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  • Gepubliceerd in Buitenlands nieuws

Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Songs of 2015

The music industry has had a historic 12 months as the streaming wars heated up and album sales reached record-breaking highs thanks to Adele after years of diminishing returns. As the business itself faced incredible changes, breaking artists and veteran musicians alike experimented with their sounds, doing everything from throwing back to the Seventies to getting everyone to cha-cha. As 2015 comes to an end, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite songs of the year. Here are the results.

10 Drake, "Hotline Bling"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxpDa-c-4Mc

Drake's "Hotline Bling" wasn't even an official single off an album; he dropped the track on his OVO Sound radio show alongside his second Meek Mill diss track "Back to Back." The simple and primarily-sung song from the Toronto rapper pulls from newcomer D.R.A.M.'s equally catchy "Cha Cha" and ended up dominating pop radio as Drake's two mixtapes, If You're Reading This It's Too Late and What a Time to Be Alive, shook up hip-hop.

9 Alabama Shakes, "Don't Wanna Fight"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nin-fiNz50M

On Alabama Shakes' sophomore album, the Southern rockers expanded their sound and got weird. They kicked off their new era with the deliciously funky "Don't Wanna Fight," which features a soulful riff supporting singer Brittany Howard's raspy, passionate vocal performance. The Shakes go full Bee Gees for the chorus, hitting a harmony of falsettos repeating the song's title.

8 Built to Spill, "When I'm Blind"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P36c9w6kVSI

Off their eighth album Untethered Moon, Built to Spill's "When I'm Blind" is a rough, energetic track that dives into psych-folk territory until the song hits its stride on the straightforward, indie-rock chorus. The real highlight of the song, however, is the glitchy, frantic solo that may very well be one of the year's strongest guitar moments.

7 Tame Impala, "Let It Happen"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFptt7Cargc

Tame Impala's third album, Currents, opens with the psych-rock band's boldest cut yet. The opening riffs of "Let It Happen" hit a disco stride before slowing down to the more hypnotic, psychedelic fare the band has come to be associated with. The single also sees Tame Impala at their catchiest, making for a deeply engaging earworm of a track.

6 Cold War Kids, "First"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZzJ78FWjl8

Cold War Kids hit pay dirt earlier this year with "First," the second single off their 2014 album Hold My Home. The emotional powerhouse of a single officially hit the top of the rock charts in September, a year after its release. Appropriately, it's Cold War Kids' first Number One.

5 Courtney Barnett, "Pedestrian at Best"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-nr1nNC3ds

Courtney Barnett had a huge breakthrough year that has led to a Best New Artist Grammy nomination for the Australian rocker along with widespread accolades for her debut full-length, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Barnett's "Pedestrian at Best" was a riff-heavy Nineties throwback with the singer hitting a perfect punk whine that builds into an urgently delivered chorus.

4 Ghost, "He Is"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CSFkjPm0A0

In 2015 Ghost did what every occult Swedish metal band eventually seems to do: They went prog. The band's single "He Is" hit a psychedelic note, going back to metal's folkier roots from the Sixties and Seventies. It was one of the most effective cuts on a largely effective album, Meliora, that saw musical growth from the mysterious band.

3 Adele, "Hello"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQHsXMglC9A

Adele's comeback to music following a break from the spotlight for a couple of years was one of 2015's most triumphant returns. The singer was met with open and loving arms by the public as she first teased single "Hello" during a TV ad and later dropped the soaring, emotional ballad just weeks later. Her third LP, 25, continues to break records, having sold over 3 million copies in its first week alone.

2 Adam Lambert, "Ghost Town"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix8ocFEMa1o

American Idol-alum and guest frontman for Queen delivered one of the year's most shocking drops and best house single with "Ghost Town." The song starts slowly with just Lambert's voice and an acoustic guitar, then dips into a goth EDM beat. The Original High single remains one of the most criminally overlooked dance tracks of the year.

