Rebel Heart is Madonna's 13th studio album that was released on March 6, 2015 by Interscope Records.
- Living For Love 3:39
- Devil Pray 4:06
- Ghosttown 4:09
- Unapologetic Bitch 3:51
- Illuminati 3:44
- Bitch I'm Madonna (featuring Nicki Minaj) 3:47
- Hold Tight 3:37
- Joan Of Arc 4:02
- Iconic (featuring Chance the Rapper and Mike Tyson) 4:33
- HeartBreakCity 3:34
- Body Shop 3:39
- Holy Water 4:09
- Inside Out 4:23
- Wash All Over Me 4:01
Following the release of her twelfth studio album, "MDNA", Madonna embarked on The MDNA Tour to promote it.
The tour created widespread controversy over her statements on violence, human rights, politics, her use of fake firearms, and her on-stage nudity. She was threatened with several lawsuits.
Madonna was enraged by many world events, which she claimed were acts of "injustice" against humanity
In September 2013, she released secretprojectrevolution, a short film she directed with Steven Klein, dealing with artistic freedom and human rights. The film launched a global initiative known as Art for Freedom to promote freedom of expression.
Madonna said in a L'Uomo Vogue interview her next album would be connected with Art for Freedom.
By December 2013, Madonna's manager Guy Oseary commented that the singer was "eager to get started" on her next album; however, she had another project in mind: developing the screenplay for a film adaptation of Andrew Sean Greer's novel "The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells."
Madonna decided to split her time between writing the screenplay and writing songs for the new album. In February 2014, she confirmed that she had begun working on her 13th studio album. Her previous work had been produced with a small core group of people developing the music.
Working with many collaborators on "Rebel Heart", Madonna encountered problems keeping a cohesive sound and creative direction for it.
She observed that many of the people she enlisted to work on the album could not stay in one city for any length of time due to their schedules; this resulted her not finishing songs in one session. She said, "It was challenging ... with people coming and going in a revolving door of creativity.
"Rebel Heart" debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart with 121,000 album equivalent units, behind the soundtrack of the TV series "Empire."
While it was the best-selling album of the week—ranking number one on Billboard's Top Album Sales chart with pure album sales of 116,000 copies (96% of overall units), it fell behind the soundtrack when it came to streaming and track equivalent album units, with just over 1,000 and 4,000 units respectively.
The album became Madonna's 21st top-ten album, but it her first studio release not to debut atop the chart since 1998's "Ray of Light."
The album's concert tour bundle amounted to less than 10,000 copies compared to the 180,000 copies sold for her previous album, "MDNA."
The release also saw Madonna debut at number seven on the Billboard Artist 100 chart, moving up by 2,919% in overall Artist 100 points and gaining 31% in social media activity.
Billboard reported sales dropped by 78% to 26,000 units, a reflection of the high pre-orders during the first week.
The album was present for a total of 11 weeks on the chart, and ranked at number 151 on the Billboard 200 year end chart for 2015.
As of December 2016, "Rebel Heart" has sold 238,000 copies in the US according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album ended 2015 as the 39th best-selling album of the year with sales of 900,000 copies. By March 2016, it sold an estimated one million copies worldwide.
On its release, "Rebel Heart" received positive critical reviews. At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 68, based on 29 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews."
The Daily Telegraph writer Neil McCormick, Andy Gill of The Independent, AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine, and Lauren Murphy of The Irish Times each gave the album 4 out of 5 stars.
McCormick felt that "(f)or the first time in years, [Madonna] doesn't sound desperate", praising it in comparison to "Hard Candy" and "MDNA."
Murphy wrote "the indisputable pop icon is back with a tentative bang" after MDNA had "few memorable pop hits".
For Gill, the most impressive aspect of "Rebel Heart" was Madonna's vocals while Erlewine found the album a revival of Madonna's defiant side and her confessional mood.
Saeed Saeed of The National called it: "a fine collection of sturdy pop tunes in which Madonna finally allows herself to look back and sometimes pilfer from her peak periods of the late 80s and early 2000s."
Writing for The Quietus, Amy Pettifer praised the album, describing it as: "a darker return to the club culture roots [for Madonna], and it seems—on some level—to face up to the missteps of her more recent releases.
Giving it 3.5 out of 4 stars, USA Today writer Elysa Gardner described the album's sound and lyrics as "piercingly direct".
Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot and Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times awarded it 3 out of 4 stars. Kot believed the album would have been better without the songs referencing sexuality, but still considered it "fascinating". Roberts believed that the album stood out "sturdily" because of its production.
Writing for The Boston Globe, James Reed opined that the album was a, "welcome detour in the artist's recent discography... her most satisfying effort in a decade and nimbly connects the dots between Madonna's various eras and guises."
Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle called the album "a complex, consistently strong album."
Slant Magazine editor Sal Cinquemani, Joe Levy of Billboard, and Caryn Ganz of Rolling Stone each awarded the album 3.5 out of 5 stars. Cinquemani wrote that the album was "all over the map", yet felt it was "a surprisingly coherent one".
Levy wrote that the album was "subtle" compared to "current standards", adding that: "These songs unfold slowly, building through foreplay-like intros before hooks are displayed over a shifting series of textures".
Ganz felt that Rebel Heart "is at its strongest when Madonna shoves everyone to the side and just tells it to us straight", adding: "Deep down, Madonna does have a rebel heart – and you can't fault her for reminding us that pop music is all the better for it."
Jamieson Cox of Time commended the album for its consistent production and sound, and for Madonna's vocals and songwriting.
Giving it a rating of "B", Kyle Anderson and Adam Markovitz of Entertainment Weekly called the album "Madonna's best outing since 2000's Music."
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian and Time Out writer Nick Levine gave the album 3 out of 5 stars. Petridis felt that the two contrasting sides of the album did not "quite gel", reasoning that: "the former might represent the music Madonna wants to make, while the latter is the music she feels obliged to make".
Levine wrote: "'Rebel Heart' may lack cohesion, but she's definitely not down for the count: this contains some of the best music Madonna's made in a decade."
Annie Zalesky of The A.V. Club said the record had its "fair share of those head scratching moments", but found it to be a move in the right direction musically.
Spin writer Andrew Unterberger gave "Rebel Heart" a 6 out of 10 rating. While calling it "clunky", he felt the album "contains a number of Madonna's best songs in years."
Medium's Richard LaBeau called it a "wildly uneven 22-track epic with some truly brilliant songs". Instinct's Samuel Murrian opined that "[Rebel Heart] might have been something like a home run if it were a few tracks shorter."
Writing for The New Zealand Herald, Lydia Jenkin gave it a mixed review, deeming the album a "bit of a mess" and "confused".
Lindsay Zoladz of New York magazine was disappointed, feeling the songs sounded "safe", adding that: "Madonna of Rebel Heart [has] succeeded once again in the increasingly empty goal of sounding current".
Gavin Haynes of NME panned the album, saying that it "feels like a wasted opportunity. Trite self-empowerment anthem 'Iconic' informs us that there's only two letters difference between Icon and I Can't. Sadly, there are also two letters between class and ass."