Madonna is back, bitches. It’s been four years since our lady released ‘Rebel Heart’ – her EDM influenced thirteenth record – and after a week or so of mysterious social media teasers trailing upcoming album ‘Madame X’, the first new music from the OG queen of pop is here.
“One, two, one, two, one two, cha cha cha”, a breathy Madonna whispers as she kicks off ‘Medellín’, and suddenly we’re in a sticky Colombian dance studio. The track is a duet with reggaeton megastar, Maluma, a 25-year-old who is yet to make major gains in the western music market, but trust me when I say that in South America, he is a Very Big Deal.
In this collaboration, we find Madge in a reflective mood
“I took a pill and had a dream/I went back to my seventeenth year,” she sings, “Allowed myself to be naïve/ to be someone I’ve never been”.
In the four years that have passed since ‘Rebel Heart’, Madonna has relocated to Lisbon, Portugal, the act of a “Soccer Mom” hoping to help her son David fulfil his dreams of becoming a professional footballer. In October, Madonna shared photos of herself immersed in the Lisboa music scene: “Inspiration for my new record started here in Lisbon in Tejo bar”, she said on Instagram of a small dive bar, a spot where locals watch live Fado music (RIP their low-key existence). All the signs were there that we could expect a Latin sound from M:14.
It was on a break from Portugal, in Marrakesh, that Madonna also celebrated her sixtieth birthday last summer. This, too, seems significant when delving into ‘Medellín’. Reflectiveness is an inevitable side-effect of growing older: what would Madonna’s life have been, should she have taken a different turn at 17? What if she approached the world with childlike naivety, rather than as the determined and fearless force we know, powered by the hurt by losing her mother at a young age. What if she ran away to Colombia?
In Maluma’s Spanish verse, he calls on “his queen” to take a trip with him to Medellín. “We can go to Detroit if you want/I know where you’re from,” he sings, reminding us again, that Madonna, the highest grossing solo artist of all time, was at one point just a kid in Detroit, dreaming of making it big.
The chorus, has hooky cha-cha beats, pausing for Madge to beg Maluma to “slow down, Papi” – a line fans will guzzle up with glee. Start working, meme-makers.
And the track is everything we want from a Madonna comeback: it’s fresh, (arguably her best work in years), it sets the tone for a brand new era and, if ‘Medellín’ is an indicator of what’s to come, it’ll be an exciting shift from the electro-pop bangers Madge has offered up in recent times.
Sure, this is not the first time we’ve heard her majesty dabble in the Spanish tongue – ‘La Isla Bonita’, being a classic example – but this is Madonna integrating herself into a musical genre that has real weight right now, pulling in an established artist from the Latin pop world to give it some gravitas.
From the teasers on social, we know Madame X is a chameleon, so who’s to say if this is a flavour for the album as a whole. She is described as a cha-cha instructor, a professor, a head of state, a housekeeper, an equestrian, a prisoner, as student, a teacher, a nun, a cabaret singer, a saint and a prostitute.
We’ve had our dance lesson. Now, what next?