Giorgio Moroder insists Madonna will be very "big again" if she releases the right album.
The legendary producer-and-DJ is excited to hear the 56-year-old singer's next LP - which leaked earlier this month but is due for release next year - and is very pleased she is has been recording dance tracks with Avicii because he believes that is the best genre for her.
He told BANG Showbiz: "Madonna is still relevant, people still love her and she's still good. She's getting older of course but she still has a great voice. I think if she makes the right dance album I think she could become quite big again. I know she's working with very young people and I think she could do well with the right record."
Madonna is an admirer of Moroder and her track 'Future Lovers' - which featured on her 2005 album 'Confessions on a Dance Floor' - has a bass line inspired by Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love', which Moroder produced and she opened her 2006 'Confessions Tour' with a medley of 'Future Lovers' and 'I Feel Love'.
Moroder is releasing his own new album in 2015, his first studio LP for more than 30 years, and the record features collaborations with Britney Spears, Sia, Charli XCX, Kylie Minogue, Mikky Ekko and Foxes, among others.
As well as his album, the 74-year-old musician still DJs all over the world and admits he was pleased when the EDM movement took off because he started to earn more money.
Moroder - who was a pioneer of dance music in the 70s and 80s - quipped: "I love EDM because there's a lot of money around and I'm a DJ too so I'm making nice money! It is the pop music of the world now, the music that is considered dance."
Rita Hayworth gave good face, but Madonna gives good body. Over the weekend, Donatella Versace spoke to the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera about her longstanding friendship with the star, who's the face of the new Versace campaign. As translated by Glamour, her comments included a strong denial that Madonna's gym-won abs and arms got the Photoshop treatment. "She did not have her abdomen or arms retouched," said the designer.
The process was also considerably more low-key than you might think, at least according to Versace. "With Lady Gaga [it] was a bit more complicated. She focuses on transformation and charisma ... So the final approval of the photo was a melee. But [with] Madonna, absolutely not ... I told her: You don't have to be only sexy. I want you like I know you: a vulnerable person who is afraid, who suffers from loneliness and yet is strong, determined, and fearless. In these photos, she is." The designer also revealed that the charitable star will be donating her fee from the campaign to the hospital she opened in Malawi.
With 14 tracks hitting the Internet earlier than intended, experimental tunes like 'Never Let You Go,' 'Inside Out' and ‘Holy Water,' get fans in the groove for March 10 release of ‘Rebel Heart.'
Don't cry for Madonna.
She may be justifiably outraged that her new songs have sprung more leaks than the Titanic, gushing onto the web in waves over the last few days. But the songs themselves offer plenty of rich music, and fascinating perspectives, which augers well for the official “Rebel Heart” release, now planned for March 10th.
Prompted by an initial spurt of leaks in mid-December, Madonna released six of the tracks to iTunes back on the 20th. Even so, she warned that the songs were both incomplete and wouldn't necessarily even end up on the album itself.
That didn't stop the thieves from exposing more. Nor did it discourage fans from playing a game of treasure hunt to try and seek them all out.
Even the mighty Madonna, it seems, can't put the genie back in the bottle.
By now, the songs have become part of the public conversation. Even as they now exist - in demo form, and disconnected from their eventual album home - we can hear encouraging patterns, both in the music and in the lyrical themes.
Unlike her last two albums, which stressed a streamlined and uniform sound, the new songs prove more experimental and eclectic. They draw on sounds from the East, African instrumentation, and on rarely revived synth sounds of the ‘70s.
Only a few songs chase current trends, like the Pharrell novelty dance track “Back That Up To The Beat,” or the earlier-leaked hip-hop-pop track “Bitch I'm Madonna.”
More interesting songs, like “Never Let You Go” and “Holy Water,” reference the cooly robotic synths of prime Kraftwerk. “Nothing Lasts Forever” plays with music of the East, while “Body Shop” whips up some taut beats from the Asian subcontinent.
Other cuts, like “Inside Out” and “Graffiti Heart” expand on the experimental electronics Madonna explored on the wilder parts of her album “Bedtime Stories” back in 1994.
The lyrics, too, go deeper than much of either “MDNA” or “Hard Candy.” There's a lot of autobiography here, much of it emphasizing Madonna's rare, and remote, role in the social hierarchy.
In “S.E.X.” she's the instructor, schooling a younger lover on the ways of the body. In “Tragic Girl” she refers to the emotional distance she has relied on to protect herself, at the consequence of connecting. Then, in the much-discussed “Two Steps Behind,” she calls out her imitators with an imperiousness worthy of late period Joan Crawford.
Fans have interpreted that last song as another slap against Lady Gaga. That prompted a rare public denial from Madonna's manager, Guy Oseary.
The star turns self-referencial in many of the new songs, leaning hard on her patented mix of sexual and religious imagery. During “Inside Out” she quotes her own movie title, “Truth or Dare.”
But the clearest, and the most moving, self-assessment comes in the title track, “Rebel Heart.” Over an elegiac melody, Madonna looks back at her history of outrageousness. First, she puts it in the past tense. “I spent some time as a narcissist,” she confesses. “Trying to be so provocative... all the things I did just to be seen/I outgrew my past.”
But, eventually, she embraces her willfulness as a key part of her character. “I tried to fit but it was never me/I took the road less traveled by....I knew it from the start/deep down in my rebel heart...this is me, I'm right where I wanna be.”
It's a self-glorifying song, to be sure. But who more than Madonna deserves that tone?
While the song's lyrics draw her career together, so the music provides a through-line in her long-established flair for shaping dance music into pop. She struck an equally ideal balance in the earlier leaked song, “Living For Love,” which sounds like the natural heir to her gospel-soul classics “Express Yourself” and “Like A Prayer.”
It remains to be seen how these songs will play off against each other in the final album - if they turn up at all. But at least in this form, we get a peak into Madonna's process that shows no shortage of promise.
Longtime manager Guy Oseary spoke to Billboard just days after successfully launching Madonna's new album... four-and-a-half months ahead of schedule.
Madonna's surprise pre-release of six songs from her upcoming album Rebel Heart on Dec. 20 was a hard-fought victory: the result of two sleepless nights to combat the widespread leaks of more than a dozen unfinished demos just three days prior. And it almost didn't happen.
"We didn't know until Friday night [December 19], 11:30 [Eastern] and 8:30 [Pacific] that it would even work," Guy Oseary, Madonna's longtime manager, said in a phone interview on Dec. 23. "There was a chance that technically it was not possible because it was so last-minute. Normally it wouldn't be the end of the world, but because iTunes was shutting down [for the holiday] we were told that it would either go live at 11:30 East Coast time or January 5. We didn't know -- she was saying her prayers, we were all just hoping."
The result? Pre-orders for the March 10, 2015 album topped the iTunes charts in more than 36 countries, with three of the album's six finished songs entering this week's Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart. Lead single "Living For Love" was serviced to U.S. radio stations on Dec. 22 by Madonna's label Interscope, with a bigger push coming in January. An official music video will be filmed next month as well, with a planned release for the "first week of February," as Oseary revealed in a separate Twitter Q&A on Dec. 27.
But Madonna & co. aren't coming up for air just yet. Just hours after Oseary spoke with Billboard on Dec. 23 , 14 more tracks from the Rebel Heart sessions leaked, including the alleged Lady Gaga diss track "Two Steps Behind Me" (which Oseary has already denied is about Gaga or "anyone in particular").
Below is an excerpt of Billboard's conversation with Oseary last Tuesday (Dec. 23), including a detailed account of how Madonna and her team sprang into action to respond to the leaks. "If people knew what had to happen from Wednesday to get it it up for Friday, it was a circus show."
It's been six days since the leaks started spreading. Have you slept yet?
Last night I got some sleep. This ride was crazy. And what a crazy year. It's been big.
So what happened, exactly?
I mean look, our music was stolen. And now it's an ongoing investigation, so we're taking it very, very seriously. Two songs came out a few weeks ago, and we were able to contain it. We did what we could to contain it. It's hard to contain a leak online. And then it was Tuesday, last Tuesday -- it feels like a year ago -- but it was last Tuesday when I started seeing messages going a lot of the songs are leaking. [We were] trying to pull down as many leaks as we could, and then it got to Wednesday morning it was just unstoppable. It was all out there. You could not seal this leak. So, Madonna was pretty adamant that we should go immediately, that we should put out as much of the finished music as we could. And there was a lot of talk about the many reasons why it didn't make sense – there was just a lot of chatter of having to hurry and all of the many, many reasons why it made no sense. But she was adamant that she didn't want people to think those were the finished tracks. And she was devastated -- I mean, devastated and sickened that someone would do this to her and not allow her the chance to share the finished product with people.
We were thinking about going with "Living For Love," as you saw, as a Valentine's Day song, and the album at the end of April. We're talking all of April, so that's four-and-a-half months early. You always hear about one week early, two weeks early... but this is crazy. So, [Interscope vice chairman] Steve Berman was really helpful, and he also knew all the many reasons why it may not make sense to do it. But he supported Madonna to do it and rallied all the troops together to pull this off. And then Robert Kondrk at Apple really helped us push this through.
When did you know you were good to go with the iTunes upload?
We didn't know until Friday night, 11:30 her time and 8:30 my time, that it would even work. There was a chance that technically it was not possible because it was so last-minute. Normally it would be the end of the world, but because iTunes was shutting down we were told that it would either go live at 11:30 East Coast time or January 5. We didn't know, so we get this phone call at 8:30 at night saying, "we are good." She was saying her prayers, we were all just hoping.
When I got the message that [the release was working], it started happening slowly and surely. Then it finally rolled out around the world, and it took a full day, until Sunday, for the album to register. On Saturday, six songs were in the top 10 almost in every country around the world. On Sunday, when the album finally registered, it was number one in almost every country, along with the six songs. It was an exciting ride. We all wish the hacking or stealing of the music never happened, but we're really grateful that everyone wanted the music to be heard. If people knew what had to happen from Wednesday to get it it up for Friday, it was a circus show.
Now that you've pulled off this feat, and moved up the album timeline by nearly two months, what's next?
We have a video shoot at some point, things to go do, now we've gotta figure it out what happens next. She really wants to support this, and wants to make sure that -- because it was so far out, we have to regroup. She did one or two interviews... there was no time to explain. I've learned a lot over the last few years, and it was important that the few songs we did release be understood because it was so rushed.
How is this being handled legally? Do you have any idea of the source?
We're talking about a criminal. It was photos, videos, anything that feels like it shouldn't be out there. She was posting them [on Instagram] saying, "Hey, I'm seeing this for the first time. Nice, thanks a lot." You know, this is new days, we've learned a lot, we understand where the holes were. And we're doing all of it. It's real. It's real stuff. A lot of pain, you know, seeing a lot of your private work just being thrown out there to the universe because someone can steal it and do that.
Was this a case of a fan feeling like they were "gifting" this unreleased material?
They weren't gifting people. I don't want to get too into it, but it will all be revealed at some point.
Guy Oseary answered fan questions on his Twitter. Here are the most interesting details.
About the album release of Rebel Heart:
The original plan was to release a double album in April 2015, which was "half Rebel, half Heart". This plan changed due to the recent leaks. It will now be one album with 19 full tracks, no interludes, to be released on March 10th. The album is "almost finished. Needs a little more work in the new year."
About the single release and video of Living For Love:
As we already knew, the single release of Living For Love was originally planned for Valentine's Day 2015. We will still get a video for this lead-off single, probably first week of February. While the video director has been chosen, the video has not yet been shot.
A second single has not yet been chosen.
About the leaked demo of Two Steps Behind Me:
"That song is NOT about Gaga or anyone in particular. The song is an unfinished demo she had no intention of finishing or releasing along with many others."
About doing album promo in the UK:
There will be UK promo. There was a plan but because of the leak the plan needs to be redrawn.
About a tour in 2015:
"A lot of tour questions from everyone. I don’t have anything to report regarding tour... Yet."
In August, news about the demo Arioso surfaced. The demo has now leaked in full. It turns out to be a demo recorded in 1999, from the Music sessions with William Orbit.
Interestingly, the demo features the mysterious Wonderland sample, that we've heard back in 2000 but for which the origin remained a secret until now.
The demo was based on Arioso, Adagio in G from Johann Sebastian Bach's Cantata BWV 156, which you can hear here:
When Time Out interviewed Diplo and Skrillex about their New Year's Eve gig at Madison Square Garden, Diplo had the following to say about Madonna:
So MSG will be like a house party.
Diplo: We’re gonna make it big. It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s the first time either of us has played this venue. We wanna make it gigantic. We’re also working on an app for the event.
Will Madonna sing with you at MSG?
Diplo: She may come out and sing. If me and Skrillex are in town, people will come out. I’m inviting the entire New York Knicks to come shoot warm-ups during my set.
Can you talk about your work with Madonna?
Diplo: The single comes out in February. There are two songs [the label] loves as singles; I don’t know which one will come out first. I go back next week on my birthday to mix more. She’s actually kind of hard-core. You can’t get away. I’ll be glad when we’re all wrapped up. It’s been a lot of work. I’ve worked harder on these songs than I’ve worked on our songs, and that’s a lot of fucking work.
Skrillex: I’ve never seen him more like, Fuck, I have to go back.
Diplo: If I can go back and wrap this up and make great songs for her…She’s the queen of making music. I remember having songs like “Cherish” and “Vogue” on cassette tapes. I’ve loved her production, and I’ve always loved how she’s a forward-thinking motherfucking beast. She was the first person to really bring in different sounds and co-opt things for her own sound, and I’ve always loved her for that.
Madonna has always been called the “Queen of Pop,” but many people – including big fans – have wondered if she had become a legend who is living off her former glory. Madonna has been criticized a lot these past few years for “chasing her youth.” Some call these claims sexist and ageist. Luckily for Madonna, the general consensus on her new music is that she is, once again, at the top of her game.
