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Rebel Heart Reviews

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Some critics need to get that pole out of their hateful asses. I tend to sense a lot of subjectivity towards Madonna and a few remain objective. Giving a semi good review and rate it 50/100 it's just no no.

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M should get her dildo out and treat some always complaining fans like they deserve for their taste. :scared:

his name is Diplo, not dildo, geeze... :1251:

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another 4 stars but i don't know if they count Meteoritic

Track-by-track review: Rebel Heart - Madonna

Saeed Saeed

March 2, 2015 Updated: March 2, 2015 03:39 PM

Rebel Heart

Madonna

(Live Nation)

Four Stars

When it comes to Madonna, you just never know. The line between inspiration and cold calculation is blurred and her every move is studied and heavily discussed.

Was her stumble at last week’s Brit Awards a genuine blunder? Or an ingenious way to promote her 13th studio album Rebel Heart, with its theme of vulnerability?

Fortunately, in the final analysis, the music wins. Rebel Heart is a fine collection of sturdy pop tunes in which Madonna finally allows herself to look back and sometimes pilfer from her peak periods of the late 80s and early 2000s. Aside from a couple of clunkers, there is plenty for Madonna’s hard-core fan base, the casual listener and aspiring producers to enjoy here.

Living For Love

A great start. Rebel Heart kicks off with the first of many of Madonna’s self-referential musical moments. The ascending 90s-house keyboards and empowering lyrics recall the likes of Ray of Light and, to a certain extent, Vogue. Diplo, in the first of his several production contributions, anchors it in the present with a sweaty dance breakdown full of squelchy keyboards and deep bass drums.

Devil Pray

Madge enlists the seemingly specialised country-dance services of Swedish producer Avicii for this survivor’s tale. Thankfully this is nothing like her woeful 2003 cover of Don MacLean’s American Pie, but there is heavy reference to The Animals’ 1964 classic House of the Rising Sun.

Ghosttown

The biggest setback on Madonna’s previous album, MDNA, was its heavy-handed approach to innovation. In contrast, Ghosttown is a gorgeous yet streamlined power ballad with a huge, winning chorus. Sure, this could have easily been sung by Katy Perry or Rihanna, but Madonna, fortunately, trusts her pop instincts with this one.

Unapologetic B***h

Where Madonna genuinely grieved on her last two albums over the end of her marriage to the British film director Guy Ritchie, her latest ex, Brahim Zaibat, doesn’t receive that courtesy on Rebel Heart. Over a peppy reggae track, Madonna gives him a smackdown. Producer Diplo channels his former work with the mercurial Sri Lankan artist and former Madonna collaborator M.I.A. by adding a smattering of air horns and military drum beats.

Illuminati

When the demo version of the track was released this year, it rang alarm bells. While Madonna’s voice has never been her strongest asset, she was paired with some staid dance synths and cheesy acoustic guitars. Thankfully, Kanye West rescued it by throwing out the lameness and added the dark and claustrophobic sounds of his seminal 2013 album Yeezus.

B***h, I’m Madonna (featuring Nicki Minaj)

Another production triumph that is nearly derailed by some awful, ego-swelling lyrics. Diplo and the British beat-maker Sophie conjure up a deliciously slithering beat that is a bona fide dance-floor filler. Minaj also rises to the task and delivers another blisteringly bonkers rap.

Hold Tight

Discussions of Rebel Heart being too long are legitimate. Hold Tight is the first of a few tracks that should have been cut. Its atmospheric keyboards are sleep-inducing, with Madonna mumbling something about holding on and being strong.

Joan of Arc

A Madonna track harping on about the unforgiving media was always going to sound a bit rich. The anaemic production here doesn’t help as she laments: “Each time they write a hateful word/Dragging my soul into the dirt, I wanna die”. Yeah, I am sure Madonna’s verbal-bullying victim Lady Gaga would agree.

