Madonna at sixty – a New York Times feature (exclusive pictures)

The night before the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas in May, Madonna was sitting in the arena attached to the MGM Grand hotel, staring at a double of herself. The double, who was standing on the stage many yards away, was younger and looked Asian but wore a similar lace minidress and a wig in Madonna’s current hairstyle, a ’30s movie star’s crimped blond waves. “It’s always the second person with the wig — she wants to see it,” a stage designer said, adding that when she makes a decision, she is definitive. “Madonna wants 10 options, but when she says it’s the one, it’s the one.”

Madonna was observing Madonna to make sure Madonna was doing everything perfectly. Up on the stage set of a funky urban street with lampposts and a tiled bar, the double hit her marks and held a fist up to her mouth like a faux microphone for a rendition of “Medellín,” the on-trend, Latin-inflected song that Madonna would be singing. Madonna looked at a TV and assessed the augmented-reality part of the show, in which four additional virtual Madonnas, one playing an accordion and another dressed like a bride, would materialize in the televised awards performance out of thin air. Nearby, guys bowed heads and said cryptic things like “Where’s the digital key?” and “I need the alpha channel” to one another, tensely.

All the fake Madonnas ran through the song a few times before Madonna skipped enthusiastically to the stage. The sex bomb at 60 was slightly less than bionic and wore a Swarovski-crystal-encrusted patch over her left eye (“It’s fashion, darling,” an onlooker explained when I asked why she chose to wear it). Afterward, Madonna mused about something being off, and the next time she messed up the part where she stood on a table and gyrated her legs in and out in a move called “the butterfly” while popping her head in each direction. But by the third run-through she seemed ecstatic. “It’s so nice to see her smile,” Megan Lawson, a choreographer, said from under a black bolero hat, “and have it be a genuine smile.”

The AR part of Madonna’s performance was a feat, devised by some of the people who worked on this year’s Super Bowl, and the next night at the awards show she danced boldly despite the eye patch, which had to be difficult, peripheral-vision-speaking. But she wasn’t incorporating fireworks, a marching band and flying backup dancers, as Taylor Swift did; she didn’t hand out special bracelets to every person in the audience, then activate them to beam a thousand points of light, as the Jonas Brothers did; she wasn’t in a leotard and rolling around on the floor simulating a lesbian make-out session, as Halsey did, though the reason Halsey did that has a lot to do with Madonna doing it first. When the people in the audience lost their minds that night, they lost them almost exclusively for the K-pop band BTS, whose smooth hip-hop moves have birthed a million memes. For Madonna, they rose to their feet and took their phones out to commemorate “the time they saw Madonna” but seemed to scream loudest for the gyrating butterfly part, which was a little skanky, and that pleased them.

The pop-music world around Madonna has expanded in such shockingly strange new ways in the past couple of years that her precisely executed performance almost seemed too delicate (“Medellín” is down-tempo for a Madonna song; at the all-inclusive Mexican resort I visited over spring break, the poolside aerobics teacher played the song as a warm-up). Teenagers have always dominated pop, but now that most new music in the United States is streamed, how many times a song is listened to by one person counts much more than how many people listen to a song — and kids simply have more time to stream music than adults. When I checked the charts after the show, rappers born after President Bill Clinton’s election were in the top slots (Lil Nas X, Lil Skies, Lil Baby, Lil Uzi Vert). Older musicians had to pander to the teenage demographic or even younger; Swift’s new single, “ME!” sounded like a Kidz Bop version of a Taylor Swift single and actually featured her shouting, during the bridge, “Spelling is fun!”

Backstage, Madonna posed for a candid photo with BTS; later, people left comments like “LEGENDS MEET LEGENDS” under the photo on Twitter. Finding out that there were indeed people who believed that a K-pop band of 20-somethings was equal in legendary status to Madonna, not only the highest-charting female musician and highest-grossing female touring musician in history but also an artist who changed the pop-culture game forever, made me gag, to use a phrase from her heyday. Among my middle-aged peers — my female and gay male peers, mostly — she was still an object of fascination. My friends in the fashion business who used to take cues from her liked her new hats but not her jewelry and the eye patch. My old crusty punk friends, including an ex-dominatrix who now owned a restaurant, said: “Madonna’s hard-core! I want to know what she thinks about menopause. We need her back in New York.” And everyone wanted to argue about her claiming a seat at the contemporary-pop banquet past her 60th year — was it really all that significant, if Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones played stadiums past her age, David Byrne was regularly performing across America and Bruce Springsteen was still at the controls of Bruce Inc.? Or was it a superhuman feat, particularly when set against her two closest contemporaries, Michael Jackson and Prince, each of whom exploded with her at the rise of video culture in the early 1980s and each of whom died early, and ignominiously?

