Madonna encounters the IOM (Internet Outrage Machine)

We’re three days into the new year and Internet writers have found the latest thing to be faux outraged at: Madonna. Is this pre-Internet 1984? Or 1989? Or 1992?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with what’s happened, let me fill you in. Last month, dozens of demos from Madonna’s upcoming album Rebel Heart leaked to the Internet. The Queen of Pop was obviously pretty pissed and as a response, she and her team released six tracks from Rebel as part of a pre-order (more music is coming next month and the full album release is scheduled for March, 10th).

Since then, Madonna has been re-posting fan art of photoshopped images of famous activists and freedom fighters, from Nelson Mandela to John Lennon, with the black ribbon around them a la the album cover to Rebel Heart. As she explained, she loved the images and found them inspiring.

I would like to thank all my fans for recreating my album cover with the ❤️Rebel Heart ribbon on the faces of so many Great Hero’s. It shows that you are also celebrating and in admiration of these great freedom fighters! When I repost these images i am saying YES! These people are all Rebel Hearts in one way or another from Martin Luther King to Jesus to Nelson Mandela to John Lennon. YES! Lets

But since this is 2015, the fact that she promoted fan-made images of civil rights icons is grounds for self-righteous indignation. Entertainment Weekly ran a hack-job-of-an-article on the images, claiming Madonna was being disrespectful and offensive (hey, sounds like the detractors from throughout her career!) by posting the images. Aside from the ageism and outright Madonna-hatred, this is perhaps the most hilarious line of the piece:

Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t make his “I Have a Dream” speech in order to promote a rich white woman’s record a half century later. And the fact that she’s co-opting the images of three of the most influential figures in the modern struggle for black liberation—King, Nelson Mandela, and Bob Marley—while America struggles to reckon with its history of systematic racism is bafflingly tone deaf, to say the least.

Not to be outdone in up-to-the-minute Internet fads, Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos joined in the fun to accuse Madonna of personally photoshopping the pictures. He also joined the author of the EW piece by bashing Madonna for not being the superstar they personally wish she would be.

By tweeting these controversial images, she’s (or someone on her team) doing a masterful job at changing the conversation. Instead of talking about how bad “Rebel Heart” is, people are now talking about how disrespectful she’s being.

It’s almost as if things like introspection and fact-checking don’t exist. This is yet the latest example of something Madonna has dealt with since she burst onto the scene in the early ’80s. Now it’s been updated to the Age of Perpetual Outrage.

 

 

The official "Rebel Heart" album cover by Mert & Marcus

The official “Rebel Heart” album cover by Mert & Marcus

Be still, my “Rebel Heart” (UPDATED)

 

Madonna is the Queen. No, seriously – she is the undisputed Queen. Let me explain…

For starters, she’s sold over 300 million albums worldwide (more than any female artist) over her 32-year career. She’s the top-touring solo artist in history and those shows are sold out, critically acclaimed extravaganzas. She’s a billionaire…..I could go on and on (a la “Give it 2 Me”). But her royal credentials have been proven yet again by how she worked the recent leaking of her album to her advantage.

In case you didn’t read the news, 13 demos from album number 13 leaked onto the web just days ago. Yeah, the one and only Queen of Pop was not happy about it. ““This is artistic rape!! These are early leaked demos, half of which won’t even make it on my album,” she posted alongside a photo to Instagram (which was later deleted). “The other half have changed and evolved. This is a form of terrorism. Wtf!!!! Why do people want to destroy artistic process??? Why steal? Why not give me the opportunity to finish and give you my very best?”

Well last night (12/19/2014), she literally broke iTunes by releasing her upcoming album as a pre-order – I had trouble downloading it and connecting to the store, a problem I saw happened to many who tried to pre-order. Titled Rebel Heart (Madonna-holics like me have suspected as much since she’s frequently used the hashtag #rebelheart on her Instagram), the 19-track album has six that are instantly available once a pre-order is made. You better believe I pre-ordered faster than she fired someone over the leak.

I say this as a hardcore Madonna fan (I have all her albums, most singles, several vinyls, some books, posters, etc.): It’s her best material since 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor. It’s ahead of the curve (classic Madonna trait) and beautifully showcases the magic that happens when she collaborates with amazing artists and producers like Natalia Kills, Diplo, Avicii and others. I’m not saying 2008’s Hard Candy and 2012’s MDNA weren’t good – I loved them. But they sounded like other music of the time (no complaints, by the way). Rebel boldly breaks the streak. It sounds unique and different from anything currently out right now.

