Madonna’s “Madame X” is number 1 on iTunes and on Amazon’s digital music chart thanks to ticket bundling. Every fan who bought a ticket to Madonna’s live show this fall automatically got a download of “Madame X.” The RIAA counts these downloads as sales. Madonna’s pulled this trick before to get a number 1 chart debut for a new recording. Then in the second week, sales drop 80% or more.
This time things may get trickier. “Madame X” is a really bad album, worse than usual in Madonna’s post-career releases. There are no dance songs on “Madame X,” but there’s a lot of political mumbo jumbo. Madonna, like Michael Jackson as he got older, thinks she can save the world. So she sings Hallmark politics about the left and the right, out to please everyone and achieving nothing.
From the sound of “Madame X,” Madonna actually has no ideas. At least when she sang about sex, she was defiant. That always came through. But back then Madonna didn’t have six children- four under the age of 13– who would sing along with her records. Now that she does, it’s a different game. Platitudes are now her business. They’re not even witty, there’s no wordplay.
But then it’s not just that the songs have no coherence lyrically. There’s also just a mess. Many of them are interrupted by strange digressions. “The Nutcracker Suite” pops up in one of them.The songs stop and start. On Wikipedia, her PR says she tried to make a record like “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Whaaaat? The problem, of course, is that unlike Freddie Mercury, Madonna is not a composer. She doesn’t write music. It’s unclear if she writes lyrics, really.
Oh for the days when Madge just worked with real songwriters. They did the heavy lifting, and she presented it in her own form. That’s how we got “Like a Prayer” and “Like a Virgin” and “Vogue.” But she can’t do that now. She can’t expose herself to a collaboration. So she sticks to Mirwais, who’s been there for her during the post-hit period, quietly trying to fashion a whole album out of thin air. I guess you could say they’ve done it again