First off, the amazing choreographer Megan Lawson is involved in the project.
The name might ring a bell, as she previously collaborated with Madonna on the “Gang Bang” and “Human Nature” choreography for the MDNA Tour. We’re very excited about this!
Nico Archambault, winner of the first season of Canada's “So You Think You Can Dance”, will also join Madonna on stage. He stated that the Grammy Awards rehearsals start this Sunday and will continue for the remainder of the week.
He also spilled some details on the “Living for Love” video shoot…
"Madonna was present every day during the rehearsals. She's very impressive, especially her physical condition. She doesn't do things by halves.
The video shoot took two days.
She's in control of everything and she has the final say.
If she's not satisfied, she's not afraid to scrap the idea or concept and start all over again."
While we're eagerly anticipating the Rebel Heart album release and Madonna's Grammy performance, the preparation for the 2015 Tour has started. The first rumours of what to expect are coming in.
It's speculated that Madonna will use the exposure of the Grammy Awards to announce her upcoming tour. It's even possible that the tickets go on sale as soon as the first week after the Award show.
According to fansite Madonnatribe, Madonna will be returning to arenas instead of large stadiums. This could mean the show envisions a more intimate setting and that many cities get multiple dates in smaller venues.
Italian newspaper La Stampa reported that the Pala Alpitour Arena in Turin, Italy is considered for a tour stop on November 20th and/or 21st.
Canadian newspaper La Presse claims that the new amphitheatre of the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada will be inaugerated with a Madonna show in the second week of September.
When asked about her tour during this week's NRJ interview, Madonna replied "I have some ideas, but I've been very focused on finishing my record, doing the first video, preparing for the Grammies and only in the back of my mind is what I'm gonna do on my tour."
To be continued...
Madonna has flattened Taylor Swift … with a compliment.
The reigning Queen Of Pop has invited Taylor into her realm by suggesting the ever-rising superstar was a "princess" of the genre.
Speaking to Australian presenter Richard Wilkins for Network Nine's Today show, Madonna said, "It's good to have princesses [of pop]. It means there's lots of pretty dresses around. I like Taylor Swift. I think she writes some really catchy pop songs. I can't get them out of my head."
Taylor responded on her Tumblr page with a suitably swift riposte. "Thanks now I'm dead" (She followed with the gushing hashtags #HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DEAL WITH THIS #BE COOL TAYLOR STOP BEING EMBARRASSING).
There was a time when Madonna couldn't get Kylie Minogue out of her head, and she proved it in 2000 by wearing a "Kylie" t-shirt on stage (and of course, the Aussie singer wore a "Madonna" top to return the favor ). Surely it can't be long before Taylor is spotted in a "Madonna" t-shirt.
Madonna is currently promoting her latest album Rebel Heart , tracks from which were leaked online before Christmas, four-and-a-half-months ahead of schedule. Madonna's manager Guy Oseary told Billboard his ward was "devastated and sickened" by the hack-job on her album, and he said it prompted the surprise pre-release of six songs from the album on Dec. 20 on iTunes.
Earlier this month, police in Israel arrested a local man on suspicion of hacking into the veteran pop star's computer and distributing Rebel Heart demos.
Taylor's latest effort 1989 hasn't had any such problem. The album recently passed the 4 million sales milestone in the U.S. She's now sold more than 27 million career albums in her homeland.
Pink alleged in an interview last year that the Material Girl's record company staff had contacted him asking for contributions to her new album, Rebel Heart.
Her manager was quick to address the comments, insisting he and the singer had not even heard of Pink, and now Madonna has spoken out, insisting she had never considered a collaboration.
She tells Mojo magazine, "He's a crazy person. I never met him. I never considered working with him. I don't know where he got that idea. It's possible somebody brought his name along with a million other names to me as people to write with. But I never stopped at his name, considered him and then said no."
Madonna has risked the wrath of anti-drugs campaigners by gushing about the "wonderful" high she felt when she was given opiates during an emergency trip to hospital.
The star was given morphine to ease her pain after she suffered horrendous injuries including cracked ribs and a broken collar bone when she fell from a horse while celebrating her birthday at her then-home in the U.K. in 2005.
The Material Girl, who also had opiates when she gave birth to daughter Lourdes and son Rocco by Caesarean section, has now opened up about her experiences with drugs in a new interview, and she has courted controversy by describing how good she felt while high on morphine.
She tells rock magazine Mojo, "I have to say the best experience I've ever had was when I had to take morphine in a hospital, when I had two Caesareans. Oh and also I fell off a horse and broke 10 bones and I got morphine then too, and, well, that's just a wonderful feeling. But then after 24 hours, the nurses stop giving it to you and the pain comes crashing back in.
"So that's probably the nicest thing I've ever experienced drug-wise. That was doctor's orders... but I could see how people would get addicted to heroin. Deadly."
As announced earlier, Madonna will release two more tracks from Rebel Heart on February 9th, a day after her Grammy performance. Rumour has it that these tracks will be track 7 Hold Tight and track 8 Joan Of Arc, so the release follows the chronological order of the tracklist.
According to Universal Japan, there will be a version of 20 tracks (19 tracks + 1 bonus) exclusively for the Japanese market. This is probably the same version that will be distributed by FNAC, exclusively for France. It's not yet revealed which track will feature as bonus on these editions.
iTunes has also announced the tracklist for the Standard version, which is now available for pre-order. This version just takes the first 14 tracks of the Deluxe tracklist, closing with the track Wash All Over Me. Strangely, that means the title track Rebel Heart won't be available on the Standard version.
