Forgave myself for being me
It follows her previous studio album, Rebel Heart (2015). It reunited Madonna with French producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï, who had previously produced Music (2000), American Life (2003) and Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005). Diplo and Mike Dean, who also worked on Rebel Heart, return to this album as well. Billboard, Jason Evigan, and Jeff Bhasker also produce. Pharrell Williams contributed one song for the special box set edition.
The album was Madonna's best-reviewed record since Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005). In general terms, the album was praised for its unique and experimental sounds.
In the long run, however, that didn't translate to commercial success, as it scored a 70/100 rating from review aggregate website Metacritic. While Madame X became Madonna's ninth album to top the Billboard 200 album chart—her first in seven years—it ended up only selling 169,000 copies in the United States. The only certification it earned was a Gold record in Italy.
The album was supported by four singles: "Medellín" (with Colombian singer Maluma), "Crave" (with American rapper Swae Lee), "I Rise", and "I Don't Search I Find". While all four hit #1 on the Billboard Dance chart, none of them featured on the Billboard Hot 100 at all, with "Medellín" hitting a wall at #87 on the UK pop chart.
- "Medellín" (with Maluma) - 4:58
- "Dark Ballet" - 4:14
- "God Control" - 6:19
- "Future" (with Quavo) - 3:53
- "Batuka" - 4:57
- "Killers Who Are Partying" - 5:28
- "Crave" (with Swae Lee) - 3:21
- "Crazy" - 4:02
- "Come Alive" - 4:02
- "Extreme Occident" - 3:41
- "Faz Gostoso" (featuring Anitta) - 4:05
- "Bitch, I'm Loca" (featuring Maluma) - 2:50
- "I Don't Search I Find" - 4:08
- "Looking for Mercy" - 4:50
- "I Rise" - 3:44
16. "Medellín" (Offer Nissim Madame X in the Sphinx) - 5:30
Deluxe 2-CD edition
- "Funana" - 3:42
- "Back Up to the Beat" - 3:50
- "Ciao Bella" - 5:36
- "Medellín" (Offer Nissim Madame X in the Sphinx) - 5:30
7'' Picture Disc
- "I Rise" - 3:44
- "I Rise" (instrumental) - 3:44
I Am Trope X:
- Alter-Ego Acting: Madonna presents herself as her alter-ego Madame X who embodies different personas and characters: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.
I'm going to give you a new name: Madame X. Every day, you come to school and I don't recognize you. Every day, you change your identity. You're a mystery to me.
- Madame X also wears an eyepatch (seen in many interviews Madonna has done so far), which she claims is for hiding a wound.
- Madonna has mentioned that she was first given this name when she was 19 by her dance instructor Martha Graham who said to her:
- Arc Symbol: The letter X which is featured on the album title itself, on the eyepatch and jewellery Madonna wears, the album booklet, and so on.
- Auto-Tune: The album features several songs that use this effect, including lead single "Medellín", "Future", "Dark Ballet" (with some Daft Punk-like vocals at a point), "God Control", "I Rise", "Funana", "Back that Up to the Beat", among others.
- Infamously used when her performance at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 was uploaded on Madonna's social media platforms after her live vocals were overwhelmingly criticized throughout the world prompting a reshuffled autotuned release. Fans were quick to point out that it was so badly done that even an audience member had his voice autotuned!
- Broken Record: The final part of "Come Alive" repeats the chorus over and over again. "Faz Gostoso" reiterates its chorus many times.
- Call-Back: "Extreme Occident" appears to be inspired by the Ray of Light era.
- The heavy use of Auto-Tune is reminiscent of the Music and American Life albums.
- "God Control" has been referred to as "Deeper and Deeper 2.0".
- Changed for the Video: So far, both music videos for the two singles ("Medellín" and "Crave") feature opening monologues not present otherwise in the studio versions:
Dear God, how can 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 too much. I cannot turn back. I have been kidnapped, tortured, humiliated and abused. In the end, 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 cant hit a moving target.
- In the case of "Medellín" a great majority of such monologue does appear in the "Offer Nissim Set Me Free" remix:
I am waiting for you. I have always been waiting for you. Im attracted to danger, I crave it. Dont 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.
- In "Crave", Madonna says at the beginning:
- Concept Album: The album is meant to represent its namesake's ability to portray many different personalities while maintaining her identity. It is a reflection of Madonna's own reinventions throughout her career without losing (with more or less success) her trademark.
- Continuity Nod: The "Dark Ballet" video contains a quote by Joan of Arc, which was also the name of a song from Rebel Heart (2015). The song itself references Joan of Arc's life and connections are made about how she was judged and Madonna's own criticism she has earned from the Catholic Church over the years (especially, during the Erotica/Sex period).
- A line from "Crazy" references "Like a Prayer": "I bent my knees for you like a prayer".
- Darker and Edgier: even if the album contains songs that are rather positive in their message, several songs discuss serious subjects, with a special mention to "God Control" and, less so, "I Rise", both concerning lack of gun control in America. Other songs discuss loneliness, and the desire to overcome bad times.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The music video for "Crave" for the most part. The one made for "Dark Ballet" has some scenes shot in black and white as well.
- Disco: "God Control" and "I Don't Search I Find".
- Epic Rocking: "God Control" clocks in at 6:19, which greatly contrasts with "Bitch, I'm Loca" which only clocks in at only 2:50. "Killers Who Are Partying" and "Ciao Bella" clock it at over 5 minutes.