Iconic (featuring Mike Tyson and Chance The Rapper)

Rebel Heart’s mini slump is arrested: anyone thinking the former heavyweight boxing champion Tyson has embarked on a music career will be disappointed – his contribution is merely a sample proclaiming his greatness over loud applause, before the beat drops on this motivational dance anthem.

HeartBreakCity

Long before Lana Del Ray, Madonna was demonstrating the underrated power of emotional detachment. In this pensive, piano-led ballad, Madonna refuses to collapse in a teary mess, yet acknowledges she is emotionally in the weeds.

Body Shop

There is a hodgepodge of sounds here, with warm synths, plucked banjos and hollow drums as Madge metaphorically riffs on the open roads and repairing her heart. It’s uninspiring but probably a great commercial jingle if you can afford it.

Holy Water

Another throwback and the most scandalous Madonna track this decade. The brooding bass-filled verse gives way to a poptastic chorus that uses hedonistic sound effects harking back to her 1990 Justify My Love. It is safe to say the lyrical content deserves the parental advisory sticker.

Inside Out

A sonically desolate track as Madonna’s reverb-drenched vocals float over some stalking synths supplied by producer Mike Dean. The chilliness here suits the lyrics as Madge demands her lover be emotionally bare: “Every scar that you try to hide/ All the dark corners of your mind/ Show me yours, and I’ll show you mine”.

Wash All Over Me

The regal final track (of the standard version) is another addition to Madonna’s underrated collection of ballads. This century has been unkind to Madonna, who has had her share of heartbreak. Over a baroque piano, she surveys her present condition but vows to keep on moving: “Gonna watch the sun going down/I’m not gonna run from all this sadness”.

what publication is this from??

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Because I'm going crazy waiting for this album, I've come up with this list of how the critics seem to perceive the RH songs thus far. Feel free to correct/edit me.

LFL, GT, JOA, HC, BS, IO, WAOM, Messiah, RH (universally praised, or at least no real negative comments)

DP, UB, Iconic, VVV: divided, but leaning toward praise

Illuminati, BIM, HW: divided, but leaning toward negative

S.E.X.: totally dragged

Hold Tight, Best Night: basically unmentioned :laugh:

Haven't read every single review(I honestly only care about Rolling Stone and EW) but I say its pretty accurate^.I think Devil Pray has been more universally praised though.

S.E.X. ,from the the demo,I think is pretty catchy...its like I'm So Stupid,takes a couple of repetitions listening to it in the car to grow

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Because I'm going crazy waiting for this album, I've come up with this list of how the critics seem to perceive the RH songs thus far. Feel free to correct/edit me.

LFL, GT, JOA, HC, BS, IO, WAOM, Messiah, RH (universally praised, or at least no real negative comments)

DP, UB, Iconic, VVV: divided, but leaning toward praise

Illuminati, BIM, HW: divided, but leaning toward negative

S.E.X.: totally dragged

Hold Tight, Best Night: basically unmentioned :laugh:

Is Messiah universally praised? It might be my least favorite track on the CD... that and Best Night.

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Sputnikmusic.com give the album 2/10 :

