Madonna will always be one of the greatest pop artists of all time. She’s successfully reinvented herself more times than you can imagine and has continually raised the bar with her genre pushing sounds and shocking theatrics. I still whole heartedly believe that the ‘Blond Ambition World Tour’ is one of the best pop concerts to have ever happened with it even creating a huge cultural impact following its conclusion. And I was one of the few people who genuinely raved about ‘Hard Candy’ and ‘Rebel Heart’ following their mixed reactions. But I couldn’t be more disappointed with ‘Madame X’ than I already am. The bold collection of experimental pop, urges listeners to soak in every lyric and listen without distractions but the result is mediocre at best. Madonna’s ‘American Life’ was a controversial album with a lot of sentiment and provoked a lot of thoughts. Where as ‘Madame X’ just feels like it’s forcing controversial thoughts with a confusing production that hears her trying to stay relevant. ‘Medellin’ featuring Maluma was her weakest lead single yet and the average ‘Future’ featuring Quavo and the melodramatic ‘Dark Ballet’ and ‘I Rise’ didn’t really sell the vision. Except hype single ‘Crave’ featuring Swae Lee did show listeners a different side of the singer-songwriter that was interesting and catchy.
With the low impact these promotional singles made, I wanted to be wowed. I wanted to be proved wrong. But I wasn’t. There was a lot of hype surrounding the disco infused ‘God Control’ but when you put the gimmicky theatrics next to the rest of her discography it just sounds like a quick Rupaul’s Drag Race challenge song with it’s vocal delivery. “People think that I’m insane. The only gun is in my brain. Each new birth, it gives me hope. That’s why I don’t smoke that dope”. It’s disappointing because the message and vision behind it is so powerful and raw and it deserves to be praised. But instead the songs that stand out the most are the Beyonce inspired ‘Batuka’ which acts as her version of ‘Freedom’ and the minimalist ‘Crazy’ which is classic Madonna.
The album is quite long and loses it’s punch quickly. ‘MDNA’ struggled because of this too, but the songs on that record were a lot stronger. I really wanted to be wowed and I really wanted to be able to talk about how Madonna is one of the greatest pop artists of all time but this record struggles to offer the ammunition needed.