Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” is one of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding records of her career.

V Magazine‘s entertainment editor, Greg Krelenstein, breaks down all that makes Madonna‘s Rebel Heart great! Check it out this amazing review (5/5):

March 10, 2015. A new album release from Madonna should feel like a global holiday—a celebration of innovative music, groundbreaking videos, boundary pushing fashion, memorable album artwork, and dance moves that could only belong to the one and only club crawling space cowboy spiritually seeking disco geisha latino loving queen of pop. In contrast, the saga leading up to Rebel Heart’s drop (in stores and online retailers today) has been well documented. A series of unfortunate leaks of an album’s worth of unfinished material, questionable Instagram posts featuring world leaders Photoshopped into the album’s artwork, and perhaps the biggest blow, her spill during her performance of the first single, “Living for Love,” at the Brit Awards, while wearing a now infamous tied too tight Armani cape. Despite the noise, nothing can distract from the fact that Madonna’s blonde ambition has always persevered through the controversy. And her 13th studio album, Rebel Heart, is one of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding records of her career.
Three decades in, she’s still sharp-tongued and in search of the party, but Rebel Heart reveals more vulnerability than she’s allowed since Like A Prayer. The temple and church of the devoted will recognize the familiar themes she continues to explore—sexual fantasy (“Body Shop”), lost and found love (“Heartbreak City”), salvation (“Devil Pray”), redemption (“Wash All Over Me”), and perhaps her most cohesive and powerful narrative, the triumphant and transcendent power of the dancefloor (“Living for Love”). Nostalgia has never been Madonna’s thing, but on Rebel Heart, she takes a time out to reference some of her biggest hits and her rise to the top from the Lower East Side rock scene and vogue balls of the early ’90s with “Veni Vidi Vici” and “Holy Water.” 

While those songs reference her past, the producers and collaborators that make up the album are on point and very much of the moment—an eclectic assembly of hitmakers and rising talents that include Diplo, Kanye West, Avicii, Ariel Rechtshaid, Blood Diamonds, Sophie, and DJ Dahi. There are also cameos from Nicki Minaj, Nas, Chance the Rapper and spoken word from none other than Mike Tyson.  

While the various contributors provide a swinging pendulum of moods explored throughout the Deluxe Edition’s 19 tracks, it’s Madonna’s singular voice and vision that keeps it all together. Club bangerz with the word bitch in the title (“Unapologetic Bitch,” “Bitch I’m Madonna”) give her an opportunity to shake it off, but it’s the ballad, “Ghosttown,” that serves as the album’s highlight. Singing about a cold, mad world that’s gone to hell, her message of love is one that should lift the spirits of even the most cynical and jaded, and deserves a spot in the canon next to “Live To Tell” and “Take a Bow.”   

Though she has nothing to prove at this point, Rebel Heart can’t help but demonstrate that she’s remained on top with reinvention and determination, and by taking the “road less traveled on”—a path that continues to inspire and influence the current crop of pop starlets. Sure to please long term fans, who have undoubtedly already purchased their Gold Ring tickets to her upcoming arena tour, it deserves to inspire a new generation of girls and boys ready to get off the bus in the middle of Times Square with hopes to rule the world, like the Rebel Heart before them.