1 Madonna, "Ghosttown"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgDxv0Qg_Rg

Even in a great year for pop music, Madonna is still the queen. The power ballad off her March album Rebel Heart was a more classic pop turn for the singer after the house hit "Living for Love" and trap digression of "Bitch I'm Madonna." On the massive, romantic track, the singer tackles both world issues and a reflection of self. Even though the single didn't crack the Billboard Hot 100, it still topped the dance charts and showcased one of the singer's strongest vocal performances.

  • Gepubliceerd in Interviews

Madonna talks Rebel Heart Tour, why she wants to have tea with the Pope

It's three days before the Pope leads hundreds of thousands of people in a mass at Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and four miles away at the Wells Fargo Center, one of America's most famous ex-Catholics is already getting into the spirit of the occasion. Madonna uses a giant cross as a stripping pole and writhes around on a re-creation of the Last Supper table as she moans, "Yeezus loves my pussy best." "Popey-wopey is on his way over," she says later in the show. "I think he's stalking me."

The gleefully blasphemous moment is one of 21 elaborately choreographed numbers on Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour, which has been packing North American arenas since it kicked off September 9th. It's her most extravagant stage show ever — a two-hour set that features samurai warriors, matadors, gypsies, rockabilly kids dancing around a body shop and a dangerous-looking dance routine on top of giant swaying poles, not to mention a grand finale set in a gleaming 1920s-style Paris cafe.

"The logistical avalanche of putting it together was unlike anything I've ever done," says Arianne Phillips, the head costume designer, who notes the tour uses 500 pairs of shoes and 450 costumes. "Every day of rehearsals felt like an impossibility." To prepare for the show, the 20 backup dancers spent three months putting in 14-hour days, six days a week. The 57-year-old Madonna was right beside them. "No matter what we asked her to do, like riding a nun like a surfboard, she'd try without flinching," says Megan Lawson, the tour's head choreographer.

The day after the Philadelphia show, Madonna phoned up Rolling Stone to talk about the tour.

At what point in the creation of Rebel Heart did you start brainstorming ideas for this tour?
Finishing my record was filled with panic and pressure because of all the leaks, so I wasn't really thinking about my live show until I released the record and started making videos and doing my promo show. So honestly, I didn't really try to sit down and get my head around it until last March. That's unusual for me because I usually start thinking way, way, way in advance.

When you did start plotting out the tour, what were your goals?
My goals are always the same. I want to take people on a journey. I like to explore themes. I believe that if you're going to a big venue like a sports arena or a stadium you need to present a kind of entertainment that interfaces with all of the senses.

I don't think it's enough to just stand onstage and sing. I think that there are moments for that, but I'm a very visual person. I was trained as a dancer, so those kinds of things are really important to me, in my shows, anyway.

I feel like when the audience walks into a show, they walk into a magical world, and they're transported for two hours to another time and place, and they plug into the matrix of my creative brain, which, generally, explores and expresses all of the things that I'm interested in, and/or inspired by. So that's always my goal. And of course, it changes and shifts from record to record, from tour cycle to tour cycle. The moods I'm in, the themes I want to express, all of that.

What are the primary themes of this tour?
The first message is empowerment, and we're using the song "Iconic" as the opening. It talks about being a warrior and fighting for what you believe in, and recognizing that we all have the ability to be iconic in our own ways — to be warriors, to shine. Also, I'm honored that I had Mike Tyson is in my song and video, because I really look up to him and admire him as a person who has gone through the roller coaster of life, who has walked through the fire, gone through the darkness. And for me, he's metamorphosed into a human being who is someone to look up to and be inspired by.

So, that would be the first theme. And "Devil Pray" is a song about being sucked into the illusion that alcohol and weed can give you insight into sort of the upper world, so to speak, or can make you closer to God. And in fact, they do. But I think in the end it's an illusion.

