Over the holiday, a draft of Madonna's rumored forthcoming single, "Rebel Heart," leaked. The pop superstar has been working on a new album for most of 2014, collaborating with hit makers like Avicii to complete her LP for a 2015 release. We could have a lengthy discussion about why tracks leak and whether or not artists or labels leak material on purpose to create buzz, but that speculation aside, the new song shows a lot of promise for Madonna's album.
Keeping in mind that the leak has rough audio quality and is not likely the finished version of "Rebel Heart," it's a solid track. After the cold and aggressive work on 2012's MDNA, it's refreshing to hear a warmer, more self-reflective Madonna. This warmth is in part due to smart production choices, which mix acoustic guitars and EDM in a sugary, ecstatic rush that almost certainly pegs the song as an Avicii collaboration. Of course Madonna is no stranger to mixing guitar and dance music--she has done so with success on both Music and American Life--but the expansive chorus makes "Rebel Heart" a more modern creature. In fact, the song has a lot in common with Cher's excellent, "I Walk Alone," both in sound and wistfulness (and I should note that "I Walk Alone" is one of the best dance singles in the last year).
"Rebel Heart" foreshadows what could be a creative renaissance for Madonna. The song finds her looking back over her life and career ("I spent some time as a narcissist... Trying to be so provocative... All the things I did just to be seen") and for fans (like me) who are drawn to the diva's more spiritual tendencies, this leak is exciting news.
(Wanna know more about my favorite Madonna album? Click here.)