Madonna has always generated sales by the courtship of controversy, each album taking on a salt-like approach for its release with its tapestry feeling more like a separate entity to what’s come before, accompanied by its own distinct visual feel, even with her last three studio albums (‘Rebel Heart’, ‘MDNA’, ‘Hard Candy’). Yet it’s still Madonna’s 80s, late 90s sound that has had the longevity within the industry so it’s not surprising she has revisited a style of genre she dabbled in during the music video era of ‘La Isla Bonita’ and ‘Borderline’ for her latest reincarnation and stab at the charts.
This month Madonna returned to the fray of the digital age with her first recording in four years, featuring the Colombian singer Maluma. The single’s name ‘Medellin’, taken from Maluma’s city of birth, is a crisp Latin pop-influenced
number with Madge repetitively whispering the catchy echoes,
“One, two, one, two,
One, two, cha-cha-cha,
One, two, two, one,
Two, one, cha, cha-cha-cha”
which delivers a distinguishing sultry sound with little to no effort. The velvet velocity of ‘Medellin’ and its inspired music video, a stripped back production with the addition of blood red, pale blues and orange Mediterranean colour scheme, does feel more . authentic and an almost deliberate nod to a decade
Madonna and Maluma
Published on May 19, 2019
Madame X Track List
1. 'Medellín' (feat. Maluma)
2. 'Dark Ballet'
3. 'God Control'
4. 'Future' (feat. Quavo)
6. 'Killers Who Are Partying'
7. 'Crave' (feat. Swae Lee)
9. 'Come Alive'
10. 'Faz Gostoso' (feat. Anitta)
11. 'Bitch I’m Loca' (feat. Maluma)
12. 'I Don’t Search I Find'
13. 'I Rise'
Madonna’s cultural relevance has dwindled with time and, unlike other artists that recognise an era’s soundscape, Madge, as she’s also known to her loyal fan base, does what Madge does best and blames her flagging success and pop culture decline on the ageist generation. But is it the ageist generation or the quality of the ‘Vogue’ singer’s contemporary body of work and her attitude to her marketing approach?
where Madonna saw her most successful run of albums (80s-00s).
Madonna’s attack on the download decade to date has seen the rapid decline of her influential credibility. ‘MDNA’ had Cher tweet, asking her followers, “Wtf is mdna?” The album, a fragmented mix, was the twelfth best-selling album of 2012 but had all the hallmarks of being a rushed production so the singer could fit into a landscape that was beneficial for staying culturally relevant. The track ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’ highlighted the lack of original direction; it was a jarring track that could quite easily have doubled as a B-side for Gwen Stefani during Gwen’s ‘Hollaback Girl’ phase. ‘Rebel Heart’ was an all-round stronger effort with the thunderstorm of a single that was ‘Living For Love’, a track that gave Madonna a fresh injection of life and a song that was the first in a long while since ‘Nothing Fails’ to make it onto my playlist along with ‘Ghosttown’, arguably the most commercially friendly release from the singer since 1998’s ‘The Power of Goodbye’.
Then she dropped ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’, a song that shouldn’t have been a single at all, which desperately tried to claw Britney Spears’ trademark ‘Bitch’ for her own musical mythos but failed. ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’ was torn somewhere between being music Madonna seemed to like and music that she perhaps felt was expected of her, the kind of track she had become synonymous for releasing during her ‘Confessions on a Dance floor’ reinvention – fizzy, oddball mindlessness with an spontaneous zany frivolity. But here the two halves did not quite connect and the song felt trapped in a time of ‘High School Musical’ with added explanations from the queen of pop to be cutting-edge.
But has Madonna’s age really played a part in the recent lack of growth in her musical domination? In my opinion, no! Madonna has been her own
"The track ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’ highlighted the lack of original direction; it was a jarring track that could quite easily have doubled as a B-side for Gwen Stefani during Gwen’s ‘Hollaback Girl’ phase."
worst enemy with subpar releasing, public hiccups and the loss of her own tailored identity. ‘Rebel Heart’ cover could almost have been Rita Ora; Madonna’s plagiarised style legacy is legendary, but the comparisons there were unavoidable. Then there was that Drake kiss where he was photographed looking shocked after being unexpectedly tongued by the singer on stage at Coachella, a questionable moment that should have raised the acceptability of the situation over anything else. And finally there’s the side to Madonna that continuously picks fights with other artists in a bid to appear more superior, only to heal the rift with a photo opportunity and then begin the war all over again with sly shady moments that increasingly become harder to ignore, which included a response to that Drake kiss where she replied to the question by referencing Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’.
The former is where Madonna’s issues lie, and not her age. The number has little to do with her ability to transcend cross-age appeal and musical genres; she’s shown her capabilities in that direction. The difficulty now is finding a sound to balance her vocal range and choice of style that doesn’t jeopardise or cripple her creativity. Madonna’s gimmicky shock-value has tired and we expect more from such a seasoned performer. Singles like ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’ may be fun but are more fitting for bubblegum Mouseketeers starting out on the musical ladder, and her snarky gestures have no place in the dog-eat-dog world of digital downloads.
Madonna’s forthcoming album ‘Madame X’ feels more authentic as I’ve already highlighted, with more of a traditional salute to her past accomplishments and a return to form. Madonna’s Billboard Music Awards performance of the album’s first single ‘Medellin’ set the bar high with elaborate set designs and several holograms of herself in different costumes, which eventually ended in a cha-cha train on the MGM Grand Garden Arena stage in Las Vegas.
Without a doubt Madonna is an icon who has created many dimensions to her invisible fiddle. Let’s hope ‘Madam X’ ditches the gimmicks for a statement belt that made her the icon she was and still is today. Less shocks, no shade and more Billboard Music Award-inspired performances. Let’s raise our glass to ‘Madame X’.
Madonna will perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel this May.