Review Summary: From the queen of reinvention, to the queen of complacency.
There comes a time in an artist's career when they've been around for a long enough, when they have to consider how to stay relevant. Through the late eightites to the tail-end of the 2000s, this was a seemingly easy task for Madonna Ciccone; the Italian-American pop queen was given the name "The Queen of Reinvention", and she certainly didn't earn it for nothing. Nobody saw the shift from ordinary New York girl trying to find her place in this world (Like a Prayer) to sex queen (Erotica) in the early nineties, and nobody expected such earth-shatterers like Ray of Light or Confessions on a Dance Floor. But you can only get by on reinvention alone for so long. Track 5 on this album "Bitch, I'm Madonna", in addition to one of the most annoying synthesizer riffs of all time, has a chorus that goes, "We go hard or we go home/We gon do this all night long/We get freaky if you want/Bitch I'm Madonna", which should speak volumes about the Madonna we all know now. The once exciting, adventurous one-woman army has given way to a self-satisfied, squandering egomaniac. Not helping this is that a glance at Rebel Heart's hilariously troubled release history (which finally culminated in the bloated 98-minute SuperDeluxe edition being streamed in full a whole month before its release) seems to suggest that he just doesn't give a fuck anymore, because people will buy this album, if for the sole fact that it's a Madonna album. Which, I guess, is probably as good an excuse as any... almost.
Rebel Heart's biggest problem is that it's anything but rebellious or heartfelt. It's little more than MDNA 2.0, and it's merely a collection of grab-the-money-and-run pop anthem hopefuls with more than a few ballads tossed in there for good measure. It's overlong and hardly does anything to convince us that Madge is here to stay; in fact it only just seems to suggest that maybe the end of her career is near and she knows it. In addition, she hasn't given up the whole "middle aged pop queen trying to be a sex symbol" facade yet, and it's alive and well on this album. Everything here has been done before, and nothing is shocking coming from her anymore, especially at age 56. Sure, maybe in the Erotica days, a line like "Yeezus loves my pussy best" would have been shocking and even a little bit exciting, but nowadays, it's the musical equivalent of trying to do your homework while your parents fuck in the room right next to you. Everything here seems so commonplace and routine for Madonna, and while that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just dissapointing and shows her lacking ideas. Now, it's not all bad here; there are a few decent tunes (mostly in the form of ballads), but they're all towards the end of the album, and you can't help but dwell on what could have been.
One of the biggest issues with Madge's albums post-Confessions has always been that she's never been the best at showing balance in the slow ballads and the upbeat and catchy pop numbers, and that is alive and well here. The first side of the album has three pop anthems all in a row ("Unapologetic Bitch", "Illuminati" and "Bitch, I'm Madonna"), and all of them are absolutely terrible. In fact, "Illuminati" may be the worst thing she's done since "Where Life Begins". The song is painfully dull and runs on a repetitive synth hooks, has some absolutely cringe-worthy lyrics and even more cringe-worthy spoken word/rap/whatever in the verses that makes absolutely no sense, and the extremely autotuned verses don't help much either. "Unapologetic Bitch" starts off well with a rather breezy reggae vibe, before it degenerates into a clusterfuck of a pop track- the chorus is one of the worst in her career and apparently Madonna still thinks being in her 50s and repeating the word "fuck" over and over in her lyrics is still shocking. "Live to Love" is... catchy and danceable, and I can see it being a good club anthem, but there's not much else to it. "Devil Pray" is basically a slower "Miles Away" but without any of the heartfelt emotion, and lyrics that reek of tryhard- I'm sorry but hearing a 56 year old name-drop multiple drugs in the chorus just comes off as pure desperation. And not forgetting to mention "Holy Water", which basically is an Erotica-era track that back then, even Madonna herself would have thought twice about putting on the album.
Fortunately, there are some bright spots among all the rubble- the final few songs do offer some catharsis from what you just sat through. There's been some hype over the final track "Wash All Over Me" and it isn't hard to see why- it's no "Falling Free", but its mix of beautiful piano, powerful drums and eerie vocal melodies make for a great way to close out the album. "Inside Out" is a dark, mid-tempo song with a sinister bassline and some stunning vocals from Madge herself, and "HeartBreakCity" is yet another good acoustic-based ballad with brutal honesty, and then there's the rather tongue-in-cheek "Body Shop". It is also a ballad, but one these ballads do seem to prove the notion that she can't do good ballads wrong. But while that's a good thing, it's simultneously a problem when the standout tracks are ballads and not the anthemic dance numbers.
And that's why Rebel Heart does not live up to its title at all. The album reeks of complacency, and it won't win her any new fans either. The whole time you listen, it's hard not to think that it's been her time to throw in the towel a long time ago, and while it might not be as bad as, say, Hard Candy or American Life, it's just plain dull, immature, and bloated. It's hard to tell exactly whether this album is going to be her swan song or just another bad album from Madge- I certainly hope that it's just the latter, but considering she's 56 and still doing things like stripping down on stage and writing songs about how sex with her is the best thing since sliced bread, I can't see her career lasting much longer. If the Madonna of the 80s was the little pop star who could, the Madonna of the 90s was the one who proved that to stay at the top you needed to break the rules, and post 2000s Madonna was the woman who was queen of the dance floor, then Madonna of the 2010s is the woman who gave it all away for a false sense of relevance.
:angry:
Edited by rebelheart

