As usual, I’m late. Sunday afternoon, after one of many naps, I looked at my iPhone and saw an alert from Spotify that a few new Madonna songs were available. That Friday, I remember seeing something on IMDB about how Madonna‘s upcoming 13th album “Rebel Heart” had leaked online. Knowing the songs were on Spotify and iTunes come Sunday was a bit surprising, but I figured that Madonna was on some “fuck you, pay me” stuff and her and her team decided to upload 6 of the leaked tracks to iTunes and make the album available as a pre-order.
I’m sure her pre-order sales are massive, because it’s MADONNA and it was mandatory for all the gays to buy whatever she has available. (I’m just not sure how this will show up on Billboard!?) I eventually went ahead and followed suit, but I was definitely hesitant at first. I wasn’t initially impressed with the previews on iTunes, I felt they were a smidge “reductive”. The day went on, and I kept thinking about the release. I kept thinking about the direction Madonna seemed to be taking and the odd decision to go ahead and release the material for purchase.
Than it dawned on me as I remembered a comment someone made on IMDB about the leaked material. Someone thought it might have been purposefully leaked by her camp to get an idea of what the masses thought of the music. Which is actually not a bad idea after that “MDNA” debacle. And when you listen to the 6 songs, you get the impression that there might not be a CLEAR direction for this album. Of course, once it’s released on March 10th 2015 there are supposed to be 19 tracks in total (all are untitled as of now, except for a song called “Mona Lisa”), and the album might be totally complete.
But the idea that MAYBE Madonna’s camp leaked the music to get opinions from fans inspired me to go ahead and download the 6 songs, which is somewhat an EP at this point right? At first, I was just going to download the few songs I liked based on the previews. Those would be the first three tracks, plus “Illuminati”, and then I decided to just go ahead and get the entire thing. The purpose was to come up with a sort of “Career Advice” post about the direction of the album based on the 6 songs.
Instead of that, I’m just going to go back to a format I used just once (I think). The Track by Track Review. Just off the bat, I like half of what Madonna delivered and the other half is kinda meh. I’m on the fence right now, I’m not totally excited about the March release but I’m very curious. However I am glad I bought the songs (I didn’t pre-order because… iTunes just sucks with pre-orders. You end up getting songs twice and… yeah it’s just not the business), because I have something to talk about today!
“Living for Love”
Predictably, the GAYS LOVE this song so far. And why not, it’s a nice inspirational little dance song that is very anthemic and classic sounding. It’s definitely paying a bit of homage to the Gospel-House songs of the 90’s, with the positive-minded “I Will Survive” type lyrics and the background sounds of a choir-like presence. It’s reminiscent of that style of Dance music, but it’s a lot softer which is totally appropriate and makes this song it’s own. Add the fact that there is a really nice keyboard sequence coming out of the hooks that give the song a contemporary edge.
The only complaint I could think of is with the lyrics which come off as sometimes very corny, but overall the words flow nicely with the production, and it ends up being a very satisfying feel-good type record.
Grade: B +
This song is heavy on the acoustic guitar, and it has a powerful message (I’m assuming) to match. She talks about the decay of the world and how unity can bring it back. “If you wanna save your soul, then we can travel all together, and make the devil pray”. It’s a nice song, but honestly the part that gives me life is the pitch-controlled “save my soul” that comes right after the hooks. It’s an element that really saves this song and makes it exciting, and makes it 2015 and not a total throwback Madonna sound (the guitars remind me of “Don’t Tell Me” and “Miles Away”). This will take some growing on me, but it’s definitely a NICE song.
Grade: B –
FLAWLESS. This is a beautiful song that’s beautifully layered. It has little pieces of different genres and different decades, with a ridiculously catchy hook. It’s definitely the shining light and saving grace of this release, because it really is one of her best songs in a long while. Everything about this song, from production to vocal delivery and lyrics, is on point.
While one can definitely groove to this Reggae-Light track, it’s the most irritating to me because it just doesn’t sound like a Madonna song. In fact, it sounds like a Rihanna song that Madonna got her hands on and decided to FORCE her voice onto it. It just doesn’t sound right, there’s something very off-putting about the track overall and ultimately I think that Madonna is just out of place on this song and maybe it should have been a duet between her and say… M.I.A. As it stands, it feels very un-organic and one that’s easy to skip over. Though… it may grow on me.
Seems like Madonna has taken it upon herself to say “bollocks” the all the Illuminati talk going around the blogs. She says this without saying too much at all, because the lyrics are really FUN (even though the delivery is slightly dark), “everybody in the party, shining like Illuminati”. I actually enjoy that balance, because the production here is really good, really dark and really NOW. It’s definitely the most ambitious of the 6 tracks, and it’s definitely a song that will grow on me, and fast!
Grade: A –
“Bitch I’m Madonna” featuring Nicki Minaj
When I heard the previews, I deemed this the WORST song of the 6. And it’s the one I wanted to like the most! I think in a few write ups I’ve done for this blog I’ve said, literally, that the Queen of Pop needs to OWN that title and say “Bitch, I’m Madonna!” and she did on this song. I do feel like the song is a tad generic though, generic and slightly uninspired. Plus I don’t feel the attitude that is needed for a song like this is really matched with Madonna’s vibe. She should have attacked this with much more strength and ego, but she sounds typically high-pitched and girl-like.
I will admit though, the song is catchy AF and I really don’t hate it anymore.
So that’s that! “Rebel Heart” will be officially released March 10th, and I hear that more songs will become available in February. For now, we have what Madonna deems as an “early Christmas present” in these 6 songs, which are pretty okay and make us fans very inquisitive about the new outing. It’s not clear really what the overall theme or direction the album will have, because all 6 songs are pretty different. It’s just good knowing we have new music from the Queen coming soon. (Now… WHERE IS RIHANNA!!!)
-BTW. I DID buy D’Angelo‘s “Black Messiah” last week the day it was released. I am a big D’Angelo fan, and was really excited to hear the news and hear the album. Now I like what I’ve heard so far, but I can’t really say I’ve been in the right mood to listen to the entire thing. Once I do, I’ll come back on here and talk about it. Maybe sometime before the end of the week. I just wanted to say that because some of you might have been wondering.