Madonna may not have had the commercial success she’s used to in more recent years but new music from the icon is still a big event.
The star’s last album MDNA was released in 2012 and it’s one of her least successful to date, despite strong reviews upon its release. It could be bad single choices that led to the album’s quick demise but it was ammunition for Madonna’s critics to predict the end of the Queen of Pop’s reign.
Over the past few months Madonna has been teasing her new album through social media giving fans hints and glimpses of what she’s working on. She’s confirmed collaborations with Nicki Minaj, Diplo, Kanye West, Avicii and Natalia Kills to name a few.
The album was expected to be released on 9th March 2015 with the first single, Living For Love, coming in February. Whilst Rebel Heart will still be released on the original date, Madonna has brought forward the unveiling of Living For Love alongside 5 other tracks.
Yesterday Madonna unleashed 5 tracks on iTunes for fans who pre-order Rebel Heart and the audio for Living For Love on YouTube. We’ve been taking a listen to the songs and we’ve put together our thoughts on how Rebel Heart is shaping up.
Living For Love
Writers: Madonna, Thomas Wesley, Pentz, Alicia Keys, MoZella, Ariel Rechtshaid, Toby Gad & Nick Rowe.
Producer: Madonna & Diplo
Verdict: It’s safe to say that MDNA’s intro single Give Me All Your Luvin’ (feat Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.) isn’t one of her strongest so a lot rests on Living For Love. Alicia Keys has been involved in the writing and Diplo’s on production. The end result is an uptempo club track that packs a surprising amount of soul and dare we say a bit of the gospel magic that made Like A Prayer such a huge hit? It’s positive, upbeat and about fighting to make the world a better place.
Writers: Madonna, Savan Kotecha, Carl Falk, Rami Yacoub & Avicii.
Producer: Madonna, Falk & Avicii
Verdict: On first listen this song reminds us of the American Life era. The acoustic melodies, the confessional lyrics and the shimmering electro-beats. Madonna sings about using drugs, getting drunk etc but warns that it won’t help you find the answers you’re looking for in life. Wise words, especially from a woman who recently revealed that she’s done every drug once and decided they aren’t for her. Melodically it’s interesting and it’s intriguing enough to make you want to hear what else Rebel Heart contains.
Writers: Madonna, Jason Evigan, Evan Bogart, Sean Douglas
Verdict: The confessional lyrics continue on this mid-tempo ballad as Madonna sings about a person, presumably a loved one, who she has stayed with through the hardest and darkest times. It’s song of optimism and strength against adversity and it’s one of the best tracks released from Rebel Heart so far.
Writers: Madonna, Pentz, Gad, Onika Maraj
Producer: Madonna & Diplo
Verdict: Anyone who follows Madonna on Instagram will be familiar with the title of this track. She’s been hash-tagging #UnapologeticBitch for months and the song is actually quite a surprise. We were expecting Human Nature Part 2 but in actuality the song is backed by a reggae-beat as Madonna delivers her lyrics in an off-beat way. The lyrics are bold, as you would expect from the title, and the song is a grower.
Writers: Madonna, Pentz, Gad
Producer: Madonna, Kanye West, Mike Dean & Charlie Heat
Verdict: This is one track out of the bunch we’re really not that sure of. Kanye West is involved in the production, and name-checked in the lyrics, as Madonna attempts to dispel the myths around the supposed Illuminati that many of the biggest stars in the world are supposed to be a part of. Name checks include Beyonce, Jay-Z and Lady Gaga as Madonna speak-raps the verses with electro-beats punctuating the space between the sung chorus and the verse. It’s a an odd concept and it doesn’t seem to fit with the other tracks. Maybe we need to live with this one for a bit?
Bitch I’m Madonna (feat Nicki Minaj)
Writers: Madonna, Pentz, Gad Maraj
Producer: Madonna & Diplo
Verdict: The second song out of the bunch to involve Nicki Minaj (she co-wrote Unapologetic Bitch) and it’s a light-hearted, self-referential club track about partying and ‘blowing up this house tonight’. Lyrically it’s definitely not the deepest song out of the bunch but Madonna has always liked to put out songs that paint her as a youthful rebel and that’s exactly what this does. Minaj spits feisty rhymes over a hard beat adding to the hip-hop, club-feel of the track.
From the 6 tracks we’ve heard from Rebel Heart so far it sounds like a promising record. There are definite contrasts in terms of confessional lyrics Vs throwaway lyrics (Devil Pray Vs Bitch I’m Madonna) and the sounds of each track are completely different. If we were to guess at this point it doesn’t sound like Rebel Heart is a concept album in the way that Ray of Light or American Life were but at the same time it’s more cohesive than the mis-step Hard Candy. Colour us intrigued thus far.
Rebel Heart will be released in full on 9th March 2015. Listen to Living For Love below: