Medellín (song)

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"Medellín"
Image depicting a man wearing glasses and a red suit, and a white blond woman wearing a white dress, a hat and an eye-patch while looking to the camera; the image has white borders written "MADONNA + MALUMA" on top and "MEDELLÍN" on the bottom. Additionally, there are black borders surrounding it.
Single by Madonna and Maluma
from the album Madame X
Language
  • English
  • Spanish
ReleasedApril 17, 2019 (2019-04-17)
Format
GenreLatin pop
Length4:58
LabelInterscope
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Madonna
  • Mirwais
Madonna singles chronology
"Hold Tight"
(2015)
"Medellín"
(2019)
"Crave"
(2019)
Maluma singles chronology
"HP"
(2019)
"Medellín"
(2019)
"La Respuesta"
(2019)
Music video
"Medellín" on YouTube

"Medellín" is a song by American singer Madonna and Colombian singer Maluma from Madonna's fourteenth studio album Madame X (2019). The song was written by Madonna, Mirwais, Maluma and Edgar Barrera, while production was handled by Madonna and Mirwais. It was released as the lead single from the album on April 17, 2019, by Interscope Records. "Medellín" is named after the city in Colombia which Maluma was born, and is a Latin pop song with elements of reggaeton and dance-pop which lyrically finds the singers reflecting on past struggles while dreaming about a trip to the aforementioned city.

"Medellín" received generally positive reviews from music critics, who called the song Madonna's best work in years, as well as an improvement over her previous two lead singles. They also compared it with Madonna's previous Latin-inspired songs, particularly the 1987 single "La Isla Bonita". In the United States, "Medellín" failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100, but became Madonna's 47th chart-topping hit on the Dance Club Songs chart, extending her record as the artist with the most number ones on the chart. It also reached the top 10 on the digital charts in Finland and Portugal, as well as in Colombia and Venezuela.

The accompanying music video for "Medellín" was directed by Spanish director Diana Kunst and multi-disciplinary artist Mau Morgó, and was released in April 2019 during a live MTV special. It featured several scenes of Madonna and Maluma interacting, ending with a Latin inspired feast taking place. The music video was critically appreciated by critics who noted resemblances with Madonna's past work. The song was performed live by the singers at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards; the performance featured several digital effects provided by augmented reality, including four virtual versions of Madonna's Madame X alter-ego. "Medellín" was later included on the setlists of Madonna's Madame X Tour (2019–20) and Maluma's 11:11 World Tour (2019–21).

Background and release[edit]

In 2017, Madonna relocated to Lisbon when seeking a top football academy for her son David Banda, who wanted to become a professional association football player.[1] While living in the city, she began meeting artists, such as painters and musicians, who would invite her to "living room sessions". In the sessions, they would bring food and sit around the table, and musicians would start playing instruments, singing Fado and samba music.[1] For the album, she worked with longtime collaborator Mirwais, who had previously contributed to her albums Music (2000), American Life (2003) and Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005).[2] During the recording process, Madonna presented an award at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City, where she met Colombian singer Maluma. The singer mentioned that she and Mirwais started "listening to his music more closely and liked all the reggaeton that he does", as they wanted to do something slightly different, but still having a connection to the music he makes. Afterwards, they started working on music as Maluma started commenting and adding things, and eventually got into the studio together.[3]

In February 2019, Maluma posted a photo on Instagram in the studio with Madonna.[4] He revealed in an interview with Forbes that they were working together, saying: "Madonna and I are cooking there together, making some beautiful songs. I'm very excited. That's a huge step for my culture, for Latin culture, it's very very big."[5] On April 15, 2019, Madonna announced "Medellín", featuring Maluma, as the lead single from her fourteenth studio album Madame X, and also shared the cover art, featuring her sitting next to Maluma while wearing a wedding dress.[6] Madonna revealed after Madame X was released that she decided to collaborate with Maluma after she realized that Maluma loves horses, as she does.[7] The singer also described Maluma as "great to work with", as well as "one of the most easygoing, open, warm, generous – doesn't leave the studio until the work is done. Has great work ethic. I adore him. Nothing but great things to say about him".[8] "Medellín" was premiered on April 17, 2019 through Beats 1 radio, where she also was interviewed by Zane Lowe.[3]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

