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The pop pension is calling, Madonna!

Madonna's new work is packed with a lot of electronic junk and a handful of decent pop ballads.

There were times when Madonna was still a trendsetter. But these were a long time ago. For many years now, the "Queen of Pop" has been lagging behind the latest trends. Her last two albums "Hard Candy" (2008) and "MDNA" (2012) seemed like a desperate attempt to emulate young colleagues like Lady Gaga, Nelly Furtado, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj.

Madonna's new disc "Rebel Heart" unfortunately also sounds like the infusion of successful chart and club pounders from recent years. No wonder: Her Highness spared no expense and hired well-known producers such as Avicii, Kanye West and Diplo. Nicki Minaj, Nas, Alicia Keys, Chance The Rapper and actually ex-boxer Mike Tyson also stop by as album guests. Perhaps such a play it safe concept could even have worked.

Trashy one-way pop with a bubbling synthie

But what use are Madonna's contemporary beats, synth bubbling and celebrities if a large part of the songs remains trashy one-way pop? The "Deluxe Edition" of "Rebel Heart" comes up with 19 tracks. However, there are so many total failures among them that the few solid numbers are mercilessly lost.

The 56-year-old monarch fails with attempts at rap to electronic background noise ("Illuminati", "Veni Vidi Vici", "Holy Water"), cheap euro dance ("Devil Pray", "Iconic") and annoying teen pop ("Bitch I'm Madonna"). Even the four-minute quickie with "S.E.X.", actually the subject of the scandalous singer, turns out to be an embarrassing slip with all too flat sex act lines.

The first single "Living For Love", which opened the longplayer, should have been a kind of modern "Like A Prayer". Despite the obligatory gospel choir support, it wasn't enough for more than an interchangeable house track. After all, despite all its arbitrariness, it is produced to the point and at least works as a catchy tune.

Endurable ballads with hymn-like choruses

The same applies to almost all of the ballads on the album ("Ghosttown", "Joan Of Arc", "HeartBreakCity", "Wash All Over Me", "Rebel Heart"). Although these cannot do without run-of-the-mill beats and synths, they impress with their simple, hymn-like melodies. Exactly such pieces are as if made for Madonna's delicate voice, which is allowed to shine with feeling despite auto-tune and other effects.

"Body Shop" is also one of the quieter and more bearable songs on "Rebel Heart", but with the hypnotizing beat structure it doesn't really belong to the ballad group. The electronic gadgets are present and yet subtle enough to let Madonna's singing take precedence.

This coherent production cannot change the conclusion: Another disappointing album and Madonna has to finally release the pop throne. The pension is calling! Maybe daughter Lourdes can take over?


Release on March 6th, 2015 (Universal Music)

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    Madonna: Rebel Heart (Deluxe Edition)
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