Discussion in 'Pop & Justice' started by debord, Jan 14, 2009.
I wonder if she's ever recorded a studio version of "Why Do You Only Call Me When You're High?".
The reason why it is still exciting to talk about Rebel Heart two years after its release is we all know it could have been one of her best records, if she had had the time to put it all together and finish the product. She used to say it was going to be a double album, but I find almost 3 EP's:
1.-Avicii/acoustic songs, to be released in the summer 2014: Rebel Heart, Devil Pray, Addicted, etc.
2.-Love/more elegant songs, to be released for Christmas 2014: Living for Love, Ghosttown, Hold Tight, Inside Out, Messiah, etc.
3.-Sex/dirty/trap songs, to be released for Spring 2015: Bitch Im Madonna, Unapologetic, Holy Water etc.
I'm sure there is a 9/10 album somewhere if we pick the 10 best songs from all of it, but I still haven't found the way to make it work as a proper tracklist with so many different styles.
I remember distinctly when she started to record Rebel Heart y'all were dropping Diplo's name as if you were talking about, well, some famous producer of DJ, while I, and surely loads of others, had never heard of him. So, I think it's fair to say that he was quite known, even though I'm shooting myself in the foot here.
Madonna may have worked with the Diplo before Bieber and everyone else, but the fact is that Rebel Heart today is an album with the sound that was trend in 2016. It's like when you look at Hard Candy and see that it fits perfectly with the pop landscape in 2008. I've already said that I see no problem in that (let me be clear again: I love Hard Candy and find Rebel Heart to be a very good album), but the question is: Hard Candy came from Confessions, an era of great success, so "jumping on a bandwagon" didn`t exactly harmed her, although people have already started to complain about it back then.
Now she has been seen for a decade as someone who`s "chasing hits" at any cost, "desperate". I think this, coupled with the issue of her age, made her lose some of the esteem she had by the general public. Commercially speaking, I don`t think it's a coincidence that her success started to wane when she left Warner.
People seemed to have lost interest soon after Give Me All Your Luvin, her weakest lead single ever. Of course, both the almost non-existent campaign and the mediocre material of MDNA did nothing to reverse that picture.
Then, Rebel Heart was not able to take that interest back and became an even greater commercial failure than MDNA, when she at least was in a better position at the beginning of that era, coming from Hard Candy, Celebration (yes, outside the US it did pretty well) and with the attention and exaltation she received from her Superbowl presentation.
Rebel Heart failed in that purpose by a combination of factors that we have already discussed on the last few pages: poor choice of singles, especially the lead, wrong release strategy, weakest video for a lead single ever, her performances of Living for Love, the difficulty at defining her audience and to how properly present her to them... all marketing issues.
I`m not trying to diminish the impact of her age and the prejudice. I know ageism is real and that even with a well-made campaign it wouldn`t be so easy to get a hit in the United States (she would probably still not be played on the radio), but I'm sure she could have done better. She's considered old for some time now, and yet she was moving on with commercial success so far (excluding MDNA for obvious reasons). Outside the United States, where this issue of age has always been less damaging for her, there is no explanation other than wrong career moves.
I will continue to be a fan of this woman even if she stops today. Or even if she only creates shitty albums and tours (which is not the case) from now on. I`ll always admire Madonna for the enormous legacy she will leave, in music, popular culture and art, with her interviews, photographs, videoclips and incomparable performances. However, part of the fascination I have for Madonna is her commercial power and her ability to reinvent herself and to stay on top. She didn`t mark just one decade. She was a current and popular artist in the 1980s. She was a current and popular artist in the 1990s. She was a current and popular artist in the 2000s. She was the only one who achieved that with this level of success, both on the charts and on the cultural zeitgeist. And this is indeed part of my admiration for her. So I find interesting to discuss the direction of her career. I'm sorry if it's an uncomfortable or uninteresting issue for some. I'm just trying to analyze what happened in recent years and what the future holds for M as a popular artist.
Oh, and let's not forget that she was already considered old by the time Confessions came out. But that didn`t seem to bother people, on the contrary. She was seen as "cool" (at least outside the US), maybe because she presented herself in a more "mature" way, and because the music itself was so good and "different" that it became a differential that would justify her survival in a scenario with so many new and hot artists. Something like: "Okay, she's old, she`s been here for so long, but damn it! She`s so cool and her songs are unlike anything we've been hearing lately. And at the same time, they are current and captivating. How will I not listen?".
When she starts doing - repeatedly - things that any other artist can do, she loses, because obviously they are at an advantage. There's no reason to listen to Madonna if they can listen to Bieber, Ariana, Halsey or whatever. But if Madonna brings something a little different - and good - to the table, and is able to properly present it to the public (Rebel Heart had some possible candidates, but it fell in that category of bad PR), there is no way to turn your back on her. That's how I see what's happened to her career lately.
If you stop to think about it, it's absurd that a pop star was considered old at the age of 45... and maybe that change happened largely because of Madonna herself. Another achievement for the Queen.
So I've just listened to Hard Candy while working out. It's a good album, and if I was ranking it along other modern Madonna stuff, it's about as good as Music.
Dance 2night is that jam.
And all this anti Rebel Heart talk can get fucked. It's up there with American Life.
This is a nice little wall of text and all, but there's so many things wrong here that I truly don't even know where to begin. But since you seem to still believe Rebel Heart was this trend chasing record that wouldn't sound out of place with any other release in 2016 (I assume you mean 2015, considering that's when the album was released and being a year ahead isn't exactly a bad thing - certainly not trend chasing), despite your arguments about her working with these supposedly tried and true hitmakers being proven to be poorly researched and wrong, why don't you name a few songs that graced the top 40 with their presence as an example? What I'm getting from you isn't a whole lot in terms of you actually looking and really observing the musical landscape she was coming out with this album in because there really isn't anything "trendy" here. It can't be said enough. These apparent observations of bad marketing and other factors seem to be in your head. The album did fine for what it was: a Madonna album in 2015. She doesn't have a streaming audience or anything like that. All these other things don't matter, but that's the one that likely harmed her because that's how a lot of success is measured now.
And you keep saying you like Rebel Heart, but anytime you mention it you make it sound like it's a bad thing she's still making music that can stand up against the music younger pop stars are making or that she's working with known producers.
I believe she should just continue doing tours of the classic hits . Her music now is horrible , and she needs to tone it down as she is embarrassingly cringe worthy .
And no distortion.
By the way, I've been wondering. Is that a Candy Shop remix?
I LOVE reading critical posts on artists like yours @Dream Master
Thats why I love Madonna fans - Unlike to other fans (you know whom am talking about) they have learned to go forward each time they fall and be though rather critical and vocal to bad artistic choices.
They can be supportive and protective but they can clearly set the standards high for her.
I am sure thats also a (big or small) part why Madonna never lost it in her 3 decade (real) Queen of Pop dominance.
Rebel Heart wasn't trend chasing. She made the music she wanted to with the people who excited her. The trouble was that the music just wasn't that good, to me at least. I really enjoyed the album at the time, but as time passed I found myself listening to it less and less.
Was Madonna trend chasing when she got Prince on Like a Prayer? When used house elements on Erotica in the early 90s? Releasing a chilled R&B-influenced album once Mariah and other R&B artists got big? Making shiny turn of the century electropop? Or in those situations are you able to see the nuance, that using contemporary influences doesn't = trend chasing? What's the difference with Rebel Heart?
I love reading critical posts if they're well crafted, researched, and focused. But I'm not getting any of that from anything @Dream Master posted. They can't seem to decide what to put the blame on when it comes to what has -- in their mind -- affected Madonna's status as a pop icon, and they certainly don't seem to have the slightest clue of how marketing works. Newsflash: it's not 2000 anymore. There's also the weird glossing over the fact that everything they've been "critiquing" Madonna on are things that she's always done, with the added fact that she is now a mother and looks to her own children for inspiration rather than the club scene. This is how she's survived as an artist for as long as she has.
She's making music she likes. Whether it's "trend chasing" or not is beside the point. She's a pop star. Her job is to merge current and emerging trends and make them her own, and she's more or less been successful at this with the exception of the faceless MDNA and the slightly late Hard Candy. Fact is, she hasn't been this into her music for about a decade. She did the promo fans were begging for, she did more than what anyone actually expected her to do with the music videos and performances, and she looked like she was having fun doing all of it despite the shitty situation she was facing with the leaks.
You can say things like "oh, she needs to release better songs and choose better singles" or "she should act her age and just do the hits" but none of that will actually fix anything if she doesn't have the audience to consume it. She can't get the audience without people at radio playing her songs or her music being pushed on streaming. This is Madonna. She will never be able to win this battle because her image is not appealing to the older demographic since she still makes full on and unashamed pop music, and she doesn't appeal to the younger demographic because she's seen as too old for them. But in the face of all this, she still sells a decent amount of albums and is one of the biggest touring acts in history. She is quite literally in her own lane that nobody has occupied before her and that nobody will occupy after her.
So, yes, be critical, but at least put in the work to address the facts instead of relying on the lazy assumptions.
Rebel Heart was a step in the right direction, and every tiny bit of interview or glimpse we've gotten from her since makes it feel like she is more aware of and eager to explore new aspects of her craft and the potential of her art as a medium to share her thoughts, feelings and concerns about the world, and using it as a dialogue with her peers/a reflection of our culture. The photoshoots this era have been the most high quality work she's done visually since at least Confessions. Her latest tour in live and recorded form has been the truest to her spirit and quality standards ever since. The videos have more of her soul in them since probably before that, even Ghosttown that I personally hated as a finished product. Without meaning to sound critical of her personal choices, I feel like she looks more like a human person than she has in nearly a decade too. She sounds more aware of/concerned with what's going on in pop, the artistic world and the... "real" world than she had for a very long time.
I do respect the concerns that Rebel Heart is not quite there yet which may be true in terms of execution, even if that completely ignores its value as a statement piece and an autobiographical piece of work in her canon which is considerable. I do not really disagree that she has mishandled her image and opportunities with over her last three eras overall, either. But I think this has hardly been an era to complain about or a reason to worry about what's to come from Madonna moving forward. I feel she's given us more than enough reasons to be confident and hopeful about her work, regardless of what chances she may have missed with the general public for example.
Age is a funny thing, isn't it. When I was growing up and listening to Madonna albums and watching her videos etc I never once thought about how old she was, ever.
It's sad that (at least from what I perceive) the ageism towards women in popular culture is mostly done by other females.
Tell me when the thread moves on.
The point is that you have your insight into her career and every time someone tries to criticize the direction she's taken in the last few years, you try to end the discussion by disregarding the arguments of others and saying that it's all bullshit because, in the end of the day, it all boils down to her age. I have said enough in previous posts about what I think she has done wrong in creative and commercial choices. In short, you believe that it doesn't matter what she does: she will not be able to maintain the level of success she had before because of streaming and because the younger audience considers her very old. I got it.
If you do not agree, fine. If you think they're lazy assumptions, that's fine too. I think some people have understood my point and I will continue in this line of discussion.
I only disregard the arguments that don't actually present a base. Yours don't. You've changed your point about 5 times in the last two pages alone after being shown that what you were saying simply isn't true, so naturally I'm going to question if you even know what you're saying by pointing out the glaring flaws in your criticism. You can't rely on assumptions and anecdotes. Basically, come correct. It's not hard.
Let me spell it out for you: the biggest responsible for her recent commercial decline is not her age, but the decisions she has made with the last 2 or 3 albums. I think that's understandable.
So it's her kids, then? Because that's what you were trying to say just a bit ago. And again you keep avoiding citing any examples of current songs that sound like anything on Rebel Heart, since it was so trend chasing and all.
Separate names with a comma.