As I said, I don't just jump from subject to subject, so we have to go on a journey. We have to start out as warriors, and then we explore themes of sex and religion, because they are things in our society that are always separated. And, to me, sex is a sacred gift that was given to us. It's meant to be played with. I like to, obviously, provoke people with concepts of sex and religion's point of view about it. That's because I believe that people need to be challenged even if they disagree with me, which is fine. But I'm not gonna take you song-by-song. We'll be talking for two hours.

How about you just tell me your process for picking which older songs to put into the set list. That couldn't be easy.
That is really, really hard. Basically, I go through the catalog, which is a pretty long list of songs. And once I got an idea for the themes I want to explore, I break the show down into four sections, and then I try and find ways to interweave my old songs with the new, and generally that has to do with themes. So we try a lot of stuff out, and it doesn't work.

Then we try things that I never would have thought of and it does work. It's a very, very long process. That's, for me, the biggest challenge, to marry the old with the new. Because obviously those songs I wrote a long time ago, and I have to reinvent them to a certain extent so that they speak to me now versus the woman that I was 30 years ago.

I've always admired that about your concerts. It would be so easy to simply do your 15 biggest hits and stick to the original arrangements, but you've never once taken that easy route.
No. And I just couldn't do it, anyway. I just couldn't do it.

Can you explain why?
Because I've changed, and sonics have changed. The sound of a synth or an 808 [drum machine] ... everything has just changed so much. If you put the exact song next to something new, it just sounds so small and mono. You know what I mean? They just can't live together.

"True Blue" was a really great moment, stripping it down like that.
Yeah. I love performing that song and "La Vie En Rose." They're so much fun because there's something naive and sweet about singing a song on a ukulele.

Are you new to that instrument?
Oh, God, yes [laughs]. I suck at it, basically. The chord progressions are completely different than they are on a guitar, so it's not something I can play without thinking. But I have to constantly challenge myself. It's a challenge for my every night, because a G on a ukulele doesn't look like a G on a guitar. It's a little tricky. Gotta pay attention.

Tell me how you get in shape for a tour. You're doing that show over 80 times in the coming months. That's a lot to prepare for solely on a physical basis.
Yeah. This is true, although I have to say I haven't had as much time to train and prepare myself physically for this show as I have in the past with other shows. That's just because I have four kids, and they take up a lot of time. So I have to choose between working out and spending time with them, and then also putting my show together. I have to find the balance of training enough so that I'm not winded and out of breath when I'm onstage, but also not wearing myself out, and also seeing my kids. The list goes on and on.

Do you get something creatively out of doing a live show that you don't get out of making movies or recording an album?
Well, there's nothing like a live show, obviously. Living on the edge, being out, never knowing what's going to happen, it's a dangerous place to be. You make mistakes, you've got to with those mistakes. You know, each audience is different. I love when the audience is alive and plays with me, like it was in Brooklyn. People get my sense of humor and I can riff off of them, both musically and just conversationally.

When you do the same show every night, you have to build up your energy and get ready to be this life force and take the stadium or sports arena by storm. It's a lot of work. And then coming down afterward is a lot of work, so there's nothing like it.

For me, when you're onstage, there's no cheating. There's just no cheating. When you're in the studio you can do another take, you can fix things, you can re-tune your vocals. When you're making a film you can go into the edit suite, you can fix things in post-production. I mean, it's not live. A concert is just a whole different world.

Do you see yourself still doing tours in 10 or 15 years?
I don't even think that far in advance, but if I did travel around and perform and connect to audiences, I'm sure it would look and feel different than, say, the extravagant sort of musicals that I put on right now.

Do you think you could enjoy a more stripped-down show that's just you and a small band, minus all the production?
I quite like the idea of just sitting on a stool with a bottle of wine, a guitar and working my stand-up comedy into the whole scenario. I like talking to audiences, telling stories. I think I could make an interesting show, to tell you the truth. I quite like the idea of doing something simple.

This is your sixth tour of the 2000s. Part of the challenge must be finding ways to top yourself since you've done so many different things.
I don't think of it as topping myself. It's like making a film, and then another film. You don't have to top yourself. It's just a different story I have to yell. I work with a lot of filmmakers and costume designers and choreographers and dancers, so it's always going to be different.

This crew of dancers was pretty amazing. It seemed like they were capable of anything.
Yeah, they're wonderful, super talented and unique. I always tell my dancers that they're actors, they're not dancers, and so much is going to be expected of them. I always say the word "intention." I don't just like waving my arm around for the sake of waving an arm around. Why are you doing this? What are you trying to say? So I think that's what makes my shows different.

It's a funny coincidence that the Pope and you are hitting cities just days apart this week.
[Laughs] It's hilarious, yes. I'm hoping that we run into each other.

You talked about him a lot at the show. Are you a fan?
I have a long relationship with the Pope, with the Vatican, with the Catholic Church, with my excommunication. Anyway, you know, I was raised a Catholic, and no matter what spiritual path I might go down, I always feel some kind of inexplicable connection with Catholicism. It kind of shows up in all of my work, as you may have noticed.

Are you happy with the direction this Pope is taking the church?
I'll state the obvious and say that he seems like he's a much more open-minded individual, who seems to be moving outside of the dogma of the Catholic Church that has been set in stone since the days of Constantine. So I think it's good.

It's good to look out into the big, wide world and see that we have changed, and at the end of the day the message of Jesus is to love your neighbor as yourself, and so that means not judging. And to do that, you have to be more open-minded and accepting of people who have lifestyles that you perceive as unconventional. So I think it's good, yeah. And I also believe that he's the kind of Pope you could sit down and have a cup of tea with, and/or that you could make a joke about something and he would laugh about it.

It's funny to think back to the Blond Ambition Tour when the Pope tried to stop your show in Rome from even happening.
Yes, he did do that. But times have changed so much then, in so many ways, and not just with the Pope.

Do you think he'd enjoy the show?
I do, actually, because at the end of the day, the message of my show is about love, and that's his message.

  • Gepubliceerd in Nieuws

Rolling Stone magazine wijdt een special 'Collector's edition' aan Madonna

Het Amerikaanse muziektijdschrift Rolling Stone, wijdt een special 'Collector's edition' aan Madonna. Het tijdschrift is een speciale uitgave alleen over Madonna en ligt op dit moment in de winkels in Amerika. In Europa en Nederland is het te verkrijgen of te bestellen bij de betere boekhandel- en tijdschriftenzaken.

Rolling Stone Collectors edition

  • Gepubliceerd in Nieuws

Madonna is kritiek op leeftijd beu

Waarom mogen mensen ongegeneerd kritiek geven op mijn leeftijd? Wat is het verschil met racisme of een andere vorm van discriminatie? Madonna (56) haalt scherp uit in een interview met rockmagazine Rolling Stone.

Enkele weken geleden oogstte Madonna een storm van kritiek en hoongelach omdat ze haar blote achterwerk toonde op de uitreiking van de Grammy Awards. “Dit is nu eenmaal hoe een 56-jarige eruit ziet”, aldus de queen of pop aan Rolling Stone.

"Het is vandaag absoluut taboe om iemand te discrimineren wegens homoseksualiteit of huidskleur, maar discrimineren wegens leeftijd, dat wordt nog altijd geaccepteerd. Tenminste: dat geldt voor vrouwen. Niet voor mannen, aldus Madonna. Over mijn leeftijd praat iedereen denigrerend. En ik vraag mij altijd af: waarom wordt dat in hemelsnaam geaccepteerd? Wat is het verschil met elke andere vorm van discriminatie?"

Ik volg de regels niet

"Veel vrouwen die een zekere leeftijd bereikt hebben, accepteren dat ze zich niet meer kunnen gedragen op een bepaalde manier. Maar ik volg de regels niet. Dat heb ik nooit gedaan en dat zal ik ook nu niet doen", gaat ze verder. Op de suggestie van Rolling Stone dat haar fysieke verschijning niet die is van een gemiddelde vrouw, antwoordt ze: "Misschien nu niet, maar op een dag wel! Daar gaat het nu net om. Als ik die deur moet opentrappen en tonen dat vrouwen boven de 50 en 60 wel sexy en relevant zijn, dan zal ik dat doen!"

  • Gepubliceerd in Nieuws

Madonna heeft niks tegen Lady Gaga

Madonna heeft het gehad met de geruchten over een vermeende vete met Lady Gaga. Ze ziet het liefst dat iedereen erover ophoudt.

Dat zegt ze in een interview met Rolling Stone.

"We leven in een wereld waarin mensen het leuk vinden vrouwen tegen elkaar op te zetten", klaagt Madonna, die al eerder ontkende dat er sprake is van jaloezie of ruzie met Lady Gaga.

Madonna hielp die indruk vorige zomer de wereld in nadat ze haar gelekte nummer Two Steps Behind zong over een vermeende copycat: "Mijn recept stelen, dat staat je heel lelijk", zong ze. "Heb je wel goed genoeg opgelet? Je zult nooit mij worden. Je bent slechts een wannabe-mij."

Madonna hint dat het in dat lied wel degelijk over Lady Gaga gaat. "De enige keer dat ik Lady Gaga bekritiseerde was toen ze schaamteloos een nummer van me kopieerde."
Kroon

Dat betekent niet dat er verder ruzie is, benadrukt ze. "Het heeft er niks mee te maken dat ze mijn zogenaamde kroon zou stelen of dat ze mijn plek inneemt. Zij heeft haar ding. Ik vind haar een erg getalenteerde zangeres en songwriter."

De zangeres heeft een geheim plan in de maak om de geruchten definitief tot een einde te brengen: "Het is saai dat iedereen dit opblaast. Ik geef er ook niks meer om. Op een dag zal iedereen erover ophouden. Je zult het zien, ik heb een plan."

  • Gepubliceerd in Rebel Heart

Review 'Rebel Heart' by Rolling Stone

3,5 start out of 5: Madonna gets down with Kanye, Avicii and more on a supercatchy, sexed-up album

For many years, Madonna avoided the Internet like gluten. But in December, the Internet decided to stop waiting for Madonna, and everything went wrong: Her music was stolen and leaked; her hasty, emotional responses on Instagram used terms like "rape" and "terrorism," provoking (you guessed it) Internet outrage. Her swift solution was to put six songs online immediately, with a promise that 13 more would follow in March. But some of those 13 new songs have turned what might have been a modern-day pop treasure into a diamond struggling to escape the rough.

Rebel Heart is a long, passionate, self-referential meditation on losing love and finding purpose in chilling times. It's also a chance for the Queen of Pop to floss a bit and reflect on how she painstakingly carved a path others have happily twerked down in the years since her 1983 debut. The über-fit 56-year-old star gleefully enunciates "bitch" on the refreshing, reggae-tinged "Unapologetic Bitch" and the frenetic, Nicki Minaj-assisted "Bitch I'm Madonna," both featuring Diplo's ear-tingling airhorn blasts. She quotes herself on three songs, calling back to iconic passages from "Vogue" and "Justify My Love" before whisper-rapping about her past hits in "Veni Vidi Vici."

The album opens with another kind of flashback — the classic-sounding house jam "Living for Love," a buoyant song about moving on after a breakup. The stellar "HeartBreakCity," meanwhile, is a dramatic plunge into post-relationship hell. The singer grappled with her divorce from Guy Ritchie on her past two albums, but now that she's back on the market, there are new fools to smack down.

Her co-pilots this time aren't the electro mavens who assisted on 2012's glossy MDNA nor the pop titans who lent a hand on 2008's dancier Hard Candy — they're trendier talents like Blood Diamonds and established hitmakers like Kanye West. Sometimes these collaborations gel perfectly, like on "Illuminati," West's grimy take on the Internet's favorite conspiracy theory, and "Devil Pray," where Avicii helps Madonna revive the strums-and-beats vibe of 2000's Music. And Minaj's verse on "Bitch I'm Madonna" is pure fire.

Unfortunately, cameos from Nas, Chance the Rapper and Mike Tyson don't elevate their respective songs. And Madonna lets her own appetite for over-the-top sex songs run wild on a handful of cringy tracks like "Holy Water" (an ode to oral sex featuring the unfortunate line "Yeezus loves my pussy best") and "S.E.X.," which spells out an unconventional list of bedroom aids including "chopsticks, underwear, bar of soap, dental chair."

The album is at its strongest when Madonna shoves everyone to the side and just tells it to us straight. So it's fitting that she wraps up the deluxe edition with the title track, recalling how she went from weird kid to narcissist to spiritual thinker over Avicii's bright, orchestrated production. Deep down, Madonna does have a rebel heart — and you can't fault her for reminding us that pop music is all the better for it.

  • Gepubliceerd in Buitenlands nieuws

Madonna fights back: inside Rolling Stone's new issue

Madonna returns to the cover of Rolling Stone in our latest issue (on stands Friday) giving her most revealing, introspective and fiery interview in years. In the in-depth Q&A with senior writer Brian Hiatt, Madonna discusses her real feelings about Lady Gaga, her marriage to Guy Ritchie, her relationship with Judaism, her assessment of Kanye West, her love for Whiplash and much more.

"I don't think she wants my crown," Madonna says, referring to Gaga. "We live in a world where people like to pit women against each other. And this is why I love the idea of embracing other females who are doing what I'm doing. . .The only time I ever criticized Lady Gaga was when I felt like she blatantly ripped off one of my songs. It's got nothing to do with 'she's taking my crown' or 'she's in some space of mine.' She has her thing. I do think she's a very talented singer and songwriter. It was just that one issue. And everybody's obviously running with it and turned it into a huge feud, which I think is really boring, quite frankly. And you know what? I don't care anymore. Here's the thing: one day everyone's going to shut up about it. You'll see! I have a plan."

rolling stone march 2015 001

But Madonna, who will release her new album Rebel Heart on March 6th (read our review of the album here), reserves her most passionate and eloquent remarks for the topic of ageism, in pop writing and in society. "It's still the one area where you can totally discriminate against somebody," she says, "and talk shit. Because of their age. Only females, though. Not males. So in that respect we still live in a very sexist society."

"No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black or dare to say a degrading remark on Instagram about someone being gay," Madonna continues. "But my age – anybody and everybody would say something degrading to me. And I always think to myself, why is that accepted? What's the difference between that and racism, or any discrimination? They're judging me by my age. I don't understand. I'm trying to get my head around it. Because women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they're not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don't follow the rules. I never did, and I'm not going to start."

rolling stone march 2015 002

And if you're wondering if there was a message behind showing off her bare butt on the Grammys' red carpet: "This is what a 56-year-old ass looks like, motherfuckers!" she says. And to the suggestion that her awe-inspiring physique isn't exactly average, she retorts, "You know what? It could be the average some day! That's the thing." (Listen to Madonna's entire statement on ageism in pop culture below.)

"When I did my sex book, it wasn't the average," Madonna says. "When I performed 'Like a Virgin' on the MTV Awards and my dress went up and my ass was showing, it was considered a total scandal. It was never the average, and now it's the average. When I did Truth or Dare and the cameras followed me around, it was not the average. So if I have to be the person who opens the door for women to believe and understand and embrace the idea that they can be sexual and look good and be as relevant in their fifties or their sixties or whatever as they were in their twenties, then so be it."

