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Madonna News Archives for February 2015

USA Today’s Review of Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” album

Madonna’s new album is full of ‘Heart’

When Madonna sings on the title track of her latest album, Rebel Heart (***1/2 out of four; out March 10), that she has “outgrown my past and I’ve shed my skin,” she is both protesting too much and engaging in understatement.

Our most durable pop star has indeed reinvented elements of her look and sound repeatedly over the past 30 years, but Madonna has retained the same essence: that of a woman who champions and demands love, in every sense of that loaded word. No single artist has been more crucial in shaping our modern view of celebrities as people who need people — and attention.

As that view has metastasized into an expectation that artists share ever more of their personal and creative lives, fame’s double-edged sword has grown a bit sharper. Madonna felt it last December, when two batches of early recordings from the Heart sessions — essentially, an album in progress — were leaked online. Her immediate response was to quickly polish remixes of the first bunch, and make them available to those who pre-ordered the album.

Rebel Heart includes those six songs and 13 more, and they present Madonna at her most determined and spiritually unplugged. The sound — crafted with such hip-hop, pop and EDM names as Kanye West, Toby Gad, Avicii and Diplo — is not so much raw as purposefully lean and piercingly direct, as are the lyrics, which mine emotions from righteous anger and pain to resolute joy.

Ghosttown mixes a disarmingly earnest sweetness with a stark, chilly arrangement, while on Heartbreak City, Madonna lashes out at a former lover over a shuffling hip-hop groove. The defiant exuberance of first single Living For Love gives way to the deceptively gentle, powerfully infectious Body Shop, with its tinkering rhythms and sly innuendo.

There are more graphic references to sex, and two song titles include a mild an expletive. A disciple, Nicki Minaj, pops up on the frisky B—ch I’m Madonna, in which the titular star chants, “You’re gonna love this. … You can’t touch this.” Madonna could be parodying followers — some of whom have absorbed her through Minaj and other younger stars — who have been inspired by her confidence and marketing savvy but are often less intuitive about things like desire and pain, be it their own or others’.

Madonna asserts both her enduring indomitability and her vulnerability, even getting self-referential a few times. On Veni Vidi Vici, she charts the past via song titles — “I saw a Ray of Light/Music saved my life” — then passes the mic to Nas, who recalls his own rise, rather more flamboyantly.

Nas raps playfully at the end, “Madonna on the track/Nas in the back.” But each is a survivor, and Rebel Heart celebrates that increasingly rare bird with a bittersweet vengeance.

Download: HeartBreak City, Body Shop, Veni Vidi Vici, Ghosttown.

USA Today

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More Details about Jonathan Ross’ Interview with Madonna

Speaking about falling during her BRIT Awards performance, Madonna admitted she was hurt: “I didn’t hurt my butt, I hurt my head. I did. I know how to fall, I’ve fallen off my horse many times and I tucked and I have good core strength… but the thing is, I had a little bit of a whiplash and I smacked the back of my head so there was a man standing over me with a flashlight until about 3am making sure that I was still compos mentis.”

And on some people suggesting that her fall was a stunt because of the lyrics of her song, Living for Love, Madonna shook her head and said: “I’m never writing lyrics like that again! The universe was trying to teach me a lesson I guess.”

The Queen of Pop added: “I’m a creature of habit and I rehearse everything – everything, everything, everything – and I was thrown a wrench at the very beginning of my entrance. I was told to tie my cape and start much further back than we had rehearsed so because I had to walk so much further, everybody was worried that my cape was going to slide off because it’s quite heavy so they tied it really tight around my neck… So here I am marching in like a queen and I got to the top of the stairs and I pulled my silky string and it would not come undone and my two lovely japanese dancers basically strangled me off the stage. I had a choice, I could either be strangled or fall with the cape and I fell.”

Madonna – who did not want to watch the clip back during her interview – continued: “It was a horrible nightmare because I like to be amazing. Seriously I rehearse and I rehearse and I rehearse so that when I do the show, it’s effortless and I create magic and I did the opposite. I actually created a horror show for everyone,” she joked.

Transmission: Sat 14 Mar 2015
Time: 9.25pm – 10.25pm

ITV

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Time Out review of Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” album

Two events have blighted the release of Madonna’s thirteenth album. One, obviously, was her spectacular tumble at The Brits, but another was the online leak in December of 13 demos earmarked for the record. So in a perverse way, it’s fitting that ‘Rebel Heart’ feels like a Madonna album for the internet era. Available in editions with 14, 19 or 25 tracks, it’s a disparate, drawn-out collection that’s begging to be condensed into shorter playlists.

No matter which version you buy, you’ll find Madonna alternating between showing off, getting off and taking stock. On ‘Holy Water’ – a brilliantly ridiculous hymn to cunnilingus – she manages all three on the same song, dropping a reference to her classic hit ‘Vogue’ and boasting that either Jesus or Yeezus ‘loves my pussy best’. Her voice is so heavily distorted that it’s left to us to decide whether she’s taunting the Vatican or Kim Kardashian.

Some of the sassy stuff is excellent, especially the catchy, trap-tinged ‘Iconic’ and defiant dancehall of ‘Unapologetic Bitch’, on which Madonna tells a selfish ex-boyfriend: ‘I’m poppin’ bottles that you can’t even afford.’ The house-flavoured lead single ‘Living for Love’ is also a highlight, its resilient lyrics gaining additional pathos following last night’s already legendary mishap. ‘Lifted me up and watched me stumble,’ Madonna sings. ‘I’m gonna carry on.’

But ‘Rebel Heart’s very best moments come when Madonna gets reflective. She shows her vulnerable side on ‘Joan of Arc’, a sublime electro-folk ballad, while the affecting title track finds her confronting her past as a ‘narcissist’ over some wistful acoustic guitar chords.

It all adds up to a sprawling and varied selection box that’s definitely worth cherry-picking from. ‘Rebel Heart’ may lack cohesion, but she’s definitely not down for the count: this contains some of the best music Madonna’s made in a decade.

3 out of 5 stars

Time Out

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