Rebel Heart is the thirteenth studio album by American singer and songwriter Madonna. It was released on March 6, 2015, by Interscope Records. Following the completion of the MDNA era, Madonna worked on the album throughout 2014, co-writing and co-producing it with various musicians, including Diplo, Avicii, and Kanye West. She teased by uploading pictures of her recording sessions on her Instagram account. Working with a number of collaborators posed problem for Madonna in keeping a cohesive sound and direction for Rebel Heart, unlike her previous efforts where only a few people were involved.
Thematically Rebel Heart represents the two different sides of the singer, her romantic and her rebellious side. The themes grew organically during the writing and recording sessions. Musically, it is a pop record which merges an array of genres such as 1990s house, trap and reggae, as well as the usage of acoustic guitars and gospel choir. Some of the songs are autobiographical in nature while others talk about love and introspection of Madonna’s career. Rebel Heart features guest appearances from boxer Mike Tyson and rappers Nicki Minaj, Nas, and Chance the Rapper.
The record had been set for a March 2015 release, with the first single to be released on Valentine’s Day. But after a flurry of unexpected album content leaks, Madonna released the album for pre-order on iTunes Store on December 20, 2014, with six songs being available for download. Police investigation led to an Israeli man being arrested, who was charged for hacking into Madonna’s computer and the leaks. The cover art for the deluxe edition of the album became popular, leading to numerous memes being created on Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. To promote the album, Madonna made several television appearances and performances, including the 57th Annual Grammy Awards and the 2015 Brit Awards. Further promotion happened from the Rebel Heart Tour, which started from September 2015 and continue till March 2016 through North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania. “Living for Love”, “Ghosttown”, “Bitch I’m Madonna”, and “Hold Tight” were released as singles from the album.
Rebel Heart received predominantly positive reviews from music critics; multiple reviewers called it her best effort in a decade. They found that unlike her previous two studio efforts, Hard Candy (2008) and MDNA (2012), the album was progressive in its sound. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States and the UK Albums Chart. Rebel Heart also peaked at number one in various countries across the world, including major music markets such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland, while reaching the top ten of the charts in France, Ireland, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, and Sweden, and attaining Gold certifications in some of the regions.