Being a Madonna fan has been a part of my life longer than most things. Longer than I was a son, a vegetarian, a boyfriend, or any professional title I’ve ever had. Hell it’s even been longer than I’ve called myself gay. Madonna herself, her songs, her videos, her movies, her concerts…are all interwoven into memories of my life, as I’m sure Rebel Heart will.
My fan-tization with Madonna started back in 1984. Flashback to a pleasantly plump tween waddling my way next door to ask my friend Carrie if she wanted to come out and play Charlie’s Angels. That was back when you could play outside without fear of stranger danger or drive by shootings. We’d reenact episodes of the show and Carrie would always let me be Farrah Fawcett or Cheryl Ladd (depending on my mood) to her Charlie, bonding us forever. That morning Carrie was still having breakfast so I was invited in to wait for her and watch MTV. We didn’t have cable at our house so I was excited to finally watch this station that I heard so much about. The first video to come on was Madonna’s “Lucky Star” and I was instantly struck by her beauty, that outfit, those bracelets, the rags in her hair, and those dance moves…it was love at first sight and all these years later, it’s never faded.
Flash forward to today and the release of Madonna’s Rebel Heart, another great pop album of Madonna’s that I couldn’t wait to get my ears on. Madonna is at her strongest when she does pop music and there’s plenty of it on Rebel Heart. The first single off the album, “Living For Love”, is a perfect example of her fun dance styling. Lyrically though, I have to question if Madonna truly believes what she’s singing. When she’s asking her fans to spend $1750.00 for front row tickets to her show, she ain’t living for love…she’s living for a paycheck. The same can be said of “Joan Of Arc”, although a beautiful song, I don’t believe Madonna is sitting around feeling bad about how people view her. She should stick to lyrics that are a little more realistic and believable such as those on “Unapologetic Bitch”, “Bitch I’m Madonna” and “Veni, Vidi, and Vici”.
I like Madonna best when she’s not concerned with making music that will get her on the radio but focuses more on the songs that she enjoys. “Ghosttown” won’t make it on today’s radio but is hauntingly beautiful. On “Inside Out” and “Wash All Over Me” she plays around with unradio friendly tunes that she hasn’t explored before. I give her props for that. She, herself, gives props to “Vogue” and “Justify My Love” on “Holy Water” and “Best Night” respectfully and it’s always fun when she revisits the classics.
On her last few albums, Rebel Heart included, Madonna seems to rely heavily on collaborating with popular artists and riding on their coat tails instead of blazing her own trail as she once did on albums of the past. This is the second album that Madonna has worked with Nicki Minaj who is talented but seems to be on the album less for her talent and more for her relevance in the music industry. The same can be said of Nas and Chance The Rapper’s work on this album. The songs that contain their rapping would sound better with them edited out but they’re kept in for due to their influence and popularity. And I don’t know where Madonna dug up Mike Tyson for “Iconic”, my only guess is that she owed Don King one.
But it wouldn’t be a Madonna album if there weren’t a few songs where she tries to push people’s buttons. “S.E.X’s” title alone says it all. It isn’t hiding behind any facade, just like Madonna herself. Mixing sex and religion has always been a classic Madonna move to provoke the masses. “Holy Water” does that by comparing her love juices to that of holy water and letting us know that Jesus loves her pussy best. I’m glad he was able to give his stamp of approval.
With the release of this album also comes the news of a world tour. Time to sweat getting tickets before they sell out, shelling out the big bucks to sit in the nosebleeds and book a hotel room because a Madonna show never starts on time so who knows when you’re leaving the venue. It’s all worth it however, because say what you want about Madonna but she can still put on a show like no other. Bitch, after all, she’s Madonna!