The Standard version is displayed with the same front cover on iTunes. It's not known if this is the final cover, or if the Standard version will have a different cover at release.
Ariel Rechtshaid is all over basically every record you may have dug these past few years — and probably a good portion of those you’re going to love by 2015's end.
“I kept calling her ‘Madonna’ — just, ‘Hey Madonna’ and whatever. Every time she would kind of look at me funny. After a while she was like, ‘Why do you keep calling me that?’ I’m like, ‘Calling you what?’ And she says, ‘Calling me Madonna, nobody calls me that.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean? What do people call you?’ She’s like, ‘Umm, M. People call me M.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, alright! Well, anyway, let’s do some vocals, Madonna.’”
"She's trying to save the world. I commend her for that"
When Madonna released the finished track list for her upcoming album Rebel Heart earlier this week, the most conspicuous guest star wasn't Nicki Minaj, Nas or Chance the Rapper. That distinction fell to Mike Tyson, who appears with the singer and Chance the Rapper on new track "Iconic."
And while Tyson hasn't heard the finished track yet (a leaked demo of the song only featured Madonna), the former boxer-turned-actor tells Rolling Stone that his role was similar to his 1998 appearance as a hype man on battle rapper Canibus' "Second Round K.O."
"Madonna calls you and tells you to come somewhere, you go," Tyson says. "I didn't know what the hell I was going there for. I'm just there having a good time and hanging out with Madonna. She has her producer there and I go into the studio and I didn't know if she wanted me to talk or rap. I just go in there and start talking. I'm talking about my life and things that I have endured. I'm saying some really crazy stuff. It was really intense."
Tyson ad-libbed his part of the song — which he says was done in one take — and drew inspiration from an unlikely icon. "When I did it, I think about being some guy like [Benito] Mussolini and they're really arrogant, but you try to come from a positive perspective and be uplifting. You watch Mussolini on television — even though we don't understand what he's saying — he is so mesmerizing. I look at myself in that way.
"I know people may say 'this guy's a fascist' and all this stuff, but man, you can take positivity from watching him," added Tyson. "No wonder why Hitler was attracted to him. This guy's a hypnotic figure. There's so much pride behind what he's saying. I'm not even Italian and I feel the pride he's projecting. He had that street swag; he was doing this stuff with his hands and moving his head before it was even hip-hop."
"Madonna's trying to do something that since the beginning of time has been the most difficult thing to do: Save the world."
While this is the first musical collaboration between the two stars, their history together goes back decades. Tyson says he first met Madonna in 1988 during a double date between himself, then-wife Robin Givens, Madonna and her then-husband Sean Penn. When the foursome went to see a Pee-wee Herman movie, Tyson and Penn both fell asleep midway through the film, leaving their dates time to bond.
"She's an awesome, serene person," Tyson says of Madonna. "She's trying to do something that since the beginning of time has been the most difficult thing to do: Save the world. I commend her for that. She is a fighter in every sense of the word and from an intergalactic perspective," he adds with a laugh.
The star of Adult Swim's Mike Tyson Mysteries, the unexpected animated hit that was recently picked up for a second season, even weighed in on Adi Lederman, the 38-year-old Israeli man arrested for hacking into Madonna's computer and attempting to sell the unreleased songs. "It's an invasion of privacy," says Tyson. "It's totally counterproductive to what our so-called Constitution is all about. But I'm not in the position to pass judgment on somebody like that, but [what happens to him] shouldn't be something nice."
It's unclear if Tyson, who contributed the dance-pop song "One Night in Bangkok" to the soundtrack to 2011's The Hangover Part II, will try to parlay his "Iconic" appearance into a future career, but the multihyphenate is not ruling it out.
"Doing the song with Madonna makes me think this [music career] could really happen," Tyson says. "Most guys that come in there drink a bunch of liquor or smoke 100 blunts. I just went in and boom, one take. Everyone thought it was cool."
Fascinating, career-spanning interview traces Madonna’s journey from street punk to Queen Of Pop.
IN THE LATEST ISSUE of MOJO magazine, available in the UK and online from Tuesday, January 27, Madonna speaks candidly about the musical choices and lyrical confessions that have driven her from Michigan misfit to global superstar via the musical melting pot of New York in the late-’70s/early-’80s.
“All my friends were DJs so I wanted my records to sound like what I wanted to dance to,” says Madonna of her musical baby steps. “I would go to clubs and I would listen to what would make me dance. And then I would go back and I would work on my music. I mean, I was influenced by Debbie Harry, Talking Heads, The B-52’s. So to me the line was very blurred between what I was working on and what I was dancing to.”
Madonna also holds forth about drugs, religion, free music in the digital age – her position very different from that of recent MOJO cover stars U2 with whom she shares manager Guy Oseary – and her latest studio album, her 13th, entitled Rebel Heart. But again and again she returns to her passion for music and its atavistic power.
“Just the feeling of the tribal, the community,” she tells MOJO’s Tom Doyle. “Y’know, people coming together in a room. That bass booming, people dancing, moving in unison. There’s something really primal about it and inexplicable. I think it’s in our nature to want to do that. To want to join together and move to a beat.”