"Medellín" was written by Madonna, Maluma, Mirwais and Edgar Barrera, while production was handled by the singer and Mirwais.[9] The song is named after the city in Colombia where Maluma was born,[10] being written bilingually in English and Spanish.[11][12] Musically, it is a Latin pop song with elements of "classic" reggaeton and a "breezy" dance-pop sound, being centered around a "classic cha-cha-chá groove".[13][14][15] According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Universal Music Publishing Group, "Medellín" is set in common time with a tempo of 92 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of A major, and follows a chord progression of A–G–E in the verses.[16]

Madonna begins the song whispering the verses "One, two, one, two, one two, cha cha cha", while delivering "breathy" vocals in an ASMR-like style, and later singing "reflective" lyrics: "I took a pill and had a dream/ I went back to my seventeenth year/ Allowed myself to be naïve/ to be someone I've never been".[11] Maluma then begins his part singing in Spanish asking Madonna to take a trip with him to Medellín, with him acting as her tour guide.[17] At one point he references Madonna's hometown, Detroit: "And if you want, we'll go to Detroit (You know)/ If I know where you come from, then I know where to go".[11][18] Interspersed with Maluma's vocals, Madonna is heard singing about how "another me can now begin" and for once does not have to hide herself.[19] As the song reaches its chorus, the artists sing "Ven conmigo, let's take a trip/ Ven conmigo, I'll be so good for you", in a "lovey-dovey call-and-response" with a "deep house euphoria".[13][15][20] Madonna also references the city's violent past as the home base of narcoterrorist Pablo Escobar as she sings, "We built a cartel just for love/ Venus was hovering above us".[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Upon release, "Medellín" was met with mostly positive reviews from music critics. Rolling Stone's Jon Blistein deemed it "sultry and slinky", further commenting that it "moves effortlessly between a sparse, understated verse and a brilliant chorus bursting with deep house euphoria".[15] Also from the magazine, Rob Sheffield considered it "scandal-bait".[22] Writing for NME, Charlotte Gunn called it a "surprising, self-reflective gem of a pop song", as well as "arguably her best work in years".[11] For Idolator, Mike Wass hailed it a "reggaeton-infused, oddball delight", and expressed that "the most pleasing thing [about 'Medellín'] is the core theme of letting go and taking chances".[23] For Variety, Jem Aswad felt that while "Medellín" was not "the dancefloor-filling that fans might be hoping for, it’s a sultry and promising introduction to Madonna’s latest era".[21] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine compared the track to Madonna's 1987 single "La Isla Bonita", and highlighted her "sugary harmonies", that "balance out Maluma’s gigolo routine with a dreamy sweetness".[24] On his review of the song, Owen Myers for The Guardian, said it was the singer's "most subdued lead single since 1998’s stately 'Frozen'"; nonetheless, he concluded that it was a "potent reminder of Madonna's genre-mashing skills" and proved that she's "well equipped to weather the demands of today’s listening trends while bringing global styles into her own world".[13] On a similar note, Gay Times' Daniel Megarry ranked it the third best song on Madame X, and deemed it "her most risky lead single since 'American Life', but with time [...] one of her best".[12] Jaime Tabberer, from Gay Star News, opined that it was "undeniably fresh", "relaxed" and "catchy", and a better lead single than "Living for Love" (2014) and "Give Me All Your Luvin'" (2012).[25] Eve Barlow of Vulture noted that it was Madonna's best lead single since "Hung Up" (2005), as well as an updated version of "La Isla Bonita".[26] Entertainment Weekly's Joey Nolfi called it a "breezy summer anthem".[27]

"Madge and Colombian mega-hottie Maluma‘s sultry, symmetrical game of cat-and-mouse is more pleasurable with every spin. Their riveting performance at April’s BBMAs was the highlight of the entire night. Featured artists on Madonna records don’t always work (who could possibly match her for personality?), but she confects pure ear candy with Maluma; there’s genuine, easy chemistry there."

—Samuel R. Murrian from Parade, talking about "Medellín" on his list of Madonna's 100 best songs[28]