Madonna fans and critics have hit the internet to praise the singer after she was forced to release songs off her upcoming Rebel Heart album. This happened as hackers leaked 13 unfinished tracks last week. In fact, the album immediately hit number one on music sales charts in 41 different countries based on pre-orders alone. Billboard, the top music industry magazine that is usually harsh on new music from superstars, has praised Madonna’s first single, “Living for Love.”
“Living for Love sounds like a giddy combination of Madonna’s past and present, and represents an encouraging sign for a 2015 project that was unexpectedly thrown into jeopardy at the end of 2014.”
The lead single is a confident club banger about finding your way back after a breakup. It’s an epic and uplifting song that could expose the Queen of Pop to a different generation. Madonna proves to be a confident vocalist who may not be able to hit all the notes Lady Gaga or Aria Grande can, but one who can emotionally seduce her audience. Madonna’s vocals prove even more confident in songs like “Devil Pray,” a heartfelt song about the false promises of drugs, and “Ghosttown,” a solid ballad about two souls surviving in a world that has crumbled.
Three of the songs, “Bitch I’m Madonna,” “ Unapologetic Bitch,” and “Illuminati” haven ’t earned the unanimous praise the others have. Jim Farber of the New York Daily Newsbelieves these three songs find Madonna chasing trends rather than creating them.
“Unfortunately, the other three cuts sound like they’re playing catch-up with the hits of today. ‘ Illuminati’ pairs the star with producer Kanye West, who gave her a dark needling rhythm that sounds like something left over from his last album.”
However, Farber offers nothing but praise for Madonna’s other tracks and even if he didn’t appreciate the three later tracks, many fans did. In fact, “Bitch I’m Madonna” is the most-downloaded individual track from the album and the most downloaded track Madonna has had in years.
A trio of tracks from her upcoming Rebel Heart album debut days after their arrival.
Madonna catapults onto Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart with three tracks from her upcoming Rebel Heart album: "Bitch I'm Madonna" (No. 14), "Living for Love" (No. 16) and "Unapologetic Bitch" (No. 26).
The songs, available for instant download upon pre-ordering the album (due March 10) or as a la carte purchases, were made available digitally in a surprise move at midnight on Friday (Dec. 19), following massive demo leaks earlier in the week. (An additional 14 demos leaked on Dec. 23.) The songs soar onto the chart, therefore, on the strength of only a partial week of sales and with only small benefits from other metrics (streaming, radio airplay and club play).
The cuts mark Madonna's first entries on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, which premiered on Jan. 26, 2013.
Can Beyonce please give Madonna some pointers on keeping your tracks under wraps? The pop icon’s Rebel Heart campaign suffered another major setback today (December 23) when 14 new demos leaked. This follows the early arrival of several songs last week, six of which were subsequently rush-released on iTunes. Unless the enduring diva has another dozen or so songs locked away, her 13th album is now online in one form or another.
It’s an irritating development because Rebel Heart already feels/sounds like the 56-year-old’s most convincing set since 2005′s Confessions On A Dance Floor. The six legally-available tracks give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from the new material. Nothing matches the quality of ’90s-referencing lead single “Living For Love” or gorgeous synth-ballad “Ghosttown,” but there are plenty of gems that demand multiple listens.
Protest anthem “Freedom” is as timely as it is pretty, while “Beautiful Scars” finds Madonna at her most vulnerable. There are, however, some unfortunate duds. Self-help floorfiller “Iconic” doesn’t live up to its title, “God Is Love” is well-intentioned but awful, and “Veni Vidi Vici” sounds like a reject from Hard Candy. These tunes may or may not make the final cut, but, at the very least, they prove the Material Girl is on the right track. See a list of the latest leaks after the jump.
The following tracks leaked today:
— Veni Vidi Vici
— Beautiful Scars
— God Is Love
— Hold Tight
— Best Night
— Inside Out
— Tragic Girl
— Nothing Lasts Forever
— Holy Water
— Graffiti Heart
— Body Shop
— Back That Up (Do It) feat. Pharrell
Madonna's new music sprung a leak last week, before she'd even had the chance to make an official announcement about her forthcoming album. The singer handled the situation in the most Madonna way possible: She shirked her critics and dropped six songs on our iTunes doorstop early Saturday morning with no precedent. (The Guardian called it a "partial Beyoncé.")
Within hours, #RebelHeart -- the name of her 13th album, now set for release on March 10 -- became a trending topic on Twitter and Facebook. Each track became an iTunes best-seller, and as of Monday morning, all six are among the service's current 20 most-downloaded songs.
Three ("Illuminati," "Unapologetic Bitch" and "Bitch I'm Madonna," which marks Madonna's third collaboration with Nicki Minaj after "Give Me All Your Luvin'" and "I Don't Give A") are infused with EDM and dance-groove sensibilities, thanks in part to production work by the likes of Kanye West and Diplo. Jim Farber of the New York Daily News said the trio is "less dignified" than the other three songs. Many have noted that "Living for Love," the album's first single, is anthemic in a way that's reminiscent of "Express Yourself" and "Like a Prayer." Farber also praised the other two tracks, "Ghosttown" and "Devil Pray," which are folksy by comparison. "The best of the new songs present the 56-year-old Madonna in a way that's finely tailored to her essential style," he wrote.
Billboard's Jason Lipshutz echoed Farber's ovation in his review of "Living for Love," also comparing the song to her earlier hits. "When the song weaves its way toward a throbbing drop, Madonna continues crooning, refusing to be relegated to the background," he wrote.
Therein lies the weekend's consensus: Madonna has bridged the contemporary dance-pop trends she feverishly chased on 2012's "MDNA" while evoking the more traditional dance palate for which she is known. (The country-tinged "Devil Pray," for example, recalls the 2000 hit "Don't Tell Me.")
"For a start, that was always her calling card, her ability to be on or just ahead of a musical or fashion style that might have been breaking in the clubs or alternative/underground scenes but had yet to transfer to the mainstream," Bernard Zuel wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald . "That and a great ear for the right producers and co-writers to help her transfer the trend into marketable music."
Over on Twitter and Instagram, a score of fans, critics and A-listers joined the chorus, incorporating hashtags that Madonna has used on Instagram throughout much of 2014: #unapologeticbitch , #rebelheart, #livingforlove . On Saturday, Madonna posted a collage of fans who'd re-created her album artwork.
Minaj , Diplo , Pharrell Williams , Diddy , longtime friend and "A League of Their Own" co-star Rosie O'Donnell and "Glee" star Kevin McHale all expressed their support, but it was Ariana Grande who walked away with the splashiest shoutout from the queen of pop.
Madonna will have a busy few months leading up to the release of "Rebel Heart," which contains 19 tracks, according to its current iTunes page. She revealed in a Q&A with Billboard that she will "possibly" perform "Living for Love" with a cabal of other singers at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 8, right around the time she is planning to unveil another set of songs.
While the press storm for Rebel Heart is raging, Madonna is hinting at a new photoshoot for Cosmopolitan Magazine on her Instagram:
Today I'm a Cosmo Girl Living for Love❤️#rebelheart
She posted close-ups of her jewelry studded fingers, as well as a gorgeous picture of her cleavage in a bustier.
What do you think of the pictures? Tell us on Facebook.
SIX SONGS FROM UPCOMING 'REBEL HEART' ALBUM SIMULTANEOUSLY CHARTING GLOBALLY
Press Release : Interscope Records
NEW YORK , Dec. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Madonna is hitting all the right notes this holiday season and her new music has gone to #1 in over 40 countries on iTunes charts around the world, including the U.S., with the release of six songs from her forthcoming album Rebel Heart. In seven of those countries she had multiple No. 1's. The single "Living for Love" is currently No. 1 in over 20 countries and in another staggering achievement for the Material Girl, all six songs have been in the top ten on iTunes in several countries. The six songs – "Living For Love," "Devil Pray," "Ghosttown," "Unapologetic Bitch," "Illuminati" and "Bitch I'm Madonna (featuring Nicki Minaj)" – are available immediately when you pre-order Rebel Heart: iTunes.com/Madonna.
The news of the surprise drop came when Madonna posted a link over the weekend on Instagram announcing the release of the six songs as, "an early Christmas gift" to those that preordered the album. Fans immediately went to iTunes and drove the songs to #1 around the globe.
Instantaneously Rebel Heart exploded on social media with the album topping the Billboard Trending 140 Chart.
Rebel Heart will be released in March 2015 on Interscope Records. Producers include Madonna, Diplo ("Living For Love," "Bitch I'm Madonna," "Unapologetic Bitch"), Kanye West ("Illuminati"), Billboard ("Ghosttown"), DJ Dahi and Blood Diamonds ("Devil Pray"). The album was recorded in London , Los Angeles and New York .
In case you missed it, Madonna pulled off a holiday surprise late Friday night and released six new singles from her upcoming album "Rebel Heart." This was in response to the entire album being leaked by hackers on Wednesday, Dec. 17. And, earlier in December, three other unfinished tracks found their way onto the net. In truth, those were unfinished demo tracks, but it forced Madonna and her label into action in what can only be described as a "partial Beyonce." No, the entire album with accompanying music videos wasn't released out of the blue, but six "finished" tracks were and, in some corners, the internet exploded.
Unlike Madonna's previous albums, these tracks immediately made an impact on iTunes. Within 12 hours it was the no. 1 album in the US and in 40 other countries. And, late Sunday night, it was still no. 1. Now naysayers can say it was a busy holiday weekend and must have been a slow period for the top music store on the web. Most people were traveling home or were busy at the mall picking up those last minute Christmas gifts. Maybe, but six tracks occupying the iTunes single chart between no. 6 and no. 11 for over 24 hours? Call us crazy, but we don't remember anything like that happening with her last two albums. It likely won't last, Taylor Swift should get a nice last minute X-mas burst back to the top of the charts, but the response from fans and critics alike had to be encouraging for Interscope. Especially after her last album, "MDNA," reached no. 1 on Billboard's charts thanks to a tour ticket bundle and a massive Super Bowl promotional blitz.
A latecomer to social media (although she's clearly made up for it on Instagram), Madonna has rarely been so active as she was this weekend. She kept that buzz going with three separate Sunday interviews with Rolling Stone, The Guardian and Billboard explaining why they released the tracks so quickly, the parallels with the Sony Hack, working with Kanye West and much more.
What did we learn?
1. Diplo is not the album's executive producer
Some had reported he had a guiding hand in forming the album. Madonna is not giving him that much credit. They collaborated on more than three tracks and he provided "input" on what he liked. She also says, however, they are "kindred spirits"
2. "Living For Love" is a breakup song and there are many versions
The lead single for the album features backup vocals by a London Choir singer known as Annie. Other versions will include MNEK, a UK singer, writer and producer who has worked with everyone from Rudimental, Gorgon City, The Saturdays and Duke Dumont.
3. Alicia Keys is playing piano on "Living for Love"
Really. No vocals, though. Well, not on any version Madonna is going to release in the future.
4. Kanye West produced the rap-filled "Illuminati"
When they met Madonna played him a number of unproduced songs. She'd written "Illuminati" in March or April and he liked it so much he was jumping up and down on the mixing board. Madonna says he "elevated the lyrics with the music." This is the track by the way, that name checks out Beyonce, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, ISIS, President Obama, a Clinton (which one is unclear) and, of course, Kanye himself.
5. The entire album will now be released in three parts
The first six tracks are out now. A few more will come out around the Grammys and the rest of the album will officially be released on March 10. Right now there are 19 tracks listed. That's almost a big album.
6. Oh, and yes, a Grammy Awards performance is a big possibility
Madonna told Billboard that a performance on February's Grammy Awards -- which makes a ton of sense considering how often she's done it in the past -- is a "possible."
7. Her demo leak and the Sony Hack will change things
Madonna told the Guardian: "People need the arts, we need to be inspired, we need to hear people's records and see people's films. Why destroy that process for creative people? It's going to affect everybody." What that means for the future is unclear. She says this project was stored on hard drives (not cloud servers) and phones at photo or video shoots are always a no-no. How did the leak happen then? Sounds like even she and her reps are still puzzled.
8. Madonna's kids are her new A&R reps…sort of
She says she's not in the clubs "all the time," but her kids are and introduce her to stuff the like (note: Rocco is 14 and Lourdes is 17). That being said, she says she surrounds herself with people who help her stay connected to street culture, pop culture and what's hitting underground.
9. Madonna says Nicki Minaj is "methodical"
"Bitch I'm Madonna" is the second collaboration between the two divas after "Give Me All Your Luvin'." The Queen of Pop says there is a lot of back and forth about her rap and describes it as a "total collaboration."
10. Every track needed to be able to stand on its own acoustically
Previously she says she was more concerned with the sound than the heart of the song. Not this time around. And, yes, we're officially requesting an acoustic performance of "Illuminati."
11. "Ghosttown" was a true songwriting collaboration
Evan Bogart, Sean Douglas and Jason Evigan are listed as co-writers on the stand out ballad, but this wasn't a case of a singer adding their name to a pre-existing track. Madonna says all four of them sat in a room together and they were inspired by the theme of what a city would be like after an Armageddon (really).
12. There will be a music video for "Living for Love"
The leak and early release hasn't changed any plans on the video side. When will it arrive? Unclear.
13. The album is actually not done.
Madonna tells Billboard she's "almost done recording " and there are "more little tweaks" to take care of.
14. Pharrell, Diddy, OneRepublic, Ariana Grande and Nicki supported the album on twitter Sunday
Why the love? Madonna previously collaborated with Pharrell on her 2008 album "Hard Candy." He's been rumored to be a producer on "Rebel Heart." P. Diddy's Bad Boy records is part of Interscope Records, Madonna's label. Minaj is featured on "Bitch I'm Madonna" (currently doing better on iTunes than any of her "Pink Print" singles - yikes). Ryan Tedder collaborated with Madonna for a new track on the album. And Grande? Maybe she's just a fan?
