Madonna’s ‘Rebel Heart’, By The Numbers: Why Isn’t This Album A Hit?
Madonna’s new album Rebel Heart is floundering at #34 on the Billboard 200 in only its third week on the main album chart, despite the huge amount of promotional appearances she put in behind the project. But the not-so-fit-for-a-Queen sales of the record have less to do with the Material Girl’s popularity (remember, this is the top grossing solo tour act and best-selling female artist of all time we’re talking about, whose 13 studio albums have all landed in the Top 10) and probably much to do with a disastrous string of leaks that plagued the album months before it was officially released.
Below, we break down the numbers with regards to Rebel Heart, from noteworthy dates in the album’s timeline to leaks to chart positions to sales.
Hold tight — and let’s get down to the science of what went wrong with Rebel Heart.
DATE OF ALBUM RELEASE: March 10, 2015
ORIGINAL PLANNED ALBUM RELEASE: April 2015
NUMBER OF TRACKS ON THE STANDARD VERSION: 14
NUMBER OF TRACKS ON THE DELUXE VERSION: 19
NUMBER OF TRACKS ON THE SUPER DELUXE VERSION: 24
DATE FIRST SONG(S) LEAKED: November 28, 2014 — a version of the album’s title track surfaced online, followed hours later by a demo of “Wash All Over Me”
DATE OVER A DOZEN REBEL HEART SONG DEMOS LEAKED: December 17, 2014
NUMBER OF SONGS RUSH-RELEASED THROUGH iTUNES AFTER THE ABOVE LEAK: 6, including single “Living For Love”
ORIGINAL PLANNED RELEASE SINGLE RELEASE: Two months later, on February 14, 2015
DATE ANOTHER 14 DEMO VERSIONS OF SONGS FROM THE ALBUM LEAKED: December 23, 2014
DATE ISRAELI POLICE ARRESTED A MAN REPORTED TO HAVE HACKED INTO MADONNA’S COMPUTER AND LEAKED THE DEMOS: January 21, 2015
DATE THE SUPER DELUXE VERSION OF REBEL HEART LEAKED ONLINE: February 3, 2015, five full weeks before the album’s official release
DATE THE VIDEO FOR LEAD SINGLE “LIVING FOR LOVE” PREMIERED: February 5, 2015
HIGHEST CHART POSITION FOR “LIVING FOR LOVE” IN ISRAEL, WHERE MADONNA’S REPORTED HACKER LIVES: #4
HIGHEST CHART POSITION FOR “LIVING FOR LOVE” IN THE UK, WHERE THE SONG WAS BANNED FROM BBC RADIO 1: #26
HIGHEST CHART POSITIONS FOR “LIVING FOR LOVE” IN THE US: #1 on the dance chart, #8 on the Bubbling Under chart (or the equivalent of #108 on the Billboard Hot 100)
POSITION REBEL HEART DEBUTED AT ON THE BILLBOARD 200: #2
AMOUNT OF ALBUM UNITS REBEL HEART MOVED IN ITS FIRST WEEK: 121,000
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS MADONNA HAS ON INSTAGRAM ALONE: 3.4 million
POSITION REBEL HEART FELL TO IN ITS SECOND WEEK: #21
POSITION REBEL HEART FELL TO IN ITS THIRD WEEK: #34
NUMBER OF MADONNA STUDIO ALBUMS RELEASED TO-DATE: 13
NUMBER OF MADONNA STUDIO ALBUMS TO REACH THE TOP OF THE CHART: 8
NUMBER OF REBEL HEART COPIES SOLD IN THE FIRST THREE WEEKS: In the ballpark of 150,000
NUMBER OF COPIES MADONNA’S PREVIOUS ALBUM, MDNA, SOLD IN ITS FIRST WEEK: 359,000
MADONNA’S BIGGEST OPENING-WEEK SALES OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM: Music, released in 2000, started off with 411,000 copies sold
AMOUNT OF PROMOTION MADONNA DID IN SUPPORT OF THE REBEL HEART RELEASE: Quite frankly, we lost track…but it included cover stories with Interview, MOJO and Rolling Stone magazines, plus performances at the Grammy Awards, the BRIT Awards and the iHeart Radio Music Awards and appearances on Howard Stern’s radio show, The TODAY Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show (for a full week), The Jonathan Ross Show (UK), Che Tempo Che Fa (Italy), Le Grande Journal (France) and Today (Australia). This is all ahead of her upcoming Rebel Heart Tour.
Bottom line: There will always be interest in Madonna, who is usually surefire when it comes to getting a new album off the ground. But Rebel Heart didn’t just leak in full once — it might has well have leaked two-and-a-half times, given that a demo for pretty much every song on the album, and then some, made its way online in December. That fiasco killed practically any chance of a lead single gathering momentum via a traditional release, and all but ensured that only diehard fans (and Rebel Heart Tour ticket buyers) would be purchasing a copy of the LP.
And that’s a shame, given that the album is actually her best in a decade, and her most ambitious since 1998’s Ray Of Light.
Lesson learned: Keep your shit under lock and key next time around, Madge. You’ve got the money to avoid the more slippery slopes of modern technology.
Ah, well — roll on the tour!
Do you think Madonna’s album can rebound? Did you actually buy a copy? Let us know your thoughts below, rebel hearts!