 nights at the London Palladium — even though the best seats are an uncool £480.

For her 14th studio album she has another new image. I’d hoped to find Madonna fearlessly showing us what 60 feels like by making a record called ‘Freedom Pass’. Instead, we get a portrait of the artist as an ageless waxwork, with not a single wrinkle.

And the music? It hits you instantly with its vitality and variety, its omnivorous hunger. Working with Mirwais, who produced Music (2000), and five other co-producers, Madonna is back doing what she is good at: scanning the horizon and channelling the times.

After moving to Lisbon she has fallen for all things Latin. Her opening words, delivered in a white-hot whisper, are ‘One, two, one two, one two, cha-cha-cha’. She keeps breaking into Portuguese and Spanish. 

She duets with Anitta, the Brazilian singer, and Maluma, the Colombian rapper, who both missed the first decade of her career because they hadn’t even been born.

Latin music suits Madonna with its supple rhythms and sunny choruses. About ten of these 15 songs have pop-solid hooks, built for the mass market she once ruled


Latin music suits Madonna with its supple rhythms and sunny choruses. About ten of these 15 songs have pop-solid hooks, built for the mass market she once ruled

Looking For Mercy has one of the clearest melodies of her career, which is saying something: shame it’s on the ‘deluxe’ version of the album.

The other songs are more experimental, and uneven. Future brings back white reggae and makes it sing. Dark Ballet is four tracks in one – a piano ballad, a hip-hop chant, a steal from The Nutcracker and a speech that turns Madonna into Mary Poppins. Just the ballad would have been better.

Killers Who Are Partying is an electro-pop remake of Martin Niemöller’s famous lines about failing to stop the Nazis. ‘I’ll be Islam,’ Madonna declares, ‘if Islam is hated. I’ll be Israel if they’re incarcerated.’ The rhyme is a crime but the song comes off because its chords are as good as its intentions.

By the end, things are getting personal, with anthems called I Don’t Search I Find and I Rise. It feels as if a memoir is brewing, or an autobiographical movie. Madonna is surely pondering the success of Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman. She has the songs: a few more of them now.

More at Daily Mail

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Madonna: Madame X review – a splendidly bizarre return to form **** (The Guardian)

 ‘Solid confidence in her own aesthetic decisions’: Madonna. Photograph: Steven Klein

Madonna 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. The last time Madonna was indisputably on point, she had hooked up with French producer Mirwais for Music (2000)and the sensuous possibilities of club culture. Her latterday output has stuttered somewhat, but for Madame X the stars have aligned with Madonna’s Pinterest mood board once again. There are hot climates and a piratical eye-patch; shape-shifting to the sounds of the Portuguese diaspora, trap-pop and reggeaton.

It helps, of course, that she self-quotes as much as she soaks up. Is Latin pop in vogue? Don’t mind if Madonna seizes upon it. Medellín, the first track from Madonna’s 14th studio album, arrived like La Isla Bonita on steroids: with Madonna in a lather of faith and lust, exercising her long-held fascination with all things Latinate and in sync with a pop mood attuned to the other Americas. A further hook-up with Colombian star Maluma lurks further down this generous tracklisting: Bitch, I’m Loca flirts with reggaeton and Maluma himself, who plays a delivery man instructed by Madonna to “put it inside”. (Note the title: Bitch, I’m Madonna, remixed; throughout the album, you’ll find Madonna saying a “little prayer” as she did on Like A Prayer (1989), or on her knees “like a virgin”.)

Naturally, this Madonna album has to respond to other major trends in US pop. Her selection of guests has an eye on hip-hop heat levels, rather than actual chemistry, calling on Quavo from Migos on Future, and Swae Lee from Rae Sremmurd on Crave. Their performances aren’t quite as game as Maluma’s. To say that the former sounds like a track that might have been done by Ariana Grande isn’t a negative, though: here, Madonna pulls off contemporary R&B-leaning pop with no obvious missteps.

