IAny artist has shown her ability to encode between styles, it's Madonna who has skillfully switched from dominatrix to disc queen to mother earth with previous album cycles. Her latest reinvention is Madame X: the title of her forthcoming 14th album (June 14), and also the name of a chameleon character she will play on the album. She announced this last week in an entertaining cinematic video with a plethora of disguises that included several eye-catchers and Madonna wearing a hooded hat as if preparing for Gilead.
In the narration, she details 15 identities – dancer, prisoner, nun and prostitute, among others – and explains: "Madame X is a secret agent. Traveling around the world. Changing identities. "It seems that Madonna's gaze is reaching its peak for Madame X, which features American rap artists SwaeLee and Quavo, as well as South American superstars Anitta and Maluma, who appear on the iridescent single from the Medellín album.
Medellín co-produced by Mirwais, her collaborator for American Life, is quite unlike anything we've heard from Madonna, and her main single since the imposing Frozen 1998. The earliest disarmament is the feeling of comfort. "I woke up in Medellin," she sings about airy synthesizers, before adding shrewdly, "Another thing I could get now." A rhythmic rap of reggaeton that enters the scene for a chorus of fiesta, with a call and answer amorous between the duo. In almost five minutes, Medellín's rhythm seems refreshingly relaxed, although it is not a Madonna co-writing without some lyrical clichés ("pain" rhymed with "champagne"). Nor does it do much to dispel stereotypes of Colombia ("we built a cartel just for love," she sings).
But these are minor criticisms: Medellin is a powerful reminder of Madonna's clever story of intertwining genres, plus a compelling addition to the list of western megastars such as Beyoncé and Justin Bieber, connecting with Spanish-speaking artists. And, unlike the occasional trend of his most recent albums, MDNA and Rebel Heart, Medellín proves that it is well-prepared to surpass the demands of today's listening trends, while bringing global styles to its own world. For Madonna, it seems that the era of streaming may just accelerate its change of form.