As a Madonna super fan who has always had the “she can do no wrong” attitude, this article was tough to write. I was tasked by stevepafford.com with writing an objective and critical review of Madame X.
I asked myself a question I’ve asked myself millions of times. What would Madonna do if someone asked her to rise to any challenge. She’d get right to it. I left my compliments behind and I really listened to the album, watched the videos, and I fought to be as hard on the queen bee as I could.
Here is my review of the Madame X album, and in general, this period in her career. Now I’m one of those fans that will argue in her favour over silly things like Lady Gaga and the ‘English’ accent and so on, so before you come at me with Peter Gabriel’s sledgehammer my fellow Madonna worshipers, know that these are my criticisms.
Madge is not without imperfection. She’s a human being. We all fall short in some way shape or form, so just FYI I like Madame X but I never say No to a challenge. The following is all a part of my opinion without any of the positive bits and sans compliments. Here goes.
Madonna and Little Edie from Grey Gardens……..I love them both but I feel the the tween have met. I’m basing this on this last album and the filmed rehearsal posts I view on Instagram. Now don’t get it twisted. I like the new album. It has everything……. that’s the problem. It goes in so many directions that I get a bit jet lagged.
When she released Hard Candy, I had the same feeling that there were too many cooks in the kitchen and not enough of the master chef, Madonna. It didn’t feel like her album.
One thing that I find unsettling is the amount of unreleased Madonna songs that, if combined, would make a flawless album. Just listen to Trust No Bitch on YouTube. I love that song and the video. I often find myself wondering why some of the songs I’m about to skewer aren’t unreleased, replaced with songs like Loneliest Girl or the uncut version of Up Down Suite.
Let me begin with Medellin. At first I was not a fan but the song grew on me and I got excited for the rest of the album. I liked it even more after the performance at the VMAs with the holograms that she was so heavily criticised for.
It has energy and flare but the song and the album starts to become disjointed immediately. Is it a Maluma song featuring Madonna or ?
Track 2, Dark Ballet, sounds to me like a classic Madonna ballad until the ballet part. The message as usual is amazing but the auto tune takes centre stage. It’s unique and I enjoy it but I can’t help wondering whose idea it was to add the frenetic ballet section.
Creative, sure but in a way that only a die hard fan will stand by.
I thought the eyepatch was cute but it appears in the videos and has more of a presence than her iconic cone bra did in the Blond Ambition days. She has it on at all times and I for one would love to see the face of the woman who filled the soundtrack to my life. It’s totally distracting and it’s gotta go.
Wear it for one song then toss it.
Track 3, God Control has a great sound but it again goes all over the place and the auto tune overshadows what could have been an amazing song. It could’ve been a fierce ballad or a Confessions on a Dance Floor style disco/dance track but instead it’s both. It also gets goofy.
For a song with such a strong message the part where, in radio announcer style, a voice proclaims “this is your wake up call” (the talking part) is a bit campy and light.
Track 4, Future takes us back on an airplane to perhaps Jamaica with its reggae influences. I like it but it feels like a Madonna song done by someone else. I mentioned Hard Candy which to me is a Timberland/Pharrell album with Madge’s voice on top. Future also features more fatiguing auto tune.
Cmon girl, do you believe in yourself, cause I wanna hear your real voice, can it go something like this?
Batuka, the fifth song takes us to yet another time zone on the globe. We find ourselves in Africa. It’s got a great sound but it’s a long way, its a loooong way, from being consistent. I’ll jump ahead to Crave.
This might be one of my favourites on the album but it sounds like it’s an attempt at being 2019 top 40s.
Madge was always the creator of what was cool and I find her following trends here. Girl, you designed pop music (oh no she didn’t! – Ed.), no need to follow any trends especially not the pop music of today. It all sounds like one song with different lyrics.
God, I sound old. (But it’s true!)
Faz Gostoso and Bitch I’m Loca are both fun but we’re getting our frequent flyer miles again for sure. Nonetheless they are both fun songs. They just sound like they belong on another artist’s album.
I love that she’s exploring other cultures and she should be credited with stepping outside the box but she did so on American Life and in my humble opinion that album was cohesive and consistent. It felt like Madonna. This feels like someone else.
We finish the album, the regular album that claims to be the deluxe album but doesn’t contain the bonus tracks, with I Rise. It’s a good song. It’s well done. It’s sufficient.
Madonna has never idled at good, she’s always striving for better or best. I Rise is supposed to be an anthem for the LGBTQ community but I think Vogue and so many other songs in her catalogue fit that description more appropriately than I Rise does.
All in all, Madame X is definitely a reinvention but I feel like she tried to do too much in one sitting. I hope after attending her show I’ll feel differently, but I’m already ready for her next incarnation.
Happy birthday Madge!
Eileen Dover is an artist, writer, and actor residing in New York City. He’s a lifelong Madonna fan and has worked alongside the likes of Boy George, Eartha Kitt, Cyndi Lauper among many many others. He has a monthly performance night called Hattie Hathaway’s Reading For Filth which features authors, musicians and playwrights shopping their work and sharing their voices. He’s currently working on a memoir and a stage show both of which should be up and out sometime in early 2020.
Follow Eileen on all social media at @theeileendover