The rebellious Queen of Pop is at it again. Madonna recently released her new album, Rebel Heart, on March 6th, 2015, and it’s still on the iTunes Top Charts currently ranking in at number 52. Her 13th studio album is receiving rave reviews, so I decided to listen to what all the fuss was about.
I’ll admit that I haven’t listened to any of Madonna’s more current music, so I was a tad skeptical where this album was concerned. I wasn’t really feeling the first two tracks of Rebel Heart, but once Ghosttown came on I was instantly hooked. Unapologetic Bitch and Bitch I’m Madonna are the kind of songs that make you want to forget about your ex and just go out to the club with your girlfriends and have a good time, reminding yourself that you are a badass and that “you deserve the best in life.” Her more personal ballads such as Joan of Arc and the title track Rebel Heart shed light on the scrutiny that she’s faced throughout the years because of her earlier controversial songs (Like a Prayer, Material Girl, Like a Virgin, Vogue, etc.) and because of her seemingly provocative image.
Rebel Heart proves to be one of the best empowerment albums of 2015 thus far. The album celebrates all platforms for taking their power back: Whether it’s someone building their own self-confidence by being authentic, realizing after a breakup that they deserve better or finding confidence within themselves with the help of someone special. Each of these platforms, expressed through various songs, are also a nod to each part of the album title. These empowerment platforms are echoes, if not blatant outcries, of subversion from the norm of how society polices women in particular.
We can’t deny that Madonna herself is a revolutionary. She was one of the first female artists to revolutionize the way music was seen both conceptually and thematically, thus also drastically challenging the way society viewed people, and vice versa. Not to mention, she also played around with the fashion scene at her time, urging women to be comfortable in their sexuality and in their bodies (cone bra, anyone?).
Madonna performs Ghosttown with Taylor Swift accompanying her on guitar:
The term ‘lady’ is branded into women daily, trapping them in a box of do’s and don’ts: Don’t be provocative, don’t show skin, conform to heteronormativity, be subservient, be soft and not too outspoken, don’t make too much of a spectacle of yourself, appeal to men, don’t be overly ambitious…the list goes on and on. Madonna rebels against these societal ideals in many of her songs on the album, but mainly in the two songs Rebel Heart and Iconic. For example, the first verse in Rebel Heart is, “I’ve lived my life like a masochist/Hearing my father say, ‘Told you so, told you so! /why can’t you be like the other girls?’/I said, ‘Oh no, that’s not me/and I don’t think that it’ll ever be.” Madonna’s choice of the word ‘masochist’ in the first verse can be a little harsh in the literal sense of the word, but I think that she’s twisting it a bit, as if to say that she’s a masochist-not because she enjoys being in pain and being constantly put down by society (in this case, society being represented by her father)-but because she finds pleasure in being told that she can’t do something and then proving people wrong. Her song Iconic is a true empowerment anthem, with lyrics such as, “If you don’t make the choice/and you don’t use your voice/someone else will speak for you instead” and the chorus. “I can’t,” “icon” – two letters apart/One step away from being lost in the dark/Just shine your light like a beautiful star/Show the world who you are, who you are,” urging young women to defy society and to go after their dreams, being unafraid in the process.
If there’s anyone who’s faced criticism in one way or another by the press or the public, it’s Madonna. Her song Joan of Arc (the title a reference to the Catholic martyr, Joan of Arc, in true Madonna style) is a reflection and a look into her feelings about the scrutiny she’s faced, and how she’s not as strong as people would perceive her to be but also how she won’t back down from doing what she loves. This is expressed in the lyrics, “anything they did to me, said to me/doesn’t mean a thing, ’cause you’re here with me now/Even when the world turns its back on me/There could be war but I’m not going down.”
Madonna’s new album proves that she’s still got it, and in the catchiest way. Let’s face it: Loving yourself and loving others is the greatest form of rebellion.
What do you think of Madonna’s new album? Let me know in the comments below!