Madonna's Madame X: What You Need To Know
Four years on from the release of Rebel Heart, Madonna returns this week with her 14th studio album Madame X. Having already unveiled the singles 'Medellin', 'I Rise', 'Future' and 'Crave', Madame X makes its arrival in stores today. Here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
Following the release of her last album Rebel Heart arrived in 2015, Madge embarked on a huge world tour that took in dates in North America, Europe, Asia and even Australia, marking Madonna's first live show in the country for more than 20 years.
In 2017, Madonna decided to up sticks and relocate to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, reportedly in search of better opportunities for her son David, a budding footballer. In doing so, Madge has absorbed the city's varied cultural influences, something she has cited as a big influence on the new album's sound.
The singer announced back in January 2018 that she had begun work on album no. 14, with the announcement of the title and release date arriving in April this year.
Who's producing it?
The majority of the tracks on Madame X are co-produced by Madonna and French producer Mirwais, but there are also contributions from Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean, Jason Evigan and Diplo.
Any special guests?
Not as many as on Rebel Heart, but Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma appears on the album's opener 'Medellin' and deep cut 'Bitch I'm Loco', while Migos star Quavo pops up on 'Future'. There are also appearances from Swae Lee, who contributes vocals to 'Crave', and Brazilian star Anitta, who puts in an appearance on 'Faz Gostoso'.
What does it sound like?
Madonna has always been something of a musical magpie and it's no surprise that the singer's move to Lisbon, where Madge has been immersing herself in the local music and culture, should have an audible effect on the new album. There are strong Latino vibes all over Madame X, with the album's lead single 'Medellin' being one of the most overt cases in point.
There are plenty of other stylistic influences on offer too, though, which probably reflects Lisbon's melting pot of cultural influences just as much as Madonna's habit of taking inspiration from all quarters. At one end of the scale are the reggae vibes of 'Future', at the other the anthemic, uplifting pop of 'I Rise', while album highlight 'Dark Ballet' takes a sample from Tchaikovsky and filters it through French Touch-style electronica.
Does it deliver?
On many of Madonna's previous albums her chameleonic tendencies have often come across as attempts to stay relevant, recruiting a producer du jour and slotting herself in to the ever-shifting pop music landscape. But on Madame X, as with its predecessor Rebel Heart, you get a sense of an artist who knows she is free to do whatever she likes, without any regard for what her critics might think.
Be that down to age, wisdom, experience or a combination of all three, Madame X is the sound of Madonna really enjoying throwing herself into new surroundings and experiences, and fair play to her.