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For all of 2014, I was salivating. Salivating! A new Madonna album was supposed to come out at the end of the summer of 2014, and the first half of the year was torture waiting for it. Then it was pushed back to November and I cried bitter tears of sadness, but my birthday is in November and I figured that Madonna was delaying her album in order to give me a happy birthday, and I can accept that. By December, I was climbing the walls. Where was this #Madonna album? And then, the demos started leaking. One by one, they found their way into my iTunes until finally I had seventy-four demos of thirty-three different songs. I have to say, the album is really good, but some of my favorite songs are not ones that were included in the eventual official release.And here’s the really great thing about Rebel Heart— getting through all the material is like trying to put together a five-thousand piece jigsaw puzzle. It takes a long time until you can put it together and see it for what it really is. Madonna’s original concept was to do a double album, one for her Rebel nature, and one for her Heart side.

Allegedly, the record company made her scratch that idea, and the final result is less cohesive then it might have been if they had listened to Madonna. With access to all of the different versions of all of the songs, it’s interesting to speculate on the version of Rebel Heart that Madonna may have originally intended.However, the unintended innovation of this album is that anybody can assemble their own version of it. I made my own playlist of my personal-favorites version of Rebel Heart, and so did my boyfriend, Sean. Some of the songs are the same, but we have picked different versions, and so the experience of them is very different. It’s the future of music— the interactive album, where you get to listen to exactly the album you want, and so does everybody else. Whether she meant to or not, she has once again just redefined the way we listen to an album.My standout tracks include Living For Love (a classic dance anthem), Devil Pray (All the angels that were around me have all flown away), Ghosttown (breathtakingly haunting), Bitch I’m Madonna (Madonna being Madonna — thank god! You can’t mess with this Lucky Star), Messiah (makes me want to sit in the sun with the angels), Wash All Over Me (reminds me Life is temporary), Hold Tight (cuz I’m not dead yet!), Body Shop (Madonna can polish my hubcaps anytime) and Joan of Arc (the most personal she’s ever been.) My favorite unreleased tracks are Two Steps Behind Me (Because don’t we all copy Madonna?), Alone With You (kept me dancing around my apartment for weeks), Trust No Bitch (a badass little gem. Apply eyeliner before listening), Borrowed Time (dance while you can), Beautiful Scars (because my imperfections are what makes me me), Graffiti Heart (love is pain and pain is art), Revolution (channel your inner Che), and Never Let You Go (which makes me turn my house into a private dance studio with full length mirror and ballet barre.) The very best song of them all is the title track, Rebel Heart, a triumphant self-proclamation. Madonna has all grown up, and her music is better for it. This is one of the best incarnations of Madonna there has been, and that’s why Rebel Heart gets The Wally Star!

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