L-U-V Madonna Y-O-U You Wanna.
Yep, I bet it is in your head too.
After that half-time Superbowl performance, Madonna is the name on everyone’s lips, the force dominating the twittersphere and Give Me All Your Luvin’ is the song that you just cannot stop singing no matter how hard you try.
With the announcement of her forthcoming MDNA World Tour last week, once again Madonna has her sights set on world domination.
She courts controversy and is the undefeated queen of reinvention, but whatever your opinion of Madonna, here are a few reasons why to me she remains the most important and iconic person in music today.
Music, makes the people, come together
Sadly, the music often gets overlooked but Madonna’s impressive back catalogue has provided a soundtrack to our own lives, loves and losses ever since she made her first UK appearance in 1984 (at Manchester’s Hacienda Club where she danced and mimed to Burning Up and Holiday). She has sold more than 300 million records worldwide and is recognised as the world’s top-selling female rock artist of the 20th century. Her album covers are iconic works of art, telling a story of an era gone by, and showcase trends that get up again over and over.
So take a seat, sit back and relax and let us go on a visual adventure of some of the Material Girl’s studio, soundtrack and compilation albums.Peak UK Chart position: 6 Song you probably like very much: Lucky Star Heard this? Physical Attraction Who took the photo? Gary Heery and George Holy Peak UK Chart position: 1 Song you probably like very much: Like a Virgin Heard this? Angel Who took the photo? Stephen Meisel Peak UK Chart position: 1 Song you probably like very much: Open your Heart Heard this? White Heat Who took the photo? Herb Ritts Peak UK Chart position: 4 Song you probably like very much: Who’s That Girl Heard this? Causing a Commotion Peak UK Chart position: 5 Song you probably like very much: Get into the Groove Heard this? Where’s the Party Who took the photo? Herb Ritts Peak UK Chart position: 1 Song you probably like very much: Like a Prayer Heard this? Keep it Together Who took the photo? Herb Ritts Peak UK Chart position: 2 Song you probably like very much: Vogue Heard this? Sooner or Later Peak UK Chart position: 1 Song you probably like very much: Express Yourself Heard this? Rescue Me Who took the photos? Herb Ritts Peak UK Chart position: 2 Song you probably like very much: Rain Heard this? Bye Bye Baby Who took the photo? Stephen Meisel Peak UK Chart position: 2 Song you probably like very much: Secret Heard this? Forbidden Love Who took the photo? Patrick Demarchelier Peak UK Chart position: 3 Song you probably like very much: Crazy For You Heard this? One More Chance Who took the photo? Mario Testino Peak UK Chart position: 1 Song you probably like very much: Don’t Cry for Me Argentina Heard this? You Must Love Me Peak UK Chart position: 1 Song you probably like very much: Ray of Light Heard this? Drowned World/Substitute for Love Who took the photo? Mario Testino Peak UK Chart position: 1 Song you probably like very much: Don’t Tell Me Heard this? What It Feels Like For a Girl Who took the photo? Jean-Baptiste Mondino Peak UK Chart position: 2 Song you probably like very much: Frozen Heard this? The Power of Goodbye Peak UK Chart position: 1 Song you probably like very much: American Life Heard this? Nothing Fails Who took the photo? Craig McDean Peak UK Chart position: 1 Song you probably like very much: Hung Up Heard this? Get Together Who took the photo? Steven Klein Peak UK Chart position: 1 Song you probably like very much: 4 Minutes Heard this? Beat Goes On Who took the photo? Steven Klein Peak UK Chart position: 1
Song you probably like very much: Vogue Heard this? Revolver Who created the cover? Mr Brainwash Peak UK Chart position: ? Song you probably like very much: Give Me All Your Luvin’ Who took the photo? Mert and Marcus
She gives good face
Madonna is a creative force to be reckoned with in her own right, but add some very famous friends to the energetic mix and you have an explosive collaboration. She has worked with some of the most prolific fashion photographers in the business to produce album covers, accompanying artwork, music videos and fashion campaigns, creating a visual treasure trove of images.
Take Patrick Demarchelier for example, the acclaimed French photographer who worked with Madonna on the artwork for her 1994 album Bedtime Stories and the cover art for the Justify My Love single. In 1989 he gave us a rare glimpse into Madonna’s world by photographing her in her LA home for US Vogue.
She has worked with the legendary fashion photographer Herb Ritts on a number of occasions. From the iconic True Blue album cover, the instantly recognisable cover for the single Dear Jessie in 1987 (with the infamous Minnie Mouse ears) and the beautifully aquatic music video for Cherish. Not to mention those classic monochrome shots that showcased the music on the Immaculate Collection album in 1990, arguably Madonna’s most successful year.
She teamed up with her good friends Dolce & Gabbana for their Autumn/Winter 2010 campaign, reportedly inspired by Italian Neorealism cinema. Shot by renowned US photographer Steven Klein in New York City, Madonna features in stunning black and white shots posing alongside an Italian family and even showing her domestic side. Fashion meets Italian-American legend.