Also in this issue: Paul Solatoroff on an innocent man locked in a Pennsylvania prison, Patrick Doyle on Kid Rock, Tim Dickinson on Canada and Keystone XL, plus Lil Wayne, Noel Gallagher, Kim Gordon and more.

  • Gepubliceerd in Buitenlands nieuws

Madonna talks Gaga feud and age appropriateness in Rolling Stone

Madonna is on the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine, and as expected from the Queen of Pop, she isn’t mincing her words when it comes to controversial topics–including her infamous beef with her supposed nemesis, Lady Gaga.

Madge labels their highly-publicized feud “really boring,” and chalks the bulk of it down to the media pitting women against each other.

I don’t think she wants my crown,” she revealed. “We live in a world where people like to pit women against each other. And this is why I love the idea of embracing other females who are doing what I’m doing. It’s important for us to support each other.
The only time I ever criticized Lady Gaga was when I felt she blatantly ripped-off one of my songs,” she continued. “It’s got nothing to do with “she’s taking my crown” or “she’s in some space of mine.” She has her thing. I think she’s a very talented singer and songwriter. It was just that one issue. And everybody’s obviously ran with it and turned it into a huge feud, which I think is really boring, quite frankly.

The provocative 56-year-old also shut down critics who say that she’s too old to be doing the kind of sexy and outrageous stunts usually reserved for younger pop stars.

Women my age have accepted they’re not allowed to behave a certain way,” she said. “I never followed rules. I’m not going to start now.

She’s completely right, but that doesn’t mean that she needs to flash her thong on the red carpet. I’m sure there are many other ways for Madge to fight Father Time instead of baring her boobs and booty at every given opportunity.

  • Gepubliceerd in Buitenlands nieuws

Madonna Strikes Back: Inside Her Star-Packed New Album 'Rebel Heart'

Madonna was in Africa in late November, visiting schools built by her Raising Malawi nonprofit, when the first leak hit the Web: 40 seconds of Rebel Heart, a defiant, dance-y track she had recently been working on. Three weeks later, the leak became a flood. Madonna was back in New York on December 17th, when fans started alerting her via Instagram that 13 demos recorded for her unfinished 13th album, also called Rebel Heart, had been illegally posted online and were spreading like wildfire.

It was an unprecedented leak: Nearly a full album's worth of work arrived four months before its planned April release date. "She was devastated," the singer's longtime manager Guy Oseary says.

Madonna's response was swift and dramatic: She decided she would complete six tracks and get them up for sale on iTunes as soon as possible. The songs leaked on a Tuesday; they needed to be online by Friday if fans were going to buy them before 2015. "The deadline for getting this music out was a 50-yard dash," Madonna says. Some in her camp urged her to not rush out the songs, but she insisted. "Starting Wednesday, it was like, 'You've got to get this music out – I can't take it,' " adds Oseary. "What could we do? You've got to just battle through it."

With most of Apple about to go on holiday break, the challenge wasn't simply mixing and mastering the tracks to Madonna's satisfaction, but getting them loaded into the iTunes store, which can be a laborious process. (Oseary, who also manages U2, worked closely with Apple on the surprise release of U2's Songs of Innocence last September.)

Madonna and her team worked for nearly 72 straight hours to make it happen, getting key help from Interscope's Steve Berman and iTunes' Robert Kondrk. She didn't learn until 11:30 p.m. Friday that the finished songs were indeed going to reach fans before the new year. But the payoff was immediate: The songs, which Madonna called "an early Christmas gift," shot to the top of the music service's charts in 42 countries. "The fans are extremely loyal," she says, "and I'm really supergrateful for that." (The full 19-track album now has a March 9th release date.) "Every time a country would tweet about getting it, it put a smile on my face, because it meant it was working," Oseary says of the iTunes rollout.

No one in Madonna's camp will say who was responsible for the leaks, but Oseary says security has been tightened. "We figured out the holes," he says. "Clearly, we have experience now in what to do and what not to do in the future." (On December 23rd, however, several days after we spoke, 14 additional demos leaked online.)