. @Madonna the new album #RebelHeart available for preorder now http://t.co/2YHLolnMda— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) December 21, 2014
@Madonna thank u santa— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) December 20, 2014
@Madonna congrats on the new album #RebelHeart #1 in 26 countries! http://t.co/ywfZI1Eow7— Diddy (@iamdiddy) December 21, 2014
. @Madonna the new album #RebelHeart available for preorder now http://t.co/EYCmN2ePqJ— OneRepublic (@OneRepublic) December 21, 2014
Oh, hi @madonna ! ?????????? http://t.co/yP7nQW00ZV— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) December 21, 2014
In her first Q&A about the surprise launch of her 13th album, the Queen of Pop opens up about working with Nicki and Kanye and who's really in the Illuminati.
For the past year, Madonna has been updating fans on the progress of her 13th studio album through Instagram posts picturing collaborators (Nicki Minaj, Avicii, Diplo) and inspirations (children in Malawi, Miley Cyrus, placards reading "I need more money and power and less shit from you people"). But last week her creative process was interrupted by the leak of 13 songs she characterized as "unfinished demos." Faced with a potential calamity, her team made a quick decision: finish and release six of the tracks immediately on iTunes and set a firm early-March 2015 release date for the full LP, titled Rebel Heart.
The day after the tracks hit iTunes, Madonna was Number One on the digital music service's charts in 41 countries — everywhere from the U.S. and Israel to Russia and the Philippines. And she gave her first interview about the surprise launch to Rolling Stone :
It's safe to presume you've had a busy couple of days?
Oh my goodness. So busy. Let's talk about something good.
The album focuses on two themes: listening to your heart and being a rebel. When you sat down to write, were you guided by these ideas above any musical plans?
I never sit down and consciously think I want to write a song about a subject. Music leads me to ideas and to where I want to go emotionally. When I first started, I was writing with Avicii's team of writers and they were separated into two different groups. One of them had a much more upbeat approach to songwriting, sonically speaking, and the other team chose darker chords. The music leads me – so I get lost in the sound of the music, and that creates a kind of emotional palate. I found as I would look back at my songs and witness what I had written, I was coming from two very distinct places. That happened organically, not planned out, and I was observing, "Oh, these are two very strong sides of me that I need to express."
"The way we're going to change the world or ultimately feel joy is through unity."
So decisions about who you trust to guide you, musically, are clearly quite crucial.
Yeah. And sometimes in the writing phase of the music, there are some people who I really felt a connection to, just as human beings, and felt they understood me as a songwriter and a person, so those people were easier for me to write with. Writing songs, you have to be vulnerable, you have to not be afraid to express yourself and to say things or share. It's almost like writing your diary in front of somebody and reading it out loud. Some people made me feel comfortable and I felt connected to them and other people seemed very strange to me. It was almost like an acting exercise, you know, just putting myself in a room and letting ideas flow even if I didn't feel so connected to the people.
"Living for Love" is a pretty triumphant breakup song.
It's a breakup song. [ Laughs ]
But it's not a mopey breakup song.
The thing is, lots of people write about being in love and being happy or they write about having a broken heart and being inconsolable. But nobody writes about having a broken heart and being hopeful and triumphant afterwards. So I thought, how can I do this? I didn't want to share the sentiment of being a victim. This scenario devastated me, but it just made me stronger.
The track marries a classic house-y vibe with some of Diplo's very synthetic sounds. Did you encourage him to push it a little bit?
Oh, I don't ever have to encourage Diplo to push anything. In fact, I have to encourage him to tone things down sometimes. He's a turn-up man. In fact, I think "Living for Love" is probably one of his more mellow productions.
"Devil Pray" is at risk of being misunderstood as a song encouraging or condemning drugs, but it's more about a search for spirituality, correct?
I don't think when people are experimenting with drugs they're actually consciously saying to themselves, I want to get closer to God. I think it's a primal thing, a more inexplicable thing that happens where I think the feeling people have when they're high is plugging into the universe and appreciating things or seeing details that they otherwise may have missed, or feeling a certain kind of euphoric joy. Ultimately those feelings never last, because the drugs wear off and then there's the aftereffect. Whenever you synthetically make yourself feel euphoria there's going to be the crash. I'm certainly not judging people who take drugs or saying "don't do drugs," however, I'm saying you can do all of these things to connect to a higher level, but ultimately you're going to be lost. People who are getting high are instinctively also trying to connect to a higher level of consciousness, but are doing it in a way that will not sustain them.
There's also a message of seeking spirituality via togetherness and not being isolated.
Yeah, and that's another subtle message of the song, and you really do have to pay attention to the lyrics, and I hope people do over time. The way we're going to change the world, or the way we're going to ultimately feel joy, is through unity. I'm certainly not encouraging religious behavior; when I say people are thinking in a religious way, I think they're thinking about rules and dogma and laws that separate. When I say spirituality, I mean a consciousness that has an understanding that we are all in this together, that we are all one. We have to find a way to feel joy and to bring joy to the world together. That ultimately is with consciousness, not drugs.
We're at a critical moment — a weird and scary time — that doesn't seem far from the fallen world of "Ghosttown."
Yes, we are, and that song is kind of looking at the world in a way, seeing civilization collapse around us, for lack of a better word. And at the end of the day, if we run out of oil and we don't have electricity and we don't have all the modern conveniences, and we have no phones and computers, all we're going to have is each other, is humans. And that song's about recognizing that.
"I know who the real Illuminati are, and I know where that word comes from."
Still, it's a comforting song, it's not a frightful or fearful song.
No. Again, hopeful. Looking at the destruction and seeing hope. And that's what a lot of my songs are about on this record.
If "Living for Love" is the inspiring breakup song, "Unapologetic Bitch" is the "fuck you."
Yeah. [ Laughs ] But it's like, fuck you, I'm going to have fun. You think you're going to ruin my life and you think that it's over for me, but guess what? It's not. Life goes on.
Diplo, who produced that track, plays an interesting role in music right now, traveling the world collecting sounds and helping other cultures make sense of them. How did you two relate?
You know when you meet somebody and you work with them and you recognize that you both look at life the same way? I'm one of those people, I travel the world also and I engage in other cultures, and I absorb and see the beauty in other culture from many different perspectives — through art, through literature, through music — and reference a lot of those things that inspire me through my work. And I think Diplo does the same thing. So we recognized kindred spirits. When we got together, he didn't know that side of me and I didn't know that side of him, so again, not a discussion that we had per se, just more about hey, check this out? Did you hear this? Listen to this track. Do you like this group? Playing each other music that we loved and just recognizing we both enjoyed a lot of the same things, and then just getting to work.
How does an idea for "Illuminati" come together when you're working with Kanye West?
"Illuminati" was a song I'd written back in March or April. People are always using the word Illuminati but they're always referencing it in an incorrect way. People often accuse me of being a member of the Illuminati and I think in today's pop culture the Illuminati is perceived as a group of powerful, successful people who are working behind the scenes to control the universe. Not people with consciousness, not people who are enlightened. So people were accusing me of being a member of the Illuminati, and I kept going, wait – so first I had to figure out what that meant.
Do you Google these things, because it's quite amusing.
Yeah. But the thing is, I know who the real Illuminati are, and I know where that word comes from. The real Illuminati were a group of scientists, artists, philosophers, writers, who came about in what is referred to as the Age of Enlightenment, after the Dark Ages, when there was no writing and no art and no creativity and no spirituality, and life was really at a standstill. And right after that, everything flourished. So we had people like Shakespeare and Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelangelo and Isaac Newton, and all these great minds and great thinkers, and they were called Illuminati.
Because they were illuminating consciousness.
Yes, to go to the root of the word, they were illuminating people. It had nothing to do with money and power. Of course they were powerful, because they influenced people. But their goal was to inspire and enlighten. So when people refer to me as a member of the Illuminati, I always want to say thank you. Thank you for putting me in that category. But before I can say thank you, I feel like I had to write a song about what I believe the Illuminati to be, and what it isn't.
When I played a lot of my songs that were unproduced for Kanye, that song resonated with him. He loved the melody, and he was actually jumping up and down on the soundboard. He literally stood on top of the mixing board — we were worried he was going to hit his head on the ceiling, but he didn't. He ended up being very excited about that track, and then he added his spin to it, musically, and I love it. To me, he elevated the lyrics with the music. It's like a siren, alerting people.
When you work with Nicki Minaj on a track like "Bitch I'm Madonna," do you give her guidance or let her go wherever she desires?
Whenever we work together she always sits with me and listens to the song, and says "tell me what this song is about to you." She's very methodical in her thinking. We talk about it, she writes down words that I say describing what the song's about and the sentiment that I'd like her to get out there, and then she goes away and she works on it. She writes it, she comes back. She does a version of it, we talk about it. It's a back and forth until she gets it right. It's a total collaboration.
You said you wanted every song on this album to stand on its own without production, to be able to strip down each track to its acoustic root and still have it work. Was that something you'd thought about on past albums?
No, I didn't. A lot of times I just thought about sounds. Or I want to make a dance record, or I want to write a ballad. This time I really thought — this is all part of my Armageddon thinking right now — the world is changing and for me, it's like, OK, what does it all come down to at the end of the day? It comes down to the songs.
If you're alone at the end of the world, can you just perform the songs?
Yes. If it's just me and the guitar, can I still do it? All the songs, I needed to be able to break them down on the most simple level and be able to impart what I have to say with my voice and a guitar.
Have you started thinking about reinventing these songs for tour?
I'm thinking about it. Right now, the deadline of getting this music out for iTunes was a 50-yard dash.
The songs went Number One in 41 countries – that's got to feel good. And demonstrate true fans are still willing to pay for the music.
Yeah. They're extremely [loyal] and I'm really super grateful for that.
The singer's surprise release of several new songs reveals that the Queen of Pop hasn't lost her edge.
When a handful of Madonna demos leaked last week — an event she called “artistic rape” and a “form of terrorism” — she decided to fight fire with fire by releasing the official versions of six songs cut from her upcoming thirteenth studio album, Rebel Heart. The bundle of new tracks represent her first collection of new material since 2012's MDNA, a lukewarm flirtation with contemporary club music. Thing is, though, there's a joy to every new Madonna release that's just separated from determining the quality of the actual music: at this point in her career she's pop's cockroach, resilient and hardy and shockingly adaptable. With each new record, there are lessons about the genre's present and near future in the specific sounds and figures she chooses to help realize her vision.
Based on this first batch of Rebel Heart material, Madonna is looking to strike a balance. First, there's are the figures at the centre of EDM and synth-pop, her chosen modes of operation — meaning writers and producers like Diplo, Avicii, and Savan Kotecha. Then, she ropes in artists working at the vanguard across a variety of genres, from superstars like Kanye West to relative nobodies like producers Ariel Rechtshaid and Sophie. This is a savvy move — what a surprise, a smart play from one of the canniest pop stars to ever roam an arena — because it allows her to play to the masses while still pushing boundaries.
The songs that lead off this first Rebel Heart blast, lead single “Living for Love” and “Devil Pray,” could fit in neatly on the radio beside this year's British house-pop crossovers and Avicii's own “Hey Brother.” The ones that close it, namely the abrasive half-rapped Kanye collaboration “Illuminati” and caffeine-drunk trap anthem/Nicki Minaj feature “Bitch I'm Madonna,” hew closer to the spirit of PC Music's obscure SoundCloud accounts and the sharp edges of Yeezus.
And because Madonna exists in rarefied air, the kind reserved for luminaries like herself and Prince and very few others, each of her new releases is less of an independent statement than a response to everything she's done before, another chapter tacked onto an epic novel with no definite end. The tones, themes, and imagery that make up her musical toolbox — the frank sensuality, the various methods of intoxication, the lapsed Catholicism, the uncompromising confidence — are gospel at this point, and they elevate some of the more forgettable Rebel Heart material to a base level of pleasure. It's fun to hear Madonna deliver a line like, “It might sound like I'm an unapologetic bitch / but sometimes you know I gotta call I like it is” (and try on 2 Chainz' flow, just for kicks) because she has three' decades worth of unapologetic bitchiness in her back pocket. It's an easy score, sure, but it's effective. And if the complete version of Rebel Heart, due March 10th via Interscope, can deliver a few more of those easy scores alongside a bit more adventurous songwriting, the album could be Madonna's finest in almost a decade.
"It's kind of like the old me and the new me all mixed in together," Madonna tells Billboard of her stunning new single "Living For Love."
It’s a rather large understatement to say that it’s been a crazy couple of weeks for Madonna.
On Tuesday night, more than 10 of the singer’s unreleased demo recordings turned up on the Internet, causing the singer and her team to go into “overdrive” to combat the stolen leaks. (“I haven’t slept in a week,” she says.) The songs were from the sessions for her forthcoming 13th studio album, which at the time, had not been announced (and is still not finished).
To counter the leak, Madonna accelerated the release of new music: On Friday night (Dec. 19), she announced that her album, Rebel Heart, would be released on March 10, 2015 through Interscope Records, and six of its tracks would become immediately available to purchase. Among those tracks are the set’s lead single, the Diplo-produced soul-meets-house jam “Living For Love.” How far ahead of schedule was the release? The single wasn’t supposed to premiere until Feb. 14, 2015.
The album — which features a collaboration with Nicki Minaj — is also available to pre-order, and has topped the iTunes Store's top albums tally in more than 40 countries, including the United States. She also dominated the real time Billboard + Twitter Trending 140 chart on Saturday night (Dec. 20), where two of the album’s songs (“Living For Love” and “Bitch, I’m Madonna”) were concurrently in the top three.
Billboard spoke to Madonna on Sunday morning via phone, to talk about her new album, its “chaotic” recording process, and how her day-to-day business has changed because of the leaks. She also discusses her fondness of Diplo (he’s a “badass”), a possible Grammy Awards performance, and how no one has ever called her an “Unapologetic Bitch."
Billboard: How are you doing?
Madonna: I'm good. I'm good, I haven't slept in a week, but I'm good.
