Madonna’s fourteenth studio album finds the singer entrenched in romance while fighting for justice.

If you’re a Madonna stan, you’re probably low-key super familiar with Madame X by now. The record leaked in full on Wednesday (June 12), but compared to the Rebel Heart era that’s an extremely incredible feat for the Queen of Pop, whose last era was tarnished by a criminal hacker who dispersed her music way, way ahead of schedule. Madonna compared the calamity to feeling raped, and though it was terrible, it created a triumphant woman we know as Madame X.

Prior to the official release, Madonna released a handful of songs. She kicked off the era with the sultry single, “Medellín,” featuring Maluma. On it, the two trade impassioned speech, but the video is even hotter. When Madonna licked Maluma’s feet whew child, I felt all sorts of ways. She ushered in the era with a few more buzz singles, including the politically charged track, “I Rise,” as well as “Future,” featuring Quavo, “Crave” featuring Swae Lee and the theatrics-heavy “Dark Ballet.” Madonna delivered an array of range in the Madame X tasters, and the full course is equally satisfying.

Madonna teamed up with longtime collaborator Mirwais Ahmadzaï for much of the album. He’s responsible for works featured on Music, American Life and Confessions on a Dance Floor. He helped create one of the stand-out songs on the record, “I Don’t Search I Find.” The song shares a likeness to some of Madonna’s earlier works, but maintains a fresh vibe that sounds unlike anything else in 2019. She’s a chameleon transforming from one vibrant color to the next, highlighting warm vocals in the chorus, but delivers an icy statement halfway through. Meanwhile, Mirwais’ production shimmers in and out – it’s an intoxicating, gloriously crafted pop song.

“God Control” is another sparkly gem on Madame X co-crafted alongside Mirwais. Madonna’s auto-tune is full-blown on it in the beginning, but the six-minute song pivots into something else entirely a few minutes in. The haunting piano melody is replaced by a sticky disco beat before Madonna’s sassy sound hijacks the mood – she admits people think she’s insane, and to be perfectly honest Madame X could give a ****. Instead, she dances the night away under a white hot spotlight, taking the listener’s hand and catapulting them to outer space and into her own world.

Maluma was featured on the lead single, and their chemistry is undeniable. So infectious that he scored himself a second feature with “***** I’m Loca.” Of course you recall Rebel Heart‘s “***** I’m Madonna,” but this one’s less in-your-face. Maluma and Madonna are quite naughty together. At the end of the song, they trade nicknames. He’s Mr. Safe, and she’s Mrs. Crazy, but then things take a turn… a bigger turn then the toe-sucking scandal. “Where do you want me to put this?,” Maluma asks. “Um, you can put it inside,” Madonna replies, which prompts a schoolgirl giggle from her new song mate. It’s awkward, but Madame X isn’t here to tuck your kids in at night. It’s a reminder that Madonna continually deals with ageism (and the underlying subtext that women should stop wanting *** at some point), so the lyric, albeit a bit tacky, reinforces her feminine power.

Madonna shows she’s versatile on Madame X, but there are times when the momentum falls flat. “Faz Gostoso,” featuring Anitta, might certainly be a song that grows, but upon an initial listen it didn’t create the same buzz her features with Maluma or Swae Lee did. However, a music video treatment from Brazil’s pop princess could elevate the tune. Anitta never disappoints with her visuals, and she could breathe some much needed color into the grim, red and black planet where Madame X resides.

Madonna is THAT ***** in music, and she came through with Madame X. Is it her best effort ever? Well, it’s hard to compete with songs that have stood the test of time and paved the way for dozens of other pop superstars. Time is unforgiving, but she did put together a thoughtful body of work that explores new territory for her (despite teaming up with tried and true past collaborators). I hate that most other Madame X reviews will point out Madonna’s age, but it’s worth mentioning she continually pushes her artistry even after reaching a level of unimaginable fame and power. No, Madonna doesn’t get a trophy for being 60-years old and releasing an album… she gets one for doing something only a handful of recording artists can: release boundary-pushing songs that invoke thought and feeling. Madame X is many things, but one thing she isn’t is satisfied.

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