Madonna Rebel Heart Interscope
On paper, the single Living For Love should have been a smash. The greatest and most prolific living pop artist working with Diplo and a writing team who are collectively responsible for Wrecking Ball, Big Girls Don’t Cry and If I Were A Boy. Granted, it’s not exactly to our tastes but it doesn’t take a genius sales forecaster to assume it should be a hit. It wasn’t. It isn’t. In fact, something is absent on all of the would-be bangers of Rebel Heart.
The stripped back production on HeartBreakCity is let down by clunky lyrics like “Cause I’m in heartbreak city / And it’s not that pretty / And it still feels shitty”. Even Kanye’s production on Illuminati feels slightly lacklustre as Madonna reels off nondescript entities of power in an unspecific statement about Google or consumerism or The Pope or something.
This said, one successful outcome of Madge’s consistent reinvention can be found in the gloriously fizzy, PC Music ripping vocals, lucid synths and chunky chorus of Diplo/SOPHIE/Nicki Minaj collaboration Bitch, I’m Madonna, a surprisingly aware track and an album highlight.
Many roundtable pop releases triumph; there can be moments of magic when a coach load of hit makers get behind one release, but sadly Rebel Heart isn’t one of those instances. For an artist who is defined by her own self-made reinventions, this feels decidedly void of character. We’d rather return to the diamante cowgirl of 2000 or the Eva Peron vibes of ’96. It’s all depressingly vanilla.