I can only imagine the week that you've had so far.
Yeah. It's been a very intense couple of weeks.
Are you OK right now? As OK as you can be considering what's been happening?
Yeah. I mean, you know, I'm not happy that unreleased demos are out there in the world for people to hear, listen, judge, etcetera, etcetera. Once that happened we went into overdrive. A) Trying to figure out where the leaks were coming from, and then B) Trying to combat that with putting out finished music that people could focus on versus demos that were never meant for anyone to hear. So, that led to no sleep.
Did at any point you turn to someone and say "Bitch, I'm Madonna," this shouldn't be happening to me?
No. I said, "Shit, this is the age that we're living in." It's crazy. I mean, look at what's going on with Sony Pictures. It's just the age that we're living in. It's crazy times. The Internet is as constructive and helpful in bringing to people together as it is in doing dangerous things and hurting people. It's a double-edged sword.
Since you said that they were stolen, has it changed how you are operating your day-to-day business? Obviously, you're trying to lock down more stuff, but I mean there's only so much you can do, considering everything is so virtual. Has it changed your day-to-day business with recording the album and making music?
Well, we don't put things up on servers anymore. Everything we work on, if we work on computers, we're not on WiFi, we're not on the Internet, we don't work in a way where anybody can access the information. Hard drives of music are hand-carried to people. We don't leave music laying around. We have photo shoots or video shoots, and everyone has to leave their phone at the door. I mean, unfortunately, it sucks, but that's the way it is. That's how leaks happen.
It's so sucky.
It is! Because I want to go to photo shoots and play my music really loud and dance to it, and celebrate it, and I can't.
We know crap leaks all the time, fine. But I mean, (this is) so much! You're so meticulous about how you plan things months in advance… Like you had in your head, "Alright, this how we're gonna roll out the single, this is how we'll roll out the album." And now, a huge wrench has been thrown into the proceedings. Has that pushed everything forward? Are you like, "Alright! Let's start promoting the single now!"
Well, it's thrown us all into overdrive. We're having to think outside the box. Think on our feet. I didn't plan to put my record out this way. I wanted to… plan everything in advance. Release the single, shoot a video, start talking about my record. And you know, prepare for the release of the entire album and have everything set up just so. I mean, that's the kind of person I am. I think that's the best way to do it. But we sort of were left with no choice.
But there's still going to be a music video?
Of course! I will do all of those things that I've planned to do. It's just, you know, people are now listening to six finished songs.
And they're great songs, by the way.
(The release of the music) was a wonderful surprise. You've been able to take a bunch of lemons that had been thrown at you, and I guess make a lemon drop, or lemonade. I don't know, take your pick.
Yeah. That's the stupid cliché that me and (her manager) Guy Oseary have been using. We got a lemon and we made lemonade. Kind of works!
There has to be a silver lining somewhere. And, there you go. So let's talk about the music. Did you think about releasing these six songs as an EP, and then doing another EP later? Or did you want to make sure that all of the songs stayed together as the full Rebel Heart album — as a piece of work?
Originally I wanted to put everything out together. I have an overabundance of songs, and actually, the reason I wanted to call the record Rebel Heart was because I felt like it explored two very distinct sides of my personality. The rebellious, renegade side of me, and the romantic side of me. In my mind, it was almost like I wanted to do a two-record set. So you get this chunk of songs, and that chunk of songs. That was my original goal. But then all the demos leaked and I can't really go down that road anymore, so I put out (the six songs) first and then, I think a few more songs are going to come out during the time of the Grammys. Then the rest of the album will just come out together (in March), and they'll just get my rebellious and romantic side all mixed in together.
You mention the Grammy Awards… I'm already picturing you on the Grammy Awards performing "Living For Love" with various guests…
…I'm picturing how that would be wonderful performed on the Grammy Awards, perhaps.
Yes, that would be wonderful. That's possibly something that's gonna happen. (Laughs.)
Can't spill all the beans right now.
I want to talk about the album’s first single, "Living For Love," specifically. We had Diplo on the cover of Billboard a few months ago. He was saying that (the song) had 20 different incarnations. Was he exaggerating by saying 20, or is that true?
Uhm… (long pause). 20 might be a little too high. But definitely more than 10. A lot of different versions. We knew we wanted to make a dance record. But you know, there's so many different levels of dance music and even different categories of house music. So, it was really like, what's the bass line gonna sound like? Is it gonna be really stripped down and sparse, or is it going to be loaded up? Is it gonna be Chicago house? Is it gonna be U.K. house? It's like, all over the place. Is it gonna be a little bit of one vocal line? Is it gonna be a whole choir singing? So we were experimenting and trying out different things. They all sounded good, but at the end of the day, we wanted it to sound timeless, also. Not just something of the moment.
Is that MNEK on the track as well?
The thing is, we did do a version where MNEK is singing. The original song, when we first started writing it, was with a singer that Diplo works with all the time…who sounds like MNEK. So, there will be remixes with MNEK's voice on it, but this particular one that's out right now (does not have MNEK). And then there's a female singer whose name is Annie…who sings with the (London Community Gospel Choir), and she also lended her voice to the record. And by the way, I'm a huge fan of MNEK.
I thought it Alicia Keys was singing on the song with you. But I was wrong, it's not Alicia Keys.
Oh no, Alicia Keys isn't singing on it, she's playing piano on it.
Oh! Okay. Geez, good grief. It's so hard to keep track.
I know! (Laughs.) Alicia plays the piano, and then the female voice is Annie… there are versions of "Living For Love" that MNEK is singing on, and those will be coming out, but just not yet.
It has that right balance of soul music meeting house music. It's the right blend of the two, where you were able find the right balance, where it doesn't sound jarring. It actually sounds like it's meant to go together.
It's kind of like the old me and the new me all mixed in together.
It's all you! It's all versions of you.
Yeah, exactly. Yeah!
Another new song, "Ghosttown," is such a cool song. It's so evocative. The lyrics are so beautiful. In my head, I'm picturing there's a ghost town, it's cold, there's two souls, they're the only people left. Was that a song that you wrote with Evan Bogart, Sean Douglas and Jason Evigan, or did it come to you already finished?…
…How did that song come together?
We all get into a room together. They start playing their chords and then we just start thinking about… When I write with people, we always try to come up with a theme. What do we want to write about? So this one is about the city after armageddon. The burnt out city, the crumbling buildings, the smoke that's still lingering after the fire. You know what I mean? There's only a few people left. How do we pick up the pieces and go on from here? Kind of dramatic. (Laughs.) But not entirely impossible at this stage of the game.
Yeah, well, at the rate things are going, who knows?
Exactly. One must be realistic and be prepared for anything.
One must be realistic. Because you know in a few years, we could all just be in some burnt out ghost town together.
Yes, exactly! And we'll all be in our version of a "Ghosttown" or in a version of a "Ghosttown," and at the end of the day, all we're going to have left is each other. So that's really what that song is about.
You can see a music video already in your head.
Yeah! For sure.
It reminds me of when "Gang Bang" (on MDNA) came out. It was so cinematic…
…you could see it. Let’s talk about "Unapologetic Bitch." Did someone call you that at some point…
…and you're like, "Let me make a response (record)?"
No one would ever call you that.
No, I've never heard anyone refer to me as that. That just came out of the ether.
When you were writing that in a writing session…
No, it's kind of like an extension of… at the beginning of my career, when all the pictures of me came out in Playboy and everybody expected me to cower in shame. And I just said "I'm not ashamed. I have nothing to hide, and I'm not sorry." So, it's my version of “Je Ne Regrette Rien.”
Well, you have nothing to be apologetic about, obviously.
Well, certainly not in that circumstance. (Laughs.)
Yes, we all understand, there are different things that one should be apologetic for, but certain artistic decisions…
Absolutely. Yes, one should be apologetic in certain circumstances. But not in that circumstance.
You've worked with a lot of people on this record. We've been following you on Instagram all year. A zillion people.
There's been a lot of cooks in the kitchen.
A lot of your albums tend to be (produced and written) with a core group of people. Was that hard when you have so many people (on the new album) to keep a through line?
Yes. Very hard. Very, very, very, very hard. It's extremely challenging for me working with a lot of young DJs who never can stay in one city for more than five days. So we never got to finish things. And so then I'd start things with one group of people, and then I'd start something with somebody else, and then they'd have to leave town and the other person would come back. It's a chaotic way to work. You get a lot of ideas, but there's a lot of confusion. It was challenging to keep cohesion with the sound and the direction of the record with people coming and going in a revolving door of creativity. So, I was just the person standing there with a clipboard in the headlights, going "Ok!" (Laughs.) A little bit like a school teacher.
Diplo is super involved with the album, obviously. Is he sort of quasi-executive producing it…?
…is he involved on more than just the three songs (released so far)?
We did more than three songs. I wouldn't say he was an executive producer, but he has a very strong voice in the record. We collaborated on a lot of music. You know, he heard other songs and gave his input on what he liked and what he didn't like, but I wouldn't call him an executive producer.
Then I won't!
He's a badass DJ who has great ideas.
Are you actually done writing and recording the album?
Uhm… I am done writing. I'm almost done recording. Almost done. Got just few more little tweaks to do. But first I had to get those six songs out.
In an exclusive interview, the singer defends her description of the leak of demos from her new album as ‘artistic rape’
Madonna has defended her description of the leak of 13 unfinished demos from her forthcoming album as “a form of terrorism” and “artistic rape”.
Speaking to The Guardian on Sunday, the singer said she was “living in a state of terror” following the leak, adding that there was “a big possibility” they were the result of her personal computer being hacked.
“Obviously there is a person, or a group of people behind this that were essentially terrorising me. I don’t want to sound alarming, but certainly that’s how I felt. It’s one thing if someone comes into your house and steals a painting off your wall: that’s also a violation, but, your work, as an artist, that’s devastating. I’m an artistic person, I’m very expressive. I’m sorry if words alarm people, but that’s what it felt like. It was not a consensual agreement. I did not say ‘hey, here’s my music, and it’s finished.’ It was theft.”
On Saturday, Madonna unexpectedly released six tracks from Rebel Heart on iTunes, following the leak of the unfinished songs earlier in the week: the album itself is not due for release until March. She immediately reached No 1 in the iTunes chart in 36 countries, a situation she described as a miracle.
The appearance of the unfinished recordings from Rebel Heart is the latest in a series of high-profile music leaks in the teeth of ever-more stringent security measures by record companies. Last year, Kanye West’s keenly anticipated album Yeezus appeared in full online in advance of its release, ironically four hours after the website buzzfeed.com published a feature detailing the painstaking security around the album – which apparently included storing the music on a hard drive in an airtight, watertight case that could withstand the impact of a plane crash or tsunami – under the headline 8 Reasons You Won’t Hear Yeezus Early.
But Madonna suggested the leak of her demos differed from previous security breaches – frequently traced back to employees of record companies or recording studios – because other non-musical material appeared online at the same time. “It wasn’t just music,” she said. “Images were coming out that I’d never seen before. It was then I started to think ok, what’s happening? What is the source of the leak? It’s not just one person, or someone sitting next to me in an office, or someone in a recording studio. I’ve had leaks before, a couple of weeks before an album was released, a lot of other artists have too, we all have to deal with that. But to have songs in the earliest demo form, from last March, that’s extremely disturbing to me.”
The singer said that the leak had forced her to reconsider her working practices, and, in the wake of the Sony Pictures hacking scandal posed wider questions for the entertainment industry as a whole.
“You have to rethink your approach to making music, how to get the information back and forth to people, how to work in a more secure environment. It’s alarming . Alarming because what do we do as artists? We want to finish writing our book or editing our film, we want to finish writing or producing our music. People need the arts, we need to be inspired, we need to hear people’s records and see people’s films. Why destroy that process for creative people? It’s going to affect everybody.”
The six songs from Rebel Heart released thus far do not shy away from controversy: one, Illuminati, mocks the various conspiracy theories on the internet that implicate a variety of entertainers – including Jay-Z and Lady Gaga – in membership of a shadowy ruling elite.
“There’s a lot of talk in pop music right now about people saying, ‘Oh, this person’s a member of the Illuminati,’ or they’re Illuminati, or you’re Illuminati, and people’s idea that there’s a group of entertainers or very wealthy people, they’re referred to as the Illuminati, and they work behind the scenes and they control things and they’re very powerful, and there’s possibly a reference to something dark, or black magic, or something like that. And I have to say I laugh at all of those things.
“I think there are some people who don’t mind being referred to as that, but I know who the real Illuminati are, and where that word came from. The root of the word is “illuminate”, and that means “The enlightened ones”, and it came from the Age of Enlightenment, when a lot of arts and creativity flourished, from Shakespeare to Isaac Newton, to Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo: the philosophers, artists, scientists were all engaged in a kind of high level of consciousness through their work, and they were enlightening and inspiring people around the world. And those are the true Illuminati. So the purpose for writing that song was really in a way, ‘So, if you think I’m the Illuminati, then thank you very much, a compliment, because I would like very much to be part of that group, the real Illuminati, and this is what it’s not’”.
Madonna also claimed that her children acted as her artistic advisors, helping her to make decisions about which producers she worked with: Rebel Heart features contributions from, among others, Kanye West and EDM stars Avicii and Diplo. “I’m certainly not out in nightclubs all the time, but my kids are. My daughter and my son are my A&R people now. They’re constantly playing stuff in the house, in the car, and I’m like, “Who’s that? Who’s that? Who did that?” They bring me stuff all the time. And I listen to music as well, it’s a combination. I manage to surround myself with people who introduce stuff to me, keep me in touch, in tune. I feel like just as connected to street culture, pop culture, underground culture, as I’ve ever been.”
The pop superstar dropped six new songs Saturday morning after demos from her album were leaked online. The best tracks reflect her essential style rather than the pop hits of today.
The six new songs Madonna dropped early Saturday morning say something telling about age and stature.
At a certain point in life, it pays to go the classic rather than the trendy.
