Discussion in 'Pop & Justice' started by mindtrappa, Sep 2, 2017.
Its' tomorrow! It's TOMORROW! I've resisted all the leaks so am thirsting bad.
How is Uncut still going? How?!
Still, it’s not like they can criticise Madonna for being “old” given the age of Uncut’s target demographic, or call her “irrelevant” considering Uncut’s a minor publication plying its trade in the twilight years of print media... But it got us talking about them so job done...
Did anyone get tickets to the audience with Graham Norton? Alas, there was nothing in my inbox apart from tumbleweed and a mushroom cloud of unworthiness.
Hurry up Friday...
I’m really impressed with myself that I’ve managed to resist. Can’t wait for my midnight listening premiere
Well I know what I’m listening to first thing tomorrow morning.
Me watching the clock tick down to midnight...
4 hours until New Zealand births it! I heard remixes are coming too, it will be so good seeing multiple Madonna releases. And whew does her voice sound great on "Ciao Bella". Seriously, how hard was it to nail that?
Quite a well written review from Slant magazine (reviewer Sal Cinquemani) which gave the album four stars.
Review: Madonna’s Madame X Is a Fearless, Eccentric Musical Memoir
The album is the work of an artist reawakened, and one who’s got something to say.
Madonna’s 2005 EDM opus Confessions on a Dance Floor is considered by many to be the 21st-century standard for both every new album the singer releases and contemporary dance-pop at large. Though glorious in its own right, it seemed, at the time, like the work of an artist in damage control. The damage was 2003’s American Life, a personal, politically strident, and humorless album that became Madonna’s first commercial failure in 20 years. It also happens to mark the last time the queen of pop appeared to make music purely on her own terms, without any consideration of the charts or what the public expected of her—a novel idea for an artist in the business of making, well, popular music.
Of course, Madonna has never been your average pop star. Though her music has deep roots in R&B and disco, she is, at heart, a rock auteur, with all of the inclinations toward upending the status quo and expressing a singular vision that designation implies. Her last album, 2015’s Rebel Heart, was designed by committee, while its predecessor, MDNA, was recorded during a period when she seemed more interested in directing movies and extending her brand than making music. So it makes sense that when she decided to forgo songwriting camps and aspirations of a late-career radio hit for her 14th album, Madame X, Madonna turned to French producer Mirwais, her primary collaborator on American Life.
In other words, Madame X sounds like the work of an artist reawakened, and one who’s got something to say. It’s a development reportedly inspired by her time in Lisbon, where she was surrounded by musicians and art in a way she hadn’t been since her pre-fame days in the East Village. The influence of Lisbon’s multicultural history can be heard on tracks like the fado-meets-Motown “Crazy”—co-produced by Mike Dean, the album’s other principal knob-twirler—and the polyrhythmic “Batuka,” featuring Afro-Portuguese group Orquestra de Batukadeiras.
Madame X plays like a musical memoir, sometimes literally: “I came from the Midwest/Then I went to the Far East/I tried to discover my own identity,” Madonna sings on the Eastern-inflected “Extreme Occident,” referencing her rise to fame and spiritual awakening, famously documented on her 1998 album Ray of Light. A multi-part suite that shifts abruptly from electro-pop dirge to classical ballet and back again, “Dark Ballet” is a Kafkaesque treatise on faith and her lifelong crusade against the patriarchal forces of religion, gender, and celebrity—an existential battle echoed in the Jean-Paul Sartre-quoting closing track “I Rise.”
The album’s autobiography is also conveyed sonically: It’s a thrill to hear Madonna singing over a ‘90s house beat on the smoldering “I Don’t Search I Find.” But despite its ballroom strings, finger-snaps, and throaty spoken-word bridge, comparing it to “Vogue” or “Erotica” would be too easy. This isn’t a song so much as a mood. It’s downstairs music, the distant bassline rumbling beneath your feet as you slip into a bathroom stall for a quick bump or fuck.