It’s the first time Madonna has been on the cover of MOJO magazine, an occasion prompting two editions: a news-stand version and a Special Subscribers’ Issue with exclusive artwork overseen by Madonna herself. An extra 500 subscriber issues are available to purchase online.
The new MOJO also features a free CD, Change The Beat, showcasing influential punk-funk and alt-disco sounds from Madonna’s emergence – including Arthur Russell, ESG, 23 Skidoo, Curtis Mayfield, Funkadelic and more.
With Bob Dylan’s new Sinatra covers album reviewed elsewhere in the issue, we also present an in-depth celebration of Bob’s 20 best cover versions. Then there’s Ronnie Spector on breaking free from Phil; David Johansen on punk, junk and The New York Dolls; Sleater-Kinney, The Go-Betweens, Hozier and The Exploited.
Madonna portrait: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott
Shirt: Thom Browne
Tie: Giorgio Armani
Jewellery: Lynn Ban
An Israeli man was arrested in Tel Aviv on suspicion of hacking the computers of celebrity singers, NBC News confirmed today.
The 39-year-old's arrest comes after an investigation was launched by Israel's Lahav 433 crime-fighting agency over leaked songs from Madonna's new Rebel Heart album.
According to a statement by Lahav 433, the suspect "broke into the personal computers of several international artists over the past few months and stole promotional final-cut singles which have yet to be released and traded them online for a fee... In light of the findings of the investigation the unit collaborated closely with the FBI, with suspicion of even more break-ins to computers owned by unknown international artists, stealing and selling their works."
Since the arrest, Madonna took to her Facebook page to release a statement concerning the events.
"I am profoundly grateful to the FBI, the Israeli Police investigators and anyone else who helped lead to the arrest of this hacker. I deeply appreciate my fans who have provided us with pertinent information and continue to do so regarding leaks of my music. Like any citizen, I have the right to privacy," the 56-year-old entertainer wrote.
"This invasion into my life—creatively, professionally, and personally remains a deeply devastating and hurtful experience, as it must be for all artists who are victims of this type of crime."
Last month, several of Madonna's unreleased songs were leaked online, prompting the 56-year-old pop star to release a demo of six new Rebel Heart songs. At the time, Madonna expressed her outrage over the hacking on social media.
"This is artistic rape!! These are early leaked demo's half of which wont even make it on my album the other half have changed and evolved. This is a form of terrorism. Wtf!!!! Why do people want to destroy artistic process??? Why steal? Why not give me the opportunity to finish and give you my very best?" she wrote on Instagram in mid-December. "Thank you for not listening! Thank you for your loyalty! Thank you for waiting and if you have heard please know they are unfinished demos stolen long ago and not ready to be presented to the world."
The alleged hackers arrest comes at the same time that Madonna opened up to Mojo magazine about collaborating with Kanye West on her Rebel Heart album. "I like that he likes to push the envelope," the cover girl told the mag. "He hears music in a different and unique way. I think Diplo's the same. I like people who think outside the box ‘cos they take a song I've written that's quite straightforward and pop and deconstruct it. Rip it apart and turn it into something else."
MADONNA'S REBEL HEART ALBUM OUT MARCH 10TH ON INTERSCOPE
Madonna To Perform Live on the 57th Annual Grammy Awards on February 8
"Living for Love" Single Goes to Radio Feb. 12th
Madonna's 13th studio album Rebel Heart will be released March 10th on Interscope Records. Six of the album's songs were released over the holiday following a leak of unfinished cuts from the Material Girl's highly anticipated collection of new songs. Upon their release, several of those songs debuted at No. 1 on iTunes in 49 countries. Two additional songs will be available with a pre order of the album on iTunes on February 9th. Fans that preordered Rebel Heart in December will have the two additional songs automatically delivered to them. To pre-order Rebel Heart visit iTunes.com/Madonna.
"Rebel Heart explores two very distinct sides of my personality, the rebellious renegade side of me and the romantic side of me" commented Madonna recently in Billboard. The new album features collaborations with Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Nas, Chance the Rapper and Mike Tyson and was recorded in NY, LA and London. Producers include Madonna, Diplo, Kanye West, Billboard, Avicii, DJ Dahi and Blood Diamonds, Ryan Tedder, Toby Gad, and Ariel Rechtshald.
Madonna who has received 8 Grammy Awards will perform on the 57th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, February 8th.
The six released cuts of "Rebel Heart" have already received critical acclaim:
"They won't experience Madonna the celebrity or Madonna the fashion statement but the Madonna who has kept us listening for decades: Madonna the musician," - Jon Pareles NY Times
"It's great to see the music icon back on top where she belongs. Everything out so far is genius." - The Sun, UK
"The best tracks fit perfectly into her history of impeccably-produced pop." - Jim Farber, NY Daily News
Four remixes of the single "Living for Love" were serviced last week to to DJs and clubs and are currently available on Madonna's Youtube channel.
The four new mixes include:
Offer Nissim Living for Drama Remix 7:15
Dirty Pop Remix 4:58
THRILL Remix 5:11
Mike Rizzo's Funk Generation Club 7:03
An undercover investigation by the Internet crime unit of Israel's anti-fraud police resulted in the arrest of a Tel Aviv man suspected of hacking into several musicians' computers over the course of several months.
The suspect allegedly stole unreleased tracks and sold them online.