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Lisbon nights: The ‘melting pot’ inspiring Madonna

Madonna moved to the Portuguese capital in 2017 so that her son David Banda — one of four children adopted in Malawi — could attend the Benfica football academy, where he remains enrolled.

It did not start particularly well.

“I thought it was going to be super fun and adventurous, but then I found myself just going to school, picking up kids, and going to football matches and really being ‘Netty-No-Mates’, and I got a little bit depressed,” Madonna told the MTV music channel.

Things changed though after she began meeting artists and musicians in Lisbon — the capital of a vast former colonial empire including Brazil — and then discovered the Tejo Bar.

“Lisbon is a melting pot of cultures…  musically, from Angola to Guinea-Bissau, to Spain, to Brazil, to France, to Cape Verde,” the singer, who has six children, told MTV.

“I had the pleasure and honour to meet musicians from all these places and be inspired by their music and let it influence me.

“And that’s how all these songs came to be” on the Madame X album, she added.

Playing for Madonna

Co-owner Mira Fragoso, a Brazilian former actress, is proud of the Tejo Bar’s creative force, in what was once a traditional district and is now increasingly popular among foreigners and tourists.

“Offering a space that inspires artists like Madonna fills me with joy,” she told AFP.

Customers also include locals, writers, painters and students, while musicians describe improbable musical encounters such as a pianist playing a Jacques Brel song with an Austrian violinist or a Japanese guitarist accompanying a Portuguese singer.

Madonna met 33-year-old Brazilian pianist Joao Ventura through the Tejo Bar.

“She was sitting in a corner that evening,” Ventura recalled.

At the request of a friend, he sat down at the piano and played a bossa nova piece interlaced with strains of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

“The next day, she called me to say she liked it, and proposed performing with me in New York,” he said, telling AFP how, at first, he could not quite believe he was talking to Madonna.

He said that the pair met three times to rehearse at Madonna’s house in Lisbon, before he played piano for her on three songs performed on stage at the 2018 Met Gala.

‘Cultural diversity is everywhere’

Portuguese singer Dino D’Santiago, who is of Cape Verdean origin and performs in both Portuguese and Creole, has guided Madonna around Alfama’s narrow streets.

“The cultural diversity here is not just in the ghettos. It’s everywhere,” the 36-year-old told AFP.

He also introduced the superstar to his batucadeira orchestra of Cape Verdean singers and percussionists, some of whom will accompany Madonna on her tour that kicks off in September and includes a concert in Lisbon in January.

And D’Santiago brought together Madonna and Kimi Djabate, an Afrobeat musician from another former Portuguese colony, Guinea-Bissau.

He recorded a bonus song for her album titled Ciao Bella.

One evening at the B.Leza African club in Lisbon, Madonna met singer-dancer Blaya.

The tattoo-covered artist said that she believed Madonna’s children had introduced the superstar to Blaya’s hit song Faz Gostoso and the pop diva herself has recorded a cover of it in a duo with Brazil’s Anitta for her new album.

The Madonna effect  

Fado singer Vania Duarte, 34, also benefited from the Madonna effect after singing for the star at her fado hall, the Casa de Linhares. Madonna said on Instagram that she found her style inspiring.

Madonna’s presence has not been without controversy, notably when the city council was accused of giving her special treatment by renting her a 15-spot car park in the packed capital, provoking anger across the political spectrum.

And in the western Sintra suburb, her production team was barred from staging a scene with a horse at a 19th-century manor.

“There are some things money cannot buy,” Expresso weekly newspaper quoted Sintra mayor Basilio Horta as saying at the time.

But the benefits to tourism and the city’s image are not lost on the country’s Socialist government.

State Secretary for Tourism Ana Mendes Godinho told public radio Antena 1 in 2017 that Madonna was a sort of “business card” she used when promoting Portugal abroad.

And sources say that the US pop diva has been granted a special residency permit reserved for foreigners whose presence is deemed in the “public interest”. — AFP

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Madonna Earns Best Career Adult Contemporary Chart Debut With Swae Lee Duet ‘Crave’

Some stations are playing a label-serviced, Madonna-only edit.

