Madonna has a new album out. It is called Rebel Heart. Some people are saying it’s her “best album in years” while others are calling it the same shit. While I maintain that she is the now-flawed mold by which all contemporary pop stars model themselves, I will honor her with a listen. Moreover, her debut Madonna is so classic that I’m intrigued to listen: will Rebel Heart be good? Will she capture something from her younger years that we’ve been missing? Almost undoubtedly it will not be any of that. But I will give it a try, against my better judgement.
The rules: no skipping, stopping, restarting, replaying, etc. anything. It has to play from start to finish without touching, one hour and fourteen minutes of pure 2015 Madonna. There also has to be a thought written for each song. There are no passes given: you have to reflect on what you are hearing.
1. “Living For Love”: I still maintain this song is good—but only because the vocals aren’t actually hers (AKA the choir voices are singing the actually technical parts).
2. “Devil Pray“: She literally lists off doing a bunch of drugs and it is really embarrassing but that “OoOoooooOOOooOooh OOoOooOOOooooh” part is really great.
3. “Ghosttown“: Why the hell is her voice so low? This also is a song for someone like Ariana Grande. I do not hate it. The production on these songs is nice.
4. “Unapologetic Bitch“: The first of the six explicit songs on the album. It is also reggae themed. She mentions “popping bottles” in the lyrics. The whine of the synth guitar is the best part of this song.
5. “Illuminati“: OMG THIS SONG STARTS WITH HER NAME DROPPING CELEBRITIES AND FIGURES STOP JUST STOP STOP DIPLO WHY DID YOU LET HER DO THIS WHY DID YOU LET HER MAKE THE CHORUS “ITS LIKE EVERYBODY IN THIS PARTY IS SHINY LIKE ILLUMINATI” STOP (Note: I bet Kesha could have pulled this song off, though. Unfortunately, Madonna now lacks the required sense of humor necessary to deliver a song like this.)
6. “Bitch I’m Madoona“: There is no other point to this song outside of the title, which is the chorus. The subject of the song is that Madonna wants to go out tonight and she can because, bitch, she is Madonna.
7. “Hold Tight“: I feel like I’ve heard this song before. Can I listen to Confessions On A Dance Floor already? Again: this song could be great if it weren’t a now-Madonna song.
8. “Joan Of Arc”: This is a lost Music track.
9. “Iconic“: Mike Tyson gives a baby voiced intro. Madonna’s voice at this point is very fucking repetitive and deep. The buoyant synth whirring in the backdrop is good but this song was basically designed to be played in gay bars.
10. “HeartBreak City”: Requisite piano song. This sounds more like Madonna voice instead of the grizzled low thing I’ve been hearing on all the other songs.
11. “Body Shop”: This song is stupid. It’s about a “guy who works in a body shop” and he can “overheat the engine” and he can “work overtime.” BITCH YOU ARE MADONNA YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HARD PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY WORK AT BODY SHOPS WORK AND HOW LITTLE THEY MAKE RUDE RUDE RUDE
12. “Holy Water”: I think she’s talking about how her pussy tastes like holy water? I don’t like this. Especially since she wants to teach someone about it? Is this like Sunday school for nymphomaniacs? Also, SPOILER: she fucking samples “Vogue” around the three minute point.
13. “Inside Out”: This song could have been edited out. I’m so bored. Six songs left.
14. “Wash All Over Me”: This album, at this point, is exhausting and as if it is somehow stealing away my energy, directing it to Mother Madonna so she can live forever. Her plan is working. She will live forever. I am dying at the hands of adult soft dance easy listening that I know my grandmother has listened to and will ask me about. I am worried.
15. “Best Night”: I literally have my hand on my forehead and I am staring at an empty glass. The past three songs have been a very sad attempt at capturing some sort of back-of-the-club, smoke filled room of people who smoked an hour ago and are finally feeling the effects of getting high. I’ve been in a recording studio one or two times and it can feel similar to that back-of-the-club environment. Questionable choices happen in both environments.
16. “Veni Vidi Vici”: “Madonna,” it starts. “Life is so crazy…we’ve been through a lot.” Then Madonna raps. I eye a pen. “Can a pen work like a knife?” I wonder. “Probably not,” I concede. “Yet, I could deafen myself.” The blur of useless songs since “Inside Out” continues.
17. “S.E.X.”: Even with the lyrics “I’m an open door, let you come inside of me,” this is not one of the explicit songs. I think we’re out of the boring rut, you guys!
18. “Messiah”: One final “Hey! This is a song that isn’t ‘Like A Prayer’—but I’m trying to make it equally as scandalous for Catholic listeners. I can guarantee you the pope is like rolling his eyes, whispering, “Bitch I’m the pope.“
19. “Rebel Heart”: With these actual lyrics to the final song on this album, I leave you to consider taking the #RebelHeart challenge.
♫ So I took the road less travelled by ♫
♫ And I barely made it out alive ♫
♫ Through the darkness somehow I survived ♫
♫ Tough love, I knew it from the start ♫
♫ Deep down in the depth of my rebel heart, of my rebel heart ♫
♫ I spent some time as a narcissist ♫
♫ Hearing the other say: “Look at you, look at you” ♫
♫ Trying to be so provocative ♫
♫ I said: “Oh yeah, that was me” ♫
♫ All the things I did just to be seen ♫