The investigation began after a complaint by a representative for the singer Madonna. The investigation continued in cooperation with the FBI, which led to suspicion of a wider hack of several international artists.
The promotion for Rebel Heart is about to kick off next week. It will include teasers on radio and TV, magazine features, TV shows and interviews, and lots more!
The promo tour will start in New York City, and then continue in Los Angeles, London, Paris and possibly a stop in Germany.
The Living For Love video will be broadcast in the week of the Grammies.
On February 9th, a day after her Grammy performance, Madonna will release two more tracks of the Deluxe album on iTunes.
The tracklist for the Box Super Deluxe, which will contain 25 tracks, is not yet confirmed, but many rumours are spreading online. According to a fan KTZ, the Box set will contain two songs that didn't leak before, as well as some fan favourites that didn't make the 19-track Deluxe tracklist:
20. BEAUTIFUL SCARS (new disco mix)
21. QUEEN (new song)
22. BORROWED TIME (new midtempo mix, no more dance)
23. GRAFFITI HEART (new drum&base version, extra lyrics)
24. AUTOTUNE BABY (new mix)
Keep in mind that this is only a RUMOUR, nothing confirmed yet.
Madonna has announced new remixes for her single Living For Love:
Five additional versions of Living For Love are now waiting for you on Madonna’s Youtube channel, including Offer Nissim Dub, Dirty Pop Dubinstrumental, Dirty Pop Radio Edit, Funk Generation & H3dRush Dub and THRILL Instrumental!
Check them out: http://www.youtube.com/madonna
Madonna also posted this regarding her remixes in the UK:
Madonna will grace the cover of MOJO Magazine which will be available on news stands on January 27th.
All 19 tracks of the Deluxe version have been revealed on iTunes today.
The album will be available in following formats:
Standard album: 14 tracks
Deluxe album: 19 tracks
Box Super Deluxe: 25 tracks
Vinyl (double LP): 19 tracks
Edition for FNAC France: 19 tracks + 1 bonus track
Tracklist Deluxe album:
Madonna has announced more remixes of her new single, which will be launched on the DJ portal Beatport.
#livingforlove remixes dropping soon online and Beatport (for you mr. Dj) by Erick Morillo, Offer Nissim, Djemba Djemba, THRILL, Dirty Pop, Mike Rizzo....#rebelheart
According to fansite Madonnatribe, the video for Living For Love has been shot in New York City yesterday.
It's not known who directed the video. In some of her Instagrams posts, Madonna tagged stylist B Akerlund, make-up artist Gina Brooke and hair stylist Andy Lecompte. Last week, V-Couture German designer Verena Dietzel said she was asked to design a corset, possibly for the video.
Madonna's latest Instagram posts remind of Francis Bacon's 'Study For A Bullfight no. 1', possibly some inspiration behind the video:
"In the ring with Francis Bacon! #livingforlove ❤️#rebelheart "
"Channeling Francis Bacon! ❤️#livingforlove"
She also mysteriously spoke of minotaurs:
"Fighting the Mythological Beast #minotaur #livingforlove ❤️#rebelheart"
Promotion for the album Rebel Heart and for the single Living For Love is about to start as soon as next week. Apart from her performances at the Grammies and the Brits, she'll also do some TV appearances.
Feb. 08: Performance at the Grammy Awards
Feb. __: Possible release of more Rebel Heart songs (not confirmed)
Feb. 10: Single & video release of Living For Love
Feb. 25: Performance at the Brit Awards
Mar. 09: Album release of Rebel Heart (Worldwide)
Mar. 10: Album release of Rebel Heart (US)
iTunes has now revealed the length of all 19 tracks on the Rebel Heart album.
Apart from Unapologetic Bitch and Bitch I'm Madonna there are 4 more tracks with an "explicit" label.
Let the guessing begin! :)
COUNTDOWN TO HISTORY?: Speaking of Dance Club Songs, Madonna explodes onto the chart at No. 32 with "Living For Love." The lead single from her forthcoming album Rebel Heart (due March 10) marks her first chart appearance since "Turn Up the Radio" became her record-extending 43rd No. 1 in September 2012.
If "Living" eventually latches onto No. 1, Madonna will equal one of the most vaunted milestones in Billboard chart history: the Queen of Pop will tie the King of Country, George Strait, for the most No. 1s by any act on a single Billboard chart. Strait boasts 44 No. 1s on Hot Country Songs.
Remixes of "Living" from Djemba Djemba, Offer Nissim , Dirty Pop, Thrill and Mike Rizzo have been sent out to club DJs.
The Material Girl singer is set to grace the stage at the bash next month, showcasing new material to UK audiences for the first time.
Sources tell us Madge, 56, is “99% confirmed” to perform songs from her new Rebel Heart album.
But bosses will be keen to get a megamix (or Madge-a-mix, if you will) of some of her greatest hits as a huge finale.
A source close to the star tells us: “Madonna wants to perform to the biggest number of people for the maximum impact and there's no better place for a controversy-filled Madonna performance than the Brits.
“She has already confirmed she will perform at the Grammys, when she will debut the new music.
“But her album is due out on March 9, a month after the LA ceremony, so she wants another large platform to perform her songs on just before it is released.
Our source adds: “She has cleared her diary for the Brits. She knows she needs to really entertain and bring a good show because she’ll want to be the talking point.”
Her last album MDNA didn’t get a nomination and recently Madge has been a far cry from her 90s peak.