The best of the new songs present the 56-year-old Madonna in a way that’s finely tailored to her essential style. They perfectly solidly into her history of impeccably-produced pop.
The worst hitch her to bandwagons that make her look like she’s chasing a youth she’d do well to leave behind.
First, the good news: The single, “Living For Love,” returns Madonna to the rousing gospel-soul of touchstones like “Express Yourself” and “Like A Prayer.” It’s a prime mix of club and pop music, with an old-school R&B piano, soaring backup vocals and a melody that keeps lifting you higher.
The song “Devil Pray” likewise reaches back smartly, not only to the hoe-down pop of “Don’t Tell Me” (from the “Music” album) but to the subject matter, and bluesy gait of “House of The Rising Sun.” The addition of a pulsing house beat gives it yet another lure.
“Ghosttown” not only provides Madonna with an ideal ballad, it brings out the warmest elements of her voice. At times, her alto sounds like Karen Carpenter’s, while the melody has the enveloping calm of hits like “Live To Tell.”
So far, so good.
Unfortunately, the other three cuts sound like they’re playing catch-up with the hits of today. “Illuminati” pairs the star with producer Kanye West, who gave her a dark needling rhythm that sounds like something left over from his last album. Its industrial grind clashes badly with Madonna’s soft vocal.
“Unapologetic Bitch” borrows an ungainly dancehall beat, the better to reference the island-inflected hits of Rihanna or Nicki Minaj.
Meanwhile a cut called “Bitch, I’m Madonna” employs the real Ms. Minaj for a guest rap that seems like it was beamed in from another planet. The fact that the title chases an old line from Britney Spears makes the track seem even less dignified.
For an icon who has long prized control, Madonna can’t be pleased about the leaks that, essentially, forced her to put out these songs before they’ve found their place on a proper album. (That will come in March).
On the other hand, the situation gives her the chance to reconsider them, to figure out a final work that will reflect her best self, rather than her most expedient one.
Madonna is currently #1 in 36 countries around the world with the release of six songs from her forthcoming album Rebel Heart. In virtually every country the songs were released, they held six of the ten slots on the Top 10 iTunes chart. In seven of those countries, she had multiple No. 1's. The single Living for Love is currently No. 1 in 20 countries. The six songs - Living For Love, Devil Pray, Ghosttown, Unapologetic Bitch, Illuminati and Bitch I'm Madonna (featuring Nicki Minaj) - are available HERE.
The news of the surprise drop came when Madonna posted a link late last night on Instagram announcing the release of the six songs as, "an early Christmas gift" to those that preordered the album. Fans immediately went to iTunes and drove the songs to #1 around the globe. Instantaneously Rebel Heart exploded on social media with the album topping the Billboard Trending 140 Chart. On Facebook #Madonna was the #1 trending topic and continues to trend there. Additionally, #Madonna and #RebelHeart have been trending on Twitter in the US all day.
Rebel Heart will be released in March 2015 on Interscope Records. Producers include Madonna, Diplo (Living For Love, Bitch I'm Madonna, Unapologetic Bitch), Kanye West (Illuminati), Billboard (Ghosttown), DJ Dahi and Blood Diamonds (Devil Pray). The album was recorded in London, Los Angeles and New York.
Madonna, you bitch. You #unapologeticbitch.
Last night — well, early this morning, or whenever you're reading this — the Queen Of Pop semi-released her 13th studio album, Rebel Heart, in a swift, Beyoncé-ian drop on iTunes. Of course, unlike Bey, Madonna's been digitally navigating us through every single song title, lyric and produce included on her upcoming LP for over a year. So, to classify this one as a complete "surprise" release would be, uh, wrong.
That being said, semi-releasing an album on the Friday night before Christmas, when most of the world was busy traveling home, sleeping and roadtripping (or, in my case, crouched in the corner of a gay bar shaking and crying), wasn't a move most people expected Madonna to make. A rebel heart, indeed.
(To be fair, she did warn us time and time again: Trust no bitch.)
The semi-release was reactionary: 13 rough demos from this record (an entire album's worth!) were leaked onto the Internet earlier this week, including five of the 6 songs made available at midnight. What else was there for a Queen Of Pop to do but to capitalize on the panic in the industry, polish off a few of the records closest to being finished and throw them out to the thirsty masses? And so, she did.
Let us rummage through Madonna's Hanukkah gift — EP1, perhaps? — with a fairly sleepless (thanks Madge!) track-by-track breakdown.
Within the first few seconds of "Living For Love," Rebel Heart is already sonically swerving away from anything she's recorded in over a decade. Is that…'90's House we're hearing? It is. Yet, unlike the teen-pop acts and UK dance troupes paying homage to an era they were barely old enough to remember (self-shade, I know), Madonna lived and loved through that point in time as an actual club queen. And essentially, she's given us a "Deeper And Deeper" for 2015. The song is transcendent, managing to be entirely in vogue (REFERENCE) with the current '90's House revival at radio today while staying true to all things Material Girl: Big, unapologetically gay throbbing pulsations, uplifting lyricism, religious imagery, perseverance and self-empowerment — it's all here. It's a total beast of a collaborative effort too, featuring MoZella, Ariel Rechtstaid, Toby Gad, Diplo and Nick Rowe. And yes, that's Alicia Keys singing in the background! Fuck singing about Tanqueray in the club: This is the Madonna we've always known and lived to love, with flares of the future and nostalgic nods to the past.
Of all the songs we're treated to from Rebel Heart so far, "Devil Pray" is perhaps the most representative of Madonna's post-Kabbalah enlightened singer-songwriterdom. Backed by a twangy gee-tar, Madge-turned-Esther serves up life lessons wrapped around warm, singalong-friendly melodies crafted alongside Ryan Tedder. It's very American Life — but then, there are these fresh and unusual production tics that elevate the track beyond just its guitar-led backbone: A demonic vocoder on loop, orgasmic moans, synths blipping and bleeping throughout — it's all so weird, but in the best way possible. "Mother Mary, can't you help me? ‘Cause I've gone astray…" It's a cautionary tale of getting swept up in substance (weed, whiskey and sniffing glue, to name a few), sung by the woman who's most certainly seen, done and Instagrammed it all…and lived to tell.
"Ghosttown" is the only song that the public hadn't already heard prior to the Rebel Heart semi-release last night — and possibly the best surprise. Here, Madonna's giving us the first real power ballad on the record — a sumptuous electro-ballad, at that. "When it all falls, when it all falls down…" Do you hear that? Those are sweeping melodies. MEL-O-DIES. If there was any major complaint to be made about Madonna's past few studio albums (and trust, there were many), a lack of memorable songcraft is perhaps one of the most overwhelming offenses. "When the world…gets…cold…I'll be your cover/Let's…just…hold…onto each other." She can't do this alone — we know that well enough, and "Ghosttown" is a gorgeously earnest, us-against-the-world anthem tailored for two souls wandering alone in this mad, mad world.
As one of Madge's most frequently hashtagged titles teased from her latest LP, there was already a lot riding on "Unapologetic Bitch," which was originally rumored to be the lead single from the set. It's not anymore — the more universally appealing "Living For Love" will go out first instead — although the song certainly would have certainly raised a few eyebrows had it gone to radio: The heavily reggae-tinged Diplo track is all sorts of Rihanna-esque phucklessness, sung by a woman who has, historically, not been one to apologize ("And I'm not sorry…") too often. "It might sound like I'm an unapologetic bitch, but sometimes you know I gotta call it like it is," she quite contently declares across the chorus. Intriguingly, as far as uptempo tracks are concerned, "Unapologetic Bitch" is the collection's most laid-back and breezy. Then again, it's a break-up anthem. Sometimes, the biggest middle finger is simply remaining unbothered. (But seriously, can we get a RiRi rih-mix of this one in the near future?)
Kanye West. Madonna. It's Madeezus, bitch. The dark and menacing "Illuminati" is purely the stuff of Yeezy's last LP Yeezus as far as the production concerned, from the stabbing synths to the chilly, bass-heavy beats. But lyrically speaking? Madge is giving us a history lesson about what the Illuminati actually is, going all the way back to the Founding Fathers (she was there, after all) and reminding us of what it's not: "It's not Jay-Z and Beyonce, it's not Nicki or Lil Wayne/It's not Oprah and Obama, the Pope and Rihanna/Queen Elizabeth or Kanye," she sing-raps on the name-dropping, "Vogue"-like verses. Enlightenment, The Pope and RiRi on the dance floor? Only Madonna would, and Kanye would only be too happy to help shade the distracting deception of the media. It's like everybody in this party shining like Illuminati!
"Bitch I'm Madonna (feat. Nicki Minaj)"
It's about time the Queen Of Pop decided to embrace her legacy and celebrate…well, Madonna. No introspection to be found here, children: Grandmadonna is popping her puss on the dance floor, reminding us of her legacy ("You can't mess with this lucky star!"), embarrassing and entertaining us all, just as always.The twerk-friendly, clap-heavy club bop is all about popping bottles and getting 2 On. Really, it's unhinged: "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!" she screams throughout. (Hint: You are not Madonna, because she is Madonna.) All of the Diplo and Sophie-produced noises are positively batty, from the Baauer-like beat drops to the tearing sound that rips through the speakers at the end. (Madge's leotard busting at the seams after one too many booty drops?) To add to the balls-to-the-wall affair, Queen Minaj arrives at the tail-end to add some fierceness and pay respect to Madonna's bad bitch-ness. ("That's Miu Miu on my shoes" — or a shout out to MuuMuse, Nicki?) Her appreciation for Madge is well known, which only makes for an even more deliciously reverent assist. "I'm Madonna, these hoes know."
Madonna fans, we can breathe a sigh of relief: She's actually giving us all her L-U-V this time around.
To anyone whose main (tired) criticism about Madonna is that the woman is trying to sound "current": Well, of course she is, you idiot. What, like Taylor Swift isn't? That's the entire business of being a pop star.
Yes, she's old now, and that's certainly not going to change. But she's also not done dancing, partying and celebrating, and fuck whoever thinks she should be: Madonna is challenging the way a 50+ year old female pop star is perceived in pop culture and how a woman her age "should" act, whether you like it or not. Sorry, she's not slipping on a gown, belting out orchestral renditions of her greatest hits and quietly fading into obscurity — you'll have to drag her out screaming from the studio first.
That being said, beyond the bragging and bitchiness of Rebel Heart, the album also promises to be something more introspective. Songs like "Ghosttown" and "Devil Pray" — even "Living For Love" — come from a place of someone who has truly lived (and loved) life to the fullest. Really, what more can we ask of Madonna in 2015?
This is an eclectic record based on what we've already heard, from '90's House to trap to reggae to twangy acoustic guitar-led balladry: There's no shortage of sounds to come from Rebel Heart. Unlike Madge's more obvious trend-hopping past LPs, from recruiting Timbaland two years too late on Hard Candy to the immediately dated-sounding dance floor foray with MDNA, Rebel Heart feels fresh and forward-thinking, and more faithful to Madonna's #unapologeticartistry. There's also safety in numbers: With production from acts like Diplo and Kanye, both of whom are far from one-trick production ponies, Madonna's not going to be susceptible to serving up reductive shit.
In fact, for the first time in over a decade, Madonna's sounds like she's blazing trails again, just as an icon should.
…And this is only the beginning.
‘Rebel Heart' will be released on March 10.
When listening to Madonna sing a line like "Took me to heaven, let me fall down/Now that it's over, I'm gonna carry on" on new single "Living For Love," it's hard not to think of the disappointment the pop queen felt earlier this week, when her thirteenth album leaked online in demo form before it was even officially announced. Fortunately for fans, that initial shock is over, and Madge is carrying on with an album release -- "Living For Love" previews Rebel Heart, now due out in March, and hints at the defiant pose that the follow-up to 2012's MDNA may strike after a few overstuffed dance projects.
Unlike Madonna's previous two lead singles, the pre-EDM banger "4 Minutes" and the cheerleader pep talk "Give Me All Your Luvin'," "Living For Love" leaves its focus on its lyrics, with the singer beginning over a regal piano line that's eventually joined by pulsing percussion. The confidence Madonna displays on the track recalls singular classics like "Express Yourself" and "Like A Prayer," and when the song weaves its way toward a throbbing drop, Madonna continues crooning, refusing to be relegated to the background. "Living For Love" sounds like a giddy combination of Madonna's past and present, and represents an encouraging sign for a 2015 project that was unexpectedly thrown into jeopardy at the end of 2014.
Madonna hadn't planned on releasing her 13th album, Rebel Heart, until spring 2015. But leakers had other plans for the Queen of Pop's follow-up to 2012's MDNA, unleashing early mixes of 13 tracks onto the Internet this week. In response, Madonna has put six official versions of the songs up for sale on iTunes and other digital music retailers, effective immediately. More music will be available February 9th, and the full album will be released the first week of March via Interscope.
"I was hoping to release my new single 'Living for Love' on Valentine's Day with the rest of the album coming in the spring," she said in a statement. "I would prefer my fans to hear completed versions of some of the songs instead of the incomplete tracks that are circulating. Please consider these six songs as an early Christmas gift."
Tracks available immediately include throwback house anthem "Living for Love," the ominous "Devil Pray," the lush "Ghosttown," reggae-tinged jam "Unapologetic Bitch," dark "Illuminati" and the Nicki Minaj-featuring "Bitch I'm Madonna." Producers on the tracks include Diplo, Kanye West, Billboard, Dahi, Blood Diamonds and Madonna, herself. Fans can nab the songs as part of an album pre-order or buy them individually a la carte.
In July, Diplo — who produced a good portion of the album's tracks — promised the upcoming songs would be "crazy-sounding." "We really pushed the envelope with some of the stuff we were doing," he said, adding Madonna was "up for anything." "I love when an artist gives a producer the confidence he needs to work with them, and Madonna was very open-minded to my ideas… she was down from day one."