Madonna achieves her highest debut on Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary chart, as “Crave,” with Swae Lee, launches at No. 19 on the June 8-dated tally. The song arrives as Madonna’s 37th AC entry, dating to her first, “Borderline,” in 1984.

The Queen of Pop logged her prior best AC start in her most recent visit before “Crave,” when “Ghosttown” opened at No. 21 in April 2015. As the latter song peaked at No. 18, Madonna boasts back-to-back top 20 AC hits for the first time in 20 years, since “Frozen” (No. 8 peak) and “The Power of Good-Bye” (No. 14) charted consecutively in 1998-99.

The AC chart ranks titles by weekly plays on a panel of 85 adult contemporary stations monitored by Nielsen Music. (The survey has contracted from 50 positions in the ’80s to its current 30-rung depth.)

“Crave” is from Madonna’s album Madame X, due June 14. The first taste of the set, “Medellín,” with Maluma, reached No. 18 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, Madonna’s best career rank on the survey, and became her record-extending 61st top 10 on Dance Club Songs.

“If you didn’t know it was Madonna, you might think it was Ariana Grande or Alessia Cara,” says WWLI Providence, Rhode Island, program director Emily Boldon of “Crave.”

Notably, Interscope Records has serviced a Madonna-only edit of the song to adult radio. “About half [of Cumulus] stations playing it are playing the duet version with Swae Lee, which, even for AC, is a hooky rap,” Boldon muses.

“‘Crave’ took me a few listens, but now it’s stuck in my head,” says Brian Demay, pd of Cumulus-owned WRRM Cincinnati, who notes that the station is playing the Madonna-solo version “only because our listeners don’t know who Swae Lee is.

“This song is legit. It’s not campy or nostalgic. It sounds like 2019. Madonna has reinvented her sound yet again.”

“‘Crave’ sounds great on the air,” Boldon echoes. “You don’t have to sell it as ‘new Madonna.’ It stands on its own as simply ‘cool new music.’ ”

More at Billboard

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Madonna, Madame X review: a mad mishmash of an album ***

Madonna has often depicted herself as a pop revolutionary, a transgressive, barrier-breaking iconoclast fighting for feminism and sexual freedom. Her latest battle, though, is for survival. “I’m fighting ageism,” Madonna recently told Vogue Magazine. “I’m being punished for turning 60.”

But is she really? Or is she just finding it hard to grow old disgracefully? Music offers many models for veteran stars, from dedicated virtuoso to mature singer-songwriter. But pop thrives on the energy of youth and novelty, the superficial and highly competitive thrill of new sounds, new styles, new effects, new looks. Madonna Louise Ciccone has been one of the reigning superstars of her era, yet given her empowering influence on female artists from Lady Gaga to Ariana Grande, perhaps the erstwhile Queen of Pop should be content with the role of Queen Mother of Pop now. She hasn’t had a hit single in a decade (her last UK top 10 was Celebration in 2009). Medellín, a gentle bit of Latin froth with which she launched her latest album campaign, stalled at number 87 in the UK.

A certain desperation to fit in with chart trends is evident on her 14th album, Madame X. Indeed, the ubiquitous Autotune effect is laid on so thick on the eccentric God Control that she sounds like Cher with her jaw wired together. In the main, the sweet quality and thin tone of Madonna’s voice adapts pleasantly to the kind of glaciation that occurs with digital processing, lending a cool detachment to the understated melodies of Crave and Crazy, both pretty standard modern trap pop tunes created with hip hop producer Mike Dean. But it gets more extreme whenever long serving collaborator Mirwais is at the controls, layering digital voices over one another, reaching a pitch of brain-fizzling incomprehensibility during the extravagantly mad Dark Ballet. It is amusing, ear-catching stuff, an adventurous use of increasingly standardised technology. Perhaps the old Queen can still teach the young pretenders a few tricks.

Autotune can’t save Madonna’s typically awkward lyrics, in which lofty aspirations are brought to earth by clunking rhymes and cod-philosophical statements (“Each new birth it gives me hope / That’s why I don’t smoke that dope”). For Madonna, the medium no longer suffices as the message; she prefers to spell out her personal worldview in self-aggrandising platitudes delivered with the compromised gravitas of a stateswoman at a roller disco (“I will be Islam / If Islam is hated / I will be Israel / If Israel is incarcerated”). On afro-percussive blues-chant Batuka, she makes a stab at Trump (“Get that old man / Put him in jail”) but Madonna’s political thinking has never been entirely consistent. I am not convinced Bitch I’m Loca (a duet with Matuma) is a great campaign slogan but, in this day and age, who can tell?