In fact, when she last performed at the event in 1995, the hosts Ant and Dec were up for an award.
A Brit Awards source said: “The final line-up is not yet confirmed.” A spokeswoman for Madonna said it was “just speculative” the star would take to the stage.
Acts performing at London’s O2 arena on February 25 include Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith.
Madonna has announced the first official remixes for Living For Love on her social media:
Put your dance shoes on and visit Madonna's Youtube channel for brand new Living For Love remixes by Offer Nissim, Dirty Pop, THRILL and Mike Rizzo!!! http://www.youtube.com/madonna
The album version of the song had a hot shot debut at #32 on the dance club charts and additional mixes will be announced shortly!
In the meantime, make sure to pre-order the new album: http://smarturl.it/RebelHeart
Living For Love - Mike Rizzo Funk Generation Club Mix
Living For Love - THRILL Remix
Living For Love - Dirty Pop Club Remix
Living For Love - Offer Nissim Living For Drama Remix
Living For Love - Djemba Djemba Club Mix
"My best friend is kind, intelligent, funny, talented, considerate, thoughtful… Did I say kind?" Michael Keaton asked during his Golden Globes speech on Sunday night (Jan. 13), fighting back tears while accepting the Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical award for his comeback role in Birdman. While many in the audience and millions at home tried to decipher who Keaton was talking about, the 63-year-old star clarified: "He also happens to be my son, Sean. I love you with all my heart, buddy."
The speech was one of the ceremony's most heartfelt moments, and has since gone viral, accruing 100,000 views on YouTube in a little over 24 hours. Meanwhile, a quick Google search of Keaton's son Sean Douglas -- who the camera cut to during Keaton's tribute -- put two and two together for a lot of pop culture junkies: Douglas is actually a successful pop songwriter, with credits on Top 40 hits like Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty," Demi Lovato's "Heart Attack" and Fifth Harmony's "Sledgehammer," among many others. Because of his last name (Keaton was born Michael Douglas and changed his surname early in his career), few were aware that Douglas had a famous father before Sunday night; the revelation inspired lots of #MindBlown Twitter hashtags and profiles on Douglas from Buzzfeed, ABC News and the New York Daily News.
The recent high-water achievement for Douglas was working on "Ghosttown," one of the songs featured on Madonna's upcoming Rebel Heart studio album. The songwriter says that the song, which was released along with five other Madonna tracks following a demo leak last month, was written in three days after Madonna personally requested some studio time.
"She liked 'Talk Dirty,' actually, and so they put me and [co-writers] Jason Evigan and Evan Bogart in with her and we had this great session," says Douglas. "I was incredibly nervous for obvious reasons, but she showed up, was super personable and was ready to work. I basically checked it off my life bucket list."
Madonna is the first performer announced for the upcoming 57th Grammy Awards, which will air Feb. 8, 2015 on CBS.
It will mark the fifth time she has taken the Grammy stage. The seven-time Grammy Award winner last performed on the show just a year ago, with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
On Jan. 12, the Queen of Pop shared an image to her social media accounts of a Grammy Award wrapped in now-familiar black wire (as seen on the cover of her upcoming Rebel Heart album and many of her Instagram posts) with the caption: "Rebel Hearts see you Feb 8th @theGRAMMYs." (The Grammy Awards' official Twitter account re-Tweeted the news shortly afterwards.) Madonna first hinted at a Grammy Awards performance in a December interview with Billboard, saying that it was "possibly something that's gonna happen."
Madonna's manager, Guy Oseary, confirmed to Billboard that the diva will indeed be performing on the show (Some may have wondered if Madonna's vaguely-worded Tweet suggested that she was simply going to appear on the show, rather than perform).
The 57th Grammy Awards comes two days before Madonna's new single, "Living For Love," will officially begin its promotion to U.S. radio. It's the lead track from the Rebel Heart album, which will be released on March 10 through Interscope Records.
Boy, it seems that almost nothing can be a secret in Madonna's world anymore.
Following the endless leak of demos from her forthcoming album Rebel Heart, the “Vogue” icon is now rolling with the punches and moving forward with the release of her euphoric lead single, “Living For Love.” And, thanks to an interview with V-Couture German designer Verena Dietzel on Radio Bremen, we might have a little bit of insight into what that video's going to look like — or at least, how Madonna plans to play dress-up this time around.
According to the designer, Dietzel originally got an email from Madonna's assistant stylist, which she confused for spam at first. “I was wondering if this is authentic and whether we are talking about THE Madonna,” she reportedly wrote back. (A fair question!)
“B and M love your parts,” the assistant confirmed, the “B” referring to stylist B. Akerlund. After being given a bra size and Googling some images, the designer created a completely new corset within 48 hours and worked on a few other designs before shipping them off to New York. While she hasn't yet contacted as to whether Madge actually selected the sexy designs for her video, there was a tantalizing second detail included in their exchange. “The e-mail mentioned something about the Grammys and the red carpet. That would be ten times more amazing, but I don't want to think about it,” the designer revealed. Be on the lookout for a corsetted Queen Of Pop!
Madonna is making headlines again, and for the first time in two years, the topic of conversation is her music.
Over the past few weeks, demos of her latest songs have leaked into the Internet, forcing the pop star to think practically about her next move. In a seemingly desperate decision, Madonna made six finished tracks available to digitally download on 20 December 2014, and announced that her 13th studio album Rebel Heart, scheduled to be released on 10 March 2015, would come with 13 additional tracks.
