A week of big releases also reveals some gems worth your time: Madonna‘s Madame X proves to be a style-sampling adventure around the world in album form; Gloria Gaynor releases a video to go along with her comeback gospel single; Matoma teams up with MNEK and Kiana Ledé on an empowering dance track; GoldLink and Khalid find a solemn groove on “Days Like This;” and Finneas taps into his most romantic side on “Angel.”
“Faz Gostoso,” Madonna feat. Anitta
Madame X, Madonna’s fourteenth album, is an eclectic project. In some ways, it’s best taken as a sampler of global music styles, filtered through the lens of the pop queen. There’s Maluma on the first single “Medellin” and the later reggaeton jam “B-tch I’m Loca,” there are African-inspired drums on the trip that is “Batuka” and there are trilling Spanish-style guitars on “Killers Who Are Partying.” It helps to understand that Madonna moved to Lisbon in 2017, contributing to her exploration of different musical styles, including Portuguese fado, the culture’s own blues tradition. “Faz Gostoso” isn’t fado, but leans into her new comfort with Portuguese, featuring Brazilian pop singer Anitta in a baile-funk slow-banger that will get under your skin. Madonna sounds confident in the strange new musical world she’s made. “I like to party,” she says in an extended bridge mid-song; you tend to believe her.
“Back on Top,” Gloria Gaynor
Yes, that Gloria Gaynor is back — on top, by her own insistence — with the new single off her first gospel album out this month, Testimony. (It’s also her first album of new material in over a decade.) The 75-year-old disco star and iconic “I Will Survive” singer has, indeed, survived through some challenges. But as she sings in the foot-stomping, bluesy jam that is “Back on Top,” “I took some knock down punches, but I’m still standing strong / Back in the groove, got a whole new view.” Gaynor is as inimitably soulful as ever; she deserves every warm welcome back, 40 years after “I Will Survive” established her as a star.
“Bruised Not Broken,” Matoma feat. MNEK & Kiana Ledé
Norwegian DJ and producer Matoma is known for dance-pop tracks mixing tropical instincts with deep house flair. “Bruised Not Broken” is a layered and uplifting dance track; it would be hard for this one not to improve your mood. Producer and singer MNEK brings soulful weight to the vocals, while Ledé offers a vibrant counterpoint. “Damaged but I’m coping, holding on and hoping I’ll find where I’m going,” they duet. “Took some time but it’s gonna be alright.” Some power anthems can feel unwarranted, but this one has melodic heft to match its subject matter.
“Days Like This,” GoldLink feat. Khalid
D.C.-area rapper GoldLink stays dark and brooding on “Days Like This” off his sophomore album, the new release Diaspora. R&B crooner Khalid offers his talents as a light, sinuous singer and featured collaborator, but this is ultimately GoldLink’s show; his rapped verse is quick and effortless but menacing, a melancholy reflection on dark parts of an imperfect youth. “No lie, I ride, I die, for mine,” he promises, segueing into a poetically bleak take on a romantic encounter. “Man, I gotta vent,” Khalid echoes on the chorus, “I don’t have no friends.”
Finneas is the 21-year-old singer-songwriter-producer brother of teen pop wunderkind Billie Eilish; Eilish created her hit debut album with him in their childhood home and bedroom studio. Finneas’s solo music shares the melancholy bent that seems to be a family trait, but where Eilish skews eerie, Finneas is melodic and sweet. “Angel” is tender and intimate, a ballad with soaring chorus vocals and love-letter warmth over delicate piano keys. He hums and murmurs and finds a lovely falsetto, unhurried in his professions of love. “You’re an angel in my eyes,” he sings, all deep feeling.