The queen of pop returns in a mist of controversy with her 13th studio album ‘Rebel Heart’; albeit that’s not unusual for Madonna. The controversy began in December 2014 when hackers stole and released some demos Madonna was recording for her possible double album. In response, Madonna released 6 fully realized versions of those songs and rushed the release date of her new project. This week marks the “official” release of the album, with multiple versions (clean/deluxe) made readily available.
How does the album sound after being rushed to completion? ‘Rebel Heart’ is Madonna’s most enjoyable listening experience in years. The album is big, bold, daring, and experimental while mixing heart felt love songs with erotic club numbers.
As surprisingly good as Madonna’s new album is, it does have some minor stumbling blocks. As mentioned earlier, the material from ‘Rebel Heart’ was intended as a double album so when Madonna wears her heart on her sleeve with the song ‘Joan of Arc’, the over the top sleazy club number like ‘Holy Water’; where Madonna describes her sexual fluids; does take something away from those tender moments. The songs aren’t bad, they simply have a hard time co-existing together.
The second minor stumbling block with the album, is the use of guest stars such as Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and Nas. None of them do anything to elevate the songs. The true highlights of ‘Rebel Heart’ happen when Madonna stands on her own.
The most refreshing aspect of Madonna’s newest release, is the fact she seems comfortable in her own skin. The queen of pop has finally stopped ramming it down our throats about how contemporary she is, and has simply made a contemporary sounding Madonna album; bridging the gap of her 80’s iconic history with the sound and technology of the here and now.
Like I said, the stumbling blocks are very minor. ‘Rebel Heart’ is one of Madonna’s most satisfying listens in years. The album is bold and brave and defied the odds by being this good especially after being rushed to completion. And as good as ‘Rebel Heart’ is, I could only imagine how great it could have been as a fully realized double album.