thu 30/03/2017

CD: Madonna - Rebel Heart | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Madonna - Rebel Heart

CD: Madonna - Rebel Heart

Pop's original goddess proves why she will never be toppled

The same sampled orgasmic gasp shows up on at least three tracks
Rebel Heart: the comeback Madonna deserves

These days, reflections on Madonna’s 30 years at the top of the pop podium may only be framed in terms of the pagan Triple Goddess: maiden, mother and crone – or, at least, that’s what the global reaction to The Fall That Was Heard Around The World® would lead one to believe. But with enough raunch among the 19 – nineteen! – tracks that make up the deluxe edition of Rebel Heart to make all three blush and a track which, guest rap from Nicki Minaj aside, is essentially a blow-by-blow reinterpretation of pop bad girl du jour Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop”, it’s clear that the only way to categorise Madonna is as the whole damn goddess. You’ll even find her telling Satan where to get off on track two.

It would have been easy for me to hate this album, whether because of my ingrained antipathy to EDM or my Catholic school prudishness at hearing sex wee likened to “holy water”. There’s a bizarre spoken word interlude by sometime sports personality and convicted rapist Mike Tyson; a track that’s supposed to be some sort of anti-drugs PSA but is so cheery it comes across like a 56-year-old mother-of-four advocating ecstasy and solvent abuse; and a collaboration with Nas that attempts to deliver a clumsy take on This Is Your Life in under five minutes. The same sampled orgasmic gasp shows up on at least three tracks. But together, the whole confection is so deliciously bonkers – and shot through with moments of such brilliance – that it replaces the much-maligned (by everyone but theartsdesk) MDNA as the comeback Madonna deserves.

Included in those moments of brilliance: lead single and opening track “Living for Love”, an addictive club banger that should have stolen the BRITs spotlight away from some malfunctioning cape. The gorgeous “Ghosttown” and “Joan of Arc”, the second of these in particular giving the artist a chance to show off the substance – and the vocal chops – behind the headlines. The Diplo-produced, ostentatious egomania of “Bitch, I’m Madonna”. In summary: if you’d tell Madonna to act her age while applauding the eccentricities of Prince (70 days older) on his recent comeback tour then you ought to take a long hard look at yourself.

Overleaf: hear the fantastic "Living for Love"

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters