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> 'Rebel Heart' • album discussion, 13th album | 2015
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HausofWillow
post Jul 22 2020, 06:29 PM
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A place to discuss Madonna's 13th studio album 'Rebel Heart'. Released in 2015.

1. Living For Love
2. Devil Pray
3. Ghosttown
4. Unapologetic Bitch
5. Illuminati
6. Bitch I'm Madonna (feat. Nicki Minaj)
7. Hold Tight
8. Joan of Arc
9. Iconic (feat. Chance the Rapper & Mike Tyson)
10. HeartBreakCity
11. Body Shop
12. Holy Water
13. Inside Out
14. Wash All Over Me
15. Best Night
16. Veni Vidi Vici (feat. Nas)
17. S.E.X.
18. Messiah
19. Rebel Heart

Disc 2
1. Beautiful Scars
2. Borrowed Time
3. Addicted
4. Graffiti Heart
5. Living for Love (Paulo & Jackinsky Full Vocal Mix)
6. Living for Love (Funk Generation & H3drush Dub)

What are your thoughts on this album? Share any opinions, memories, favourite songs, or just discuss it anytime you're re-listening!

Previous threads: Rebel Heart | Album Discussion
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HausofWillow
post Jul 22 2020, 06:29 PM
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HausofWillow
post Jul 23 2020, 05:35 PM
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This album is one of two halves. There is some of her strongest modern material on here (such as 'Ghosttown' and 'Devil Pray' etc), some other moments that I love such as 'Iconic', 'Hold Tight' and the bonus tracks, and then some absolute turds. She really needed to do quality control here and remember that sometimes less is more. In its entirety when you go for the super deluxe versions, the album length is HUMONGOUS and there are so many ideas and sounds shoved in with the iamspamspamamisink. I wish she'd thought a lot more about the tracklist and the inclusions on it to have a more cohesive album, because when the era is good, it is GREAT and there is enough GREAT on here for a ~12 track album!
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Tafty³³³
post Aug 31 2020, 01:58 PM
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Honestly, I have NO IDEA what to expect from this album. I've heard various things, like what Bal said - it's got some of her strongest "modern-era" songs on there and that had she cut the album down, there would be a brilliant album amongst all this. But we'll see.

I've heard all of the singles from this album, all of which I actually really like. 'Living For Love' gives me Gaga (BTW era) vibes, 'Ghosttown' is one of her best ballads bar none. Gorgeous. 'Bitch, I'm Madonna' is the fun trash that Madonna tried to do for a few years before, but managed to find the right balance with! I'm honestly pretty down that she chose to lead with LFL and not 'Ghosttown'. Especially with the BRITS promo! I'm just envisioning 'Ghosttown' absolutely slaying people. But then we wouldn't have got THAT moment so... ph34r.gif

Up to 'Illuminati' and I actually think I've heard this album at least once? Maybe. I've definitely heard 'Unapologetic Bitch' before & 'Illuminati' sounds familiar. Both good, but pale to the first 3 tracks! BIM is pure trash but it's a BOP!

1. Ghosttown
2. Devil Pray
3. Living For Love
4. Joan of Arc
5. Hold Tight
6. Body Shop
7. Wash All Over Me
8. HeartBreakCity
9. Bitch I'm Madonna (feat. Nicki Minaj)
10. Inside Out
11. Rebel Heart
12. Unapologetic Bitch
13. Iconic (feat. Chance the Rapper & Mike Tyson)
14. Best Night
15. Illuminati
16. Messiah
17. Holy Water
18. Veni Vidi Vici (feat. Nas)
19. S.E.X.

Ok. The surprise to me is that this is actually a good album? It doesn't set the trends as per the norm for recent Madonna releases, but I think it follows them in a far superior way than the likes of 'Hard Candy' or 'MDNA' did with their respective albums. The album started to take it's toll on me a bit (so idk if they played a part in me not enjoying half of the 2nd half of the album as much as I should etc..), but apart from S.E.X., I didn't hate or particularly dislike anything? However, everything from about #13 - #18 I didn't really "need".

That top 9 is SO good. Ranging from great Madonna mid/down tempo's, to exciting and thrilling bops such as 'Body Shop' & 'Bitch, I'm Madonna'. The former in particular has a certain charm to it, imo! 10-12 are all good too and I wouldn't be mad at the top 12 being the standard version in all honesty. Surprised by this, ngl. Is it essential Madonna? Nope, but I'm happy we have it and there's a really solid album in there!

Album Rankings:
01. Confessions On A Dancefloor
02. Ray Of Light
03. True Blue
04. Erotica
05. Like A Prayer
06. American Life
07. Rebel Heart
08. Music
09. Madonna
10. Hard Candy
11. Like A Virgin
12. Bedtime Stories
13. MDNA
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Jord
post Aug 31 2020, 02:30 PM
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I think there’s a great album in there but because of the many editions we have of this I kinda see it as an album of two halves.

It’s a step-up from MDNA at least (and shades of it is better than Hard Candy) but there’s some bad moments on here what don’t feel very Madonna like at all. Madame X is definitely a big step up from this but Rebel Heart is solid on occasions. I do however feel like the demos what leaked ahead of the release were better than official versions of some of the tracks most notably the title track!
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Dré
post Sep 1 2020, 04:04 PM
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I actually think this is far better than Madame X. This is much more my jam. Easily her strongest since Confessions, although it does have a few songs that I don't care about. But "Ghosttown", "Hold Tight", "Best Night", "Unapologetic", "Joan Of Arc", "Heartbreak City", "Messiah", "Rebel Heart", "Veni Vidi Vici" are all superb
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vibe
post Sep 1 2020, 07:33 PM
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This is a really strong album. I really think it’s one of her best.

Sex is horrid tho.

I would have chose Devil Pray and Joan of Arc has singles .
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HausofWillow
post Sep 2 2020, 07:14 PM
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It really is an album full of amazing highs and then shocking lows. She needed quality control to reduce the number of fillers in it.
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slowdown73
post Sep 2 2020, 10:39 PM
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Rebel heart is a better album than hard candy or MDNA but it’s a mixed affair. You have some classic tracks like ghosttown and rebel heart but also some awful tracks too like holy water for starters. I feel in part Madonna is not being herself and trying to appeal to a far younger market on many songs.
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Piers
post Sep 4 2020, 04:26 AM
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It's actually my favorite of her post-Confessions albums...though it's unquestionably imperfect (and has some lower lows than anything on Hard Candy).

I listen to Joan of Arc, Body Shop, and Rebel Heart quite a lot. To my ears, Joan of Arc was an obvious single...and Rebel Heart is a criminally underrated (and really beautiful) career retrospective. I also think Ghosttown is her best single of the 2010s...closely followed by Livin' For Love.

But while softer moments on the album work...for me, the harder moments don't. She has every right to record edgy tracks...and not be shamed about it because of her age. Not caving to pressure is very Madonna. Buuut. That said. The edgy songs on this album just aren't very good...and seem to exist only for her to say "hey everybody! I'm still singin' bout sex!"

I think there's a really, really good 10-12 track album here. But this needed trimming. And I agree with Euphorique...this album is far more my thing than Madame X.
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dandy*
post Sep 4 2020, 09:10 PM
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Glad you liked this one Jonjo! I totally agree with you, there's a good album hidden among the dross and you like pretty much all the ones that I choose to listen to so no grumbles from me happy.gif
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Tawdry Hepburn
post Sep 4 2020, 11:38 PM
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I wish 'Inside Out' could get more appreciation, it's such a beautiful song. wub.gif
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Jord
post Sep 5 2020, 12:41 AM
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Wash All Over Me is another underrated one from this era!

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CJK
post Feb 2 2021, 01:21 PM
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ALBUM RANKINGS:
10. REBEL HEART
11. MADONNA/THE FIRST ALBUM
12. AMERICAN LIFE
13. MDNA
14. MADAME X

I bought the Deluxe 19 track version of this album, so I am going to ignore the Super Deluxe tracks on CD2 (for the record, I don't like albums over two CDs, especially when the second one contains very few tracks. That's why I tend not to buy them; I just wouldn't listen to the second CD).

Illuminate aside (I just don't get that song at all) the first 9 tracks are excellent. Ghosttown is outstanding and 5 years earlier would have probably made No.1 and been largely hailed a high point in her career, rather than falling outside the Top 100. One of my favourite tracks is Iconic and I truly believe it should have kicked off the era as the lead single. Imagine that as her Brits performance with dancers dressed as Madonna from different points in her career. Now that would have been a show-closer without the need for a cape and being pulled off stage.

Things go a bit "meh" after then; easily forgettable or just a bit too "here she goes again" (i.e. S.E.X and Holy Water). At the same time I enjoy listening to Body Shop, which is more playful than downright in your face. Amongst it all is Veni Vidi Vici, which is a high point for me. Rebel Heart is one of the best tracks here and should have been at least on the standard version... Hell, it should have been a single... Like almost everyone else, I prefer the demo, but the album version is really good.

How about a singles run of: Iconic - Rebel Heart - Ghosttown - and then Bitch I'm Madonna (if she really had to) as a fun closer?

I could probably pick a good 12 tracks that I like and wouldn't skip, which means there is a genuinely great album here. But when that means there are 7 tracks which I'm not that bothered by, as a body of work it slips down the rankings a bit.
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dandy*
post Feb 2 2021, 05:23 PM
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That's quite similar to how I feel about this album. There's a much stronger album in there somewhere but it is majorly let down by the other tracks as they are largely among the worst she has made. Ghosttown is really great I agree, one of her 10s songs that would genuinely deserve its place among her classics.

At the time I made my own version which went...

01 Living For Love
02 Addicted
03 Devil Pray
04 Ghosttown
05 Messiah
06 Queen
07 Rebel Heart
08 Hold Tight
09 Joan of Arc
10 Borrowed Time
11 Iconic
12 Inside Out
13 HeartBreak City
14 Wash All Over Me
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HausofWillow
post Feb 2 2021, 05:37 PM
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I agree it's an abum of two halves. There are some incredible songs and then some complete wastes of space. She really needed quality control because as you say CJK & D*, there is a ~12 track album in there that would have been super strong.

