Madonna going to / leaving The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (June 20 2019)
At its most interesting, Madonna’s first album in four years conjures up a few surprises, not least the tempo-twisting Dark Ballet and its mash-up minimalist piano, vocoder-voiced bridge borrowing from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and trip-hop undertones. There’s also much to admire in the sweeping Philadelphia soul and Vogue-like chants of God Control, or the noir-esque balladry of I Don’t Search, I Find. It’s hamstrung, however, by an over-reliance on by-the-book Latin motifs, often accompanied by Portuguese or Spanish-language vocals and woolly protest lyrics like, “I’ll be Islam if Islam is hated/I’ll be Israel if they’re incarcerated” (Killers Who Are Partying). Coupled with excursions into pedestrian African tribal rhythms and generic Jamaican dancehall, it gives the impression of a woman pitching jingles for a Benetton commercial. Teny Staunton
3 out of 5 stars
We honor the first 20 years of music legends’ careers for the drive that elevates them from anonymity to celebrity and the vision that keeps them in flight throughout the best years. We spend the next 20 years weaponizing their own standards against them, calling each album a “radical departure” or a “return to form” or else quietly losing interest in everything but the classics. There’s more love for “Taxman” and “Drive My Car” than “Say Say Say” or “Got My Mind Set on You.” The Queen movie’s narrative ends early at Live Aid; the Elton flick calls it at “I’m Still Standing,” before things get weird in the ’80s. People want to remember their favorite figures at their best, but the miscalculations and recalibrations that happen afterward are just as integral to the story of a brilliant career as the moves made at the artist’s peak. read more →
“Freedom,” sings Madonna, “is what you choose to do with what’s been done to you.” This lyric from the artist’s new song “I Rise,” off her 14th studio album Madame X, is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit. A new video inspired by the song, created by Madonna and TIME Studios, weaves together footage of the survivors of the Parkland shooting, supporters of LGBTQ equality, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman’s powerful testimony about sexual abuse, first responders to natural disasters and other social justice movements. The video, directed by Peter Matkiwsky, tells the story of a global population fighting for rights, recognition and survival. TIME Studios recently released its first feature film, “Amazing Grace.”
Madonna in Vanity Fair Italia (Issue #26 – June 26 2019)
Madonna’s 14th album feels stretched thin all over the globe, layered with an ambitious concept that ends up muddled and convoluted.
There is a case to be made for classifying Madonna, in 2019, as an underdog. Granted, it requires overlooking the superstar’s grotesque wealth and enduring ability to command some sort of an audience with every public move. But her status as a pop star has degraded considerably in the last 15 years. Whereas they once inspired awe, or at least controversy, her live televised appearances of late tend to yield mockery. Her days of hit-making seem long behind her. Her last album, 2015’s Rebel Heart, was a mess with more tracks and less to say than any Madonna record that preceded it. Apathy ensued.
It seems that Madonna, once queen of pop and enforcer of the regimentation that comes with that, is no longer controlling her narrative. This was never more evident than in her denouncement of a recent New York Times Magazine profile by journalist Vanessa Grigoriadis, who Madonna dragged in an Instagram post for focusing on “trivial and superficial matters” such as her age. “It makes me feel raped,” wrote Madonna, echoing a contentious comment she made to Grigoriadis about her reaction to several Rebel Heart tracks leaking months before she had completed the album. read more →
Madonna arriving at NYC’s JFK Airport (June 16 2019)
Madame X is a radical body of work, but perhaps not in the way Madonna intended. She rails against injustice and oppression with the fervor of a preacher, imbuing the album with a righteousness that is palpable. As brave and commendable as that is, the Queen of Pop’s musical missives lack nuance. Rather, it’s her complete defiance of genre that makes Madame X genuinely groundbreaking.
From the promo video that announced the era, we know that Madame X is, among other things, a nun and an equestrian. She can also add sane scientist to her resume. The pop icon concocts a collection of songs that blend reggaeton, dancehall, pop, hip-hop, afrobeat and fado — all without losing sight of her mission. As the living legend knows better than most, music makes the people come together. And she’s determined to forge unity and resistance, one pop-hybrid at a time. read more →
Madonna will be on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday June 20th.