Madame X (Deluxe)

Madame X (Deluxe)

“The whole inspiration for this record was completely and utterly based on going out in Lisbon and trying to make friends,” Madonna tells Apple Music's Julie Adenuga. “Portugal is such a melting pot for so many different cultures—there's a lot of people from Brazil, Angola, Spain. You can stand out on a balcony and hear some incredible voice carrying through the starlit sky, and it's just so magical you can't help but be inspired by it.” Fourteen albums in, it may be standard practice for Madonna to immerse herself in new cultures as a way of sparking artistic ideas, but her recent move to Lisbon opened her to incorporating not just different sounds but different languages. As evidence, look no further than “Medellin,” one of two collaborations on the album with Colombian pop star Maluma. “I heard from his manager that he wanted to collaborate with me,” she said. “[My producer and I] started listening to his music more closely, thinking, 'Okay, how can we do something slightly different but that still has a connection to the music that he makes?’” This adventurous strategy—as much a cultural bridge as a musical technique—is what makes the sprawling Madame X so bold and timely. By fusing some of pop’s trendiest sounds (deep house, disco, and dancehall are a few) with characteristically eccentric imagery and serious subject matter (gun control, narcissism, ageism, and political noise), she doesn’t just acknowledge the current moment, she confronts it. “This is your wake-up call,” she sings on “God Control,” which morphs from spiritual hymn into ironic disco-funk at the sound of disquieting gunshots. “We don’t have to fall/A new democracy.” She seems to find hope in her own perseverance: “Died a thousand times/Managed to survive,” she sings on “I Rise.” “I rise up above it all.”

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