hmv.com presents... Albums Of 2015: #14 Madonna
Every day during January we’re going to be previewing the albums that are going to be hitting the shelves in 2015. Most will definitely come out, some probably will, and some we really hope finally see the light of day (we’re looking at you Adele…). Today we're anticipating the 13th studio album from Madonna...
A Little Background…
Ah, Madge. Where do we start? Well, with career sales of over 300 million albums, she hardly needs much of an introduction. Often controversial, always provocative and never boring, Madonna's 30 year stint in the music business has yielded some brilliant albums and you'd have to go all the way back to 1994's Bedtime Stories to find one of her albums that didn't reach No. 1 in the UK Album Chart. Despite this, her last two full-length offerings – 2008's Hard Candy and 2012's MDNA – received a somewhat mixed response from critics and fans, many of whom will be hoping for a return to form with album number 13.
Back in February of last year, Madge stated that she had begun work on her next LP, and over the next few months a slew of writers, producers and collaborators were linked with the new album. Then, in December, 13 unfinished demos leaked onto the internet, the result of her laptop being hacked in what the singer described - in characteristically hyperbolic fashion - as “artistic rape”, saying that the leak of her album's new material was “a form of terrorism.”
Undeterred, she responded by surprise-releasing 6 of the new tracks in their finished form, stating that the new album would include “a further 13 unreleased tracks.” Obviously we're not condoning or endorsing the hackers' actions here, but the upshot does mean that fans will get a little extra music.
Then of course there was the added controversy over the album's artwork – or, more specifically, her tweeting pictures of the likes of Martin Luther King and Bob Marley with their faces trussed up like hers on the cover – leading to a predictable storm among the professionally offended on social media sites like Twitter.
What's it called?
It's called Rebel Heart.
What Will It Sound Like?
Madonna has always been a bit of a musical magpie, but the last two albums in particular drew accusations of bandwagonism for a latching on to current musical trends, especially the heavily EDM-influenced sound on MDNA. Where Madge's habit of picking producers du jour have yielded brilliant results in the past, such as her triumphant 1998 collaboration with William Orbit on Ray Of Light, many felt that Madge had lost some of her experimental edge in recent years.
However, if the 6 tracks released so far are anything to go by, she's learnt a lesson from this and there's much more variety on offer here, allowing her personality to shine through more than on her last two albums. The Diplo-produced lead-off single 'Living for Love' and the more downbeat, introspective 'Ghost Town' are good examples of the stylistic breadth here, and overall there are house beats, trap beats and acoustic guitars all in the mix.
Who's Producing It? Are There Any Big-Name Guests?
As well as Diplo, Avicii has also contributed production work on the album, while guests include Alicia Keys - who contributes piano on 'Living for Love'. Nicki Minaj also makes an appearance, lending her rapping skills to 'Bitch, I'm Madonna', while elsewhere there are contributions from producers Dahi and Billboard. Even Kanye West has lent a helping hand on 'Illuminati', which finds Madge dispelling conspiracy theories about secret societies.
Will It Really Come Out This Year? And When?
This one looks nailed on and, barring any release date slippage, should be hitting the shelves in the UK on March 9th.