THE Queen of Pop will reign again – MADONNA is about to release her best album in 17 years and one of the greatest of her career.
Not since Ray of Light in 1998 has Madge come up with such a perfect collection of pop belters, while managing to remain at the cutting edge of music trends.Rebel Heart, her 13th studio album, is deeply personal, exposing her darkest secrets, sexual desires and fears for the future.
It’s provocative, sexy, emotionally raw and self-referential.
But above all else, it features melodies and hooks that should send her back to the top of the charts.
While the 56-year-old has had to deal with almost constant leaks over the past two months, this is the first official review of the album.
If you were one of the few who has listened to the tracks illegally released online, then discount what you’ve heard.Nine songs are now officially available through Apple’s iTunes store but ten more will be released on March 9.
I’ve had a world exclusive First Listen for Bizarre and am excited to bring you my top ten countdown of the unreleased new songs.
10 INSIDE OUT
Yes, Madonna most definitely still loves sex — or “the purest form of ecstasy” as she describes it on this track.Eroticism and romance collide here as she stops singing to gasp: “I want to love you from the inside out.” Later she makes it clear the song is actually more about revealing your deepest feelings to your lover.
She sings: “Every scar you try to hide. Every dark corner of your mind. Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.”
9 HOLY WATER
One of four tracks co-produced by KANYE WEST. His influence is immediately evident, with “Yeezus” even getting a nod in the lyrics. The stripped-back instrumentation is very modern. But there’s still a cheeky reference to Vogue when Madge says: “Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.”
8 BEST NIGHT
Top DJ DIPLO worked with Madonna on this feel good and chilled-out party song about a one-night stand. A rap from Madonna, where she references the recent phenomenon of sex tapes, is the highlight here.She seductively whispers: “Surrender to the pleasure when we breathe in together. It’s either now or never. No sex tapes on camera. Just you and me together.”
The most traditional ballad on the album has similarities to Madonna’s brilliant Nineties hit You’ll See. There’s an impressive string section and very little dance production compared to the rest of the album. It’s one of five songs Swedish DJ AVICII has contributed to.
Madonna shows why she was so scornful of Fifty Shades of Grey, with her own X-rated mission statement that puts EL James to shame. Her “lesson in sexology” includes handcuffs, blindfolds, high heels, perfume, fishnets, leather belts, thigh highs, silk scarfs and, er, a bar of soap.
Oh, there’s also audio of a woman, we presume to be Madge, making love . . .
5 HEARTBREAK CITY
This is how you write and perform a break-up ballad. Madonna sounds angry here. Like, you-don’t-want-to-mess-with-me angry.Her vocals are on point too as she builds to a soaring chorus, singing: “Cut me down the middle. F***ed me up a little. You said I was your queen. I tried to give you everything. And now you want your freedom. You got what you came for — a bit of fame and fortune. And I’m no longer needed.”
4 VENI VEDI VICI
“I came, I saw, I conquered,” Madonna sings as she takes an exhilarating look back on her impressive career.In a spoken word verse referencing some of her most famous songs of old, she explains how she’s impacted pop culture, saying in part: “I expressed myself, came like a virgin down the aisle. Exposed my naked ass and I did it with a smile. And when it came to sex, I know I walked the borderline. When I struck a pose, all the gay boys lost their mind. I saw a ray of light. Music saved my life.”
The guest appearance from NAS is brilliant too and proof he should be back in the charts in his own right.
3 BODY SHOP
One of the most experimental moments, this track is completely joyful and a strong contender to be a future single. There’s an eastern influence instrumentally and fast-paced verses, fused perfectly with background dance beats. Unlike most of the deep lyrics on the album, Madge has some fun here. “You can polish the headlights. You can start the ignition,” she sings happily.
2 WASH ALL OVER ME
An incredibly powerful and pretty emotionally traumatic song ends the main version of the album, with an intense church-like organ overlaid with modern house beats. Madonna looks at her place in the world, opening with the line: “In a world that’s changing, I’m a stranger in a strange land.” She also talks about “running away from all this madness”.
1 REBEL HEART
Surprisingly, the brilliant title track — my favourite moment of the album — doesn’t find a place on the main tracklisting, instead closing the deluxe version.
The lyrics are autobiographical — and she admits to being a “narcissist” and “provocative”.
The first verse is my favourite lyrically as she sings: “I live my life like a masochist. Hear-ing my father say: ‘I told you so, I told you so. Why can’t you be like the other girls?’ I said: ‘Oh no, that’s no me. And I don’t think it will ever be.’”
Thank God for that.
DAN WOOTTON, Head of Showbiz