The thing about Madonna is, there is only one Queen of Pop, and, bitches…don’t you come for her spot. She’s still in it. And her latest LP, Madame X, proves what she’s been saying lately is true: You cannot hit a moving target.
You cannot box in Madonna. There’s no pigeonholing her because she is a bird and she needs to fly. Don’t try. It’s a fool’s errand.
Don’t act the fool.
Keep looking for mercy, and mercy you will find, as Madame X is Madonna’s most vibe record yet.
Vibe, not mood. MDNA is a fun mood album.
So, vibe. Whereas other artists, younger artists, are planning and tapping personae into which they can jump from record cycle to record cycle (demarking eras, as the kids call it now, with laser-cut zeitgeisting precision), Madonna is channeling about a dozen, OK, each distilled to essence. There’s the spy, the bride, and the cha cha instructor. There’s a nun. And a prostitute. This woman’s an equestrian. A prisoner. A student. Plus, because Instagram, we know that Madonna, a.k.a. Madame X, is a mother, a friend, a collaborator. A muse. A boss. And both are world travelers.
This collection of songs was born in Lisbon, Portugal, where Madonna had been living and hanging since Rebel Heart, and blends her trademark brand of pop with trap music and the vibes of Maluma and Anitta, who hail from Colombia and Brazil, respectively; and that of her frequent collaborator, Mirwais, from France; and the sound of Batuque music. There are even echoes from (or to?) Erotica and American Life. Team USA includes Diplo, Quavo, Swae Lee, and the songwriter Starrah, so that makes this a party, and Madame X likes to party.
Madame X also likes to keep it real.
Not only is she the Queen of Pop, Madonna’s the mistress of reinvention (admit it: you called her Dita once). She’s always moving forward and moving us forward. Madame X holds back nothing as Madonna sings about doing the cha cha or comes alive in anthemic rhythm, and comments on the epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings that’s been plaguing the United States of America going on two bloody decades now. In the pin drop-cum-disco fever dream “God Control,” you can hear the clinch of indignation and anger in the singer’s jaw as she laments the state of affairs regarding gun control in the country. Later, in “I Rise,” she features part of a speech by Emma González from Parkland, Fla., a social activist and a survivor of the Valentine’s Day 2018 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.
Madame X is not fucking around. The aggressive, if natural, globality of Madonna, in 2019, makes this the most crucial album of the year.
Not everyone is coming to the future, so you might as well admit it now: When it comes to pop, Madonna did it. She rules the world.