Madame X sounds like three different albums fighting for space. There’s the Latin pop album, in Madonna performs straight-up sexy dance duets aimed at the world’s fastest growing music market. There’s a strand of trendy, low-slung, sensitive trap pop that lacks the majestic swagger you expect from a grand dame of the game. And neither of these elements sits comfortably alongside the Mirwais spine of fizzy art pop marrying mad production with inflated lyrical themes. Madonna says she is fighting ageism but she is fighting on too many fronts at the same time. In pop’s game of thrones, her biggest weakness remains her ambition to rule over all.

Madame X is released by Interscope Records on June 14

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Madonna Madame X album reviews: Critics give verdict on ‘her STRANGEST album EVER’

The first batch of critiques on the latest record by the pop icon have come in. While the exact star ratings vary, most are positive – and reviewers seem united on this being anything but a safe venture for the megastar, who continues to push boundaries and experiment with new sounds. So after the release of the singles Medellin and Crave, how does the rest of her 14th studio album square up?

The Guardian gave four stars, calling it “her most bizarre ever”.

Critic Ben Beaumont-Thomas said: “Throughout, there is more density and musical adventure than at almost any other point in her career (perhaps this is the influence of Mirwais, who produces numerous tracks here and gave Music its fiendish intricacy).

“Her voice is remarkably plastic, pitched down one minute and up the next, into a Sia-like bleat and out into robotic polyphony.

“Often, around the seabed of the mix, is a swirl of aqueous psychedelic sound, profoundly different and much more interesting than her earlier R&B and EDM minimalism.”
 

The Times’ Will Hodgkinson has also issued a four-star rating, saying this is her “boldest, certainly her strangest, album yet”.

“Madame X veers between pop, Latin and clubby dance music, jumps from the personal to the political and is bound together by an exotic, breezy mood that feels strangely intimate, as if she is revealing a hitherto hidden part of her soul,” the critic writes.

“She isn’t really, of course, but she does a good job of pretending she is.”

Q Magazine‘s Victoria Segal has given four stars too, saying: “This is Madonna on top of the world, looking down on creation, God complex at cruising altitude.”

The Sun gave five stars, saying: “In an industry which is quickly becoming devoid of personality, she has returned with her most diverse and out-there record ever.

“It’s ultra-contemporary, packed with variety and totally unlike anything she has done before.”

Rolling Stone gave three out of five, writing that there are highs and lows.

“Weirdest of all, there are truly great Madonna moments,” the critic said. “Especially Crave, a love song with florid acoustic guitar where she plays down the accent and gets lost in emotion, or the trip-hop Crazy.

“But with her typical nerve, she buries the strongest songs deep in Madame X.

“To reach them, you have to endure Killers Who Are Partying, where she ponders political oppression: ‘I’ll be Islam if Islam is hated/I’ll be Israel if they’re incarcerated.’”

The album is not out for another couple of weeks yet, so expect more reviews to emerge over the coming days.

Madame X by Madonna is out on June 14.

More at Express.co.uk

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Madonna’s ‘Madame X’ Album Gets Rave Reviews Ahead Of Release Date

Madonna will release her 14th studio album, Madame X, on June 14 via Interscope Records. Ahead of its release, the “Material Girl” hitmaker has been praised by those who have been lucky enough to review the record early.

In a four out of five-star rating review from The Guardian, they state that the album is her most bizarre record ever but she sounds more natural than she has in years. They mention that the album is all over the place but most of the songs are really good in their own right.

“All this baroque weirdness knocks the album off its axis, but most of its 64 minutes are actually full of very decent pop songcraft,” reviewer Ben Beaumont-Thomas summed up the album.

In another four out of five-star rating review from The Times, they insist that Madame X is her boldest album to date.

“Now comes probably her boldest, certainly her strangest, album yet. Madame X veers between pop, Latin and clubby dance music, jumps from the personal to the political and is bound together by an exotic, breezy mood that feels strangely intimate, as if she is revealing a hitherto hidden part of her soul. She isn’t really, of course, but she does a good job of pretending she is,” Will Hodgkinson wrote.