The meat of the album, however, lies elsewhere. Hidden away in the lyrics to Batuka are topical allusions: “Get that old man/ Put him in a jail.” Quite apart from the many Spanish and Portuguese passages, Madame X is littered with whispered, rapped or digitally cloaked lyrics. It is a political offering – the Eurovision palaver, where Madonna hamfistedly tried to engineer peace in the Middle East, was a foreshadowing – but one in which Madonna’s meanings often perform a kind of seven-veil dance.

Easiest to understand is Killers Who Are Partying, a 21st-century digital fado on which Madonna allies herself with the dispossessed and marginalised: virtue signalling, with trap beats on. It’s sanctimonious, coming from a first-world millionaire, but she sings it like she believes it.

Often, she obfuscates, but just intriguingly enough. A snippet of Florida school-shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez’s “We call BS” speech begins one song, I Rise. It follows, therefore, that a song called God Control is probably about gun control, as well as democracy and the state of the US. “This is your wake-up call!” warns Madonna, before the whole thing is bathed in glitterball disco and topped off with a schoolyard sing-song rap about how Madonna doesn’t take drugs. It sounds, weirdly, like Daft Punk.

The whole Madame X conceit – an international woman of mystery – dissipates quickly as this unexpectedly engrossing album goes on. Madame Xis certainly a fluid album, but one tempered by Madonna’s solid confidence in her own aesthetic decisions.

More at The Guardian

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Win a trip to see Madonna in New York City through ‘live’ playlist

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Madonna’s new album Madame X has some of her most daring music yet — here’s our track-by-track guide (The Sun)

BOLD experimentation, controversial political comment and downright epic pop.

That’s why Madonna’s highly anticipated new album marks yet another phase of her groundbreaking chart career.

 Madonna’s highly anticipated new album marks yet another phase of her groundbreaking chart career

Madonna’s highly anticipated new album marks yet another phase of her groundbreaking chart career Credit: Steven Klein

For the creator of some of the biggest pop choruses in history to throw caution to the wind and create some of her most daring music ever, at the age of 60, is a welcome reminder of why Madonna has remained at the cutting edge of music for four decades.

It’s further proof that none of her young rivals are coming anywhere close to making pop music this exciting and boundary-pushing.

Here’s my track by track rundown of what you can expect from Madame X, a global trip of an album,  out next Friday.

MEDELLIN: From track one, it’s clear Madonna’s new home on the Iberian peninsula has provided the inspiration for the  Spanish sound that runs through the album. The chemistry with Colombian rapper Maluma is sizzling. Slow down papi, indeed.

 Madonna and Maluma steam up the screen in the seductive Medellín music video

Madonna and Maluma steam up the screen in the seductive Medellín music video Credit: BackGrid

DARK BALLET: One of Madonna’s most experimental and thrilling tracks, this is the album’s mission statement as she sings: “I can dress like a boy, I can dress like a girl. Cos your world’s obsessed with fame, cos your world’s in so much pain, cos your world’s in flames.”

The intro is reminiscent of the title-track of American Life, which makes sense as Madame X is her first major collaboration on a studio album with French producer Mirwais since their divisive 2003 record.

But beyond the intro of the Joan Of Arc-inspired song, things really get creative, as a sparse piano is introduced and the track slowly reveals itself to be an exhilarating multi-genre experience. Imagine Madonna making a 2019 version of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Between edgy beats and random sounds, we’re treated to the kind of heavy breathing, blowing and airy gasps not heard since Erotica, although rather than sounding orgasmic, here we’re entering a desolate, altogether more disturbing territory.

Key lyric: “People tell me to shut your mouth – keep your beautiful lies because I’m not concerned.”

GOD CONTROL: A strong one-two punch of edgy Madonna tracks. Long rumoured, Madonna takes on the issue of gun control in the US with this heady six-minute plus track where powerful lyrics and gun shots run under a swirly electric beat that becomes euphoric. There’s a Vogue-style rap for good measure too.

Key lyric: “People think that I’m insane, insane people think I’m mad.”

