Just one week out from the release of Madonna’s fourteenth studio album Madame X, let’s assemble the pieces of how this new persona has unfolded so far to get a glimpse into the sure-to-be iconic album, out June 14.
On April 14, Madonna uploaded the first mention of the alter-ego to her Instagram and YouTube accounts. In the super short clip, she says:
“I decided to call my album Madame X… Madame X is a secret agent. Traveling around the world. Changing identities. Fighting for freedom. Bringing light to dark places. She is a dancer. A professor. A head of state. A housekeeper. An equestrian. A prisoner. A student. A mother. A child. A teacher. A nun. A singer. A saint. A whore. A spy in the house of love. I am Madame X.”
On April 17 she published the audio to the album’s first single Medellin, a duet with Colombian star Maluma. But it wasn’t ’til April 24 that we got the video, which includes this monologue at the beginning:
How could I trust anyone after years of disappointment and betrayal? How could I not want to run away, again and again. Escape.
I will never be what society expects me to be. I have seen to much. I cannot turn back. I have been kidnapped, tortured, humiliated, and abused. And yet I still have hope. I still believe in the goodness of humans. Thank God for nature. For the angels that surround me. For the spirit of my mother, who is always protecting me.
From now on, I am Madame X.
And Madame X loves to dance.
Because you can’t hit a moving target.”
On May 2 Madonna released the single I Rise, which begins with a sample from school shooting survivor and activist Emma Gonzalez’s impassioned speech at a gun law rally in Fort Lauderdale in March 2018. “They say that us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works – we call BS,” Gonzalez cries.
On May 9 we got the audio to Crave, a duet with singer-songwriter-rapper Swae Lee, but the video dropped on May 22 – and like Medellin, it came with a prologue.
“I’m waiting for you. I have always been waiting for you. I’m attracted to danger. I crave it. Don’t we all want what we know is not good for us? What we know might break us in the end? And yet, we fly towards it. Always wanting the thing we cannot have.”
The audio for single Future (with American rapper Quavo) appeared on May 16. There’s no video yet, but if the above pattern is anything to go by, we should be seeing one very soon. And just after that was, of course, Madonna’s Eurovision performance, during which two of her dancers turned their backs to the audience to reveal that their shirts were emblazoned with the Palestinian and Israeli national flags. They locked arms and climbed the stairs of the stage together.
Although it’s redundant to say that Madonna isn’t afraid of controversy and has always championed causes for which she feels strongly, at the very least it seems Madame X is going to comprise more socio-political opinion than the Material Girl has ever revealed to us before, and that the alter-ego is her most fearless yet. We’re here for it.