The album contains two tracks with Latin hitmaker Maluma and also features with Quavo, Swae Lee, and Anitta.

To support the record, the “Give Me All Your Luvin’” entertainer will embark on a tour around the world, per The Inquisitr. So far 79 shows have been announced across North America and Europe. The venues are more intimate than her previous tours which the “Get Together” chart-topper chose to do purposely as she revealed in a BBC News interview that she likes to talk to directly talk to the audience close up.

The lead single from Madame X, “Medellin” features Maluma. The song has been streamed over 20 million times on Spotify alone and currently remains Madonna’s most played track on the app. The music video uploaded to her official YouTube channel has been watched over 27 million times within three weeks. In one of the scenes, the “Material Girl” licks Maluma’s toe, which The Inquisitr reported. On Maluma’s latest studio album, 11:11, she also features on a track titled “Soltera.”

Madonna, referred to as the Queen of Pop has been ruling the charts for the past four decades and continues to inspire upcoming stars. On Spotify, she currently has over 13.3 million monthly listeners.

On Instagram, Madonna has over 13.8 million followers.

More at Inquisitr

 
 
 

 
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Madonna: Madame X review — probably her boldest album yet **** (The Times)

Madonna’s new album Madame X veers between pop, Latin and clubby dance music
Madonna’s new album Madame X veers between pop, Latin and clubby dance music  STEVEN KLEIN

★★★★☆

Ever since she emerged from New York in the early 1980s, Madonna’s moderate abilities in music, singing and dancing have been more than made up for in searing ambition, an ability to work with the right people at the right time and a brittle form of bravery, with outer toughness masking inner frailty. Now comes probably her boldest, certainly her strangest, album yet. Madame X veers between pop, Latin and clubby dance music, jumps from the personal to the political and is bound together by an exotic, breezy mood that feels strangely intimate, as if she is revealing a hitherto hidden part of her soul. She isn’t really, of course, but she does a good job of pretending she is.

Dark Ballet, recorded with the French producer Mirwais, throws all of these qualities into one three-part experimental epic. Over piano-led, minor-key pop, Madonna variously tells us that she can dress like a boy or a girl as she wishes, castigates the world for being obsessed with fame and concludes by saying that some unnamed people, at a guess Donald Trump and his team, are naive to think that we aren’t aware of their crimes. At one point she says something indecipherable in a half robot, half Disney princess voice. It is quite a trip.

Then there is Killers Who Are Partying, on which Madonna goes the full Bono as she identifies with Africa, poor people, exploited children and pretty much everyone else who isn’t a rich, old, golf-playing white man. “I’ll be poor, if the poor are humiliated,” she claims over a touch of Portuguese fado, and although you suspect that she isn’t really about to give up her life as the most successful female pop star yet and wander the Earth as a penniless ascetic, the sentiment is there. “I’ll be Islam if Islam is hated,” she continues. “I’ll be Israel if they’re incarcerated.” World peace through song may be a naive endeavour, as John Lennon found out five decades ago, but this flash of idealism at a time of rising global division is welcome nonetheless.

There are straightforward pop songs, such as the country-leaning Crave and the English/Portuguese Crazy, but the most captivating moments push the boat out. The Latin-tinged Batuka has a wayward quality reminiscent of Brazil’s late-1960s tropicalia movement and features the unequivocally Trump-bashing line “Get that old man and put him in jail”.

It wouldn’t be a Madonna album with a bit of overt sexuality and Faz Gostoso (“make it tasty”) pours the sauce over a samba rhythm, while on I Don’t Search I Find she reconnects with her core audience via the medium of high-energy, pumping house music. Finally comes I Rise, an empowerment anthem with a sample of the now-famous speech by the Parkland shooting survivor Emma González.

The Times

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Madonna: Madame X review – her most bizarre album ever (The Guardian) ****

(Live Nation/Interscope/Maverick)
The lows, featuring white-saviour narratives and witless lyrics, are really low. But by embracing Latin pop, Madonna sounds more natural than she has in years

Still making the people come together ... Madonna.
 Still making the people come together … Madonna. Photograph: Ricardo Gomes

We 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.