FUTURE: Performed at Eurovision with the rapper Quavo, the reggae-infused track is a message of hope following the bleak God Control. It’s a Sunday afternoon in the park vibe, very of the moment.

BATUKA: This features Portuguese instruments and Madonna recorded it with locals.

The powerful chanting chorus became a family affair with her daughters contributing some vocals. And I’m  told son David Banda is even credited as one of the writers.

The song feels like the beginning of a revolution. Queen Madonna is rallying her troops, ready for battle. It’s empowering and – helpfully – feels like you can actually dance to it.

KILLERS WHO ARE PARTYING: Here Madonna invokes many minority groups – full list: gay, African, poor, children, Islamic, Israeli, Native American – and a woman, in one of the more controversial moments on the album.

Key lyric: “I’ll be a woman if she’s raped and her heart is breaking.”

CRAVE: Already released, this sweet grower of a song sees Madonna layer her vocals to great effect as she sings of the risk of her cravings, presumably romantic or sexual, “getting dangerous”. The closest we get to a Madonna love song on the album.

 The 60-year-old on the set of a video shoot for Crave

The 60-year-old on the set of a video shoot for Crave Credit: INSTAGRAM/MADONNA

CRAZY: My highlight track, this is a soaring, stripped-back pop masterpiece. The chorus is musically joyous but the lyrics are full of the pain of being let down by a lover or family member. It’s the “last time I wake up for you”, she insists. Her Eighties prowess is still in full effect when she wishes to access it.

Key lyric: “If you think I’ve been foolish then I’ll only let you fool me once, so baby shame on you.”

COME ALIVE: Another moment of spectacular pop, smack bang in the middle of the album. The ethereal song has no traditional chorus, but great use of Auto-Tune and a fabulous choir.

EXTREME OCCIDENT: Middle Eastern beats power another experimental moment where Madonna examines her place in the world and decides “life is a circle”. She remains defiant, with the ongoing theme being her unwillingness to bend to the way society tries to mould her: “I don’t want to blend in, why do you want me to?”

This has been an ongoing thread throughout Madonna’s career. When will her detractors get the message?

Key lyric: “I guess I’m lost, I paid a handsome cost.”

FAZ GOSTOSO: Most out and out fun moment on the album – a Latin celebration of how to move your body and party. The street party vibe near the end of the track is total euphoria.

BITCH I’M LOCO: Maluma returns for the naughtiest track on the album, where Madonna sexes it up once more.

The highlight is the two of them speaking with each other flirtatiously towards the end. When he asks her, “Where do you want me to put this?” she replies: “Oh you can put it inside.”

Ooh la la!

I DON’T SEARCH I FIND: Harking back to her Ray Of Light and Confessions era, Madonna pushes her vocals over a stomping club beat.

She appears to pay tribute to her own career with various self-referential moments, including the famous clicks from Vogue and an Erotica-esque spoken-word section.

 Throwing caution to the wind and creating some of her most daring music ever at the age of 60 - Madame X is out Friday June 14

Throwing caution to the wind and creating some of her most daring music ever at the age of 60 – Madame X is out Friday June 14

LOOKING FOR MERCY: My second favourite moment on the album, this is Madonna at her most vulnerable as she appears to open up about her personal  life in more detail, singing, “I’m looking  for love”.

Key lyric: “Somebody teach me to love, somebody help me to rise above.”

I RISE: The perfect sunset to a very vibrant album. Powerful, haunting and lyrically one of the most consistently strong on Madame X.

After spending the album telling everyone not to criticise her, or tell her what to do, it’s smart to end the record by saying: “I rise up above  it all.” So whatever you say has little consequence anyway.

Madonna will still continue to be Madonna.

And judging by Madame X . . . thank God for that.


By Dan Wootton for The Sun

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Dark Ballet (official press release)


June 7, 2019     





Madonna today released “Dark Ballet,the fifth and final song to be previewed before her highly-anticipated new studio album Madame X debuts globally on June 14. Produced by Mirwais Ahmadzai, the accompanying music video to the sonically innovative track was directed by Emmanuel Adjei and stars Mykki Blanco. You can listen to “Dark Ballet” HERE and watch the video HERE.

