Call it Rebel Heart-break. Last week Madonna released six tracks to iTunes, hoping to circumvent a spate of demos that were illegally posted on the web. At first, all six songs lodged right into the iTunes top 10 and it looked like Madonna had a success. The plan was to release the balance of the album, called “Rebel Heart,” in March.
But now, just a few days late, five of the six songs are gone from iTunes. Only one, “Bitch I’m Madonna,” featuring Nicki Minaj, remains at a lowly number 188. The album “Rebel Heart,” which lists seven songs (for some reason “Joan of Arc” is there but you can’t hear it) is at number 38 for pre-orders.
On amazon.com things are much much worse.. “Living for Love,” which was supposed to be the lead single, is at number 529 among digital singles. Five hundred twenty nine. And the “Rebel Heart” album is at 167. Ouch!
Madonna, like other legacy artists, has not been able to sell albums in the last decade. “MDNA,” “Hard Candy,” and “American Life” were all sales disasters. New fans are not forthcoming for a 56 year old artist. Old fans only to want to hear the hits. It’s a hard fact of life for everyone, not just Madonna.
This situation with “Rebel Heart” has been a real calamity. The leaked tracks, if Madonna’s peeps didn’t leak them, should have been ignored. Most of her fans wouldn’t have known how to find them anyway. Rushing them out as official releases, nearly a third of the new album, seems to have backfired. Radio didn’t pick anything up, and core fans mostly snubbed the tracks after Madonna admonished them in an Instagram video. Maybe just releasing one track officially would have worked. But a half dozen? With no promotion? No good.
Anyway, I like Madonna’s new songs. I think they’re her best work in years. Hopefully all of “Rebel Heart” will launch properly in March and this episode will have been just a distant nightmare.