The Queen of Pop returns with audacious ‘Madame X’ but is it the Madonna album fans really want?

Now that I’ve listened to Madonna’s latest work in its entirety, I will say the best word I can think of to describe my initial reaction is confounded. Upon first listen, the bulk of Madame X strikes me as material left over from Rebel Heart, but the outtakes from those sessions were actually more exciting than most of what Madonna serves up here. Throughout the album’s duration, I sometimes found myself dazzled, yet other times I was fully disheartened. The only things here that come close to being creatively interesting are: “Dark Ballet” (with its quasi-classical break), the choir laden and danceable “God Control” and the self-referential “Extreme Occident.” Unfortunately, the annoyingly repetitious “Crazy” sounds like a bad Taylor Swift song that you hope you never have to listen to again.

The closest things you’ll find resembling “classic” Madonna here are: the danceable “I Don’t Search I Find,” the downbeat balladry of “Looking for Mercy” and the declaration of perseverance testament “I Rise.” These particular highlights sound as if the best parts of Madonna’s talent were determined to escape Jeff Bhasker, Jason Evigan and Mirwais’ heavy-handed production stratagems. [Read full review here]

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Madonna: “Medellín”

Madonna has just dropped the leadoff single from her forthcoming album, Madame X, her first since 2015’s Rebel Heart. Unfortunately, “Medellín” is not the Queen of Pop’s return to form her diehard fan base has been awaiting. Instead, our first taste of Madonna’s fourteenth studio is a laidback English-Spanish collaboration featuring Colombian singer Maluma.

The Latin pop of “Medellín” is slyly seductive, but sadly comes off sounding like a reductive attempt at trying to recapture Madonna’s previous Spanish-tinged pop hits “La Isla Bonita” and “Who’s That Girl.” Once again, the former leader of musical trends sounds like she’s unsuccessfully chasing relevancy instead of doing what she does best, which is exciting us with her legendary brand of dance-pop classics.

Judging from the Latin-tinged reggaeton of “Medellín,” along with Madge’s solid, but lackluster previous two efforts MDNA and Rebel Heart, I’m left wondering if Madonna is simply unwilling or incapable of producing material as strong as the output of her glory days.

Madame X seems to be an enticing concept for a new Madonna album, but the first offering leaves much to be desired. Ultimately, the excessively auto-tuned “Medellín” isn’t bad, just very disappointing. “Sipping my pain just like champagne…” Could this be “the day the music died” Madonna herself warned us about in her 2000 remake of Don McLean’s “American Pie”?