Madonna ‘Rebel Heart’ Review Roundup: What the Critics Are Saying
Madonna is back with Rebel Heart, her 13th studio album (!) that has made waves from the moment it partially leaked online back in December. While Madonna is a classic, an icon, a virtual pop music phenomenon, many wonder if the queen of reinvention can do it yet again. How does Rebel Heart — out today (March 10) — fare in the current world of pop music? Here's what the critics had to say.
The New York Times: "Madonna Is Still Madonna on Rebel Heart," the NYT headline reads. "…It uses sex as an arena of pleasure and challenge, just as she was doing in her mid-30s; it reminds you that her ballad voice was one of the ubiquitous pleasures in American pop 25 years ago. It goes into EDM, trap and reggae, pulling on the songwriting and production contributions of Avicii, Diplo and Kanye West. And from its title on it has ... not a thematic unity but a duality."
TIME: "There are albums where it’s been difficult to remember that Madonna is a real person and not just a figurehead, a concept, a lightning rod. That’s not the case with Rebel Heart: It has surprising gravity, and doubles as a portrait of a lion approaching the winter of a career without precedent. It’s the realest, and the best, Madonna has sounded in quite some time."
Rolling Stone: "The album is at its strongest when Madonna shoves everyone to the side and just tells it to us straight. … Deep down, Madonna does have a rebel heart — and you can't fault her for reminding us that pop music is all the better for it."
USA Today: "Rebel Heart includes those six [originally released] songs and 13 more, and they present Madonna at her most determined and spiritually unplugged. The sound — crafted with such hip-hop, pop and EDM names as Kanye West, Toby Gad, Avicii and Diplo — is not so much raw as purposefully lean and piercingly direct, as are the lyrics, which mine emotions from righteous anger and pain to resolute joy."
While the majority of the reviews are positive, there are, of course, some naysayers.
The New York Post: "The potential hits are few, and her clubfooted approach to songs about sex are definitely not highlights (hearing her declare 'Yeezus loves my p---y best' on the Kanye-produced 'Holy Water' will send shudders across the world)," the review states. "But at its best, Rebel Heart is the sound of Madonna falling down, getting back up and carrying on. It's something she’s gotten very good at lately."
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