Madonna tells America to “wake up” with ‘Madame X’.

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Madonna tells America to “wake up” with ‘Madame X’.

The standard edition cover of Madonna's fourteenth studio album, 'Madame X.'

The standard edition cover of Madonna's fourteenth studio album, 'Madame X.'

Interscope Records

The standard edition cover of Madonna's fourteenth studio album, 'Madame X.'

Interscope Records

Interscope Records

The standard edition cover of Madonna's fourteenth studio album, 'Madame X.'

Mason Montano, Music Editor

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American pop legend Madonna relocated to Lisbon, Portugal in summer 2017 to raise her, then newly-adopted, children — a pair of twin girls from Malawi named Stella and Estere. Soon after, she met Dino D’Santiago, a local musician who introduced her to more artists in the area. They become Madonna’s inspirations, and in January 2018, the Queen of Pop confirmed she had begun working on her fourteenth studio album, stating it would be infused with Portuguese fado music and inspired by her musical experience in Lisbon.

The album was officially announced in a video uploaded to Madonna’s YouTube channel in late April, in which she declares herself “Madame X”, an alter-ego for which the album is named after. According to Madonna, it was a nickname given to her when she was 19 by her dance teacher at the time, Martha Graham, who said, “I’m going to give you a new name: Madame X. Every day, you come to school and I don’t recognize you. Every day, you change your identity. You’re a mystery to me.”

In the video, Madonna also elaborates on the character’s concept stating:

“Madame X is a secret agent. Traveling around the world. Changing identities. Fighting for freedom. Bringing light to dark places. She is a dancer. A professor. A head of state. A housekeeper. An equestrian. A prisoner. A student. A mother. A child. A teacher. A nun. A singer. A saint. A whore. A spy in the house of love. I am Madame X.”

Madame X was released in early June, and the artwork is a tribute to Madonna’s late mother modeled in the likeness of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. 

Described as “a love letter to multiculturalism”, Madame X is Madonna’s most linguistically diverse album to date, featuring songs sung in English, Spanish, and Portugese; including “Medellín” with Colombian singer Maluma, “Killers Who Are Partying”, and “Faz Gostoso” with Brazilian singer and actress Anitta; that combine elements of Latin music, trap, and art pop.

Lyrically, Madame X is very political, perhaps even more so than her controversial 2003 album, American Life, with lyrics addressing themes of equality, oppression, and gun violence.

The latter is heavily explored on what I believe to be the most important song on the album, “God Control”. An experimental disco track and Madonna’s wake up call to America, the song’s message is simple: GUN CONTROL NOW! 

The music video references the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida and sees Madonna and her friends dancing and having a good time at a Studio 54-inspired nightclub, only to be gunned down a few hours later. Meanwhile, the album’s titular character struggles to write the song’s lyrics due to her frustration with the issue of gun violence.

While I applaud Madonna for using her platform to discuss such important political topics, her message tends to get lost with the inclusion of tracks about relationships, like “Crave” with American rapper and singer Swae Lee and “Crazy”, and party anthems, like “Faz Gostoso” and “B***h, I’m Loca” with Maluma. 

It’s not that any of these songs are bad, they just feel out-of-place among the more politically driven tracks on the album, like “Dark Ballet” and “I Rise” — another song calling for gun control. 

You could argue they were included to offer the listener a break from all the heavy subject matter, but I found it to be distracting from the overall point she’s trying to make with this record.

Then there are songs like “Come Alive” that are extremely uninspiring and feel more like filler than anything else.

Regardless of what songs do or don’t belong on the tracklist, Madame X’s release could not have been more perfectly timed, and Madonna’s made it clear she will not be silent until her demands of change are met.

Madame X is available now across all online and streaming platforms.

Stream Madame X on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/1G2YEQPXaOj1JZwa3ZiGe8?si=pITmH8TrSIKVsczrqBKXIw

Watch the music video for “God Control”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zv-sdTOw5cs