Also really happy to see your love for 'Iconic' CJK. It would have been a bold era opener just like it opened the tour! I have always loved it and found it one of the album's strongest moments.
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Hotlady
post Feb 2 2021, 07:53 PM
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It's such a wonderful album. I'm favourite song from this album would be Ghosttown.
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Nina West
post Feb 3 2021, 07:38 PM
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Here is my review for Madonna's 13th studio album "Rebel Heart" - ENJOY!





Living for Love
The opening number and it’s a fun, hopeful, and contemporary track, while still reminiscent of both her early 90's AND early 2000's work. Euphoric & transcendent with throbbing EDM beats & uplifting lyricism, religious imagery, perseverance, and self-empowerment, along with fantastic production by Diplo, as well as stunning piano work by the ever-fabulous Alicia Keys This was the shot adrenaline that Madonna's career needed after the lacklustre ‘MDNA’. Overall a strong comeback effort & one of her absolute best in a long time.

Devil Pray
A dark acoustic ballad that fuses Country and Dance, backed by twangy guitars, all of which makes for an interesting mixture of styles as Madonna serves life lessons wrapped around warm melodies that’s backed some unusual yet fresh sounding production that elevates this stellar track to a whole other level. Simply stunning this should have been a single.

Ghosttown
Here is the first power ballad of the album & it’s stunning with its solemn verses, sweeping melodies & big drum thumps, as well as a well-crafted chorus that just soars over the polished production with stark & earnest arrangements that gives this a rather haunting yet powerful feel. The vocals by Madonna of course sounds rich yet natural at the same time. This sounded like an instant classic upon first listen & made for a perfect follow up single choice.

Unapologetic Bitch
Madonna goes Reggae on this rather brash yet brisk number with its bouncy mid-tempo rhythms, off beat guitars & slick dancehall grooves, helped along with her laid-back vocal delivery. A strong album track that doesn’t quite hit the levels of the almighty first 3 tracks, but still good though.

Illuminati
Dark and menacing with minimalist production that features stabbing synths & fun bass heavy beats. This is a deliberate dancefloor banger that thankfully makes light of a silly subject, yet still has too many elements going on to fully enjoy, but it’s a decent effort overall.

Bitch I’m Madonna
The first outright BAD track on here, despite boasting bass drops, high melodic hooks & manic synth loops & then of course there’s a rather vibrant rap by Nikki Minaj. But despite being quite catchy, its Madonna’s over processed vocals that brings everything to a screaming halt & plus that awfully dated dub-step breakdown, that adds nothing to this manic number.

Hold Tight
A pleasant enough number filled with pounding drums and thunderous, tribal-like beat drops, along with a dramatic bridge that elevates the whole thing & thanks to some sharp production, this easily could have fallen into forgettable territory, but thankfully it doesn’t.

Joan of Arc
Slowing things down again with this sublime electro-folk ballad with a touch of vulnerability throughout the melodic, guitar-led tune thanks to its rich production that shows a sensitive yet mature side to Madonna.

Iconic
A fun track with interesting contributions by both Chance the Rapper & Mike Tyson, where the latter is merely a hype man, delivering a brag-filled ramble about being the best above the roar of a cheering crowd and it works well. Then of course the former comes in and fits surprisingly well thanks to his quick-fire verses against the songs ominous beats, marching drums & booming beats. A bold effort and a fun addition on here.

HeartBreakCity
A tender piano ballad that lacks some of the polish & greatness of the album’s other ballads so far, but does have some nice moments such as the snare drums & acoustic arrangements, but this needed something more in the chorus, which could have given this an extra lift.

Body Shop
This doesn’t do much for me, despite some pleasant enough production with some nice guitar riffs, a variety of rhythms & sparse arrangements. Overall the song just gets lost amongst the album’s more memorable moments.

Holy Water
Quite torn on this one, while the song is quite fun & effectively catchy with heavy synth bass sounds & sampling her own hit ‘Vogue’ was an interesting touch, but lyrically its utterly tasteless & not one of the album’s standout moments, in my opinion.

Inside Out
This starts out promisingly with some menacing synths & massive clipped drums, but the melody is very weak & the hooks are very lacking, despite some rich production.

Wash All Over Me
A fine ending to the standard edition of this album, a fine & elegant emotive number that indulges in some progressive power chords & rousing symphonic elements, but its lacking that special something, which could have made this even greater, not sure what maybe’s it’s the lyrics or that the passion isn’t quite there.


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CJK
post Feb 4 2021, 10:16 PM
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I really enjoy reading your track-by-track reviews of the albums. Nina West.
I agree with so much of what you have said said about Rebel Heart (though I secretly love Bitch I'm Madonna, I just think it's a shame that it became the big talking point of the album rather than something like Ghosttown.)

What do you think of the song Rebel Heart, which as the title track crazily never featured on the standard version of the album?


This post has been edited by CJK: Feb 4 2021, 10:16 PM
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vibe
post Feb 5 2021, 08:04 AM
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I love rebel heart the song but think the demo had so much potential as an upbeat number.
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