There are seven tracks with names, six of which are instantly downloadable: “Living For Love,” “Devil Pray,” “Ghosttown,” “Unapologetic Bitch,” “Illuminati,” and “Bitch I’m Madonna (feat. Nicki Minaj).” The seventh – “Joan of Arc.” The available six are all single-worthy and could easily stand alone.

They’re all my favorite. The dance and EDM grooves that have come to define Madonna are fine-tuned into some amazing songs. The lyrics are both deep and lighthearted, the beats are incredible, and the cover of the album is a stunning piece of art by Mert & Marcus. Someone leaked several demos so she released a surprise pre-order that included six songs. Touché.

If you need some confirmation, head over to iTunes and pre-order Rebel Heart. Twenty-fifteen is going to be the year of Madonna and I cannot wait.

The official "Rebel Heart" album cover by Mert & Marcus

The official “Rebel Heart” album cover by Mert & Marcus

UPDATED (12/20/2014)

Since the surprise pre-order “release,” Madonna has also released the first track, “Living For Love,” as the album’s first single (via YouTube).

“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.” – Madonna

Merry Christmas indeed.

 

 

UPDATED (again) – (12/22/2014)

New news of Rebel Heart keeps pouring in! Since pulling what Popjustice calls a “partial Beyoncé,” the pre-order/partial album has rocketed to the top of the iTunes charts in over 40 countries (the U.S. of A. included). Other than Barbra Streisand, no other female artist has had as many chart-topping albums as her – a whopping eight (of her now 13) albums. As examiner.com’s Samuel Lora pointed out, she’s also the only female artist to reach the top ten lists in the all decades since the ’90s.

Hey Madonna haters, do you know what that means? She is still very relevant and popular and will be long after she’s gone. Whether you like it or not, she’s the Queen of Pop.

Yesterday (12/21/2014) she revealed to Billboard that she may sing at the Grammy Awards next year (!!) and how she and her team have been in “overdrive” since the 13 demos leaked onto the Internet. She also sat down with Rolling Stone‘s Caryn Ganz for an exclusive Q&A. A few highlights:

– on song-writing with producers and artists like Avicii, Diplo, etc.:

“And sometimes in the writing phase of the music, there are some people who I really felt a connection to, just as human beings, and felt they understood me as a songwriter and a person, so those people were easier for me to write with. Writing songs, you have to be vulnerable, you have to not be afraid to express yourself and to say things or share. It’s almost like writing your diary in front of somebody and reading it out loud.”

– on the spirituality behind the incredible “Devil Pray” (which does not endorse drug use, by the way)

“[Unity is] another subtle message of the song, and you really do have to pay attention to the lyrics, and I hope people do over time. The way we’re going to change the world, or the way we’re going to ultimately feel joy, is through unity. I’m certainly not encouraging religious behavior; when I say people are thinking in a religious way, I think they’re thinking about rules and dogma and laws that separate. When I say spirituality, I mean a consciousness that has an understanding that we are all in this together, that we are all one. We have to find a way to feel joy and to bring joy to the world together. That ultimately is with consciousness, not drugs.”

– on the meaning behind the ironic track “Illuminati”:

“People often accuse me of being a member of the Illuminati and I think in today’s pop culture the Illuminati is perceived as a group of powerful, successful people who are working behind the scenes to control the universe…The real Illuminati were a group of scientists, artists, philosophers, writers, who came about in what is referred to as the Age of Enlightenment, after the Dark Ages, when there was no writing and no art and no creativity and no spirituality, and life was really at a standstill…when people refer to me as a member of the Illuminati, I always want to say thank you. Thank you for putting me in that category. But before I can say thank you, I feel like I had to write a song about what I believe the Illuminati to be, and what it isn’t.”

She has also taken to her Instagram to thank and praise her fans. We love you, too! We eagerly await February 9th for more music and March 10th for the full work of art. We’re living for the love she’s giving us.

For a great review of each of the six released tracks, head over to MuuMuse. And if you haven’t pre-ordered Rebel Heart, you should…now. 😉

One of the incredible shots from the Mert & Marcus photo shoot for the December 2014 edition of "Interview Magazine"

One of the incredible shots from the Mert & Marcus photo shoot for the December 2014 edition of “Interview Magazine”

 

 

So, I saw Madonna LIVE…

Madonna’s latest tour is an incredible, out-of-this-world spectacular. The high-energy, exciting show is yet another reminder to us all that the cultural groundbreaker is still the Queen of Pop.

