Well, you can’t accuse Madonna of slowing down. For her 13th album, Rebel Heart, the 56-year-old is giving her fans 25 new songs. You read that right. On the Super Deluxe Edition, there are 25 songs. Even the deluxe edition has 19 songs. It’s quite an undertaking just listening to them all. Rebel Heart has some really solid tracks, but quantity over quality isn’t a good thing. There are a bunch of songs that could easily have been cut, especially when they cover similar territory.
The album opens with the first single, “Living For Love”, and it’s got the gospel-tinged feel of “Like A Prayer”. That’s just the beginning of Madonna nodding to her earlier work. On “Veni Vidi Vici”, where Madge sings about getting her career started, she title drops almost every hit song she’s ever had, from “Into The Groove” to “Like A Virgin” to “Music”. On “Holy Water”, she sings a few lines from “Vogue” including the iconic “strike a pose”. There’s a lot of self-reflection on the album with Madonna looking back on her life, admitting her mistakes and triumphs.
For all the rebellion she shows, Madonna also reveals her vulnerability on “Joan Of Arc”, where she talks about the intense media scrutiny she experiences.
Well, it’s tough not to scrutinize the unnecessary tracks here. “Body Shop” might be the best track on the album with its Indian-influenced production and clever sexual lyrics, but then there’s “S.E.X.”, which is a boring, cliched song. It seems silly to have a song called “Unapologetic Bitch” and “Bitch I’m Madonna”. The ideas for those songs could have easily been combined into one.
Why have a song called “Graffiti Heart” when you have the fantastic “Rebel Heart”? “Graffiti Heart” isn’t a terrible song, but because of the similar title, you can’t help compare it to the stellar title track. She should have reworked “Graffiti Heart” with different lyrics.
She’s got a nice gospel feel going on “Living For Love”, “Holy Water” and “Wash All Over Me” going on the album, so why keep the forgettable “Messiah”?
Rebel Heart is definitely an album worth checking out, but it just takes some effort finding the good stuff.