Each Madonna release is held to the highest standard by professional music critics and die-hard fans. For better or worse, the Queen of Pop has an impressive legacy to live up to, and it is not enough for her to release a good pop album. She must release her best album every time, which is to say that each release must be trend-setting and iconic. This is why critics and fans were not too pleased with 2008's Hard Candy and 2012's MDNA. For other pop stars like Britney Spears or Katy Perry, these would have been solid albums, but for Madonna, they were lame attempts to appeal to the mainstream. This is obviously not fair, and such impossibly high expectations often overlook the fact that even Madonna's lesser work is significantly more interesting than what passes for contemporary pop, but better this than to accept everything she does simply because her name is attached to it.
Unlike the Little Monsters, the Swifties, and the Arianators, Madonna's fans are not afraid to tell her when she needs to step it up, and they don't defend her every move for the sake of it. When she released “Give Me All Your Luvin'” as the lead single from MDNA, for example, fans expressed their disdain for the song, and the vast majority of them did not hold back their disappointment. How can pop music's premier artist deliver such a trite, moronic single, they wondered? Such laziness was not going to be tolerated.
Whether or not the leak of Rebel Heart will impact first-week sales, Madonna fans can rest knowing that it will be her best album since 2005's Confessions on a Dance Floor, if not better. I have listened to the majority of the demos and can breathe a sigh of relief, but out of respect for the artist, I am only going to focus on the six finished tracks that were released.
The first track, “Living for Love”, is her most joyous since “Express Yourself”, and shows us why Madonna still matters today. The production, which is inspired by '90s house, is instantly listenable, and the uplifting lyrics fit right in with contemporary pop's obsession with self-help DIY optimism. Like Taylor Swift's “Shake It Off”, Ariana Grande's “Break Free”, and Katy Perry's “Roar”, “Living for Love” is a survivor's anthem. However, unlike those other artists, Madonna has lived long enough to experience survival, which makes her song more powerful and emotional.
“Devil Pray” is the second track, and it is reminiscent of Madonna's more introspective work from 1998's Ray of Light and 2003's American Life. The song finds Madonna searching for salvation, and it is bewildering and beautiful in equal measure. Track three, “Ghost Town”, is similarly introspective, and is arguably the most haunting love song of her career.
Although fans and critics are unanimous in their praise of the first three tracks, the latter three—“Unapologetic Bitch”, Illuminati”, and “Bitch I'm Madonna”—are more divisive. Some admire Madonna's audacity to have fun, while others think that she is too old to be singing about the party life. Some appreciate Madonna's ability to experiment with the current sounds, while others wish that she would stop trying so hard to stay relevant.
I understand the negative criticism, but it is impossible not to admire Madonna's bravery. At a time when pop music is saturated with young twenty-something newcomers, the 56-year-old veteran takes a huge risk every time she returns to reclaim her throne. She risks alienating her older fans, as well as turning off younger generations that aren't familiar with her aggressive persona. In a way, she reminds me of Jean-Luc Godard, who at age 84 decided to release his first digital 3D film, Goodbye to Language, in 2014. Despite the detractors who insist that she gives it up, Madonna is determined to dominate the cultural conversation once again.
That she has succeeded, at least for now, is an impressive achievement, and calls into question the significance of sales in the digital era. An artist like Madonna doesn't need a number one hit in the same way that Swift might, and at this point in her career, she seems more interested in the quality of the music than anything else. Rather than chase the top of the charts like she did with Hard Candy and MDNA, Madonna finally seems to realize that the pop culture landscape she once dominated in the '80s, '90s, and early '00s has drastically changed. These changes have liberated her, and have inspired her to make some of the most personal and fully realized music of her career.
The idea of an artist's legacy is worthy of contemplation, especially when icons like Madonna continue to create. How should we measure Madonna's latest album, and in what ways can it influence her reputation? Do the first week sales and amount of top ten singles really matter? What about positive reviews from critics or fans? How important is quality?
Perhaps none of these things matter unless the artist can enter the cultural conversation, which Madonna continues to do with each release. Whenever someone expresses their opinion about her, whether it be positive or negative, they reinforce her relevance. Social media users around the world have joined the discussion after the surprise release of the aforementioned six songs, with some celebrating her return and others condemning her entire career. Regardless, everyone cares enough to offer an opinion.
When the dust settles, Rebel Heart will be cited as one of Madonna's better albums, and fans and critics will praise her return to form. However, as we all know by now, it's never been just about the music with Madonna, and more than anything else, Rebel Heart shows that she is still the most talked about pop star in the world.
On Dec. 16, Madonna was in her New York apartment when she received word that more than a dozen unfinished demos for her forthcoming album had leaked. Her manager, Guy Oseary, was just returning to his Beverly Hills estate when he got the news. The album, Rebel Heart, was set for a late-April release, and thanks to a meticulous marketing plan and an inspired group of collaborators (including Diplo, Kanye West and Avicii), buzz was strong on the singer's 13th studio full-length.
But now, all bets were off. Madonna shot off a fiery post on her Instagram account lambasting the leak as "artistic rape," Oseary got on the phone, and both sprung into action. "I don't recall that phone coming off my ear from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m.," he says.
