"Bitch I'm Madonna," featuring Nicki Minaj, leads with sales of 12,000 downloads, according to Nielsen Music. "Living," the album's first proper single, starts with 10,000 sold and "Unapologetic," 7,000. The tracks begin on Dance/Electronic Digital Songs at Nos. 9, 12 and 14, respectively. (She notches her first top 10 on the list, which launched in January 2010.)
Two versions of "Living," the album original and an instrumental, shipped to club DJs on the evening of Dec. 21. Remixes are currently in production and, once approved by Madonna, will be sent out.
Madonna leads all acts with 43 Dance Club Songs No. 1s, with her most recent, "Turn Up the Radio," ruling on Sept. 8, 2012.
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Madonna told Billboard on Dec. 21 that "Living" went through more than 10 incarnations during the recording process, including ones with vocals from British singer MNEK. "There will be remixes with MNEK's voice," she confirmed.
As for radio airplay, top 40 has so far not warmed to "Living." It's received a mere 10 plays at the format (through Dec. 23) (led by KMXV Kansas City, which has sampled it three times). Then again, Interscope Records serviced the song at midnight, Monday morning (Dec. 22) as a soft sell. An Interscope source tells Billboard that the label will re-service the song after New Year's and decide on an official "add" date shortly thereafter. (Surely the song's rush release and Christmas week timing, when many programmers are on vacation, play into radio's general lack of interest in the song so far.)
Madonna last reached the Pop Songs airplay chart in 2012, when "Give Me All Your Luvin' " (featuring Minaj and M.I.A.) and "Girl Gone Wild" reached Nos. 24 and 38, respectively. "Luvin' "was aided by coordinated first-day plays on iHeartMedia-owned stations, as well as Madonna's performance of it during the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVI.
"The reason I wanted to call the record Rebel Heart was because I felt like it explores two very distinct sides of my personality," Madonna says. (The album's buzz spurred Madonna to top the Billboard + Twitter real-time Trending 140 chart on Dec. 22.) "The rebellious, renegade side of me, and the romantic side of me.
"(Fans will) just get my rebellious and romantic side all mixed in together.")
Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield and Gary Trust