On October 10th, I had the incredible privilege of seeing the one and only Queen live at the Los Angeles Staples Center. As a die-hard fan, the experience was both visually stunning and one of the best times of my life. As soon as the lights went down, I joined the stadium in ecstatic cheers and calls of “Yeah! Madonna!”

Aside from seeing my favorite artist and performer, I was amazed at the amount of detail and energy that went in to the show. The sets and screens pushed the technological envelope as did the 54-year-old superstar’s endless amount of energy and toned physique that puts women half her age to shame. The show progressed through different themes, beginning in a gothic cathedral and ending in a Benny Benassi-mixed dance number. It had everything: bare-chested, chanting monks… in heels, a Kill Bill-esque fight scene, vintage majorette uniforms, gender-bending models strutting their stuff to “Vogue,” and even a Joan of Arc-inspired outfit – all designed by long-time Madonna-collaborating designer Jean-Paul Gaultier (Madonna’s iconic coned bra and various tours).

Nobody puts on a show like Madonna. She is one of the great musical performers of our time, up there with both Michael and Janet Jackson and Prince.

She began touring in May and has been performing in sold-out arenas and stadiums all over Europe and North America since. The MDNA Tour is the superstar’s ninth concert tour in her 30-year career and is on track to become one of the highest grossing tours of all time. The last time she toured the world, four years ago, her Sticky & Sweet Tour raked in a record-breaking $408 million dollars, the highest-grossing tour by a solo artist and the fourth highest-grossing tour of all time.

Madonna also got political in the middle of the show, and urged concert goers to register to vote and never “take [our] freedom for granted.” She spoke of the human rights violations in Russia, where over 70 men were arrested for simply being gay and a band was jailed for speaking out against the government.  She even dedicated a heart-felt song to Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head for blogging about the importance of education for women.

She told the audience:

“…support the people that support your freedom…register to f***ing vote, ok?! Take responsibility for your future and your destiny…support the people that support education and support the people that support women, and being gay, or being Muslim, or Christian, or a Jew…none of you have any business being complacent and all of you have a responsibility for the person standing next to you, and don’t you ever forget it!”

This take-charge-of-your-life-and-future idea is the very thing that has kept Madonna on top and relevant since the 1980s. Many artists have come and gone since then, some who many thought would outlive the “outrageous,” “one-hit-wonder” Madonna. It’s 2012 and she has sold over 300 million albums worldwide. She is the top-selling female artist of time. Billboard has her at the top of the “Top 10 Singles” list, ahead of Elvis, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

Her in-charge attitude has inspired a generation, including many of today’s leading artists like Lady GaGa, Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Katy Perry. We wouldn’t have “Mother Monster” or “Sasha Fierce” or even the “California Gurl” had it not been for the trailblazing legacy of Madonna and her unapologetic style.

Sure, she stays with the times and is often slightly ahead of them; she collaborates with fresh, up-and-coming artists and DJs. Her look and sound are routinely reinvented throughout a single decade. But catchy, dance-inducing music and style is not the only thing that has kept her relevant all these years.

This is the woman who spoke out for LGBT equality during the height of the AIDS crisis. This is the woman who broke sexual and cultural taboos during the conservative time of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority.” The Catholic Church had a field day with her video for “Like a Prayer,” which depicted stigmata, burning crosses and romance with a saint. Her music video for “Justify My Love” was banned by MTV in the early 1990s because of its depictions of bisexuality, gay couples kissing, and nudity. Her reaction to the establishment’s outrage: in 1992, she released a tongue-in-cheek, soft-core pornographic coffee table book that sold out in a matter of days. Her provocative style spurred discussions on sexuality, censorship and the role tradition plays in society.

Throughout her career, the critics and culture warriors declared her “finished” and derided her as a bad influence. They scapegoated her and did their best to end her career. By the late 1990s, her image had softened – she had become a mother and embraced spirituality. But her feminist message of equality and inner strength have never ceased.

Her drive and bravery are still clearly seen today; in June, while performing her 1994 hit “Human Nature” in the predominantly Muslim, very conservative country of Turkey – where many women have to wear burqas – she briefly exposed her right breast. No apologies. No regrets (as the song says).