High-profile leaks and other security breaches have been a scourge of the entertainment industry for the past 15 years: from Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in 2001 and Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III in 2007 to Madonna's own "Give Me All Your Luvin'" in 2011 -- which resulted in an unidentified fan's arrest in Spain, although he was later released -- not to mention the hacker group Anonymous' threats to rapper Iggy Azalea in 2014's final weeks. But this Madonna leak was unusually severe, including images and videos as well as music. However, the singer and her team's quick response may have set a new precedent for how the industry can mobilize in an effort to combat them.
On the morning of Dec. 17, Steve Berman, vice chairman of Madonna's label distributor Interscope, was on the phone with her and Oseary. "She was in a very angry, upset, emotional place," Berman recalls. He had visited her in New York the week prior to hear some of the album's first finished songs with label president/CEO John Janick. "She told me, 'Steve, I care about my music. I can't have the songs being heard the wrong way.' "
Berman was confident that Apple's iTunes could be engaged to turn around an official release of finished Rebel Heart tracks on a dime, even though the digital retailer's servers would effectively shut down for the year on Dec. 19, just two days later. But he faced two major hurdles: pushback from the upper rafters at Universal Music Group ("Should we just wait and do it all at the top of the year?" was the response from one executive) and the availability of iTunes vp content Robert Kondrk, who was already on vacation with his family in Mexico.
During the next 48 hours, Kondrk was able to help Apple greenlight a Rebel Heart preorder that would include six instant-gratification songs for download by midnight ET on Dec. 20 -- including "Living for Love," the set's first single, which was initially intended for a Valentine's Day release (and will now be promoted to radio on Feb. 10). However, Madonna had to make sure the six songs were in finished form, so she holed up in her New York studio working on the final mixes into the wee hours of the morning of Dec. 18. "There was no time to call any of the producers -- nothing," says Oseary. "Just her final mastering sessions."
The result of Rebel Heart's 48-hour turnaround? The album preorder topped the iTunes charts in more than 40 countries -- including the United States, where three of the six released tracks entered Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart dated Jan. 3, despite just two days of eligibility. To date, the six tracks have sold a combined 131,000 downloads, according to Nielsen Music, with preorders for Rebel Heart at a robust (considering the situation) 50,000 to 60,000, according to industry estimates. "We know that in today's world, having a top 10 album with no promotion is really hard," Oseary says. "It's pretty... exciting isn't the right word, but it's rewarding to see it so well-received."
Still, Madonna's work is far from over. There's still at least one more preview track from Rebel Heart on its way before the album's March 10 release (likely due Feb. 8, the night of the Grammy Awards, Oseary says), and an official video for "Living for Love," to be filmed in late January. Plus, there's an ongoing investigation into the source of the leaks (another 14 tracks hit the Internet on Dec. 24), which, given their volume, seem too far-reaching to emanate from a usual suspect like a studio staffer or a backing musician. Neither Oseary nor a UMG representative would confirm that the investigation has resulted in a police report. Oseary's only comment on the matter was, "We are working really hard to solve this crime."
“AS A matter of fact, the public, the public hates to 'recognize' what is familiar. It hates to be disturbed. It is shocked by surprises. The worst that can happen to a work of art is to have no fault found in it, so that its author is not obliged to take up an attitude of opposition.”
That was playwright, designer, artist, filmmaker Jean Cocteau, in 1923. I found this remark, and dozens of others, in the fabulous new book “Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers & Swells: The Best of Early Vanity Fair.” I'll tell more about this collection of essays later in the week.
BUT as to Cocteau's assertion, I was reminded of it over the weekend when our consistently “artistic” friend, Madonna found herself embroiled in yet another controversy.
The cover of her upcoming album, “Rebel Heart,” which was hacked and released in demo form — forcing Madonna to put out six of the completed songs months in advance — shows The Big M with twine binding her face, emphasizing her view of herself as a “rebel” who has been constricted and disparaged. (She achieved this point more compellingly in her famous “Human Nature” video, some years ago.)
FANS of the lady then made up their own “rebel art” sending her photos ofMartin Luther King and Nelson Mandela with ropes across their faces. Madonna put these efforts online and immediately found herself accused of being “racist” and, of course, an egomaniac, daring to compare herself to King and Mandela.
Madonna is many things, but a racist she is most assuredly not. She has had African American and Latino lovers as well as adopting two African children from Malawi, David and Mercy. Children, by the way, whom she does not parade like “accessories” as her critics insisted she would do at the time of these adoptions.
Egomaniac? Let's say she has a healthy dose of ego, mixed with a sense of victimization. This makes her exactly like all big stars. (She is also surprisingly vulnerable — but you'd have to know her, to know that.) And in this world of not thinking before one goes to Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, Madonna is no more cautious than hundreds of other public persons and millions of just plain folks. Madonna has now had to address the fake outrage of critics, apologize for any offense, refute charges of being a racist and deny she compares herself in any way to King or Mandela.
Others whom Madonna has wrapped in twine include Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Marley and Jesus, all of whom, in Madonna's view, fought the good fight, against the odds.
SOME Madonna fans wish she'd confine her artistic expressions to the recording studio. Silly! Why should she “confine” herself to anything? The six songs she felt forced to release, in the wake of the hack on her material, went straight to number one on iTunes in 40 countries. She managed to make lemonade out of lemons. As to the songs themselves, three of them are truly beautiful and much reminiscent of the romantic Madonna of the 1980s and '90s. (“Ghost Town” is particularly affecting.) The other three are dancy and techo-infused. Not my taste. There are six more tracks to come, in March.