Madonna has been plagued by leaks for the past several weeks. Earlier this month, she posted a photo of a smashed iPod on Instagram as a reaction to the premature arrival of the track "Rebel Heart," and explained, "This broken ipod is a symbol of my broken heart! That my music has been stolen and leaked! I have been violated as a human and an artist!
Upon discovering unreleased photos from shoots have also been making their way onto the web, she posted one of the offending images on Instagram with a note reading in part, "I am asking my true fans and supporters who respect me as an artist and a human to not get involved with the purchasing trading or posting of unreleased images or music. I hope and pray we find the source of the leaks soon. Until then i am grateful for any leads or info and even more grateful for your support and loyalty! Please let me finish my work so i can give you my very best!"
MADONNA RELEASES SIX SONGS FROM NEW 'REBEL HEART' ALBUM AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW
Full Album Scheduled for Release in March
Pre-order the album on iTunes now: http://smarturl.it/RebelHeart
December 20, 2014. For immediate release....New York, NY.....Madonna has just released six songs from her new studio album 'Rebel Heart'. The six songs are currently available for purchase now via preorder at iTunes and other music outlets with purchase of the album and a la carte as well. The music will also be available on all streaming services. Additional music will be released on Feb. 9th. The full album of "Rebel Heart" on Interscope Records is scheduled to be released the first week in March 2015.
Song titles that are currently available from the new album are Living For Love, Devil Pray, Ghosttown, Unapologetic Bitch, Illuminati and Bitch I'm Madonna which was recorded with Nicki Minaj. Producers include Madonna, Diplo, Kanye West, Billboard, was recorded in NY, LA and London.
The decision to release the songs much earlier than anticipated was due to the leaking of several work-in-progress demos earlier this week.
"I was hoping to release my new single 'Living For Love' on Valentine's Day with the rest of the album coming in the Spring. I would prefer my fans to hear completed versions of some of the songs instead of the incomplete tracks that are circulating. Please consider these six songs as an early Christmas gift," commented Madonna.
Album title: Rebel Heart
Date of full release: March 10, 2015
Number of tracks: 19
Tracks given with pre-order: Living For Love, Devil Pray, Ghosttown, Unapologetic Bitch, Illuminati, Bitch I'm Madonna
What a X-Mas surprise this morning! Madonna has posted a pre-order link for her new album, with the download of the first 6 songs out of a total setlist of 19. The full album, which is confirmed to be titled Rebel Heart, will be released on March 10, 2015.
"X-mas is coming early! Pre order my album and download 6 tracks! Happy Holidays! #rebelheart" -Madonna http://smarturl.it/RebelHeart
The tracks are all different from the leaked versions, that clearly were not finished products. Bitch I'm Madonna now also features vocals by Nicki Minaj. There's also the track Ghosttown, for which we had no information earlier.
For the remaining 13 tracks, the only information given is that they include the track Joan Of Arc.
The pop queen replaces Lady Gaga for Versace's advertising campaign, just in time for her new album, too.
Poor Lady Gaga. From a general disinterest in her antics to dwindling album sales, the “Mother Monster” can't seem to catch a break nowadays. Recently, the 28-year-old received a Golden Raspberry nomination for Worst Supporting Actress (for Machete Kills).
Now comes news that Gaga has been replaced by Madonna for Versace's advertising campaign. (Let's not forget that Gaga's Born This Way has been accused of copying Madonna's classic Express Yourself.)
At the age of 56, Madonna continues to reinvent herself constantly. Versace's Spring/Summer 2015 campaign was shot to capture the pop queen's timeless power today. Naturally, Her Madgesty is dressed in ensembles from the Italian luxury brand, showcasing her toned body in the visuals.
Speaking about her new role, Madonna said: ‘It's always exciting to be dressed head-to-toe in Versace and experience firsthand Donatella's vivid imagination and passion that she has created for this collection.”
This marks the fourth time she has appeared in Versace's advertising campaigns; her first was way back in 1995.
Still a believer in Madge's ability to shill products to the upwardly mobile set, designer Donatella enthused: “Madonna is one of the true icons of Versace. I am thrilled to have my friend and the most powerful and directional artist as the face of Versace for Spring 2015.”
In an interview with the New York Times , Donatella added: “Madonna says it best herself: She is unapologetic. She is her own woman, a role model who shows other women how we can do what we want, and get what we want, and do so for all of our lives, with no compromise.”
The same newspaper interviewed advertising consultant Lisa Mirchin, who dismissed any notion that Madonna is too old to be fronting a fashion campaign.
“Once you hit that icon status, it's not a matter of relevance,” Mirchin was quoted as saying. “Is Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn relevant? I think so. Madonna is ageless, and so is most fashion. Women are dressing as one age now. The range can go from 20 to whatever nature and physics will allow.”
Fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, who shot Madonna's MDNA album art, got behind the lens for this campaign. It is set to run as a 12-page portfolio in upcoming issues of Vanity Fair and Vogue , among other publications.
The renowned duo was also responsible for Madonna's Interview magazine shoot, which caused quite a stir the past week. The mother-of-four modelled a series of cut-away outfits while reclining on a bed, and in one shot, posed topless in a cut-out corset. Some online comments insinuated that her breasts appeared too plastic.
Ever the publicity maven, Madonna is doing all this as her 13th studio album is around the corner, as evidenced by leaks of new songs Rebel Heart and Wash All Over Me. Themed the “art issue”, the publication is offering three different Madonna covers. She is interviewed by friend and illusionist David Blaine.
In the wide-ranging profile, in which Madonna jokingly called Blaine “a selfish pig”, she said the idea of “a whole day of silence sounds very seductive to me.”
She also explained her attraction to creative people. “You don't want to be the smartest person in the room; you want to be the dumbest in the room. You want to be surrounded by other thinking people who are going to say something that makes you think, ‘Oh, my God, that's an amazing idea. Why didn't I think of that?'''
To Blaine's query “What movie scenes do you watch over and over in your mind?”, she had a most interesting answer.
“I see Wong Kar-wai's film In The Mood For Love. The slow-motion shot of that beautiful Chinese woman walking up and down the stairway, up and down the stairway, up and down the stairway, over and over again. Everything about that movie, I could replay in my head. The tracking shots of the camera when she's in the room with her lover and they're eating together – that movie is so beautiful, like a dance.”
I don't know about you, but the notion of Madonna being obsessed by Maggie Cheung in a cheongsam makes me love her even more.
Over the past few days Madonna has expressed her anger and disappointment over the leaking of unreleased tracks and pictures online.
However, that hasn't stopped 13 tracks from leaking online today:
Bitch I'm Madonna
Joan Of Arc
Living For Love
Make The Devil Pray
Wash All Over Me
The leak tentatively uses the album title Iconic. Strangely, the rumoured track Iconic is not among the leaked tracks.
Madonna has reacted to the leak:
"Thank you for not listening! Thank you for your loyalty! Thank you for waiting and if you have heard please know they are unfinished demos stolen long ago and not ready to be presented to the world."
In another post she turned angrier:
"This is artistic rape!! These are early leaked demo's half of which wont even make it on my album the other half have changed and evolved. This is a form of terrorism. Wtf!!!! Why do people want to destroy artistic process??? Why steal? Why not give me the opportunity to finish and give you my very best?"
Strangely, this last post was later deleted...
Madonna is said to be planning a "special" concert tour in 2015.
The 56-year-old Material Girl last travelled internationally performing shows on her The MDNA Tour in 2012.
And now it's claimed Madonna is in early talks to start touring again next year, after she releases a fresh album.
"This is going to be one very special tour. Madonna wants to pull out all the stops, especially because it is 30 years since the Virgin Tour," a source told British newspaper The Mirror.
"Like her 2012 MDNA tour, where she played 88 dates in places including Europe, South America and Asia, Madge will be travelling the world. Once the new record is finished she can concentrate on the concerts."
Apparently Madonna has sought the help of OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder to write songs for her forthcoming LP.
It's believed she is intent on being out of the box with her new sounds.
"Madonna knows that in order to stay relevant she has to keep reinventing herself and push boundaries," the insider explained.
"The new tour will show a side of her that no one has seen before."
Madonna sent shockwaves reverberating around the world last week when she appeared in a series of raunchy photos for high-fashion publication, Interview. The pictures were taken by famed duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. It's rumoured her 14-year-old son Rocco – whose father is her ex-husband Guy Ritchie – wasn't so impressed with his mother's sexy images.
But UK magazine Heat claims her 18-year-old daughter Lourdes is delighted with the shoot.
American producer-DJ-remixer Diplo, famous for his high profile collaborations with pop artists such as Madonna, Britney Spears and others, is set to perform in India
The much-hyped noisemaking American producer-DJ-remixer Diplo along with fellow producers Jillionaire and Walshy Fire are set to destruct the dance floors in India for the first time with their electro reggae act — Major Lazer. “People don't know what exactly I do, they just call me ‘cool'. So when someone asks me about my profession I tell them apart from being cool I am a DJ, music producer, rapper, and songwriter” — that's Diplo, a.k.a. Wesley Pentz, producer-DJ-remixer on how he handles fame.
Currently, he has been working with Queen of Pop Madonna for her upcoming album and has collaborated with Skrillex to create the group Jack Ü. “I loved working with Madonna. The tracks have come out great and crazy- sounding. She is one of those few artists who started the trend of reinventing themselves before anybody else. She kind of began that trend of actually coming back with a refreshingly new look, music style and fresh tunes; winning it and hitting the top of the charts. She was ready to experiment while collaborating with me and was very open-minded to my ideas.”
Madge is desperate to ensure her new material is a success, and has been tapping up some of the industry's biggest hitters to help her out, including One Republic's Ryan Tedder.
Madonna has drafted in Simon Cowell's favourite hit maker to pen tracks for her new album.
The singer, 56, is desperate to ensure her 2015 material is a success, and has been tapping up some of the industry's biggest hitters to help her out, including One Republic's Ryan Tedder.
The pop maestro has been Cowell's first port of call to compose songs for the label's priority acts including One Direction and Ella Henderson, after he wrote and produced Bleeding Love for Leona Lewis. Ryan, 35, tells 3am Madge's new music is “her best stuff in over a decade – it's really strong”.
Keeping tight-lipped about his contribution, he says: “The tracks I've done with her are really hard to explain.” Clever way to keep a lid on things, Ryan. That'll keep Madge happy.
It comes after the Material Girl teamed up with one of the world's biggest DJs, Avicii, 25. Their track Rebel Heart, was leaked online along with another song, Wash Over Me, which the singer said “broke her heart”.
Ryan, who performed with his band at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball at London's O2 Arena on Saturday, adds: “I was actually working on something with Madonna when her tracks leaked.
“So I panicked because I thought it was the song I was working on, but luckily it wasn't.
“People have way too much time on their hands.”
Unlike Ryan, who fits being the lead singer of a band – which performed on Strictly at the weekend – in with creating for the rest of the industry. Not bad going.
Madonna is also rumoured to be working with DJ Diplo, 36.
The two leaked Avicii songs might have put some people on the wrong track, because the first single of Madonna's new album will actually be a Diplo-produced track. Earlier this week, Diplo told an interviewer that the single will be released early next year and that "it'll have a reggae vibe".
According to fansite DrownedMadonna, the first single will be "Living For Love", which features Alicia Keys on the piano. The video is supposed to be filmed in New York early January.
According to fansite Madonnarama however, the first single is still undecided...
To be continued!
In case you forgot how toned Madonna's body is, here's your reminder. The star fronts her fourth advertising campaign for Versace, and it might be her sexiest one yet.
“It's always exciting to be dressed head to toe in Versace and experience first-hand Donatella's vivid imagination and passion that she has created for this collection,” Madonna shared in statement announcing her role for the brand, which she's always been loyal to from wearing Donatella's designs to sitting front row at fashion shows.
The ads (set to show “the unapologetic and timeless power of Madonna”) were shot in N.Y.C. by famed photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, who also captured the provocative photos of the star for the new issue of Interview magazine.
“Madonna is one of the true icons of Versace, and I am thrilled to have my friend and the most powerful directional artist as the face of Versace for Spring 2015,” Donatella added. (Bonus points if you noticed Madge is wearing a very similar look in the photo above to Heidi Klum's sexy ensemble at the American Music Awards. Potential fashion faceoff ?)
Versace has announced that Madonna will be the face of their upcoming campaign. This is the 4th time that Madonna has been selected by the brand. The first pictures of the campaign have been posted online.
#Versace is proud to confirm that Madonna is the face of its Spring/Summer 2015 campaign shot in New York by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. #MadonnaForVersace
Photography: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott
Art Director: Giovanni Bianco-Studio65
Stylist: Jacob K
Make-up: Lucia Pieroni
Location: New York
The Guardian: Madonna: 'I don't see anything pornographic about beautiful pictures of naked women'
Her Interview cover shoot caused a media meltdown earlier this week, but Madonna's candid approach to sexuality stretches back decades. To remind us all of her penchant for provocation, here's part one of a piece from September 1992 around the release of her book Sex, an interview originally published in NME and lifted from Rock's Backpages.
US Weekly: Annie Lennox Questions Madonna's Topless Shoot, Thinks It's "Attention-Seeking"
"I did get things off occasionally, but not to that extent," she argued on Loose Women. "I don't think it's down to me [to judge Madonna]..." she continued. "I think the verdict is probably out. Would you not agree on that one? I think the question is, 'What is Madonna telling us?' Anybody know?"
Panelist Janet Street-Porter then volunteered her thoughts, saying, "I think it's attention-seeking." And Lennox -- who came to fame around the same time as Madonna in the 1980s -- agreed. "I think it is," she noted.
Kim Kardashian on Twitter:
This new @ Madonna shoot for Interview Mag is EVERYTHING!!! She looks soooo good! Bravo Mert & Marcus!
Rosie O'Donnell on The View:
I've seen them, but not in real life. Actually I have but not in that way. We're friends, get over it. The thing is, she's beautiful and proud of her body and always has been. Express yourself, don't repress yourself. If my titties looked like that, I'd be nude right now.
