Rebel Heart is one project Madonna just hasn't been able to keep under wraps. After the December leak of more than two dozen demo tracks led to the arrest of an Israeli thief, it appears that Madonna has multiple leakers to worry about.
With that said, I've taken a listen to the final tracks... and the results are spectacular. Madonna will be pleased to know that her album will very likely be met with critical acclaim across the board. But this isn't news to her - she knows that this record represents some of her best work. That's why she's been working tirelessly on this project for over a year.
To the surprise of fans, the leaked record includes 25 tracks - a whole 6 tracks more than what is currently being advertised in the iTunes pre-order. It's an ambitious project. After taking a listen, I can genuinely say that this collection of work is extremely strong from start to finish. While I won't bore you with a full track-by-track review, let's talk about what I feel are some of the standouts on this record:
• "Living For Love"
Rebel Heart's lead single is an empowerment anthem for the ages, with soaring house beats, unforgettable vocals and a massive drop before the chorus. I can't wait to see what Madonna does with this track for the upcoming music video and her highly-anticipated appearance on the Grammy Awards this Sunday.
One of Madonna's strongest ballads in over a decade. Nothing more to say - this is a high note on this collection of tracks.
• "Iconic (feat. Chance The Rapper & Mike Tyson)"
Yes, you read that right. Mike Tyson is featured on this track. I was very nervous to hear how this would turn out, but I should have had faith in Madonna's artistic vision all along. Mike Tyson opens this track by exclaiming "I'm the best this world has ever seen. I'm someone you'll never forget" before a deep electronic beat takes over and Madonna belts about what the importance of perserverance.
• "Holy Water"
This track literally left me gagging. From the pulsating opening beat to the seductive moans layered over the electronic baseline, this cut is a club classic in the making. The biggest surprise of this track is the mashup with Vogue that takes place about halfway through.
• "Inside Out"
Classic Madonna. This might just be my favourite track from this entire body of work. I wouldn't be surprised if Inside Out were chosen as a future single. While a large portion of the album has a modern, experimental sound, this cut is extremely radio friendly and ranks among her best work.
• "Wash All Over Me"
A perfect track to close what will be the standard edition of Rebel Heart. A militaristic ballad that finds Madonna introspectively asking "what's next?" But what sounds like a perfect closer is just a tease, because there are still another 11 tracks to follow.
• "Veni Vidi Vici (feat. Nas)"
Madonna hasn't rapped since 2003's American Life - but she's bringing it back and I couldn't be happier! On this track, M seductively raps about her journey as an artist, paying homage to nearly every one of her reinventions and eras. "I was fearless like a renegade," M sweetly sings in between booming choruses.
If my memory serves me correctly, this was one of the first tracks Madonna teased on Instagram mid-last year. This beautiful, orchestral ballad represents one of the most vulnerable moments Madonna has recorded in years.
• "Beautiful Scars"
Another return to the dance floor, but this time Madge is injecting a deep disco flavour to create an empowerment anthem reminiscent of Cher's Strong Enough. This is a song drag queens will be performing in cabaret shows for years to come.
• "Borrowed Time"
M is ready to start winding down her album with a few enlightening tracks that make a very sharp statement about the current state of world. Madonna's vocals soar on this insightful track that begs to ask the question: are you making the most of the time you have?
Rounding out this 25-track set is the grungy electronic-rock powerhouse, Addicted. This was a favourite among fans who heard the leaked demos back in December. This eerie stomper ends an already impressive album on a high note with Madonna directing her fearless emotion towards a lover she refers to as "the one that got away."
Have you listened to Rebel Heart yet? What did you think?
If you haven't already, you can pre-order Rebel Heart on iTunes now.