Review Summary: we gonna get up
I'm not usually one for an "album trailer," but I found the teaser for Madame X
incredibly interesting, especially the spoken description of who Madame X is:
“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."
Ever the fan of bold statements and exclamations, the idea of a pseudo-conceptual record about a secret agent/anti-heroine is not something too
shocking from Madonna. That’s part of why many, including myself, are fans of her work as a musician and provacitor. Even if it’s brash and ill-advised at times - she’s not afraid to do what she wants and it’s damn inspirational. The fact that, in spite of cries and sneers, she has continued making music and putting herself out there since the eighties is moving, regardless of how you feel about recent releases. So, this said, her attempt at making another career period would be an insurmountable challenge for your average person, but if anyone can do it, it’s the best selling female artist of all time.
The themes on Madame X
are a bit everywhere, much like everything about the record, but they make for a very interesting ride through statements from he madame herself. Political opinions (“God Control”), calls to action (“Come Alive”), religious allegory (“Batuka”), exclamations of love (“Crave”), empowerment of the disenfranchised (“Killers Who Are Partying”), the stagnation of societal evolution (“Future”), and a musical tour throughout areas such as Portugal and France are all fair game here, coming together to create a poignant experience. Despite a few lackluster lines here and there, the sum of Madonna’s messages and imagery is a wholly moving experience. Any missteps in production or lyricism fail to ruin that larger picture, one of a multifaceted, flawed, and frayed society. A society that this Madame X character wants to save, but can’t do anything beyond what one person can do.
I could sit here and go through what musical points are my favorite or who produced what songs or whatever, but I feel like doing so would be a disservice to what I like about this record. It’s emotionally powerful and, frankly, bizarrely eclectic in all the right ways. The tracks here span from wrld music to discover to trap infused pop. Maybe it’s just relieving to hear a voice I respect so much touch on topics that I find myself dwelling on often in such an enjoyable way. It’s not perfect, the concept feels flustered and a bit messy at times, but it hit me in a way I hardly expected it to. It’s a hard thing to describe with a keyboard or a pen, but I guess I can put it like this:
Madonna is one of my biggest heroes, hands down. I admire her courage and artistic vision immensely and both are here in spades. Before when I said that this was an attempted career period definer, I think that Madame X
is that. It’s the collaboration of so many artists from so many places to assist in a pop album of a higher purpose - Madonna’s attempts to celebrate those who have been unjustly cast aside, Madonna’s attempt to promote something bigger than album sales. Maybe I’m completely off, maybe I missed the mark and this really is a confused mess (that’s how I felt the first time I heard it after all), but Madame X
struck a chord with me. Take “I Rise,” a call to protest and a scream meant to be heard by those in power. That word she uses, “we,” it feels powerful, it feels inspiring. I dunno, maybe I’m a sucker, but this album made me feel something, something good. Something hopeful.