“Dark Ballet” was inspired by the story of Joan of Arc. “She fought the English and she won, still the French were not happy,” Madonna says. “Still they judged her. They said she was a man, they said she was a lesbian, they said she was a witch, and, in the end, they burned her at the stake, and she feared nothing. I admire that.”

The powerful and moving video, directed by Emmanuel Adjei, stars the innovative hip-hop queer pioneer, Mykki Blanco as Joan of Arc and tells the story of the kind of dance we’re all dancing in the world right now, this dark ballet. The video closes with an important message of inspiration from Mykki, “I have walked this earth, Black, Queer and HIV positive, but no transgression against me has been as powerful as the hope I hold within.”

“Dark Ballet” follows the release of the critically-acclaimed “Medellín,” the empowering “I Rise,” the infectious pop gem “Crave,” and the electronic reggae-tinged “Future. Influenced creatively by living in Lisbon, Portugal over the past several years, Madame X is a collection of 15 new songs that celebrate Madonna’s career-long affair with Latin music and culture as well as other global influences. Singing in Portuguese, Spanish and English, Madonna collaborated on Madame X with longtime producer Mirwais, as well as with producers Mike Dean and Diplo, among others.

 Billboard says “Future” has a, “dreamy reggae vibe.Rolling Stone says, “’Crave’ is a sultry pop number about hungering for another person,” and MTV declares about “Crave” that, It’s nearly impossible to listen to this without a smile sneaking to the corners of your face.” Of “I Rise,” NME says the song, “is politics and positivity combined.NPR says, “Medellín is a carefully dosed combination of…coolly narcotic dance-pop…and energetic reggaetón,” while Entertainment Weekly declares the song is, “A breezy, summer-ready anthem…” The Guardian says, “Medellín is a potent reminder of Madonna’s deft history of meshing genres.” 

Madonna will embark on her highly-anticipated Madame X Tour, a series of rare and intimate performances taking place exclusively in theaters in select cities, starting September 12 in New York. Tickets and further information is available at Here is a link to a video from Madonna about the Tour:

Madame X from Live Nation, Interscope Records and Maverick will come in a standard and deluxe version of the album and is now available for pre-order. Album pre-orders include a download of “Medellín,” “I Rise,” “Crave” and “Future” which is available across Apple, Spotify (pre-save), Amazon and all DSPs. Exclusive album pre-order bundles with limited edition merchandise are now available direct from

 For more information, please visit:



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Madonna releases jarring ‘Dark Ballet’ video inspired by Joan of Arc (CNN)

(CNN) Madonna’s latest music video — for a song called “Dark Ballet” — evokes religious images and symbols reminiscent of her controversial music videos from the 80s and 90s.

The intense new music video the artist released is for a single off her upcoming album, “Madame X.”
The video is inspired by the French Catholic saint, Joan of Arc, and echoes her 1989 video for “Like A Prayer,” which was condemned by the Vatican because it featured burning crucifixes and sexual role-play on an altar, among other things.
“She fought the English and she won, still the French were not happy. Still they judged her,” Madonna said in a statement. “They said she was a man, they said she was a lesbian, they said she was a witch, and, in the end, they burned her at the stake, and she feared nothing. I admire that.”
The video stars rapper Mykki Blanco as Joan of Arc, who at the end of the video has a quote that reads, “I have walked this earth, Black, Queer and HIV-positive, but no transgression against me has been as powerful as the hope I hold within.”
Madonna is no stranger to shocking viewers with her over-the-top visuals.
Just take her 1984 video for “Like A Virgin.” She was criticized for its overt sexuality, which included scenes of her writhing around in a wedding dress. Another example: the video for “Papa Don’t Preach,” released in 1986 and centered on a young girl who tells her father she’s pregnant.
“Dark Ballet” is fresh proof that Madonna has never been afraid to push the limits.
“Madame X” is expected to be released June 14.
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