Sharon Osbourne on The Talk:
If you're beautiful and you want to share your body, we've all got the freedom to do that. However I do think that she must be very insecure as a women and I think she is insecure about her age, because she constantly has to keep showing it.
Madonna, the 'Queen of Pop', has posed topless for a fashion magazine at - shock, horror - the age of 56. Claire Cohen applauds her decision and explains why it's a truly powerful statement for all women.
First came Keira Knightley's breasts. Then Kim Kardashian's bottom. And now? Madonna's nipples.
There's no denying it. The last few weeks have seen the cup of celebrity naked flesh runneth over. And I'm not even talking about that jungle reality show.
Today, it emerged that the ‘Queen of Pop' has posed, topless, for a spread in the December issue of Interview magazine. Wearing a bustier and leather glove, she reclines on a satin cushion, her hand to her forehead, her boobs bared.
It's styled as a romantic image – very different to the black and white Knightley shot (which appeared in the same publication back in September), where she stared confidently down the camera, hands on hips.
At the time, I wrote a piece defending Knightley's right to be photographed topless. It was, I said, a feminist statement from a woman who'd been roundly criticised for having her modest cleavage digitally enhanced on film posters. Here she was, in all her natural glory. Hur-rah.
Her detractors didn't agree. Who, they cried, wanted to see the actresses ‘fried eggs'? Some, unkind, commentators referred to her appearance in the Pirates of the Caribbean film ‘Dead Man's Chest'.
Now, just weeks later, Madonna is under fire for committing the same offence.
How dare she? At 56, no less. I'd wager you won't see a report today that doesn't mention her age alongside her cup size.
‘Still got it!' a few have already trilled.
Groan. They've utterly missed the point.
Madonna's decision to pose topless has nothing to do with showing-off her wrinkle-free cleavage – nor male titillation. That she's an older woman is powerful, yes. But, to me, it seems pretty clear that this is far from a pop star trying to prove that she's ‘still hot' in her fifties.
Madonna's age is just a convenient stick to beat her with. It's an easy reason for critics to cry ‘put ‘em away' without, on the surface, seeming sexist.
Because there's always something, isn't there? Always a reason that a woman's body isn't deemed ‘suitable'. Breasts too small a la Knightley? No thanks. A middle-aged pop star? What the hell was she thinking?
Of course, Madonna is no stranger to nudity. Frankly, she's been taking her clothes off for decades. Her decision to pose for Interview is, then, perhaps less surprising than Knightley's. But it's no less powerful a statement. Here is a woman still at the top of her industry, after almost 40 years. She's weathered numerous musical trends and managed to stay relevant. Why shouldn't she pose with her breasts exposed?
After all, she pretty much started it.
Indeed, just a couple of weeks ago, Madonna posted a censored topless picture of herself from the Nineties, in response to the images of Kim Kardashian's oiled, nude backside in Paper magazine.
‘It's confusing,' she wrote. ‘Nipples are considered forbidden and provocative but exposing your ass is not. #flummoxed' (sic).
Here is a clear indication that Madonna knew her latest photo shoot would shock. Let's face it, she's saying, topless pictures of famous women always have.
We might be used to seeing pictures of seeing flat chested models in fashion magazines (think Kate Moss on the beach, or backstage at a catwalk show).
But a model's body is a commodity – it's the vehicle she's using to sell products. For stars such as Madonna and Knightly, it's different. They are selling their own image, not someone elses. Choosing to bear their breasts is a feminist statement, not a requirement. They are saying: ‘Here I am. Take me, or leave me'.
Of course, Madonna and Knightley both have exceptional body types compared to us mere mortals. But, the fact remains. When it all gets too ‘real', we simply can't handle it.
There's undeniably an element of desire wrapped-up in all this. Knightley was criticised for being ‘unfeminine'. Small boobs aren't traditionally seen as covetable. Neither are those of an older woman.
So, isn't it a blessing that we have these strong, famous women brave enough to turn unrealistic thinking on its head and show us that the female body comes in many forms?
Madonna is flying in the face of what the naked woman ‘should' look like. She's controlling her own image, just as she's always done. Her attitude? Just because she's in her fifties, why should she hide away?
The sugary pink cardigan that exposes her breasts in the Interview picture, says it all. ‘I'm not ready to button-up like a little old lady. Thanks all the same'.
We all should applaud her (preferably while wearing cut-off PVC gloves) for it.
Madonna tops a new list of the world's wealthiest recording artists, besting fellow 1 percenters Paul McCartney and Dr. Dre. According to Wealth-X's net worth valuation of the pop queen, Madge is worth a staggering $800 million.
That's significantly less than the one billion the New York Post valued her at in 2013, but it's far ahead of Sir Paul, whose net worth Wealth-X places at $660. For those of you who thought Macca had more scratch, keep in mind that his wife, Nancy Shevell, is worth a reported $300 million. So although the McCartney couple is worth more than Madge, the former Beatle isn't richer than her on his own.
Following McCartney comes Dr. Dre who -- despite that massive Beats deal with Apple -- is at No. 3 on the list with $650 million. Speaking of rap moguls, Diddy is the fourth-wealthiest recording artist in 2014 -- although at this point, both Dr. Dre and Diddy are more businessmen than active recording artists.
But keep in mind that this is a list of the world's wealthiest recording artists. When you include musicians as a whole, you open the list up to composers and theater moguls like Andrew Lloyd Webber -- a man worth around $1.2 billion. So clearly, Cats pays better than Beatles.
Here's Wealth-X's full list of 10 Richest Recording Artists. Amounts are in U.S. dollars.
1) Madonna $800 million
2) Paul McCartney $660 million
3) Dr. Dre $650 million
4) Diddy $640 million
5) Celine Dion $630 million
6) Bono $590 million
7) Mariah Carey $520 million
8) Jay Z $510 million
9) Elton John $450 million
10) Beyonce $440 million
Interview by DAVID BLAINE
Photography by MARCUS PIGGOTT, MERT ALAS
"God has given you one face," Hamlet said, "and you make yourselves another." But had the great Dane met Madonna before saying the above and, in effect, prophesying much of the modern condition, he might have added, "and another and another and another ..."
The pop phenomenon born Madonna Louise Ciccone in Michigan in 1958 has, over the course of her career as a singer, songwriter, actress, filmmaker, and pure entertainer, become the living paradigm for the character-based, image-centric presentation of an artist. And her evolutionary mutability—the quicksilver ability to grow and change and live spectacular multiple lives in and beyond the public eye—has given each viewer and each listener their own favorite Madonna. From her early years in rough-and- tumble New York City of the 1980s to her Sex (book) goddess 1990s and the equestrian splendor of the early aughts in England, each chapter of her life is related as a kind of Dickensian parable of perseverance, of will, or of self-invention, as she weaves herself together out of blond ambition, yoga, or prayer.
And perhaps Madonna the Icon is herself her own greatest work of art—something so vastly influential as to be unfathomable, knitting together all of us for whom she has provided the soundtracks, all of the sensibilities she has informed, rattled, challenged, provoked, and then reimagined again, all of the notions of beauty, of an artist, of a performer that she has shaped, reshaped, and upset yet again. With a 13th studio album due out in 2015, Madonna is reaching a new level of artistry, creativity, and, perhaps, identity. Even as she reimagines herself yet again, she remains a masterpiece.
On a night this past November, Madonna sat down with her friend, the performance artist, magician, card sharp, and similarly unclassifiable talent David Blaine in New York to talk about the power of silence, the necessity of failure, and hearing the word no.
DAVID BLAINE: I brought a whole bunch of cards with questions that I think are really fun, so we have these as a backup plan.
MADONNA: A backup plan, or do you want me to choose one now?
BLAINE: Choose one. But I don't want you to go with the obvious card that's sticking out more than the others.
MADONNA: I'm not that kind of person. I never go for the obvious. [picks a card]
BLAINE: Should I read it to you, though?
MADONNA: Yeah. I can't read your illegible handwriting.
BLAINE: This is a good one. So I stayed in a box for 44 days in complete isolation. It was a self-imposed solitary confinement. But ... I want you to close your eyes. Can you imagine what it actually feels like to be completely isolated, all by yourself with nobody to talk to?
MADONNA: For 44 days?
BLAINE: For a day. Have you ever done that?
BLAINE: Okay, so think about it. What would it be like?
MADONNA: I'd really enjoy it at this point in my life.
BLAINE: Keep your eyes closed.
MADONNA: Okay, sorry. I think I would really enjoy it, stillness and quiet, because I feel like people are always talking to me, at me, asking things, questioning me, wanting information, work, music, loud noises, children—it's endless. So the idea of a whole day of silence sounds very seductive to me.
BLAINE: What do you think your brain would fill up with?
MADONNA: Ideas. [both laugh]
BLAINE: Ideas. You can do that while you hear noise.
MADONNA: I do, but when I come home from work in the studio, I just want silence. I don't want to talk to anybody. I don't want to answer any questions.
BLAINE: It's important to find that, once in a while.
MADONNA: I started doing yoga again, which I haven't done in years and years and years. I'm so used to exercising with music playing very loud, and when you do yoga, you're just listening to your breath, and I find that also incredibly ... What's the word? Not nurturing, but ...
MADONNA: It's cathartic, for sure. But, no, it fills me up. I like the idea of going to one of those retreats where you don't speak—like, silence for five days. I don't know if I could do that right now with small children.
BLAINE: Like what the monks do. I actually think that all monks, and saints at that extreme level of deprivation ...
MADONNA: It's essential ...
BLAINE: No, I think it's almost selfish.
MADONNA: It's not selfish if it makes you a better person.
BLAINE: When I do those things, it makes me a better person for the duration, and then when I come out, I'm like an animal.
MADONNA: But you're a selfish pig anyways—that's another story. [Blaine laughs] You're not plugged into the matrix. Okay, let me just fix the cards, because I have OCD.
BLAINE: [laughs] Hold on. Let's go further. Again, you're just going to close your eyes. Okay, no peeking. Now, you're on this chair, in this room, but you can't move from this table. You can lie down if you get uncomfortable. You can stand up, stretch, whatever you want. But you're completely alone. There's nobody to interrupt, nobody to talk to. What do you learn? Do you quit? Does it drive you crazy? What do you feel?
MADONNA: For how long?
BLAINE: You're going to be here for one full day. I've done 44, so one day is small.
MADONNA: I think the silence would be good with me, and not interacting with people would be okay. But not being able to move outside of the space would be hard. Not being able to walk around—the stillness of my body, physically—that would be the challenge.
BLAINE: Would you talk to yourself? Would you sing?
MADONNA: I would sing.
BLAINE: What would you sing?
MADONNA: I don't know. It depends on what's going on in my life at that moment. A Shabbat song? [both laugh] "Shalom Aleichem." It's Friday night so ...
BLAINE: Do you remember your first favorite childhood song? Just out of curiosity.
MADONNA: I do. I don't remember the name of it.
BLAINE: How does it go?
MADONNA: You want me to sing it to you?
BLAINE: Of course! Are you crazy?
MADONNA: Is this part of the interview?
BLAINE: This is the best part!
MADONNA: Can I open my eyes?
MADONNA: Oh, Jesus. So this is visual deprivation as well. Okay. [singing] I know a place where no one ever goes / There's peace and quiet, beauty and repose / It's hidden in a valley, behind a mountain stream / and lying there beside the stream I find that I can dream / Only of things, of beauty to the eye, snowflakes and mountains towering in the sky / Now I know that God made this world for me.
BLAINE: That was beautiful. Wow. How old were you when you heard that song?
MADONNA: My mother sang it to me when I was 4. My children know it too.
BLAINE: Okay, you can open your eyes. Cheers.
BLAINE: You knew lots of incredible artists in your early New York days. What artists today do you hope will inspire your children?
MADONNA: Well, all those artists are dead.
BLAINE: Artists that are alive, that you know—who do you hope will inspire the children of the future?
MADONNA: I like Banksy. I think he's inspiring and he speaks to what's going on in the world, socially. I like JR. Like [Jean-Michel] Basquiat and Keith Haring, who both started off as graffiti artists—their art is on the street, available for anyone to see. It's not elitist. You can see Banksy's work driving by it on the street, and JR's work—the way he takes photographs of people and turns them into heroes in their communities and makes people proud of who they are. My son is interning with JR right now and that's a great education for him.
BLAINE: In the cards, there's a question directly from JR. But you're not going to get it now. I should have forced you in that direction. But okay, it's fine.
MADONNA: [laughs] You're the most neurotic person who's ever interviewed me, by the way.
BLAINE: [laughs] What movie scenes do you watch over and over in your mind? Like, I see Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood  over and over.
MADONNA: That's a great movie. I see Wong Kar-wai's film In the Mood for Love . The slow-motion shot of that beautiful Chinese woman walking up and down the stairway, up and down the stairway, up and down the stairway, over and over again. Everything about that movie, I could replay in my head. The tracking shots of the camera when she's in the room with her lover and they're eating together—that movie is so beautiful, like a dance. Alain Resnais's film Last Year at Marienbad , also one of my favorites, was the film that created the idea of dolly-tracking, I think. [Andrei] Tarkovsky is another of my favorite directors, and there are a lot of beautiful shots in his movies.
BLAINE: Are there any scenes where the actor is doing a monologue ...
MADONNA: Oh, acting! I thought you were talking about camera work. I can't think of a specific scene, but anything that Al Pacino does in The Godfather movies, as Michael Corleone.
BLAINE: Or John Cazale sitting in the chair and yelling at ...
MADONNA: Well, no, who's doing the interview, me or you? That's your scene. Me, I live vicariously through Michael Corleone. I would like to deal with life the way he does. When he's telling what's-his-name that he's going to go on a little fishing trip. My God. Brilliant. Or the scene where Marlon Brando is talking to his dead wife in the casket in Last Tango in Paris .
