I was over at my friend Iain’s the other night and whenever Iain and I get together, Madonna dominates our conversation. Iain has a PhD in Madonna. He went to see her last tour, Rebel Heart, something like 14 times all around the world.
It’s been a quiet few years for Madonna – by her standards. She’s been living in Portugal, being “a soccer mom”, her words not mine, slowing down from the pace that she’s been known for her entire career. And if your reaction to that is to say, well, yeah, of course, she’s 60 now, if you know Madonna, that’s the last thing she wants to hear. Madonna, like all superstars, all of them narcissists (you kind of have to be to get that level), is timeless in her mind.
I grew up on Madonna. In recent years, I haven’t always loved what she does and says, but I will never NOT be a Madonna fan. I will never not acknowledge Madonna’s place in pop culture. I will never not consider The Immaculate Collection one of the most important albums of my life. And to think, it came out in 1990. She’d only been famous at that time for, like, five years. Go through that track list. It’s incredible. So whenever Madonna makes moves, I care. And she’s making moves now.
A new album is on the way: Madame X. She’s been all over Instagram promoting it. Like a LOT. Some artists are known for sparing hints. Madonna doesn’t know what that means. There are multiple posts every day. Already today there have been three. I do like the visuals though. The looks are amazing. Madonna has always been great at the look of things.
As for the theme – I lead and I follow, I’m a virgin, I’m a whore, this is familiar Madonna territory. She wrote Sex in character as “Dita”, remember? Sex was actually originally supposed to be called X until she scrapped it because there was a lot of other pop culture out at the time that was X-titled. So now we’ve come back to it over 25 years later, not in exactly the same way, as Madame X’s identities cover a broader range than Dita, but it feels like it comes from the same place of invention. Which is a word synonymous with her career, specifically the idea of RE-invention. Madonna has always been about changing moods, changing aesthetic, changing styles with every era.
But none of that matters if the songs aren’t there. There were good songs on Rebel Heart. But none became big bangers, megahits. I want a Madonna megahit. I miss experiencing a Madonna megahit, like a Madonna song you just can’t escape. That song has eluded her for a while now. Has she found it for Madame X? Is it "Medellin"?
The single drops tomorrow. I’m the asshole who hears “Medellin” in an entertainment context and I think Entourage. So I’m ready. I’m ready to change that association. I’m cautiously optimistic. There were some signs that Madonna was going to release a new project last fall but it didn’t happen. So the fact that she hit pause on whatever it was and has taken more time to get it right and ready feels good to me. I like the timing of it all too.
Tomorrow the single (although it’ll be competing with #BeyoncéHomecoming) and then perhaps an appearance at the Met Gala and she’s apparently in talks to be at Eurovision May 18. Followed by a summer album drop, in June? For Pride? If that’s how it’s going to flow, that’s not a bad rollout.
Attached - Madonna leaving a Kaballah service the other day in London.