Queen Madge and Colombian star Maluma released their new single “Medellin” earlier this week. The chill, dance-pop pas de deux is the first release from Madonna’s Madame X album. Taking their cues from the explosion of global pop, the song is a collaboration of English- and Spanish-language seduction.
It’s not the first time Madonna has made her foray into the realm of Latin America. Pitchfork‘s review of Medellin” recalled her early career single “La Isla Bonita” as well as her work for Evita as indication that this latest project with Maluma is only a natural next move. “[This history,] combined with the fact that Madge practically invented the now-common pop-star move of vampiring all that is young and hot from album to album, leads us down to Medellín, Colombia.”
While in Medellín for this track, Madonna’s lyrics suggested that through their romance, “We built a cartel just for love,” a metaphor that several publications flagged as entirely problematic. There are also parts of the single where we hear Madonna whisper-singing, “Ay ay ay.” I mean, when you’re a non-Spanish-speaking, over-the-hill white lady who doesn’t know how to express your state of mind to a prospective Latino lover, I guess ay ay ay fits the bill.
But Madonna is playing the role of Madame X, secret agent, for the album. “Madonna as secret agent, assuming myriad identities but never settling into one? That’s a brilliant way to deal with questions the pop superstar has faced in recent years about both cultural appropriation and her refusal to embrace her status as a mature woman and artist,” wrote NPR. In “Medellin” she’s a cha-cha instructor. She’ll also play the role of a head of state, a housekeeper, a nun, a saint, and a prostitute, among other identities.
Maluma and Madonna met backstage at last year’s MTV VMAs, a fateful meeting that set their collaboration into motion. “We just had a beautiful connection. She is one of my biggest inspirations,” Maluma told Billboard. Based on glimpses that their fans have seen on social media, they began recording “Medellin” in February.
On Instagram yesterday, Maluma shared a video of him listening to his track in the car, smiling and screaming with disbelief through tears. “Imposible contener las lágrimas y la emoción después de escuchar esto.. no saben mi felicidad y lo que representa esto para mi VIDA!” The joyous video has already racked up four million views since yesterday.