REVIEW – Madonna, Rebel Heart (Full Album)

REVIEW – Madonna, Rebel Heart (Full Album Track by Track)

Album Review – Madonna, Rebel Heart

By now you’ve definitely heard the story. Madonna’s 13th album, which she had been working on and teasing us about over the last year, was leaked. The 13 songs were demo versions Madonna had recorded and many of them weren’t to make the final album, then called Iconic. But they were leaked anyway to insanely huge news headlines around the world. Only a few weeks later, entire photo shoots, videos and over 30 songs were leaked.

The original plan was to release the first single, Living for Love, on Valentine’s Day, followed by the video, with the album coming out in March. The leak of the demos of Iconic changed all that. The Madonna camp jumped into gear and finalized six songs, rushing them for release on iTunes in December where they went on to dominate iTunes Top 10 lists in more than 50 countries. The album, retitled Rebel Heart, was officially announced with six more songs released after her ratings busting performance at the Grammy’s in February. The final 7 tracks of the Rebel Heart album being released today March 10, 2015.
Hit the jump for our REVIEW: Madonna, Rebel Heart (Track by Track Album Review)

REVIEW (cntd…) – Madonna, Rebel Heart (Full Album Track by Track Review)

Living For Love
Living For Love, the first single off of Rebel Heart starts off with simple piano chords and a strong vocal from Madonna before building up into a House dance explosion. A mix of 90’s house and   It evokes echoes of parts of Like A Prayer mixed with Secret. While on paper this may sound…reductive…it couldn’t be farther from it. Produced by Madonna & Diplo, this is a fresh, inventive sound for Madonna. Shes not following a trend, she’s creating one…and that’s what she does best.  The lyrical content of Living For Love is a bit of a twist on the breakup song. Not going to be confined to crying in the corner, Madonna finds freedom soon after the heartache. With the song originally scheduled to be released on Valentine’s Day, leave it to Madonna to make an anti-love love song. Download Living For Love – Madonna on iTunes
Beginning subtly, Ghosttown finds Madonna in perfect voice as she tells a lover not to be worried as the world falls apart around them, as she will will be there always. Ghosttown is reminiscent of the beautiful and underrated Masterpiece off of 2012’s MDNA. The low key electro ballad starts off smooth and mellow before exploding into an arena filling sing along chorus. The vocals on Ghosttown rank up with the best in her career. 

“When the world gets cold I’ll be your cover. Let’s just hold onto each other. When it it all falls when it all falls down well be two souls in a Ghosttown.” Download Ghosttown – Madonna on iTunes

Illuminati was produced by Madonna and Kanye West and the Influence from Kanye’s Yeezus album is evident here. Illuminati’s verses feature Vogue like spoken word before a catchy melodic pre-chorus which segue-ways hard on the choruses which repeat “it’s like everybody in this party shining like Illuminati”. Madonna is one of the original artists to be suspected of being part of the Illuminati. According to the Internet, the Illuminati is a shadowy group of the most powerful people in the world (seemingly consisting almost entirely of entertainment figures and the most popular politicians). Illuminati mocks the internet rumors while schooling the world on the true history of the Illuminati. Download Illuminati – Madonna on iTunes

Unapologetic Bitch
Unapologetic Bitch is another Madonna / Diplo produced track. This reggae tinged track was rumored to be the first single off of the album. It also comes as the biggest sonic surprise. This is one genre Madonna hasn’t dabbled in over her 30 year plus career. The song mixes Madonna’s pop sensibilities, catchy melodies and spry lyrics with Diplo’s crazy reggae infused pop hip hop club dance soup. The results are Unapologetic Bitch,  a big blinged out diamond ring finger flip off to one sorry chap. Download Unapologetic Bitch – Madonna on iTunes

Devil Pray
Devil Pray, which easily could have been a track from the criminally underrated American Life album, is an electro folk ballad – if there is such a thing (& there is because Madonna invented it). The bouncy acoustic guitar driven track references acid, sniffing glue, whiskey and weed, among other things. Some have already chided her for it – clearly missing the point she’s making. Devils pray is essentially a letter to a drug addict who believes he’s finding God through getting high but must continually do it to maintain the connection. Ultimately, it’s not God at all but the devil leading the user into temptation. Download Devil Pray – Madonna on iTunes
Bitch I’m Madonna
Bitch I’m Madonna has a bumpy, video game inspired track that finds Madonna ready to blow up the club in celebration of…well, being Madonna. The chorus is a catchy, monotone chant before exploding into an instrumental, club shredding jam that is sure to blow the roof off clubs around the world. Nicki Minaj appears once again, giving a verse celebrating the queen herself. Bitch I’m Madonna has been battling with Living For Love as the most popular track off of Rebel Heart so far (by iTunes sales) and for perfectly good reason. The track is current and fresh while simultaneously being futuristic and always remaining 100% Madonna. Download Bitch I’m Madonna – Madonna on iTunes
Hold Tight
Hold Tight, the 7th track on Rebel Heart, is a dreamy song that masterfully mixes dance with arena rock. Hold Tight finds Madonna in beautiful voice singing about a love that can help to get each other through. The hope in the song lends wonderfully to Madonna’s soft, but firm tone in the verses before blossoming into a confident lover in the choruses.  Hold Tight would do well serviced to pop outlets, while the inevitable remixes would no doubt find their way to the summit of the Dance charts. Download Hold Tight – Madonna on iTunes
Joan of Arc
While Madonna is not really known as being the most confessional songwriter out there (although long time fans know differently), Joan of Arc truly takes the audience to places Madonna herself has never really talked so openly about. Essentially, Joan of Arc is a confessional song about the toll that it takes on the most famous woman in the world when the  media (and sometimes public) criticize every move she’s made. Much like Joan of Arc, who fought for the people but was then killed for being a heretic, Madonna can nearly say the same. Madonna herself acknowledges this with the line “I’m not Joan of Arc, not yet.” This guitar strummed, smooth song is the most pop song on Rebel Heart thus far. Extremely catchy, Joan of Arc is just another highlight on an album of highlights. Download Joan of Arc – Madonna on iTunes
Iconic (ft Chance The Rapper & Mike Tyson)
By looking simply at the featured players on the song (looking at you Mike Tyson), one would think Iconic is immediately cringe-worthy. That would be a mistake on your part. Iconic, which would have been the title track of the album had the album demos not leaked months early, is a clever play on words by the biggest icon of them all. Madonna tends to really excel at these motivational dance tracks (see: Give It 2 Me off of Hard Candy) and Iconic is no different. A throbbing, almost immediate beat weaves throughout the song giving Madonna a platform to command us all to be our very best. Her use of Chance The Rapper is an intriguing choice, as he’s not the most famous hip hop artist in the world (although he is a lyrical genius). Chance doesn’t disappoint on his verse. The second featured player is none other than Mike Tyson himself. While this had much of the internet wondering why the boxer would be featured on a Madonna album, one has to look no further than the name of the track itself. Tyson, a boxing icon, opens the song with a motivational spoken word piece. Iconic indeed.  Download Iconic (ft Chance The Rapper & Mike Tyson – Madonna on iTunes