For years, Madonna outpaced all of this. In 1996, Evita looked like ushering in her middle age, but she did an about turn, delivering convincing, idiosyncratic trip-hop on Ray of Light (1998) and convincing, idiosyncratic electro on Music (2000). Confessions on a Dancefloor (2005) was even better, its Abba samples and smooth deep house a way for her to stay out past 4am with dignity, rather than trying to score ketamine off teenage fashion influencers at the afters, musically speaking.

But she couldn’t run forever. Perhaps it began pre-Confessions, when she kissed Britney Spears as if to parasitically extract her youth. Certainly by Hard Candy in 2008 she was playing catch-up, spurring Timbaland and the Neptunes to some of their tamest work, a good five years after their pomp. MDNA (2012) tried to keep pace with stadium EDM, while Rebel Heart (2015) struggled to get its head around a newly global, musically cosmopolitan pop market, and just randomly glued hip collaborators together. The woman who had once led was following, and sluggishly.

To her credit, she has not done what many in her position would then do: lick their wounds and sell a jazz standards album to Radio 2 listeners. With Madame X, Madonna instead grits her teeth, puts on a glitter-encrusted eyepatch, looks in the mirror with seriously reduced depth perception and says: “Bitch, I’m Madonna.” And by drawing on the Latin influence of not just reggaeton-crazed recent pop but also her new home base of Lisbon, she has, at 60, produced her most natural-feeling, progressive and original record since Confessions.

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These shockers are suitable only for schadenfreude lovers or scholars of extreme camp, but another of these wildly messy tracks actually matches its vaulting ambition. God Control was presumably made after an all-nighter on Reddit – a rambling “Wake up sheeple!” screed that confronts gun reform, disenfranchised youth, democracy and the man upstairs. One section has her rap “Each new birthday gives me hope / that’s why I don’t smoke that dope”, and that her only friend is her brain – all with the peppy naivety of Tom Tom Club’s Wordy Rappinghood. And all of it set to hi-NRG disco with cascading strings and Daft Punk vocoders, for over six minutes. It is – only just – brilliant, and will become an equally beloved and despised curio among fans.

All this baroque weirdness knocks the album off its axis, but most of its 64 minutes are actually full of very decent pop songcraft. Future is her go at pop’s next big trend, roots reggae, and while there is a slight, perhaps unconscious but audible white-person Jamaican accent, it is catchy and full-bodied, producer Diplo shamelessly ripping off the brass from Outkast’s SpottieOttieDopaliscious. She returns to Deeper and Deeper-style house on I Don’t Search I Find, its strings and fingerclicks a clear nod to Vogue. Crazy is beautiful and brilliantly catchy, a midtempo soul ballad that you could imagine Ariana Grande singing, but which has clever detailing like an accordion that has surely been influenced by Lisbon’s fado scene. The most emphatically Latin tracks are all strong, particularly Faz Gostoso with Brazilian superstar Anitta, whose frenetic beat is somewhere between baile funk and Angolan kuduro – another Lisbon-influenced rhythm that also flits through the polyrhythmic Come Alive. Bitch I’m Loco, the second track to feature Colombian star Maluma after lead single Medellín, is reggaeton roughage, but will be satisfying enough booming out of a club system. Perhaps there isn’t an absolutely diamond pop chorus on Madame X, but the singles I Rise, Crave, and Medellín all have elegant, sinewy melodies that twine around you rather than jabbing you into submission.

 Madame X is released 14 June

More at The Guardian

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Graham Norton lines up huge interview with Madonna in another star-studded episode

Hot on the heels of performing for 200 million people during the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest last month, pop legend Madonna is set to join the line-up of an upcoming star-studded episode of The Graham Norton Show.

The BAFTA award-winning show had already promised galactic levels of stardom with its guests for the June 14 show, with cult director Danny Boyle and Lord of the Ringsstar Sir Ian McKellen dropping by for a chat.

And now Madonna has also been confirmed to feature on the episode, where she’ll be discussing her new album Madame X as well as with her upcoming shows at the London Palladium.

DVD cover
INTERSCOPE/LIVE NATION

Rounding out the guests for the night are actors Lily James and Himesh Patel, who’ll be talking about their new film Yesterday, while singer Sheryl Crow will perform her new single ‘Still the Good Old Days’.

More at Digital Spy

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The Sun reviews Madame X ‘It’s ultra-contemporary, packed with variety and totally unlike anything she has done before’

Madge album review

WITH just ten days to go until her first album in four years, Madame X, anticipation is mounting for Madonna’s return.