On the cover of a magazine – Madonna always shines. She has featured on a multitude of covers from 1984 on the cover of i-D magazine, her first UK Vogue cover in 1989 and her shots with Helmut Newton for Vanity Fair in 1990, all telling the artistic story of a living legend.
She possesses the ingenuity of knowing when, where and how and the result is always iconic – a collector’s item image right there on screen.
Beauty’s where you find it.
Dress you Up
Admittedly, she may not win style plaudits, but Madonna is a game changer and her metamorphic style has empowered and inspired women through the decades. She has always set a trend and created enough looks to cram a stylist’s lookbook and saturate a digital moodboard.
When she burst onto the scene back in the mid 1980s, she represented youth and strength as shown here on the The Virgin Tour in 1985. All of a sudden, it was perfectly acceptable to wear blue tights, lashings of romantic lace, religious adornments and strong makeup, all in one go. It was fun, it was accessible and it was totally unobjectionable to celebrate your sexuality.
Then in 1986 a different Madonna emerged; a complete image makeover. She gave us the gamine look with jeans and a tough-girl leather jacket, alternated with a toned and muscular Madonna with platinum blond hair and 1960s capri pants with bustier. Almost two competing sides of Madonna. We fell for them both. Italians really did do it better.
In 1990, we saw the tough, strong and fierce Madonna showing her Blond Ambition to the world in Jean Paul Gaultier. Then at the 63rd Academy Awards in 1991 we were presented with her homage to the great Marilyn Monroe. She displayed a softer, more curvy side in platinum blond curls as she purred her way through the award-winning and exquisite Sooner or Later.
Madonna is the ultimate style chameleon and remains fresh, fearless and daring when she dresses up, even to this day.
You can dance for inspiration
Madonna knows how to put on a show. Her music is powerful and remains a timeless listen but if you add slick choreography and striking visual art, the result is meteoric.
In 1990 she embarked on the Blond Ambition World Tour in North America, Europe and Asia and changed the world of tour concerts forever. Unfortunately it will always be associated with controversy and hair extensions, but the world was treated to what Rolling Stone magazine called ‘the greatest concert of the 1990s’. Cleverly choreographed by Vincent Paterson, Madonna’s performance was energetic and empowering. It was brilliantly theatrical and was both inspiring and inspired.
The costumes achieved cult status thanks to the cone brassiere and high blonde ponytail, a creation of the genius minds of Jean Paul Gaultier and Marlene Stewart. It combined fashion, art, theatre and music and influenced the world over.
The opening of the tour began with a segment named Metropolis, inspired by Fritz Lang’s silent film. My favourite song was Express Yourself – an incredible way to start a concert. Inspired by the music video of the same name and set in a large industrial machine room with shirtless male dancers, when Madonna pops out of the stage resplendent in black suit, monocle and asking if we believe in love, it’s impossible not to. The dance routine is amazing.
Madonna ends the show with Keep it Together – inspired by the work of Bob Fosse and A Clockwork Orange. With bowler hats, ingenious dancing and chair juggling, not to mention an introduction of Sly and the Family Stone’s Family Affair it enthralled me. The song, and the concert, ends with Madonna throwing her bowler hat in the spotlight, and it gives me goose bumps every single time.
During the performance of Keep it Together, Madonna tells the audience to ‘never doubt yourself’. When I’m unsure, having a wobble, unconvinced of how to handle a situation or what might be ahead, I think of those words and what Madonna stands for. As my good friend Gin said to me, ‘even at a young age, I just found her very inspiring, very brave and very courageous and it was these qualities that made me want to independent and want to lose the fear of what others may think and have the confidence to be just me’.
Last week I bought my ticket to see Madonna in July and I am just as excited as that seven-year-old girl whose first glimpse of Madonna was on Top of the Pops back in 1984, singing and dancing to Holiday.
I last saw Madonna in 1993 at Wembley Stadium and it blew me away. Me and my close friend Louisa waited all day to get as near to the stage as we could, only to realise as we were firmly wedged between fellow fanatics that we desperately needed a wee. However, excruciating pressure on my bladder was not going to ruin the moment for me and she did not disappoint. It was an incredible show.
Take a Bow
So, I present my case to you. The haters will always hate, the disparagers will always disparage, no matter what she does. Her gender will automatically mean people judge her on her age (post-Superbowl critique featured tweets such as I’m sixty and I know it) and appearance (incessant scrutiny and speculation about possible surgical enhancements), but not many quinquagenarians can do what she does and in my eyes she is, and will always be, an inspiration.
Madonna is the original superstar, a creative phenomenon, and I for one cannot wait to see what she has next in store for us.
So dust off your old records and forget about the bad times.
It’s time to celebrate.
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Hey Alanna, thank you so much! I really appreciate you looking at it. Let me know what you think of the other Madonna songs you said you might listen to. x
Wow! This is one of your best blogs yet.