- Face on the Cover: A close-up of Madonna's face a la Frida Kahlo (in the standard edition), or a photograph featuring a blonde Madonna (in most deluxe editions).
- Genre Throwback: "God Control" and "I Don't Search I Find" recall Madonna's output during the Erotica era.
- Gospel Music: "God Control" and "Come Alive" are backed up by the Tiffin Children's Chorus.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: This is Madonna's most linguistically diverse album, as it contains songs performed in English, Portuguese and Spanish (previous albums more or less only featured her singing in just two languages).
- Songs partially performed in Portuguese are: "Batuka", "Killers Who Are Partying", "Crazy", "Extreme Occident", "Faz Gostoso" and "Funana".
- "Medellín" and "Bitch, I'm Loca", both collaborations with Maluma, find Madonna performing in Spanish as well.
- Intercourse with You: "Bitch, I'm Loca" is the most evident example. Even the ending lines strongly imply that Madonna and Maluma are about to get it on:Maluma: Where do you want me to put this?Madonna: Um, you can put it inside
Maluma: Y pa' que te sientes aquí tengo un trono/Te gusta cabalgar, eso está claro/Si sientes que voy rápido, le bajo
- "Medellín" also implies a sexual relationship between Madonna and Maluma's characters:
- Let's Duet: "Medellín", "Future" and "Crave". In the case of "Medellín", it is Maluma who carries the most weight in terms of vocals.
- List Song: "Killers Who Are Partying" in which Madonna claims she will become gay, or convert to Islam, among other things, if they are to suffer.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "God Control" is about gun control set to a disco vibe.
- New Sound Album: Madame X incorporates many Latin and, perhaps most notoriously, Portuguese sounds as Madonna came up with the album concept while living in Lisbon. Several songs reflect this new-found flavor in their arrangements, most clearly in "Batuka" and "Faz Gostoso", for instance.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Dark Ballet", "Batuka", "Killers Who Are Partying", "Extreme Occident".
- On "Back that Up to the Beat", only the word "beat" is never mentioned.
- One-Word Title: "Medellín", "Future", "Batuka", "Crave", "Crazy" and "Funana".
- Product Placement: Maluma mentions Chanel and Cartier in "Bitch, I'm Loca".
- Record Producer: this album brought back Mirwais Ahmadzaï, who last worked with Madonna in 2005, apart from Diplo and Mike Dean, who worked on Madonna's previous album. Pharrell Williams, who collaborated with her on Hard Candy (2008), produced the box-set-only song "Back that Up to the Beat".
- Recycled Lyrics: Two lines from "Don't Tell Me" appear in "Future". A line from an unreleased track from the previous album ("Freedom") appears in "I Rise", as well.
- Repurposed Pop Song: "Back that Up to the Beat" was originally conceived for Rebel Heart and its demo version was leaked, alongside many other songs for that album. A reworked version appears in this album (albeit only in the deluxe box set edition). Also noteworthy is its similarity to the Hard Candy era as it was produced by Pharrell Williams, who worked on that album.
- Shout-Out: The standard album cover has drawn comparisons to Frida Kahlo.
- The bridge from "Dark Ballet" is reminiscent of Daft Punk's robotic vocals.
- Said song has also been viewed as Madonna's attempt to have her own Bohemian Rhapsody.
- "Funana" directly mentions several deceased artists, including Aretha Franklin, Mac Miller, Bob Marley, George Michael, Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Avicii, David Bowie, 2Pac, Freddie Mercury and Prince.
- The title of "I Don't Search I Find" is a translation of a famous quote by Picasso (Je ne cherche pas, je trouve). Madonna owns Picassos, as she revealed in 2015 on Jimmy Fallon's show.
- Sampling: "Dark Ballet" samples "The Nutcracker Suite: Dance of the Reed-Flutes" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
- Singer Name Drop: Madonna and Maluma call out each other's names and their own names on the two songs they collaborate. This also happens with Maluma's song "Soltera".
- Sir Not Appearingin This Trailer: "I Rise" marks the only video (so far) in which Madonna does not appear. This is due to a focus on the song's message, so as not to eclipse it with her presence.
- Special Guest: The album contains several collaborations:
- "Medellín" and "Bitch, I'm Loca" feature Colombian singer Maluma. Madonna herself featured on the latter's song called "Soltera" (from his third studio album, 11:11).
- "Future" features American rapper Quavo. Madonna had previously appeared on the latter's song "Champagne Rosé" in 2018.
- "Crave" features American rapper Swae Lee.
- "Faz Gostoso" features Brazilian singer Anitta.
- The music video for "Dark Ballet" features Mykki Blanco.
- Spiritual Successor: Madonna's vocals in "Medellín" have been compared to those of "La Isla Bonita". The imagery that the lyrics transmit is also reminiscent of said song.
- Updated Re-release: Not re-releases per se, but, as with previous albums, Madame X is no exception when it comes to special editions:
- There's the standard 13-track edition;
- The 15-track edition that includes "Extreme Occident" and "Looking for Mercy";
- For Japan, it adds a 16th track, a remix of "Medellín" (also released separately alongside a bunch of other remixes);
- The deluxe box set includes the 15-track edition, plus a second disc with 3 other songs: "Funana", "Back that Up to the Beat" and "Ciao Bella" (here's the cover for this edition:◊), as well as a 7'' picture disc that includes "I Rise" and its instrumental version and a 13-track cassette edition.
- The Japanese box set edition again includes the "Medellín" remix but as part of the second disc.
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: "Crave" is the only straightforward example.