Madonna started work on the follow-up to 2012's Number One MDNA early last year. From the start, she was focused on one thing in particular: making the songs stand on their own. Throughout the sessions, Madonna would ask herself if she could perform each track stripped down, alone with an acoustic guitar. "This is all part of my Armageddon thinking right now," she says. "The world is changing and what does it all come down to at the end of the day? It comes down to the songs."

The first step was finding the right collaborators. For years, she used to work with only one producer on her albums, but that hasn't been the case since 2005's Confessions on a Dance Floor. For Rebel Heart, she again worked with an array of stars, including Nicki Minaj, Chance the Rapper and Nas, often posting photos of the sessions on Instagram. "Writing music, you have to be vulnerable," she says. "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."

Minaj, who turns out a ferocious rap on Bitch I'm Madonna, was again one of her most in-sync creative partners, having also appeared on MDNA. "Whenever we work together, she sits with me and listens to the song and says, 'Tell me what this song is about to you,' " Madonna says. "She's very methodical in her thinking. It's a back-and-forth until she gets it right."

Madonna says she found herself drawn to Diplo, who worked on a handful of tracks, thanks to their shared love of globe-trotting and "absorbing and seeing the beauty in other cultures." Several up-and-coming producers made key contributions as well, like Blood Diamonds and DJ Dahi, who worked on the ominous Devil Pray.

The biggest guest was one of the last to arrive to the party: Kanye West came in near the end of the sessions to provide the grimy production for Illuminati, a track that plays with one of the Internet's favorite conspiracy theories. "People often accuse me of being a member of the Illuminati, but the thing is, I know who the real Illuminati are and I know where that word comes from," Madonna says. (Her definition: scientists, artists and philosophers who flourished during the Age of Enlightenment.) She says West loved the song so much, he actually jumped up and down on the mixing board: "We were worried he was going to hit his head on the ceiling."

Her first sessions with two groups of songwriters from Avicii's camp wound up guiding her to two distinct thematic paths: songs about letting her heart steer the way and tracks about her stubbornly rebellious spirit. "I never consciously think, 'I want to write a song about this subject' – music leads me to where I want to go emotionally," Madonna says. "One team had a more upbeat approach to songwriting, sonically speaking, and the other team chose darker chords."

While MDNA was widely considered Madonna's "breakup album" (she had divorced British director Guy Ritchie in 2008), she dives headfirst back into personal territory on Rebel Heart, writing about triumph after heartbreak on Living for Love, a buoyant throwback house track produced by Diplo.

"Lots of people sing about being in love and being happy, or they write about having a broken heart and being inconsolable," Madonna says. "But nobody writes about having a broken heart and being hopeful and triumphant afterward. That was my challenge. I didn't want to be a victim."

  • Gepubliceerd in Nieuws

Madonna weet zeker wie bij de Illuminati horen

Zangeres Madonna weet zeker welke personen bij het illustere genootschap van de Illuminati horen.

Dat zegt de zangeres in gesprek met Rolling Stone.

Op haar nieuwe album Rebel Heart staat het nummer Illuminati, dat ze samen met Kanye West gemaakt heeft. Volgens enkele mensen is dat het bewijs dat Madonna bij de Illuminati hoort. "Weet je wat het is, ik weet precies welke personen erbij horen", zegt de zangeres.

"En ik weet waar dat woord vandaan komt. Het hoort bij wetenschappers, kunstenaars en filosofen uit de periode van de Verlichting (een stroming in de 18e eeuw, red.). Mensen beschuldigen me vaak dat ik erbij hoor, maar ik kan zeggen dat dat niet waar is."
Rebel Heart

Het dertiende studioalbum Rebel Heart is de opvolger van MDNA, dat in 2012 verscheen. Onder de zes nummers zijn Bitch I'm Madonna (met Nicki Minaj), Unapologetic Bitch en Illuminati.

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