Madame X (Interscope Records)
On the diva’s 14th release, Madonna examines the current state of the world while imagining a peaceful, harmonious way to move it forward. Of the anthemic “I Rise,” Madge says the track gives “voice to all marginalized people who feel they don’t have the opportunity to speak their minds.” It features a spoken-word intro from Emma Gonzalez, the young social activist, gun control advocate and survivor from the Parkland school shooting in early 2018. Earlier this summer in Israel, Madonna performed another Madame X track, “Future” at the Eurovision Song Contest — and stirred up some controversy: While telling her audience to “never underestimate the power of music to bring people together,” her set featured two male dancers walking arm-in-arm with Israeli and Palestinian flags on their respective backs. When she’s not pushing the envelope in a political sense, Madame X includes some notable bangers, including the pulsating lead single, “Medellin,” a duet with the gorgeous Colombian reggaeton singer Maluma. Another collaboration, “Crave” with rapper Swae Lee, is a desire-tinged pop gem. This Queen won’t be passing her crown along anytime soon.
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