Less than two weeks after “Medellín,” Madonna has offered another taste of her upcoming album, Madame X, in the form of “I Rise.” While “Medellín” opens her new record and features a more experimental structure, “I Rise” is the last track and pursues the traditional balladry the singer is known to end her albums with. Originally presumed to be an LGBTQIA+ anthem, “I Rise” is instead a protest against political injustice; the track begins with an excerpt of Emma González — one of the most prominent survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting — delivering a speech in which she calls gun-trifling Americans out on their “B.S.” against these kids’ plea for legislation.
Madonna and her collaborator Jason Evigan employ several layers of production throughout “I Rise,” from straightforward vocals and emotive guitar strumming in the verses to lush harmonies, fizzy synths, and robotic processing across the chorus and bridge. At once a call to action and an ode to perseverance, the singer lyrically comments on gun control (“not bulletproof, shouldn’t have to run from a gun”), learning to live in a terrifying world (“I know you see the tragic in it/just hold on to the little bit of magic in it”), and the choice to make an example of your life (“freedom’s what you choose to do with what’s been done to you”). Madonna has always been a premier political artist, but she’s never sounded as transcendent while doing so as she does on “I Rise.”