For the HuffPost's Daniel Welsh, it was an "intriguing" listen, and praised the singer's lyrics for showing a more vulnerable side. He said that despite seemingly following "the reggaeton trend that has been dominating the charts in recent years", it was far from "Madonna chasing a hit".[19] On his review of Madame X, Jeremy Helligar for Variety said "Medellín" was a "deceptively lovely opening statement that only hints at the fire raging just ahead". Helligar also praised the sexual tension between Madonna and Maluma, concluding that the singer "sounds as inviting as she did cooing about the tropical island breeze in 1987", this last part being a reference to "La Isla Bonita".[29] From The Guardian, Ben Beaumont-Thomas said that even though it didn't count with an "absolutely diamond pop chorus", it did have an "elegant, sinewy melody that twines around you rather than jabbing you into submission".[30] While reviewing the album, El Hunt from NME said that it "recalls Hard Candy's 'Give It 2 Me'".[31] Mike Wass from Idolator considered "Medellín" a "dreamy" duet and "one of the record's most accessible cuts".[32] Louise Bruton from The Irish Times, praised its playfulness and deemed it "quirky".[33] According to Nicolas Hautman from Us Weekly, the song's "breezy and summery vibe almost make it feel like a subdued sequel to 'La Isla Bonita'".[34] While reviewing Madame X, Daniel Welsh from HuffPost opined it was one of the album's "party tracks tinged with sadness".[35]

Caryn Ganz from The New York Times gave a mixed review, and noted that "while its missteps aren't barbed enough to deflate a reverie", the song was "more like a stride in the right direction than an emphatic stomp forward".[36] On a more critical note, Pitchfork's Jillian Mapes felt "Medellín" would be a bigger hit for Maluma rather than for Madonna. Mapes explained that while it was "more sonically restrained" than some of Madonna's previous works, she still sounded like she was struggling to "find a balance between campy bangers and more mature balladry", and that it was Maluma who truly stood out; "the chorus pops off into a joyous celebration because of him". The author concluded her review by referring to "Medellín" as "something of a sexy, stylish middle ground" for Madonna, but criticized the line "We built a cartel just for love" for being "cringe-y".[37] Robbie Barnett from the Washington Blade, was less favorable, opining that "when compared to the other offerings on the album, this comes off as one of the weaker tracks".[38] A more negative review came from the New York Post's Chuck Arnold, who dismissed the song as "one of the worst singles in a career filled with so many memorable ones".[39]

Commercial performance[edit]

Close-up image of a black woman holding make-up bottles while looking to her left. She wears a pink shirt and has wavy black hair.
"Medellín" extended Madonna's record as the artist with the most number-one singles on the Dance Club Songs chart, pulling further ahead of runner-up Rihanna.

In the United States, "Medellín" debuted at number one on Billboard's Latin Digital Songs chart with two days of sales and streaming activity, selling 5,000 digital copies.[40] It debuted at number 35 on the Dance Club Songs chart for the week ending May 11, 2019, becoming Maluma's second song to enter the chart.[40] On May 30, 2019, the song reached number seven, extending Madonna's record as the artist with the most top 10 singles on a Billboard component chart, with 67 singles.[41] It eventually reached the top in the week ending June 29, 2019, becoming her 47th and Maluma's first number-one single, extending Madonna's record as the artist with the most number ones on the chart. She pulled further ahead of runner-up Rihanna, who had 33 number-one singles at that time.[42] "Medellín" debuted at number 34 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, on the week dated April 27, 2019. It became Madonna's fourth entry on the chart and her first since "Celebration" (2009).[43] A week later, it reached its peak of number 18, surpassing the peak of Madonna's single "You'll See" (1995), which reached number 21.[44]

Across Europe, "Medellín" experienced moderate success. In Belgium, it peaked at number eight in Belgium's Flemish region and number seven in Wallonia, on the charts registering songs just below the main charts.[45][46] In France, the song debuted and peaked at number eleven on the French download chart, while reaching number three in Greece's digital songs chart.[47][48] "Medellín" also peaked at number nine in both Croatia and Hungary.[49][50] In Italy, the song debuted at number 38 for the week ending April 25, 2019, eventually reaching number 37 two weeks later.[51][52] It received a gold certification by Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana (FIMI), for sales of 25,000 copies in the country.[53] The song was less successful in Spain, peaking at number 67, while it achieved similar success in Switzerland, reaching number 69.[54][55] "Medellín" debuted and peaked at number 87 on the UK Singles Chart, spending only one week on the chart, for the issue dated May 2, 2019.[56] It also charted at number 15 on the Euro Digital Songs chart.[57]

In Latin America, "Medellín" peaked at number 57 on the Argentina Hot 100 chart, while it reached the top of the Anglo Airplay chart.[58][59] It also reached the top 10 in Colombia on the chart compiled by Monitor Latino.[60] In Mexico, the song debuted at number 36 on the Spanish airplay chart, eventually reaching number 19 weeks later.[61][62] "Medellín" additionally reached number 17 in Panama and five in Venezuela.[63][64] In Asia, the song reached number 12 on China's airplay chart, on its first issue dated April 29, 2019.[65] It additionally peaked at number seven in Israel, while reaching number 73 on the Japan Hot 100 chart.[66][67]

