Despite calls for Madonna to boycott Eurovision 2019 because of its location in Tel Aviv, Israel, the singer delivered what has been dubbed a controversial performance at the annual event Saturday. At the beginning of the night, the Madame X singer vaguely acknowledged the divisiveness of her appearance telling the audience, “Let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together.”
During a performance of her new single “Future,” Madonna brought out Migos rapper Quavo to perform a rendition in front of a projection of the phrase “WAKE UP.” The set also featured two dancers walking arm-in-arm with Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs.
While wearing Game of Thrones-like garb, Madonna also performed a haunting rendition of her 1989 hit “Like A Prayer.”
— Eurovision France 🇫🇷 (@EurovisionF2) May 18, 2019
The Palestinian Campaign For The Academic And Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called her set “immoral” at a time when Palestinians are being brutally oppressed. “At a time when fewer and fewer major artists are performing in apartheid Tel Aviv, Eurovision is exactly what Israel’s far-right government needs to distract from its crimes. Artwashing Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians for a million dollars must be among the most immoral political agendas,” the movement tweeted.
The European Broadcasting Union, which co-produced Eurovision 2019 with Israel’s national broadcaster released a statement following her performance saying that Eurovision is non-political and it had no idea Israeli and Palestinian flags would be used. “This element of the performance was not cleared with the EBU and the Host Broadcaster, KAN,” they said in a statement. “The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”
Madonna’s 14th studio album Madame X is due June 14th, and features singles including “Future,” “Medellin” with Colombian pop star Maluma, “I Rise,” and “Crave.” She will also head out on a North American tour beginning September 12th at at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York for multiple nights.