Madonna is a force of nature within the music industry. Her legacy and bold attitude have paved the way for many of the artists we consider “innovative” today. At 54, she’s still vibrant, healthy, energetic and unapologetic. Seeing her perform in LA was a surreal experience for me and an experience I’ll never forget. In the vocally-morphed words of Nicki Minaj, “There’s only one queen, and that’s Madonna, b*tch!” I’m pretty sure she’ll outlive us all. 😉

For my many other Madonna posts, click here 🙂

Madonna, Mitt Romney & One World Trade Center in One Post

It’s been a little while since my last post and some very interesting things have happened since then. So, here’s my take on a few subjects that piqued my interest.

 

 

Madonna’s New Music Video, “Turn Up The Radio,” Came Out

Because I am a Madonna fan extraordinaire, it is only natural that I blog about her latest work. “Turn Up The Radio,” the third music video and single from her 12th and most recent studio album, MDNA, debuted on VEVO on Monday. In it, we see the Queen of Pop trying to get away from the paparazzi (while channelling a sort of updated ’60s go-go dancer look). The theme may be a bit cliché (escaping life’s troubles through music), but the video itself is different…in a good way. Throughout the video, Madonna embraces different kinds of people, from hipsters to a transgender woman, while riding through the Italian countryside in an old school car (not a car person – don’t know the model 😛 ). No matter who you are, turn up the radio until the speakers blow 😉

 

 

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mitt Romney? Lie!

This election cycle wouldn’t be complete without some good ‘ole fashioned manipulation and outright lying. The Republican candidate for President, Mitt Romney, has many problems, one of which is his venture capital firm, Bain Capital. Under his supervision, thousands lost their jobs and had their lives ruined…but not according to Mitt Romney. He claims he left Bain in 1999 (before they effed up American workers’ lives by sending jobs overseas). There’s a big problem with that version of the story; It’s literally not true. Company documents show Romney in charge of Bain years after he supposedly left.

Then there’s his most recent distortion of reality, this time involving a campaign speech by President Obama. Romney claims the President told small business owners that they did not build their companies, that others are completely responsible for building their businesses. Outrageous, right? Wrong…here’s what President Obama actually said (in context):

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that [public infrastructure].  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

Leave it to someone like Mitt Romney to turn a message of the goodness of public investments into one of something horrible. Way to go, Mitt.

 

 

One World Trade Center Update

One World Trade Center is expected to top out within the next few weeks. The steel structure has already made it to the top floor, 104 stories above Lower Manhattan. Concrete flooring is being installed above the 93rd floor and the beautiful glass facade that encapsulates the building has risen above the 80th floor. The tower is also 55 percent leased, which is a promising sign since two of the towers in the complex were stalled due to a lack of tenants. It should be noted that the federal government pushed the leased space to 55 percent – it has agreed to occupy six floors, or 270,000 square feet. The Vantone China Center (cultural/business center – 190,000 square feet) and Conde Nast (publisher – 1.2 million square feet) will also call the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere home.

incredible photo of One World Trade Center at sunset – July 2012

Music Critics Addicted to “MDNA”

MDNA Deluxe Edition Album Cover

Thirty years after the start of her career, Madonna is still kicking ass. She’s a trend-setter, a master at reinvention and button-pushing and, without a doubt, the reigning Queen of Pop. Her latest studio album, “MDNA,” comes out tomorrow and judging by the critical reception, it’s one of her best works.

For album number 12, Madonna collaborated with masters of the DJ world Martin Solveig, Benny Benassi and William Orbit. Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. are also featured on select tracks. The title, “MDNA,” is a fun blend of “Madonna,” “Madonna DNA,” and the technical name of the hallucinogenic drug ecstasy (MDMA). The end result: mass appeal as well as a dance-inducing, other-worldly feeling that only the 53-year-old Queen herself could master.

Music critics got the priviledge of listening to the entire album before its public release. Their verdict: It’s really, really good.

Jim Farber of NY Daily News gave the album five out of five stars:

“…much of ‘MDNA’…has more the flip zip of a disc by Katy Perry or Ke$ha than something by a woman who may be older than both their mothers. Then again, we are talking about Madonna, a woman who, at this point, seems hellbent on giving the finger to expectations about age that she once gave to assumptions about sex…the album’s greater feat has a far more subversive, if not superhuman, dimension. It finds Madonna aging in the most nose-thumbing way possible – in reverse.”