I’m no expert when it comes to the Queen Of Pop so I sent Bizarre’s pop supremo Howell Davies to take a first listen of the full record to see if it lives up to the hype . . .

 Madonna's will release her new album in ten days

Madonna’s will release her new album in ten days

SAY what you like about Madonna – she’s never boring.

In an industry which is quickly becoming devoid of personality, she has returned with her most diverse and out-there record ever.

Madame X sees Madge sing in Portuguese on a handful of the tracks including the upbeat Crazy and Bitch, I’m Loca, on which she teams up with Maluma again.

And she’s as cheeky as ever on the tune, which ends with her telling the Reggaeton star: “You can put it inside.”

Dark Ballet features a high-octane reimagining of the Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy while she addresses under-fire minority groups in Killers Who Are Partying.

I Don’t Search I Find harks back to the Nineties with an ambient trance beat, which is totally different from God Control and Come Alive, which feature vocals by Tiffin Children’s Choir, from South West London.

This collection could easily have felt like a clash of cultures gone too far, but there’s very little she can’t turn her hand to.

It’s ultra-contemporary, packed with variety and totally unlike anything she has done before.

Just like she did in 1998 with Ray Of Light, this is Madonna’s reinvention.

More at The Sun

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The Mirror reviews ‘Madame X’ *****

Madame X is “a secret agent, travelling around the world, changing identities fighting for freedom, bringing light to dark places”… but all that can get pretty lonely.

On her new album Madame X, which a select few have been treated to a sneak preview of, Madonna opens up about feeling isolated.

The singer has admitted she felt lonely after moving to Portugal to become a “soccer mum” to her Benfica academy football player son David.

On the track Dark Ballet, which she performed at Eurovision, she sings: “I want to tell you about love and loneliness.”

In another track, Killers Who Are Partying, she says: “Wild as the world. Loneliness is the path to come to you.”

She laments her lack of friends in God Control, singing: “People think I am insane and the only friend is in my brain.”

Madonna previously revealed how much she struggled with being alone while living in Lisbon last year and her 14th studio album was born out of her being “depressed”.

On track Crave, the American alludes to being homesick while living in Europe saying: “I’m tired of being so far away” while on Extreme Occidental, she sings: “I guess I’m lost. I had to pay the cost.

“The thing that hurt me most was that I wasn’t lost.”

Thankfully, while making the much anticipated new album, she collaborated with longtime producer Mirwais as well as pal Diplo. She even made some new friends in the process, including Maluma, who will now help keep her company. Madame X is out on June 14, and Madonna plays 15 shows at the London Palladium next year.

Mirror Rating *****

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Rejoice: Madonna Will Headline Pride Island during WorldPride in NYC

Many have suspected it, and now it’s confirmed: Madonna will appear at Pride Island during WorldPride in New York City this month. The news was announced on the Today Show.

Madge’s journey to Pride has been a long one. Sure it stretches way back to even beyond debuting “Vogue” in 1990, but specific to this year’s Pride at the 50 year anniversary of Stonewall, it goes back to New Year’s Eve. At the Stonewall Inn, to ring in the new year, she sang “Like a Prayer” and gave a speech.

“I stand here proudly at the place where Pride began,” she said from a set of prepared remarks. “Let us not forget the Stonewall riots and those who bravely stood up and said ‘enough.’” But the clues kept coming.

News began to circulate that she was releasing a new album this month and then there was the whole music video incident. In a bit of drag tour drama with Haters Roast, it was revealed that the “Like a Virgin” singer was filming a new video featuring a ton of drag queens. Then she received the GLAAD Advocate for Change award — OK, that was less of a sign that something was coming and more of a recognition of a career well spent — and released “I Rise,” a Stonewall tribute. Let’s face it guys: all roads pointed to Madonna on the big stage during the world’s first WorldPride hosted in America where we expect her to perform a mixture of some of her older hits as well as tracks from the new album, which is her 14th. That album, titled Madame X, will release on June 14.

Pride Island will also feature performances by Grace Jones, Teyana Taylor, and Pabllo Vittar. Grace Jones will headline on Saturday while Madonna will headline on Sunday. Yes kids, this is a place for legends! A reported 6 million tourists will flood New York for Pride alone this year.

Unsurprisingly, tickets for the entire weekend have already sold out and have been since March. Hopefully someone is going to be streaming something!

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