BLAINE: "You pig fucker." Supposedly he was sick of acting during that scene, so he started grunting like a pig in his trailer, just to fuck around. And he walks out and improvises that scene to his wife, and that's how it came out, "You pig fucker." My favorite thing that Brando said, which I Googled before I came here, goes something like, "You can always tell how great your career's going based on people's teeth." He was saying that you can judge what you did based on the amount of teeth that random people, like the air stewardesses, show you when they see you, how big their smile is.
MADONNA: That's funny.
BLAINE: I think this is also a really important from: Henry Ford, "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it." And the reason I say this is because when I met you ...
MADONNA: A hundred years ago.
BLAINE: I went with you to a museum and you had the whole Edward Hopper show to yourself. I remember you were jotting down ideas while looking at the art. I've done crazy manual labor—I did construction—and I can say that it's easier for me to do any stunt than it is to actually figure out what I'm going to do. Thinking is the hardest thing. Like a friend said when I was young, "You know, what Michael Jackson does is easy." We were, like, 10. But most people assume that it's easy because you work so hard to make it look like there's no effort.
MADONNA: But that's our job. We're in the world of creating illusions and giving people the ability to dream and to be inspired or moved. So you don't want people to see the labor behind it. Also I was trained that, as a dancer, no matter how much you're suffering, your face is relaxed. You have to create that illusion. That's part of your job.
BLAINE: Would you say that thinking is the most difficult part of what you do?
MADONNA: No. Sleeping is the most difficult part of what I do, relaxing afterwards. Letting things go. Thinking isn't something you think about. It comes naturally. Thinking involves many things. It involves being an observer. It involves analyzing things, taking in what's around you in the world and finding how to make it inspire your work or turn it into a lesson to teach your children; it's paying attention to details. That's what thinking is: processing.
BLAINE: Which is why it's important to have time.
MADONNA: We spoke about this earlier—setting aside time for prayer. The ritual of prayer isn't a religious thing as much as it is having a ritualistic moment to acknowledge things and not take things for granted. For instance: the fact that you wake up and there's air in your lungs; the fact that you have a job to do; the fact that you have friends; the fact that you have your health. You're going to do something that's going to bring you joy. We take these things for granted. And, you know, I think it's important to call angels to you to protect you.
BLAINE: You have to explain that.
MADONNA: Well, that's part of the ritualistic moment. The calling of angels.
BLAINE: What does that mean? What angels? Like, my angel is my mother.
MADONNA: Your mother is going to be with you regardless. There are other angels that exist besides your mother. My mother is protecting me, too. But she's not the only one.
BLAINE: Would you say that your mother is part of the driving force behind you, a little bit?
MADONNA: Well, that's another question. I'm sure that, to a certain extent, she is, but actually, her lack of presence would be the driving force.
BLAINE: She passed away when you were very young. Did it make you think that life is short?
MADONNA: I became very obsessed with death, and the idea that you never know when death will arrive, so one has to do as much as possible all the time to get the most out of life. That would be a motivating force. And death was a big part of my life growing up. I went to lots of funerals ... But you digress. [laughs] We were talking about Henry Ford. We were thinking about thinking.
BLAINE: I've asked some of my favorite artist friends to come up with one question. Darren Aronofsky asked, "Do you think people are intrinsically good or evil?"
MADONNA: I think intrinsically good. Yeah. So there. [both laugh] We're all good, intrinsically, just covered sometimes in filth and darkness, and our job is to get rid of it, to peel back the layers and reveal our goodness.
BLAINE: How did your early years in New York City around great artists influence the choices that you make in your art today?
MADONNA: I remember having conversations with Keith [Haring] and with Basquiat about the importance of your art being accessible to people. That was their big thing—it should be available to everyone. It was so important for Keith to be able to draw on subways and walls. And Basquiat used to say to me, "You're so lucky that you make music, because music comes out of radios everywhere." He thought that what I did was more pop, more connected to pop culture than what he did. Little did he know that his art would become pop culture. But it's not like we really had discussions about the meaning of art. I remember hearing them talk about those things.
BLAINE: Did you hang out with them together?
MADONNA: Always. Martin Burgoyne, my roommate, who was also an artist, Keith Haring, and Basquiat. Sometimes Warhol would join us, but Warhol didn't talk that much.
BLAINE: So you were surrounded by the best artists in the world. You were way ahead of your time.
MADONNA: Well, I survived. [laughs]
BLAINE: But you knew what was great before everybody else knew what was great.
MADONNA: I was attracted to creative people. You don't want to be the smartest person in the room; you want to be the dumbest in the room. You want to be surrounded by other thinking people who are going to say something that makes you think, "Oh, my God, that's an amazing idea. Why didn't I think of that." And somehow we found each other in Manhattan. That's the crazy thing. We found each other and we connected to each other and we moved around the city together. They supported my shows. I supported their shows. We were a unit. And I don't even know how it happened. It just did.
BLAINE: Did you learn a lot from them?
MADONNA: They were incredibly dedicated to their work. I mean, Basquiat was my boyfriend for a while, and I remember getting up in the middle of the night and he wouldn't be in bed lying next to me; he'd be standing, painting, at four in the morning, this close to the canvas, in a trance. I was blown away by that, that he worked when he felt moved. And they gave jobs to everyone. Keith would meet kids on the street and ask them to come stretch his canvases for him. Basquiat had every B-boy and every graffiti artist in his loft. He was constantly giving everything away. I think they felt guilty that they became successful and were surrounded by people who were penniless, so they shared what they had. They were incredibly generous people, and that rubbed off on me. You stay inspired that way. I could never work in a recording studio where you have this lovely view and a beach and the waves are crashing. For me, it's all about being in a tiny room with little windows. It's almost like you have to be in a prison. And you can create beauty when you're in that sort of deprived environment, which is a re-creation of your formative years.
BLAINE: I just heard the song "Devil Prays" [from Madonna's forthcoming album], and it's fucking amazing. And it's not like you were using drugs, but it's all about drug use ...
MADONNA: Well, no, it's about how people take drugs to connect to God or to a higher level of consciousness. I keep saying, "Plugging into the matrix." If you get high, you can do that, which is why a lot of people drop acid or do drugs, because they want to get closer to God. But there's going to be a short circuit, and that's the illusion of drugs, because they give you the illusion of getting closer to God, but ultimately they kill you. They destroy you. I mean, I tried everything once, but as soon as I was high, I spent my time drinking tons of water to get it out of my system. As soon as I was high, I was obsessed with flushing it out of me. [Blaine laughs] I was like, "Okay, I'm done now."
BLAINE: Was that song written to anyone in particular?
MADONNA: No, just sharing my experiences that there are different ways to connect to a higher level of consciousness and that it's the devil's trick. It is the illusion.
BLAINE: So when you write that type of song, do you just sit there by yourself?
MADONNA: No, I'm working with a musician. He'll start playing a guitar, and ideas just come to me. I have a computer on my lap. I start typing lyrics, and I start thinking of a melody. And then I try it out and say, "What do you guys think?" Everybody's riffing off each other. I like to see the words written; it inspires me. Poetry, reading, language, playing with words—being around talented songwriters, you develop an innate understanding of what notes sound good together. I don't really think about it, to tell you the truth. You listen to music, you read books, you watch films. Other people's art inspires you. I would be nothing without other people's art.
BLAINE: What else gives you material?
MADONNA: My children. Stuff they say. Like, my son came to the studio the other day and said he didn't want to go home. I said, "No, you have to go home; it's time for bed." And he said, "Mom, I feel like I'm isolated from your heart." [Blaine laughs] I was like, "Oh, that's a good line. I have to use that." You get it everywhere, the high and the low. You've got to be open to it all. Suffering is a big informer, a big catalyst for creation. You take your sadness, your despair, your sense of injustice, and you put it in your work.
BLAINE: Is it easier to write when you're sad or when you're happy?
MADONNA: Sad. [laughs] Unfortunately. But it's okay, because I'm sad most of the time, so we're good. Not sad, but upset about something.
BLAINE: Should we pick another card? If you could go back and speak to yourself at age 7, what would you say? How old were you when your mom passed away?
BLAINE: Okay, so, around that time. What would you say to her?
MADONNA: "Shit's going to get better." [laughs] At that time, I had an obsession with being ill, and I was constantly manifesting symptoms. I'd say to her, "Everything's going to be all right." I would say to myself, "The feeling of ants crawling across your heart does not mean that you have cancer. This life will be long, and the world will unfold to you, and you will be able to realize your dreams, and you will find people to be teachers and guides along the way, and you will find mother figures in other areas of your life, so don't despair."
BLAINE: That's fucking great. [Madonna laughs] Okay. Next card. So what if you woke up one day and music meant nothing to you?
MADONNA: That's impossible. But I'd find something else that had meaning. That's the kind of girl I am. I'd just find something else.
BLAINE: JR's question is, "Do you think artists can become leaders?"
MADONNA: I think they are. Bob Marley was a leader, for instance. Bono is a leader. Some artists don't want to take that much of a stance and become too political in their work, but I think some people want to and do become that. I think Maya Angelou was political and a leader, and John Lennon, James Baldwin, just to name a few.
BLAINE: Another artist that I asked to come up with a question for you is Edward Norton. He asks, "Is there an alternative path to the life you chose that you think would have made you happy?"
MADONNA: Being a schoolteacher.
BLAINE: That's what my mother was.
MADONNA: Maybe I'm your mother in a parallel universe.
BLAINE: I think it's the most important profession that exists.
MADONNA: I agree.
BLAINE: That answers the next question, which is, what's the most important profession?
MADONNA: Prostitution, of course. [both laugh]
BLAINE: What's your favorite physical feature on a man?
MADONNA: Eyes, and then hands.
BLAINE: NASA put something in outer space that's called Voyager 1, and it's filled with all sorts of human archives, stuff that if, in a billion years, the world doesn't exist, would still be floating out there for some other intelligent life to discover. What relics from humanity would you have put in the Voyager?
MADONNA: The music of Chopin. Water, because water is mercy, and you can't live without water.
BLAINE: What would you put the water in?
MADONNA: A bottle that said "holy water" on it. [both laugh] A scroll of the Old Testament. A chessboard with chess pieces. Something to write with: blank paper and a fountain pen with ink.
BLAINE: What's the last thing somebody taught you?
MADONNA: I learned how to surf this summer. That was really hard. I got up. I rode a wave.
BLAINE: That must be tricky for you, because it's hard to fail. You're always seen as success, right?
MADONNA: Yeah. But every time I do shows, I learn a new skill. I always have to do something I've never done before. Like, last time I went on tour, I had to learn how to slackline, so that was a nightmare, because you keep falling off and you have to keep getting back on, falling off, learning how to balance. That's really hard.
BLAINE: Is it hard to fail in front of the people you're working with?
MADONNA: I'm not saying I'm great at failing, but if you're an artist and you're into the learning process, you accept that you're going to suck at things. I ride horses, and after not riding for a while, I always say to my riding instructor, "Okay, pretend I'm a beginner. I don't want to jump. I don't want to do anything extravagant. I just want to pretend I'm a beginner." And I don't judge myself. If I mess up, I've already put it out there that I'm going to suck. My kids get me to do a lot of things that I wouldn't normally do. I surfed because my son kept bugging me. I ski because my kids kept bugging me. And I say, "Well, why not? I'm going to suck at it, so that's okay." I'm good with that.
BLAINE: So you're good at accepting failure and moving past it.
MADONNA: In certain areas. [laughs] Failure is a challenge. Failure is an invitation.
BLAINE: Would you say you're like that with everything?
MADONNA: If I connect to it. I don't love to do everything. Like, I suck as a cook. [laughs] I don't feel inspired to continue cooking. If I had to for survival, I would.
BLAINE: Do you ever take a no? Does anybody ever say no to you?
MADONNA: They do all the time. But, yeah, how are we going to turn the no into a yes, or how am I going to get what I want in spite of the fact that I got a no, or how can I make this no work for me in my favor? Or, okay, I'm going to accept this rejection and I'm going to find another way to do it. I mean, nos are just as valuable as yeses in the game of life. In fact, they're essential. [turns to her reps in the room] Don't get any ideas, guys. Voilà.
DAVID BLAINE IS A NEW YORK-BASED MAGICIAN AND ILLUSIONIST.
US pop diva Madonna through her Raising Malawi has promised to give Malawi children a gift of education as on Sunday she visited two of the 10 schools Raising Malawi funded with partner buildOn.
Those 10 schools are educating more than 5600 students, half of them girls. Madonna is considering additional education projects in Malawi, but has not yet announced plans to build additional schools in Kasungu.
Madonna was accompanied by her adopted Malawian children – Mercy James and David Banda along with son Rocco Ritchie to see her charitable efforts.
She told school children: "Education is the future. The biggest gift I can give you is education."
The singer laughed and mingled with children, happily sitting on the dusty ground next to them as part of the crowd.
Raising Malawi is partnering with the non-governmental organisation buildOn to develop the schools. BuildOn director Maurice Muchene, thanked Madonna for partnering with his organisation on the project, saying schools are" a great source of pride and joy and stand testimony to the accomplishments that communities can attain when they work together."
It was not clear whether the project will involve the Kabbalah Centre. Madonna has practised Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism.
Kabbalah Centre is in no way involved with Raising Malawi.
Madonna has been visiting Malawi since 2006. She funds a number of orphanages and schools in the country.
On Thursday she helped open a new 50-bed pediatrics ward in the commercial capital, Blantyre, that she helped fund.
President Peter Mutharika hailed Madonna for her charity work in the poor southern African nation, saying "my government has always been grateful for the passion Madonna has for this country."
Madonna lost favour with the previous government after cancelling the construction of a US$15 million (RM15.5 million) academy which was meant to offer 500 scholarships to girls from poor backgrounds.
The academy was mired in allegations of mismanagement and the project was replaced by plans to build schools in order to reach more children.↑ Back to top of page