I guess that’s the nature of the music industry, almost without exception. How many decades can you expect your muse to last?
After nearly three weeks of diving into Madonna’s catalog, we’ve arrived at her most recent album, 2019’s Madame X. Released at the ripe old age (by music industry standards) of 61, this is one of the most stylistically interesting records of her career.
Madonna had been living in Lisbon, Portugal, for a couple of years when she was inspired to craft an album that featured not only the sounds of that country, but of the many cultures with which she had come into contact while there.
Madonna’s 13th studio album, Rebel Heart, dropped in March of 2015. It marked a departure from the club-heavy albums she’d been putting out for more than a decade, leaning more on techno-tinged power ballads.
It was also her best record since 2005’s Confessions On a Dance Floor.
Rebel Heart has a large lineup of producers, both big names and small, including Kanye West, Avicii and Diplo. Nicki Minaj returns to feature on a track. But unlike on previous releases, that laundry list of contributors doesn’t overwhelm the final product.
After the lackluster results from the star-studded producer lineup of her previous effort, Madonna enlisted a host of lesser-known producers for this album. Most notably, she brought back William Orbit, who helped deliver one of her best albums in Ray of Light. Orbit’s contributions to MDNA are by far its best tracks.
I think that’s because it’s the first album that feels like she’s chasing something rather than blazing a new path.
On previous albums, Madonna sought out little-known producers who helped push her music in new directions, often redefining the pop music landscape in the process. On Hard Candy, she teamed up for the first time with established stars.