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Madonna, Rebel Heart

HeartBreak City
An extremely downtempo song, HeartBreak City is a triumphant “f*ck you” to a lover who has torn apart Madonna’s heart. This majestic ballad is one of Madonna’s best, and most powerful…and raw… songs of her entire career. Download HeartBreak City – Madonna on iTunesBody Shop
This slinky song is a folky, acoustic based gem filled with hand claps and “yeah” background chants that make the melody all the more powerful. Body Shop compares sex to a car, with lines like “With all these curves we might need to have the breaks looked at.”, it ingeniously works. Download Body Shop – Madonna on iTunes

Holy Water
Catchy and filled with sexual references throughout, Holy Water, written with Natalia Kills, is a Pop / EDM mash up using Holy Water as another sexual reference. “Don’t it taste like holy water?” Interestingly, in the middle of the song, Madonna’s own Vogue is sampled. Clearly, this song was made for the Rebel Heart Tour. Download Holy Water – Madonna on iTunes

Inside Out
Another stand out track in an album of stand out tracks, Inside Out has an instantly catchy chorus, which is saying something for a woman with more Top 10 hits than anyone in history. The song finds Madonna telling a new lover that she wants to take it to the next level and to let her in. Download Inside Out – Madonna on iTunes

Wash All Over Me
Wash All Over Me closes the standard version of Rebel Heart. A smooth, slow song where Madonna finds herself coming to acceptance with whatever is to come. Contemplating a world that’s changing and where her place is in it, Wash All Over Me is the perfect closing song to the standard edition of Rebel Heart. “Who am I to decide what should be done? If this is the end then let it come. Let it come, let it rain, rain all over me. Like the tide, let it flow, let is wash all over me.” Download Wash All Over Me – Madonna on iTunes

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Madonna, Rebel Heart album (Super Deluxe Edition) review
Madonna – Rebel Heart (Super Deluxe Edition)

Best Night
A sexy, R&B inspired track fused with an Eastern influence, Best Night has Madonna asserting to a potential lover that she can make tonight the best night of their life. Not overtly sexual, it is what she doesn’t say that makes you believe her. Download Best Night – Madonna on iTunes

Veni Vidi Vici (featuring Nas)
This is another song that on paper sounds like it would be a complete and total mess.  Madonna subtely sing song rapping about her life, while Nas discusses his life. In reality, it is an absolute surprise and quite possibly one of the best songs of Rebel Heart. Veni Vidi Vici (meaning “I Same, I Saw, I Conquered”), has Madonna contemplating her life while referencing her own previous hits to illustrate the point. “I expressed myself, came like a virgin down the aisle.”  Meanwhile, Nas, arguably one of the best rappers on the planet, contemplates his own life and the obstacles he overcame.  Download Veni Vidi Vici (ft Nas) – Madonna on iTunes

If I had to pick the weakest track on the album, it would be S.E.X. Where Body Shop was subtly hinting at the things that one might do in the bedroom, S.E.X. slams it right into your face. And maybe that’s the point. Madonna demands you tell her what you know about sex. The answer? You know nothing, so she’s going to tell you herself. This track may not exactly work on the album, but it was made to be performed.  Download S.E.X. – Madonna on iTunes

A beautiful prayer to love and not wanting to let a moment go that could change your life, Messiah is an absolutely gorgeous song. Essentially, the song is rather a-typical from what one would think of Madonna – Madonna wanting a lover that doesn’t want her back. Download Messiah – Madonna on iTunes

Rebel Heart
One of the most introspective songs of Madonna’s entire career, this bouncy folk song finds Madonna explaining her feelings on growing up a rebel and the problems it caused for her. This version, while great in it’s own right, does not hit the peaks of the dancier demo version. In fact, its interesting why this version was chosen instead. Download Rebel Heart – Madonna on iTunes

Rebel Heart is one of the best albums of Madonna’s entire incredible career. Cohesive, introspective, musically strong and some of the best lyrics of her career, it succeeds on most every level. While shocking the world for 30+ years, Madonna has managed to shock us all once again by pulling back the curtain of Madonna the entertainer and letting us into Madonna the person. Funny, charming, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, sometimes to ready to go out to the club, sometimes ready to talk about her inner most secrets. But always entertaining.


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