Madonna has a reputation for being a trendsetter, but her true talent lies in bending those trends to her will, twisting them around until they’re barely recognizable, and creating something entirely new. The album’s pièce de résistance, at least in that regard, is the six-minute “God Control,” which begins with Madonna conjuring the spirit and disaffected monotone of Kurt Cobain—“I think I understand why people get a gun/I think I understand why we all give up,” she sings through clenched teeth—before the whole thing implodes into a euphoric, densely layered samba-disco-gospel mash-up. Throughout the song, Madonna’s vocals alternate between Auto-Tuned belting, urgent whispers, and Tom Tom Club-style rapping as she takes on the gaslight industrial complex and so-called political reformers. On paper, it might sound like the ingredients for a musical Hindenburg, but—somewhere around the midpoint, when she declares, “It’s a con, it’s a hustle, it’s a weird kind of energy!”—it all coheres into the most exhilaratingly batshit thing she’s done in years.
If, metaphorically, Madame X represents Madonna’s rediscovery of her voice as an artist, then it also highlights the literal loss of it. Over the years, the soft edges of her voice have grown sharper, and the album’s pervasive vocal effects—most gratuitous on the electro-ragga “Future” and, to a lesser degree, the haunting “Looking for Mercy”—have a distancing effect. The heavy Auto-Tune on Music and American Life was deployed in service of larger conceptual themes like imperfection (“Nobody’s Perfect”) and anonymity (“Nobody Knows Me”), contrasted by the bare performances of more confessional songs like “Easy Ride.” Here, filters are indiscriminately thrown on nearly every song, which only serves to obscure Madonna’s humanity. On “Medéllin,” for example, her admission that “For once, I didn’t have to hide myself” is pointlessly cloaked in Auto-Tune, keeping us at a remove.
When Madonna isn’t singing with what sounds like a mouthful of gumballs on “Crave,” the rawness of her voice amplifies the nakedness of her lyrics: “Ran so far to try to find the thing I lacked/And there it was inside of me.” Likewise, you can hear the grit and grief in her voice when, on “Crazy,” she sings, “I bent my knees for you like a prayer/My God, look at me now.” The track “Killers Who Are Partying” has been flagged by some critics for its lyrics—ostensibly inspired by scripture, the post-World War II poem “First they came…,” or maybe both—but the naïveté of Madonna’s words would be more cringe-inducing if her delivery wasn’t quite so bewitching. Mirwais’s arrangement, too, casts a spell: Old world meets new world as mournful fado guitar and accordion swirl beneath the track’s stuttering beats and warped synths.
Madame X is fearless, the sound of an artist unapologetically indulging all of her whims and quirks. The garish favela funk of “Faz Gostoso” and the playful reggaeton of “Bitch I’m Loca”—featuring Anitta and Maluma, respectively—feel out of place amid the album’s otherwise refined sonic palette. But even when Madonna falters, at least you know you’re getting the real deal and not some version of a pop icon cooked up in a songwriting lab.
I listened to this several times on a long flight today, so let me be that person.
Like A Prayer
Ray of Light
Like a Virgin
It’s up there with her best. Her last three efforts are my least favorite, despite desperately wanting and trying to love them. I appreciate Rebel Heart for leading her to Madame X, but Bitch I’m Madonna is the only thing I can truly get behind from that campaign.
Madame X is M at her most inventive, pushing herself, and pop music, in the way we expect from her. I’m just...really happy, particularly for her to be making music like this so deep into her career. She really did that.
You folks need to rewind the thread about a dozen pages with that review.
I've got Spice Girls at Wembley tomorrow Eve .. so I'm considering waiting til next Friday to listen so I can make a moment of it. I doubt this plan is going to come to fruition though...
When two of my fave things in life come together ... Madge's new album referenced in camp classic Prisoner: Cell Block H (29:31 mark)
Get that retro Aussie soap promo, queen.
Taylor Swift found trawling old episodes of Flying Doctors for any lines en Français.
Okay that Arabology album by Mirwais is pretty awesome.
So who’s taking me to Ally Pally tonight?
The wait for the official release is almost as bad as the one you had the night before Christmas when you were little. Only 13 hours and 5 minutes left now.
@Secret what time baby?
So Back That Up to the Beat is totally going to lead into Candy Shop on the tour. You know she's going to do it.
*Time Stood Still found playing in the rafters*
Separate names with a comma.