Music video[edit]

Development[edit]

Image of a blond woman looking to her right. She is wearing black attire as well as a black eye-patch adorned with a red X.
Image of a man looking to the camera. He is smiling and wearing glasses.
Madonna (left) and Maluma (right) during the world premiere of the music video on MTV's London studios

The accompanying music video for "Medellín" was filmed at the Quinta Nova de Assunção palace near Lisbon.[68] Madonna and her crew originally wanted to film the video at the Carmo Convent, but it did not happen as the building was under works.[69] It was directed by Spanish director Diana Kunst and multi-disciplinary artist Mau Morgó.[70] Madonna commented that she had seen Kunst's work first, and noted that she was influenced by same painters and filmmakers that she was interested in, such as surrealist painters Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington. Madonna felt that her videos were "very painterly and I loved her color palette", as she wanted the video for "Medellín" to look like a painting.[1]

The music video was premiered on April 24, 2019, during a live MTV UK and MTV special presented by Trevor Nelson which Madonna participated in from MTV's studios in London, while Maluma participated from Miami. It aired across numerous MTV networks and digital channels. At the special, fans participated via satellite from New York City, Milan and São Paulo and had the opportunity to ask the singer questions.[71] Bruce Gillmer, global head of Viacom, and co-brand head of MTV International, noted that Madonna and MTV "have been intrinsically tied since their respective youths" and said they were "thrilled" to collaborate with her for the premiere.[72]

The looks worn by Madonna in the music video were provided by a team led by stylist and i-D fashion editor Ib Kamara with styling consultant Eyob Yohannes and stylist Miguel Cervera, while Maluma's personal stylist Julian Rios created his own looks. Madonna's long elbow-length leather gloves were made in Italy by New York-based designer Carolina Amato's accessory house Amato, and worn by the singer as a tribute to Graham, who inspired her to create the Madame X alter-ego. She also wore a custom leather eye-patch by Gregory Kara decorated with a red X, made of Swarovski crystals throughout various scenes in the video, and floor-sweeping tan wrap dress with red-tipped kimono-sleeves by fashion brand Polomo Spain, during the opening scenes.[73] In an interview with iHeartRadio's The Box, Madonna recalled that it was a "really fun video to make", even though "we worked 18 hours a day and it was freezing cold and I had to ride a horse at 6 o'clock in the morning with one eye, I had a ball".[74]

Synopsis[edit]

Image of several people at a party. On the left, there are people wearing colorful make-up and outfits as a woman and a man stand out on the middle; the woman wears a white dress, a hat and an eye-patch, while the man wears a red suit and glasses. Other people appear on their back as candles are also featured.
Screenshot of the "Medellín" music video showing Madonna and Maluma dancing around in carnivalesque, Latin inspired wedding attires.

The music video starts off with Madonna praying in an empty church room about her struggles and hope for the future of humanity. She says she had seen too much, and had been kidnapped, tortured and humiliated throughout her life, but still believes in the goodness of humans. The singer also thanks God for angels surrounding her, as well as the spirit of her mother protecting her. The shots are interrupted with black and white shots of Madonna running through the woods, wearing an eye-patch with an X and a long velvet dress, until she reaches a man wearing black, riding a horse. As she says, "From now on, I am Madame X, and Madame X loves to dance, because you can't hit a moving target", the screen shows the words "Madame X", "Medellín" and "Maluma" in capital letters.

The song then starts playing, with the singer conducting a cha-cha-cha class with Maluma being her chosen dance partner. More shots follow with them in bed displaying affection, smoking and drinking champagne, as well as Madonna playfully sucking Maluma's toe. Afterwards, a massive Latin inspired feast takes place, in the style of a wedding, with Madonna invading the party stomping on a large dining table in a wedding dress, a white hat and a white eye-patch made out of pins. As she nears the end of the table where Maluma is sat, they engage in a kiss, but the scene is cut to scenes of Madonna running through the woods. It is interrupted with Madonna dancing at the party scenes as Maluma watches her, and he ends up removing a garter from her thigh. He follows to dance with her and more shots of Madonna dancing around a horse is shown. At the end of the video, they ride off together into the morning sun.

