Story By: G. H. HARDING

REALLY MADONNA? --- I knew it wasn’t an accident - Madonna and her manager Guy Oseary– have made the songstress’ forthcoming album Rebel Heart album number 1 on iTunes even though it can only be pre-ordered until its release in 11 weeks.

The leaks of pre-completion tracks from the forthcoming album were said to have been hacked – but, I wondered if it was just an elaborate plan … and, turns out, it was!

"Living for Love", "Devil Pray", "Ghost town," "Unapologetic Bitch", "Illuminati" and "Bitch, I'm Madonna (featuring Nicki Minaj)," are up now at iTunes for purchase with the rest of the forthcoming album scheduled for release on March 10. The tracks are also available for streaming on all services.

Producers on the album include Diplo, Kanye West, Billboard and Madonna herself, and was recorded in New York, Los Angeles and London.

Madonna said on her website:

“I was hoping to release my new single ‘Living For Love’ on Valentine's Day with the rest of the album coming in the Spring. I would prefer my fans to hear completed versions of some of the songs instead of the incomplete tracks that are circulating. Please consider these six songs as an early Christmas gift.”

Give the pair credit: Madonna and Oseary had to do something unusual after the MDNA album (her last release)was a certified dud. Oseary (who is also U2’s manager) just recently had another surprise for music fans with the U2-Apple deal in which that album - Songs of Innocence– was shoved down the throats of millions of people.

If you recall, even lead singer Bono somewhat sheepishly eventually apologized for that debacle.

How long can Madonna hold at number 1? Eleven weeks is a long time. She'll drop out and down, and then she'll be back. But she’s certainly gotten everyone’s attention.

Makes me think of her golden days with original manager, wunderkind Freddy DeMann. Think Jellybean too?

As I posited last column; she must be watching a lot of rising-young-Brit artist Charlie XCX, who has certainly duplicated many of her early career moves, and gotten real nervous. Face it, the rush and desire to remain relevant is certainly prominent in Madonna’s case. Those revealing photos in the current Interview are proof positive.

Madonna changed her style so many times; it’s hard to get excited by another one. These new tracks at first listen are good, but instantly forgettable.

LUCKY 28 --- Lucky us indeed. Every year since 1986, save for one, Darlene Love has appeared on the David Letterman Show in the week before Christmas to sing her classic Christmas, “Baby Please Come Home.”

Last Friday, was the final installment, as Letterman retires this spring. With bandleader Paul Shaffer front and center and the band adorned in white tie and tails and heavily augmented, Love delivered perhaps her bets performances ever. A classic for sure. Here’s the clip:

CLOSING NOTES --- How about Mike Myers’ reprising his Doctor Evil character for the cold opening for this week’s Saturday Night Live? Best thing he’s done in ages. His monologue blasted the recent Sony hack with lines like these: The last time Sony had a hit was with the Walkman, and If the Guardians of Peace really wanted to bomb Sony,they should put a movie like The Love Guru in the theaters. That movie, for those not in the know was Myer’s last BIG dud. Too funny …

Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman's musical Harmony, about the 1920's/30's German group The Comedian Harmonists, has been kicking around in various versions for seventeen years.

Originally produced in 1997 at the LaJolla Playhouse, the show had a tryout run scheduled in Philadelphia in 2003 but the production had to be shut down due to financial problems. After a two year battle with the producer of the show, Manilow and Sussman reacquired the rights to the show.

The new production, which has been revised from the original show, played earlier this year at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles and has now garnered seventeen nominations in the BroadwayWorld Los Angeles Awards ...

Congrats to Elton John and partner David Furnish for their legal union yesterday in London. The pair wanted everyone to have a view of the festivities, so a succession of Instagram photos appeared. Lovely!