Staunch defender of her previous two releases (MDNA and Rebel Heart), I am supremely underwhelmed with the two songs released from Madame X, Madonna’s upcoming new album. The saturation of autotune aside, both tracks lay flat, delivering none of the Madonna mastery I’m used to: songcraft.
“Medellin” is breezy enough, but really a piffle – cute as cafe background noise, forgettable once it’s over (and dueting with the grotesque, misogynistic hack Meluma doesn’t help).
“I Rise” should have been bold and anthemic, but instead is musically chintzy, with neither memorable hook nor melody. And that she wrote it as a rallying cry for marginalized people and as a way to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall, the genesis of the Pride movement, makes it all the more frustrating that it’s not the clarion call the Queen of the Gays (as I like to call her) could have delivered. It doesn’t soar – it just floats, lazily along, until it doesn’t.
But, I won’t let any of this deter me. Madam X was influenced by Madonna living in Lisbon, Portugal, according to the press release, and celebrates her love affair with Latin music and culture and global influences. That alone intrigues me. I won’t let my distaste for these two tracks dictate my anticipation for the full album, which drops June 14th.