Everyone that knows me, knows that I am a huge Madonna fan. I have been loving this woman for over 32 years. It all started with “Holiday” and I have been with her every step of the way. I was going to originally just say a few words on the Winter Entertainment Wrapup… but I decided to write a whole blog about her new music.
“Rebel Heart” is Madonna’s 13th studio album. It is the follow-up to 2012’s “MDNA”. This is the album that was leaked on the internet at the end of last year. Madonna was forced to put out some of the tracks early, so she released 6 songs off of the album on Itunes, and gave her fans a release date and title for the new project.
Three more songs came out in February, with the rest of them out on March 10th. So what do I make of this 19-song album called “Rebel Heart”? This is easily her most diverse and eclectic album ever — we have dance, reggae, electronica, ballads, hip hop, folk and more. It would have easily been a double album back in the day.
The lead single “Living for Love” is her best first single since “Hung Up” from the “Confessions on the Dance Floor” CD. It has already reached #1 on the Billboard Dance chart. It is a fun dance song that recalls 90’s house music, and it features a gospel choir. Why it hasn’t gone anywhere on the Billboard Hot 100 is beyond me. Radio is totally freezing her out. She performed it on both the Grammy Awards and the Brit Awards too.
The album explores themes that Madonna has dealt with before: love, sex, religion, self esteem, and being a trailblazer. Producers on the album include: Kanye West, Diplo, Tony Gad, Ryan Tedder, Avicii and more. Special guests include: Nicki Minaj, Mike Tyson, Chance the Rapper and Nas. The 2nd single is going to be “Ghosttown” — one of my favorites from the album. It is a beautiful lush ballad.
This is the first time that Madonna has acknowledged her past in the songs. She has a bit of “Vogue” in “Holy Water” and some of “Justify my Love” in “Best Night.” She also built almost a whole song around references to her old songs in “Veni Vidi Vici” (I Came, I Saw, I Conquered).
There is only 1 real clunker for me, and that’s the song called “S.E.X.” Yes, we get it she likes sex, but the song itself is a bit ackward to me. And it doesn’t feel the least bit sexy either. Much better as far as sex appeal is “Best Night” (I like the world music vibes on this song). “Body Shop” is interesting with the car/sex references and the country guitars. “Holy Water” is interesting too musically, but the lyrics are about her vaginal juices being like ‘holy water’. Yeah, TMI! I do like the “Vogue” reference in the song.
Other highlights for me include: “Bitch, I’m Madonna” (one of her weirdest songs ever, but one that has grown on me, and sure to be fun in concert), “Joan of Arc” (showing some vulnerability), “Hold Tight” (another nice midtempo song), “Iconic” (about striving for excellence in your life), “Veni Vidi Vici”, “Inside Out” (another sexy love song), and the title track “Rebel Heart” too. In that song Madonna looks back on her life and career, the triumphs and missteps along the way. And she concludes that “Hell yeah, this is me, right where I am supposed to be.”
One thing for sure is that Madonna is never content to stay the same. And she challenges her fans with songs as diverse as this collection offers. She is always interesting and definitely has a unique and powerful perspective on life and love.
The album also comes in a 14-song version, as well as a super deluxe version with 4 more songs and 2 remixes. Of those extra songs, I like “Graffiti Heart” and “Beautfiul Scars” the best. Final grade: B-
KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.