Glenn Gamboa of Newsday have the album an “A” grade:

“On half of ‘MDNA,’ Madonna, surrounded by such state-of-the-art collaborators as hot producer Martin Solveig, sounds like she is readying her last stand as the Queen of Pop, marshalling upbeat dance numbers, well-crafted enough to match anything today’s crop of pop princesses – Rihanna, Katy Perry and, of course, Lady Gaga – could muster. On the other half of ‘MDNA,’ though, Madonna, with her ‘Ray of Light’ producer William Orbit, sounds like she could easily leave pop behind to create dark, challenging EDM (electronic dance music) and work on her far-more lucrative concert tours.”

NME’s Priya Elan had nothing but praise for “MDNA” as well:

“‘MDNA’ is a ridiculously enjoyable romp, but oddly not for the bits that are supposed to be fun. Instead, it’s the psychotic, soul-bearing stuff that provides listeners with some of the most visceral stuff she’s ever done.”

Mirror UK declared that at this stage of her career, Madonna is still a “force to be reckoned with.” MTV’s Jocelyn Vena gave sound medical advice and told us “MDNA” “is a drug worth taking.” Way ahead of you, Ms. Vena. I’m buying the deluxe edition tomorrow. 😀

 

“Girl Gone Wild” – **warning – this is the uncensored version of the music video**

 

 

 

“Give Me All Your Luvin'”

 

 

 

Track Listing

  1. Girl Gone Wild
  2. Gang Bang (excluded from clean version)
  3. I’m Addicted
  4. Turn Up the Radio
  5. Give Me All Your Luvin’ (ft. Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.)
  6. Some Girls
  7. Superstar
  8. I Don’t Give A (ft. Nicki Minaj)
  9. I’m a Sinner
  10. Love Spent
  11. Masterpiece
  12. Falling Free
  13. Beautiful Killer (Deluxe Edition only)
  14. I F***ed Up (Deluxe Edition only)
  15. B-Day Song (ft. M.I.A.) (Deluxe Edition only)
  16. Best Friend (Deluxe Edition only)
  17. Give Me All Your Luvin’ (Party Rock Remix) (ft. LMFAO and Nicki Minaj) (Deluxe Edition only)

The Original “Girl Gone Wild”

As the anticipation and excitement for Madonna’s newest album builds, the Queen of Pop has been releasing snippets of songs on the new album. A couple of days ago, she released a steamy new video. The video, “Girl Gone Wild,” seems to be an homage to her earlier, “controversial” days in the early 1990s. It’s like a modern-day mash-up of her music videos “Express Yourself,” “Vogue,” “Justify My Love,” “Erotica,” and “Human Nature.” It’s sexy. It’s crazy. It’s vintage Madonna 2012. We love it. 🙂

 

*WARNING: This is the uncensored version of the video…

 

 

**Oh, and for those who say it’s a copy of Lady GaGa’s “Alejandro,” you don’t really know what you’re talking about. Madonna did the gender-bending-guys-in-heels thing first (1991’s “Justify My Love”). 😉

More Previews of MDNA

Madonna’s upcoming album, MDNA, comes out in less than three weeks…and from the songs and previews we’ve heard and seen, it’s going to be amazing. The Queen is back and she’s more bad-ass than ever.

Click here to preview the track “I’m Addicted.” Apparently, Perez Hilton got the chance to hear the album and will be previewing a few songs over the next few weeks. Um, “insanely jealous” doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about that… 😛

Last week, the track “Girl Gone Wild” came out, first as a lyrics video on VEVO and then as a single on iTunes. Listen to the opening track (first on the album) below…it’ll make you “feel like sinnin'” 😉   *I love that it’s reminiscent of her 10th album, Confessions on a Dance Floor

The video for the first single, “Give Me All Your Luvin'” (released February 3rd)…

**Update: On March 7 (the day after I posted this), snippets of “I’m Addicted” and “Love Spent” were posted to Madonna’s official YouTube channel.

“I’m Addicted”

“Love Spent”

**March 9 Update: Previews of “Gang Bang” and the video for “Girl Gone Wild.” This album is going to be epic 😀

“Gang Bang”

preview of the music video for “Girl Gone Wild” – it looks like “Erotica” meets “Human Nature” 2012 – love it! 😀

 

**March 13 Update…

Preview of the track “Superstar”

 

**March 14 Update…

Preview of the track “Falling Free”