Madonna: Rebel Heart
What is there to consider regarding a new Madonna record that hasn’t already been discussed? Why bother saying anything at all? Not because she recently scored her 44th U.S. number one on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Songs chart, or her 71st Top 40 single in the U.K. Certainly not because her Rebel Heart Tour is currently commanding top dollar ticket sales and is on track to becoming the highest grossing tour of 2015. But just maybe it’s worth stating her new music is arguably as relevant as anything currently trending.
Nearly every Madonna review states the same tired phrases: she should record songs more age appropriate, she sounds like she’s trying too hard, or she sounds like some other artist, which is funny if you stop to think about when Madonna began making records in the early 1980s, not only were her contemporaries not born yet, but the dance-pop genre was barely in its infancy and had yet to attempt to crossover into the mainstream. Yet, if you actually take a beat to set aside all the bullshit that typically accompanies the release of new Madonna material and listen to the way her voice resonates on the confessional “Joan of Arc,” or the evocative “Wash All Over Me,” you might remember why Madonna has reigned as the Queen of Pop for more than three decades. Besides, what gives anyone the right to say she should stop being the kind of artist her legacy is built upon?
Originally intended as two separate records (one half upbeat and rebellious, the other half subdued and reflective), Madonna’s thirteenth studio album, Rebel Heart, which includes heartfelt pop ballads, trap, and house, is her most contrasting work yet. Ranging from heartfelt ballads, to the gospel-tinged “Living for Love” and the reggae-soaked “Unapologetic Bitch,” to the dubstep groove of “Body Shop” and the shit-stirring, tongue-in-cheek cunnilingus ode “Holy Water,” in which Ms. Ciccone boldly quips “Bitch get off my pole/Bless yourself and genuflect/Yeezus loves my pussy best.” Also noteworthy is the international bonus track “Auto-Tune Baby” (easily her Madgesty’s most annoyingly infectious pop confection since her True Blue era), as well as the super deluxe bonus tracks “Addicted” and “Beautiful Scars.”
This time out, Madonna chose to collaborate with such contemporary cronies as Diplo, Avicii, Blood Diamonds, Toby Gad, and Yeezus himself, Kanye West to help her flesh out her latest electronic dance-pop machinations, easily resulting in what can only be described as her best and most provocative set in years, despite being discriminated against by a multitude of self-righteous music snobs and closed-minded ageists. She came, she saw, she conquered.