I do wish Madonna would get over this business of self-reverential, self-referencing songs. One of the new ones is titled, “Bitch, I'm Madonna!” Honey, we know you're Madonna. Nobody is likely to forget, ever. Relax.
Madonna is no stranger to controversy, but this latest one may have taken her by surprise.
Last month, the Queen of Pop announced her forthcoming album, Rebel Heart. On the album's cover, her face is tied with black ropes. Fans have been creating covers of their own since the announcement; Madonna has been posting these covers to her Instagram page, most of which feature other people's faces tied up, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
The media began accusing Madonna of using these historical figures to promote her album. Other writers took it even further, accusing her of cultural appropriation and racism. Madonna released a statement on her Facebook page, explaining that the pictures were created by fans, she isn't racist, and neither are the fans who made them.
What the media and general public fail to understand is that Madonna was promoting something, but it wasn't her album — it was human rights. Madonna and her fans were showing respect for these humanitarians, claiming they were "rebel hearts." They defied the bigotry they were faced with and made a difference in the world. The message of Madonna's work has always ran much deeper than a commercial product. She is one of the few mainstream artists left with something to say, and she deserves a lot of credit.
The reaction to Madonna's Instagram posts only show further evidence of the increasing problem of oversensitivity. In today's technologically advanced age, people can post their reactions instantly. They hardly ever take the time to think about what they're reacting to; they don't take things in the proper context and consider the person's intentions. As far as I'm concerned, this is only contributing to the problem and causing a huge decrease in intelligence levels.
As far as cultural appropriation is concerned, I fail to see how the concept translates to Madonna's latest Instagram posts. I also fail to see how culturally appropriating immediately makes you racist. I was born the year that Vogue came out, and as a gay man, I'm not at all offended by Madonna appropriating my people's culture. I don't think the several gay dancers featured in the video (many of whom came from the voguing scene) minded either. I saw it as a wonderful homage and sign of respect, just as Madonna intended it.
This also shows the problem with calling out people's privilege. I'm not denying that privilege exists, but I hardly ever see it used to encourage positive, unifying discussion. In this case, people claim that since Madonna has white privilege, she shouldn't be taking a stand for minorities. According to them, she should stay silent because she doesn't know what it's like to be black.
This only dissuades people from getting involved. We all need to come together in order for bigotry to decrease — that's what King Jr. was all about. The people who claim to be defending him really need to check themselves and see if they're truly spreading his message.
Those people seem to be encouraging a different form of discrimination. However, they feel that sort of discrimination is justified, because these people are privileged, which is wrong. Discrimination is discrimination. And yes, even white heterosexual men can be discriminated against for being white, heterosexual men.
The point is, nobody is immune to judgement, and oversensitivity will only perpetuate it. Let this be a lesson to all of you. When you see something that offends you, stop and use your brain. Is it really hateful and bigoted? If so, find a productive way to spread a positive message.
Don't be so quick to voice your anger on social media. Because if you do, think about if you're actually helping to solve the problem, or if you're just contributing to it.
Of course it couldn't last too long. Madonna has enjoyed very positive reactions to her first batch of Rebel Heart songs, both by fans and critics alike. But now her Instagram posts have already offended the easily-offended.
Fans have been recreating the Rebel Heart cover by posing themselves with the strings on their face, as well as by photoshopping the strings on pictures of famous people. Madonna has been sharing such images of Marilyn Monroe, Nelson Mandela, Bob Marley and Martin Luther King.
This ❤#rebelheart fought for freedom!
This ❤#rebelheart sang about ONE LOVE!
This ❤#rebelheart had a dream!
It was quite obvious from her comments that she saw those as idols and sources of inspiration, rather than comparing herself with them, as many media are suggesting now.
However, Madonna felt obliged to set the record straight:
"I would like to thank all my fans for recreating my album cover with the Rebel Heart ribbon on the faces of so many Great Hero's. It shows that you are also celebrating and in admiration of these great freedom fighters! When I repost these images i am saying YES! These people are all Rebel Hearts in one way or another from Martin Luther King to Jesus to Nelson Mandela to John Lennon. YES! Lets celebrate them! The world needs more people like them. I hope to one day accomplish. 1 100th of what these Rebel Hearts have accomplished. As I Said in a previous post "I walk in the footsteps of Giants" and i will continue to do so G*D willing. They are my guiding light. #rebelheart #livingforlove"
"Again thanks to my fans for creating this beautiful ART! This is the Revolution of Love I've been talking about! RESPECT! We should all aspire to be #rebelhearts"
I'm not comparing myself to anyone
I'm admiring and acknowledging they're Rebel Hearts
This is neither a crime or an insult or racist!
I also did it with Michael jaclson and frida khalo and marilyn monroe
Am I saying I am them
I'm saying they are Rebel Hearts too.
I didn't do it
My fans did
And I just re posted those photos
My fans aren't racist either
If they put me in the same category as these other people
Thank you. I'm very flattered and I hope one day to live up to 1 100th of what those people accomplished."
Where were all those critics when she was doing charity work in Malawi?
Or when Donatella announced that Madonna will be donating her fee for the Versace campaign to a hospital in Malawi?
So much easier to trash talk and spread false speculation, right?