Madonna, X-Rated

At 60 years old, the star releases an impeccable 14th album entitled "Madame X" mixing classic pop and boundary-pushing experimentations...

By Nicolas Magenham | Video of the Day | June 20, 2019
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Madame X marks the reunion between Madonna and Mirwais, the latter being behind the wheel for 7 of the 13 tracks on the album. Daniel Darc's former colleague from Taxi Girl had already worked on several projects, such as the albums Music in 2000 and American Life in 2003.

His role here is to take the delirious musical experimentation to new extremes, all the while keeping in line with Madonna's melodic pop style. The most obvious example of Mirwais’ musical madness is Dark Ballet, a song inspired by Joan of Arc that features a long synthetic-baroque arrangement à la Wendy Carlos as well as a mischievous monologue by Madonna that’s told from the point of view of the Maid of Orléans.



Maintaining a style that’s both playful and totally insane, the lively disco strings on God Control are a real highlight. Madonna is also politically engaged in this work, focusing on the failed gun control in America (with a sample from Emma Gonzales’ speech in I Rise) as well as speaking out for minorities (particularly in the postmodern fado Killers Who Are Partying). Speaking of fado, Lusophone culture is one of the album’s main themes – probably due to Madonna’s decision to move to Portugal in 2017.

On Batuka she celebrates Cape Verde (the batuque being a kind of Cape Verdean music characterised by a call and response structure). Madonna also pays tribute to Colombia with the reggaeton singer Maluma, with whom she sings (and flirts) on two duets: Medellin and Bitch I'm Loca. Finally, she also mentions Picasso's Spain on I Don't Search I Find (quoted from the painter).



The album highlights the malleable aspect of her voice (be it auto-tuned, whispered or spoken) and throughout the work Madonna always strikes a perfect balance between the gravity of political commitment on the one hand and the lightness of the duets and Mirwais’ production on the other. She does complete justice album’s title, Madame X most likely being a reference to Marlene Dietrich from Agent X 27, Joseph Von Sternberg's 1931 biopic of the spy Mata Hari.

Madame X is a secret agent, travelling around the world, changing identities and fighting for freedom. She brings light to dark places,” explained the singer in a teaser video for her project. It’s a masked, playful, freedom-fighting and confident Madonna that we find here as she enters her seventh decade.



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