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The National's review doesn't count in Metacritic.

And how slowly do they add reviews? The still haven't added Quietus' and Mojo's reviews. Now RH's score is 68/100.

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Sputnikmusic does though. Total BS, but I just feel sorry for people missing out on the album of the decade. Their loss!

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Unfortunately Sputnik's review DOES count.. That will drag RH's score deep down.

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Of course all the bad reviews count...she can't catch a fucking break. Rebel Heart is anything but "complacent."

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That sputnik review might just contain the single stupidest thing I have ever read:

"It's simultaneously a problem when the standout tracks are ballads and not the anthemic dance numbers."

What in the actual fuck. How does this constitute a problem in any way shape or form.

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that sputnik review is poorly written and vapid! sounds like something written in a high school paper! Why the hell does meta accept so many reviews from no-mark places?!

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Well that's for sure but it's not like the tracks won't count just because they're bonus tracks. I just consider Wash All Over Me the end of the album flow and everything else is just an encore.

Oh, yes, it is a perfect album closer.

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I've never understood people having a problem with long albums ... if the songs are good, of course. Why would anyone ever complain about that? Maybe it's being a fan of Tori Amos that has trained me. She's had four very long albums; two seem overly long, but two are just flawless.

I've dreamed of a long album from Madonna, and I can't wait to hear this. I have a feeling I'm going to be thankful for the length. I've never really disliked any of her songs with the exception of Did You Do It, so this is just a win win situation for me.

that is the problem for me.

I love nearly all the album, so many good songs. It seems so weird to me, well "if there were only 10-15 songs, it would be a very good album." That is crazy, the songs are still there!! Or if you have to make your own album between the editions, that should still count, since it is POSSIBLE nowadays.

I predicted the album would be very well reviewed, I thought the sheer amount of good songs would elevate the score but it seems one or two disliked ones drags everything down. Don't get it.

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Ouch! That Sputnik review was painful to read.Thank God that most of the reviews have been positive for the most part.

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"It's not as bad as Hard Candy or American Life" but only 2 stars?? So those were one star albums?!

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Sputnikmusic.com give the album 2/10 :

:angry:

ehm....2 out of 10? does this equal a shyt kind of album? exactly what I said before...BIASED SUBJECTIVE FUCKERS!

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Guest Cassius

the MDNA review wasn't counted for MC. Praying !

These trolls need to be reported.

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This album is anything BUT complacent! *grrr*

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I read a lot of music blogs because of my job but i had never heard of sputnik before, not that i know everything or something but it does not appear to be the go to source of information about new music releases. And it's really poorly written. Of course not everybody likes Madonna or must like her album but at least make the effort to write something pertinent. So much babbling....

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Guest Cassius

I just saw and says:Review by Scott M. Baldwin USER.

I don't think that review count.. It has to say STAFF.

Edited by Cassius

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Not only is that review one of the most unprofessionally written I've seen, the author sounds bitter AF. To top it all off, that site has a link to stream the leak.

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I just saw and says:Review by Scott M. Baldwin USER.

And boy can you tell it was written by a no-name

If you wanna skewer Madonna's album let's see you string together something well written to justify it. Attacking her based on age is now played out, predictable, and setting yourself up for future regret. When Madonna is hailed as a trailblazer for females in their middle age (and she will be), you're gonna cringe at the things you wrote about her.

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