The Farr Side: Madonna — ever the trendsetter
Madonna has never followed rules. In fact, she made up her own.
She’s a pop pioneer of the greatest magnitude. Any pop princess who came after her can only say they took pages from her playbook to make their careers.
I’ve long admired Madonna for being herself. She’s never wavered to public scrutiny, nor has she ever followed someone else’s path. She’s the mother of reinvention.
Madonna’s latest album, “Rebel Heart,” is yet another impressive release from the woman whose career spans more than 30 years. You’d think some of the luster would have fizzled by now. It hasn’t. In fact, there’s no sign of that happening anytime soon. Her recent Grammy performance of “Living For Love” should have proven that.
“Rebel Heart” is her 13th studio album in a career that also includes six compilation albums, three soundtrack albums, four live albums, 11 EPs, three remix albums and 21 box sets. Wow, I’m almost out of breath!
The new album finds her being Madonna, for lack of a better word. It’s an electro-dance pop record with a few surprises thrown in for good measure, a proven recipe for the Material Girl. She can also thank the likes of Avicii, Diplo and Kanye West for helping with the album.
When all her contemporaries are putting out albums of classics and standards, Madonna charges on. And, at 56, she’s still relevant. I bet if Madonna were to tackle the classics, they’d be stellar. “Evita” still gives me chills.
That being said, “Living For Love” is the first track to come from “Rebel Heart.” It’s in line with the Madonna we saw at Y2K. This song could very well have been included on “Ray Of Light” or “Music.” I especially like the deep-house disco inflections (thank you, Avicii).
“Hold Tight,” “Best Night,” “Inside Out” and “Joan Of Arc” have nice melodies with thoughtful lyricism. Each is a potential single.
Madonna excels on “Ghosttown,” her best in years. It’s my favorite track on the album. Music like this has made her a favorite of mine for 30 years.
But what would Madonna be without a little controversy? We’ve never known her to be without it. Madge hooks up with Nicki Minaj for “B---- I’m Madonna,” which we could’ve done without. The track “Iconic” features a Mike Tyson rant coupled with a verse from Chance The Rapper. And “Holy Water” tackles Christian imagery with sexuality.
As big a cultural phenomenon as Madonna is, we sometimes forget she was the girl from Detroit who moved to New York to make it big. She then told Dick Clark on “American Bandstand,” “I want to rule the world.” In essence, she has. Maybe it’s due to her having a rebel heart.
David T. Farr is a Sturgis (Michigan) Journal correspondent. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.