As expected, Madonna dropped her new single, “Medellin” ft Maluma, yesterday ahead of the June 14th release of her next album Madame X, her first since 2015’s Rebel Heart.
“Medellin” is not EDM, a relief. My friend Brian calls it “La Isla Bonita part 2”. Indeed, Madonna is going back to a Latin groove, inspired by her time living in Portugal. Instead of electronic dance beats, the vibe is reggaeton. It’s not a bad song, but I don’t know if it really takes off. And, to me at least, Maluma is the standout here, not Madonna. This may not be a problem though. After all, she’s Madonna. She has a whole ass album to be front and centre on. And it’s not like she’s ever hurting for attention…although…
Yesterday was not “Medellin’s” day. Yesterday belonged to someone else. As I predicted earlier this week, Madonna – and everyone else – would undeniably be overshadowed by Beyoncé yesterday, so I wonder how “Medellin” would have landed on a different day. And that’s an interesting question because Madonna is used to being the one dominating an entire day. This is how she usually plans it. That’s where my work curiosity comes in. Back in the day, when the music industry had a formula for rolling out new albums, people knew the schedule – there were no surprises. Doesn’t work that way now. Some artists are still observing the traditional process but many others are doing whatever they want, whenever they want. Netflix gave us a 10 day heads-up on the Homecoming documentary but Madonna’s team wouldn’t have known about Homecoming: The Live Album because Beyoncé was angling for the bonus surprise with the release of the film. And, as usual, it worked.
How, then, if you’re working on album release strategy, do you avoid these kinds of collisions? How do you position yourself so that you don’t get overshadowed?
Madonna will be promoting “Medellin” and Madame X hard in the coming weeks. I’m hoping she’ll show up at the Met Gala (theme: camp) on May 6. Then it’s Eurovision on May 18 and from there it’ll likely be a hard push right up to June when the album comes out. Expect then that she’ll be right up in our faces a LOT for the next few weeks. I’m not mad at that. I quite like the aesthetic of Madame X so far. This is a great shot:
And I want to know why she’s a runaway bride here:
But, again, the music has to back it up. “Medellin” seems like a solid, if not overwhelmingly exciting, start. Will the rest of it be stronger? And… are the lyrics going to be better? Madonna’s lyrics, especially over the last decade or so, can often be cringey. You want an example? Here’s how her song “I love New York” opens:
I don't like cities
But I like New York
Other places make me feel like a dork
Here’s an example of a great Madonna lyric – and you know this song, I don’t have to tell you the title:
Only when I’m dancing
Can I feel this free
I lock the door
So no one else can see
If Madame X has more of the second and less of the first, I think I’ll be good.