Rebel Heart: a review

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V‘S ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR BREAKS DOWN ALL THAT MAKES MADONNA’S LATEST ALBUM GREAT

March 10, 2015. A new album release from Madonna should feel like a global holiday—a celebration of innovative music, groundbreaking videos, boundary pushing fashion, memorable album artwork, and dance moves that could only belong to the one and only club crawling space cowboy spiritually seeking disco geisha latino loving queen of pop. In contrast, the saga leading up to Rebel Heart‘s drop (in stores and online retailers today) has been well documented. A series of unfortunate leaks of an album’s worth of unfinished material, questionable Instagram posts featuring world leaders Photoshopped into the album’s artwork, and perhaps the biggest blow, her spill during her performance of the first single, “Living for Love,” at the Brit Awards, while wearing a now infamous tied too tight Armani cape. Despite the noise, nothing can distract from the fact that Madonna’s blonde ambition has always persevered through the controversy. And her 13th studio album, Rebel Heart, is one of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding records of her career.

Three decades in, she’s still sharp-tongued and in search of the party, but Rebel Heart reveals more vulnerability than she’s allowed since Like A Prayer. The temple and church of the devoted will recognize the familiar themes she continues to explore—sexual fantasy (“Body Shop”), lost and found love (“Heartbreak City”), salvation (“Devil Pray”), redemption (“Wash All Over Me”), and perhaps her most cohesive and powerful narrative, the triumphant and transcendent power of the dancefloor (“Living for Love”). Nostalgia has never been Madonna’s thing, but on Rebel Heart, she takes a time out to reference some of her biggest hits and her rise to the top from the Lower East Side rock scene and vogue balls of the early ’90s with “Veni Vidi Vici” and “Holy Water.”

While those songs reference her past, the producers and collaborators that make up the album are on point and very much of the moment—an eclectic assembly of hitmakers and rising talents that include Diplo, Kanye West, Avicii, Ariel Rechtshaid, Blood Diamonds, Sophie, and DJ Dahi. There are also cameos from Nicki Minaj, Nas, Chance the Rapper and spoken word from none other than Mike Tyson.

While the various contributors provide a swinging pendulum of moods explored throughout the Deluxe Edition’s 19 tracks, it’s Madonna’s singular voice and vision that keeps it all together. Club bangerz with the word bitch in the title (“Unapologetic Bitch,” “Bitch I’m Madonna”) give her an opportunity to shake it off, but it’s the ballad, “Ghosttown,” that serves as the album’s highlight. Singing about a cold, mad world that’s gone to hell, her message of love is one that should lift the spirits of even the most cynical and jaded, and deserves a spot in the canon next to “Live To Tell” and “Take a Bow.”

Though she has nothing to prove at this point, Rebel Heart can’t help but demonstrate that she’s remained on top with reinvention and determination, and by taking the “road less traveled on”—a path that continues to inspire and influence the current crop of pop starlets. Sure to please long term fans, who have undoubtedly already purchased their Gold Ring tickets to her upcoming arena tour, it deserves to inspire a new generation of girls and boys ready to get off the bus in the middle of Times Square with hopes to rule the world, like the Rebel Heart before them.

(@ Text Greg Krelenstein for vmagazine.com)

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Chart Highlights: Madonna’s ‘Ghosttown’ Debuts on Adult Contemporary

The Queen of Pop charts her first song at the format since 2007.

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Chart Highlights offers a sneak peek at a select group of Billboard charts every Monday. (All charts below are based on radio airplay except for Dance Club Songs, which is based on reports submitted by a panel of DJs.)

Adult Contemporary

*** No. 1 (2 weeks)*** “Thinking Out Loud” Ed Sheeran
Greatest Gainer No. 13 “Style” Taylor Swift

Debut No. 21 “Ghosttown” Madonna
Madonna debuts on Adult Contemporary with “Ghosttown,” the second single from her new album, Rebel Heart. First single “Living for Love” reached No. 36 on Pop Songs, aided by concentrated plays on iHeartMedia-owned stations; spins on certain AC stations in the chain likewise spur the start of “Ghosttown.” (It bubbles under Adult Pop Songs, also thanks to iHeartMedia plays in that format).

The bow of “Ghosttown” ends Madonna’s longest break from charting on AC: she last reached the list with “Jump,” which hit No. 21 in January 2007. She makes her 36th visit to the tally. Since her first week on the chart in June 1984 (with “Borderline”), only Elton John (43), Celine Dion (41) and Rod Stewart (40) have made more appearances.

Full article HERE

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Live to tell… an exclusive interview with Madonna

….’Madonna struts out of a dressing room far across the studio, dressed in a matador outfit, sans pants. Trailed by a hairstylist and a make-up artist, she spends at least 30 seconds eyeing each dancer, probing for tiny imperfections in the fit of their leather costumes and masks. “I don’t want oil on their bodies,” she notes. “I had the same problem on the video. You can use body moisturiser.”

Twenty-eight choral singers, most of them less finely sculpted specimens, assemble by the nearby bleachers. Madonna gives them even more individual attention. On their red robes is a logo from her new album, Rebel Heart – a detail even HD cameras will never pick up. She asks the ones who wear glasses if they can take them off; suggests hairstyles and, occasionally, cuts – “The nice thing about hair is that it grows back.” She critiques beards and sideburns; and in one woman’s case, reaches out and begins braiding curls herself.

All of this work is for five minutes’ worth of TV time, the debut performance of her new single, the deep-house-inflected Living for Love. In keeping with the lyric, “Love’s gonna lift me up”, it ends with a prone Madonna soaring 15 feet into the air via a harness. It’s a lovely image, though as she hovers tonight she breaks the spell by asking: “Are my boobs coming out of my costume?”

In between takes, two small children come up to the stage. They’re both nine years old – the boy, David, is in crisp white linen; the girl, Mercy, is wearing a blue sweater and skirt, a sparkly bow in her hair. “Hi, Mom,” they say, in unison, and Madonna smiles, offering a hand for her youngest kids to kiss.’

Read full interview by Independent HERE

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Win a copy of ‘Madonna’ by Michelle Morgan!

After our interview with Michelle Morgan regarding the release of this book (April 2 in the UK and May 26 in the USA) and our review of it, we hereby give you the opportunity to win a copy in collaboration with the publisher!

Madonna by Michelle Morgan is a true must-have in every collection, written by a fan for a fan, reads like a diary and enjoy 220 pictures!

The only thing you need to do is to repost this picture with the following lines ‘yes I’d like Madonna by Michelle Morgan please’ do not forget to include #madonnaunderground and @madonnaunderground (Facebook & Instagram) or @madonnaundergr (Twitter)

You have until Friday April 3!

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