Reception[edit]

Billboard magazine staff called it a "wild video" and a "cinematic clip", featuring a "raucous wedding celebration".[75] Lyndsey Parker from Yahoo! Music deemed the video a "artsy clip", and complimented the "sizzling" chemistry between Madonna and Maluma.[76] Attitude's Will Stroude called it a "captivating new visual" and "one of her most exciting in years".[77] Kate Halfpenny of The New Daily complimented its "astonishing visuals" and noted that the horse scenes featured in the video were reminiscent of soap opera Dynasty.[78] Sandra Song from Paper called the music video a "fucked up fairy tale" and observed the array of visuals for Madonna's "larger-than-life" alter-ego in the video.[79] According to Nylon's Allison Stubblebine, the video is "drenched in absolute excess and opulence", with Madonna "lounging in a formal gown alongside a silk-pajama-wearing Maluma", and "stomping down the dining table in a veiled cowboy hat to her new husband", and calling it "one hell of a party".[80] Shakiel Mahjouri from ET Canada called "Medellín" a "visually-stunning" music video in which Madonna "brings her rebellious spirit, using dance and song, into another dimension".[81]

Marissa G. Muller of W magazine noted its "wild" nature, and also complimented Madonna and Maluma's throughout the video, and observed resemblances with the singer's past work, but said that "that monologue, however, has little bearing on the rest of the video".[82] Christopher Rudolph from NewNowNext noted nods to some of Madonna's "most iconic" past videos such as "Human Nature" (1995) and "Like a Virgin" (1994).[83] Hayley Maitland of Vogue UK also noted resemblances with Madonna's past work in the music video, such as "Like a Prayer" (1989) in the opening praying scene, while stated that the cowboy hat and the wedding dress she wore during the wedding scene recalled visuals for her albums Music (2000) and Like a Virgin (1984).[84] Idolator's Mike Wass also compared the opening scene with "Like a Prayer", and commented that "Medellín" was a "raised middle finger at ageists, misogynists and assorted other haters", as well as a "gorgeous work of art".[85] Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo from Jezebel was negative, stating that Madonna, Maluma and the team behind them both decided to "dig deeper into the feces they laid out last week with these over-the-top, meaningless visuals", describing the scene where Madonna sucks Maluma's toe as disturbing and "sadly can't be unseen".[86]

Live performances[edit]

On April 19, 2019, it was confirmed by Billboard that Madonna and Maluma would perform the song live for the first time during the Billboard Music Awards, which would take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 1, 2019.[87] It featured four virtual versions of her Madame X alter ego — a secret agent, a musician, a cha-cha instructor and a bride.[88] Also present were elements such as a garden, rain and bursting blasts of color, provided by augmented reality, being the first time it was used on American television.[89][90] The effects were made through volumetric capture, and game engine Unreal Engine. Jamie King, Madonna's creative director, said he looked for something special for the performance and settled on the idea of augmented reality, as he wanted to explore a way to involve her Madame X personas into the performance, as well as the possibility of Madonna being able to perform with them.[88] Once it was decided, her team brought the concept to a creative company called Sequin, which was in charge of developing the performance. It was done using three cameras enabled for augmented reality: a crane, a front-of-house camera and a wireless Steadicam.[88] Attendees at the awards show were able to see only through the screens inside the arena.[88]

After being introduced by Kelly Clarkson, Madonna started the performance laying beneath a virtual garden, wearing a "pirate-like getup" and an eye-patch with an X, as well as "retro pin-curled wave[d]" hair.[91][92][93] As Maluma appears wearing silky black button-down, the stage transforms into a patio restaurant, and they dance together on the tables as well as with the virtual versions of Madame X.[92] During the performance, the singers recreated scenes from the song's music video, with Maluma removing a garter from Madonna's thigh.[94] After the performance, the song gained a increase in streams, rising by 261% in streams to 2.2 million (up from 596,000).[95] Andrew Unterberger from Billboard ranked it as the second best performance of the night, calling it "memorable" and saying it was "good to see that the pop legend certainly hasn't lost her ability to surprise and delight".[96] The performance eventually won the Best Use of AR in Live Broadcast category at the Lumiere Awards.[97] Madonna also performed "Medellín" on her Madame X Tour (2019—20). It was included on the "club section" of the show, with Madonna recreating the Billboard Music Awards performance.[98][99] Maluma also appeared on the screens in various places around the set.[100] For Ben Crandell of Sun Sentinel, it was an "upbeat favorite of the night".[101] Additionally, it was performed during select dates of Maluma's 2019–21 11:11 World Tour.[102]

Track listing[edit]