Whether you love or hate Madonna, she is an iconic force that simply cannot be ignored. Her constant self-reinvention has helped her remain relevant for longer than most wanna-be pop chanteuses have even been alive. If her newly released 13th studio album Rebel Heart is any indication, she will also be sticking around long after most of them are gone.
Madonna recently commented in Billboard that the album “explores two very distinct sides of my personality, the rebellious renegade side of me and the romantic side of me.” This makes perfect sense as you listen to the tracks, which spin in polar opposite directions, from the wistful longing of “Ghosttown” to bold braggadocio of “Unapologetic Bitch”.
What sets this album apart from some of her recent work is her willingness to dig deeper into her psyche and share what she finds there. The album’s title song harkens back to the days of “Papa Don’t Preach”- not musically, but topically. It’s fascinating to realize that after all these years and insane amounts of success, the pain inflicted by her father still haunts her. I suppose no amount of fame or money can heal certain wounds. And who can’t relate to that? The older you get, the more time feels like a circle, with the same voices rising up from the past again and again, the same moments branded on your soul, infinitely replayed.
Similarly, “Joan of Arc” delves into the pitfalls and complexities of fame itself. I know, I know, having power and money is harrrrd, cry me a river. And yet she never slides into the quicksand of self-pity here. She manages to remind us of her core humanity, that underneath the glitz she is just one small human in this vast and often cruel world.
Lest you think Madonna has gone soft, don’t panic. This is where the rebel side reasserts itself to remind us that though she may have a romantic heart, it is well-guarded. “Bitch I’m Madonna”, which features Nicki Minaj, brings it back to the dance floor and throws down. I almost guarantee this will become a staple lip-sync track in drag queen shows across the nation.
Likewise “Unapologetic Bitch” reminds you that she tells it like it is and she isn’t one bit sorry. That’s a concept I can get behind. Another standout dance track is “Illuminati.” I can already hear the dubstep remixes of both these songs in my head.
Some of the tracks on the second half of the album seem a little too much like filler and fluff for my taste. And I do think at certain points Madonna tries too hard to sound young and current. Listening to her sing about “popping bottles” and running around on rooftops, swimming with her clothes on, has the same cringe-worthy effect as listening to your parents trying to use modern slang.
Those are small complaints, though. Overall this is probably her best album in years, landing Madonna squarely back on the musical chess board as the Queen of Pop.
If you want to see Madge in concert, I would work on buying those tickets NOW. Here’s a list of current tour dates:
For more information, check out the following links:
* Official Madonna website: Madonna.com
* Twitter – Twitter.com/Madonna
* Instagram – instagram.com/Madonna
* YouTube – YouTube.com/Madonna
I participated in the Madonna Rebel Heart album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.