This alter ego now encompasses a gun control activist — or at least features one — on her rousing second single “I Rise,” which arrived on Friday with a hypnotic lyric video.
The ever-evolving pop icon’s latest is the strongest track we’ve heard this era particularly due to a powerful assist from Parkland School shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez.
The song begins with sample from the high-school-student-turned-activist’s speech at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida days after the shooting.
“[They say] us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works,” Gonzalez is heard saying at the top of the song. “We call BS.”
The lyrics pair well with Gonzalez’s message, as Madonna muses on how she “died a thousand times” and “managed to survive.”
“There’s nothin’ you can do to me that hasn’t been done,” she sings in the opening verse. “Not bulletproof, shouldn’t have to run from a gun.”
The melancholic pop sound of “I Rise” strikes a different tone than her reggaetón-influenced lead single “Medellin,” which she performed at the Billboard Music Awards earlier this week alongside singer Maluma and a squad of holograms modeled after her different identities.
“I wrote ‘I Rise’ as a way of giving a voice to all marginalized people who feel they don’t have the opportunity to speak their mind,” Madonna said in a statement. “This year is the 50th anniversary of Pride and I hope this song encourages all individuals to be who they are, to speak their minds and to love themselves.”
The singer is set to be honored with the Advocate for Change Award at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City over the weekend for her unwavering allyship to the LGBTQ community.
Listen to “I Rise” below.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misstated that the sample was taken from Gonzalez’s speech at the March For Our Lives protest in 2018.