Lost Hit: Madonna’s “Hold Tight” Should Have Been A Single
In this franchise, we highlight album tracks that should have been released as singles.
The odds were against Madonna when she released her 13th LP Rebel Heart in 2015. Despite plans for a monumental rollout to celebrate her return to music after some time off following 2012’s MDNA, the Queen of Pop was plagued by a series of leaks. A multitude of tracks appeared online and forced the 59-year-old to move up her release date. She dropped half the LP in 2014 and followed it up with the second half in March 2015. Of course, another leak hit before then. Although it contained some of her best material in years, the album failed to produce a chart-dominating single.
The anthemic lead “Living For Love” was extremely underrated. Boasting a ’90s-tinged house production and inspiring lyrics, it paid tribute to the icon’s earliest hits. Unfortunately, it failed to make a dent in the Billboard Hot 100. The sparsely beautiful follow-up “Ghosttown” similarly underperformed. Speaking out about sexism in the industry, Rebel Heart producer Diplo came to Madonna’s defense. “Her song ‘Ghosttown’ was a guaranteed Number One for anybody else, but she didn’t get a fair shot,” he said.
Things turned around a bit with the release of the unapologetically grating “Bitch I’m Madonna.” Thanks in part to a video overflowing with cameos from the likes of Katy Perry, Beyonce and collaborator Nicki Minaj, the single was the first to crack the Hot 100. Peaking at number 84, it still paled in comparison to her earlier successes.
After cleaning up the mess from a massive house party in the lavish visual, Madonna closed out the era without another single. However, she easily could have continued releasing songs throughout the entirety of her expansive Rebel Heart Tour. Chiefly, she deserved a chance to tackle the charts with her dazzling “Hold Tight.”
Written with assistance from the likes of Ariel Rechtshaid, Diplo and MNEK, the track is a glistening electro ballad tailored for dance floors. The self-produced masterpiece was on trend for the times while still containing the “Material Girl” siren’s signature. An apocalyptic love song, it celebrates the strength of a relationship. “A million miles later, we walked through the valley of the darkest night. We made it through the fire scarred, and we’re bruised. But our hearts will guide us,” she lovingly sings to a partner on the opening lines. Things build in power as she moves to the earth-shattering chorus.
“Hold tight. As long as your by my side. Hold tight. Everything’s gonna be alright,” she proclaims as the beat swirls underneath her. The drumline becomes more prominent as she progresses through the lines. “Only love, only love tonight. Lights off, we’re burning so bright. Hold tight, everything’s gonna be alright.” Reaching a crescendo underneath her voice, the production continues building as her voice drops out. Pounding drums and sparkling synths set the scene for a break that builds in power before Madonna comes back in.
Incandescent and featuring an empowering message, the track could have easily been a contender for the title of Song of the Summer in 2015. It was tailored for the clubs and acknowledged as an album highlight in several reviews. Buoyed by digital sales and streams, it charted in several European countries and was released as an official single in Italy. However, it never truly got a chance at showing its full potential without a live performance or accompanying video.
Although “Hold Tight” was a missed opportunity, it remains a highlight on an album lush with potential. With any luck, Madonna will recapture the magic as she works in the studio on new material. She is expected to offer the first taste of a forthcoming LP with the release of her Mirwais-assisted “Beautiful Game” in the near future. Hopefully it is equally powerful. Revisit the glistening bop below!