By CELINE NGUYEN
Madonna Louise Ciccone, better known by her stage name Madonna, has been making waves in the music industry since her debut in 1982. On March 6, she released her newest album, Rebel Heart, topping charts around the world—reaching numbers two and one on US Billboard 200 and UK Albums, respectively.
Rebel Heart can be described as a mix of different sounds and styles. With 19 songs featured on the album, Madonna takes inspiration from the genres of country, reggae and even dubstep. “Living for Love” is the first song and single of the album. With its catchy beat and strong vocals reminiscent of her younger tracks such as “Holiday” or “Like a Virgin,” this track is easily one of Madonna’s more memorable ones. The lyrics, though seemingly simple, deliver a strong message. With its repeated mantra of “I’m going to carry on,” Madonna proves she is above insults and harsh words , and once again pushes the boundaries of “the acceptable” in the performing industry. Vistaa Darabian (Jr.) said, “The fact that she’s still making good music at her age is a feat on its own, and should be celebrated, not scorned. She’s doing what she loves, and the people that criticize her should just go and find another artist to listen to if they can’t get over that fact. I hope I’m still doing what I love when I get to her age.”
My personal favorite from the album is “Devil Pray,” similar to another song in the album, “Joan of Arc.” “Devil Pray” is nostalgic because of its folk-song feel, but manages to be edgy with its lyrics and voice effects. The song talks about embarking on a journey to better oneself, and Madonna repeats pleas for something to “save [her] soul” and “make the devil pray.” I found myself swaying along to the hypnotic beat with the Queen of Pop’s voice providing an almost morbid narration. On the other hand, “Joan of Arc” can be seen as the more upbeat counterpart to “Devil Pray.” Its slight country influence makes for a melodic delivery of Madonna’s personal struggles with her refrain, “Even hearts made out of steel can break down. I’m not Joan of Arc, not yet, I’m only human.” Though well deserving of her crown, Madonna’s career has not always been sunshine and rainbows— especially after Confessions on A Dancefloor, released ten years ago, became regarded as her last greatest album. In Rebel Heart, she strives to create something unique that can span across generations, from her loyal fans from the 80’s and 90’s, and the youth of today.
With powerful songs such as “Wash All Over Me” and “Illuminati” also in the album, Madonna pokes fun at the world’s vision of her and the notion that she is too old to be doing what she’s doing. Collaborations from today’s top artists also add to the rebellious and introspective feel of Rebel Heart. Mike Tyson and Chance the Rapper appear in the song “Iconic,” while “Illuminati” was created with contributions from Kanye West. The piano track for “Living for Love” is provided by Alicia Keys, while Diplo and Avicii had their hand in producing many of the album’s songs.
Though Madonna’s Like A Virgin and The Immaculate Collection continue to be her most popular albums, (and consequently hold special places in my heart), Rebel Heart is the triumphant return of a Queen. I would definitely recommend this to anyone and everyone.
Rebel Heart is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars and sells for $14.99 on iTunes.