I can’t get enough of this amazing Madonna video mix…

As many of you already know, I love Madonna. She’s my favorite artist. Her impressive, pioneering, record-breaking, kick-ass career has not only inspired countless male and female artists, activists, and designers, it’s also continuously evolved and changed with the times. Since her entrance onto the pop culture scene – as a pop-disco queen with fishnet gloves and crucifix necklaces and earrings – she’s made one thing very clear: It’s her career and she is dictating the terms. “Don’t go for second best, baby…”

A friend of mine recently posted a video mix onto his Facebook of Madonna’s many hits and videos. I clicked the “play” icon and the rest is history – I absolutely adore it. I didn’t think it was possible to capture the in-charge, always-creative spirit of the Queen of Pop’s career. I was wrong and I’m glad I was.

Mixed and compiled by YouTube user “Jack Roeby Mixes,” the video is over 20 minutes long, a fact one easily forgets. Aside from music video clips, there are also sound bites and clips from the many television interviews she’s given and some of the films she’s starred in over the years. Watch and be amazed. If you aren’t at least impressed…..well, then that’s your problem 😉

 

 

photo credit: Mert and Marcus 2010

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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 🙂

Give Us All Your Best, Madonna!

I know I write a lot about Madonna. I can’t help it. She’s my favorite artist and a major source of inspiration. So, if you are reading this and find yourself annoyed, thinking, “Oh brother, ANOTHER Madonna post?!” then simply skip this post. She’s hard at work in the studio working on album number 12 AND will most likely be singing at the 2012 Super Bowl. So, expect many more Madonna posts. 😉

Now that I got that out of the way, I’m happy to write that, judging by the reactions of mega talented producer William Orbit (Ray of Light, Music) and long time manager Guy Oseary, Madonna’s new album just may be her best yet.

Orbit took to Twitter to announce:

Madonna has phenomenal understanding of both the minutiae of music and the big picture. Zooming in, zooming out. 4ever amazing

…and…

Working with Madonna is a treat. Fantastic tracks and vibes. Going deep. She’s ON IT !!! This is THE album!

Guy Oseary, Madonna’s manager, also had nothing but praise in his Twitter feed for “THE album.” He told one follower the music was “so goooooooood.”

Industry insiders also revealed that her new single, supposedly entitled “Give Me All Your Love,” (due out early next year) is a catchy, tour de force tune that will include the vocal credits of Nicki Minaj and MIA.

Love will prove, yet again, that Madonna is still on top of her game. Since the beginning of her career, she’s paid close attention to the evolving sound of popular music and stayed a step ahead of other Pop divas like Janet and Britney. From the neo Disco sound of her debut album to the R&B groove of Bedtime Stories, Madonna has delivered something fresh and new on every album.

It’s easy to see why a relatively new artist like Lady GaGa is constantly being compared to The Queen of Pop. Unusual style that captures a generation? Done it before. Put on amazing tours with incredible – and in many cases androgynous – dancers? Done that before. Released videos that revolved around religion, sex, self-expression, love or acceptance and upset religious conservatives in the process? Been there, done that.

No other artist has influenced the music industry and pressed buttons quite like Madonna has. She towers above the rest. This new single and album will be no exception. Get ready.

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No More Timbaland, Please

Madonna has helped define what it means to be a female music artist for nearly 30 years now. Her continually evolving sound and style keep up with and in most cases surpass that of younger pop divas like Lady GaGa and Britney Spears. I have no doubt that Madonna will continue to define (and redefine) the music industry for decades to come.

Having said that, I cannot help but wonder why the following unreleased songs didn’t make the final cut on her last album. She’s currently working on her 12th studio album and thankfully Timbaland and Pharrell are not involved.

For those who don’t know, Timbaland and Pharrell are responsible for making her last album, Hard Candy, sadly mediocre. It wasn’t a bad album, but it wasn’t of top Madonna-quality the world has come to expect.

Hard Candy has what is described as an “urban dance vibe” and contains songs that could come out of a Nelly Furtado album. The songs are catchy and fun to dance to…and that’s about it (although, “Give it 2 Me” and “Miles Away” are Madonna gold).

I obviously wasn’t in the studio when they were making Candy, but judging from the few unreleased tracks that were leaked to YouTube a couple of years ago, one would assume that Madonna’s creativity was stifled by the Hip-Hop giants.

The unreleased track “Animal” is amazing. It has a primal and, well, animalistic sound and “naughty” vibe. Just listen…

 

The next unreleased track, “Lela Pala Tute” (from the Romani gypsy song of the same name) is really good. I love the foreign and put-it-on-repeat-inducing sound. Madonna has said she’s a gypsy at heart….and yet she didn’t include it in Hard Candy. I realize the video says the song is called “Latte” but this is it…

 

“On & On” is actually an early form of the 8th track on the album “Beat Goes On (ft. the insufferable Kanye West).” I like THIS version much more than the final version.

 

And finally, “Across The Sky.” I can’t really explain why, but I simply love this song. It’s etherial and urban-dance all in one song.

 

Madonna, I say this as a die-hard fan: Please steer clear of well-known producers and stick to the relatively unknown (in the US, that is). You made your best work with William Orbit in Ray of Light and won a Grammy for it. You once again solidified your place as Dance Artist Extraordinaire with Confessions on a Dance Floor. You got personal and honest on Music and did it with such a good and different sound, Rolling Stone rated it one of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Please don’t ever collaborate with Timbaland, Pharrell or Kanye West again. You’re so much better than that.

 

 

Madonna: Still The Reigning Queen Of Pop

Rolling Stone has declared Madonna “The Queen of Pop”….as if they even had to declare it.

The iconic magazine ran a poll where they asked readers to pick the Queen for the crown. Lady GaGa was in second place and Madonna was in first…with five times as many votes as GaGa.

Here’s what Rolling Stone had to say about the Number 1 pick:

To say that Madonna won this poll in a landslide would be like saying that she was a kind of popular pop singer in the 1980s. It wouldn’t even begin to explain the scope of the situation. She received five times as many votes as Lady Gaga, who landed in second place by a very comfortable margin. The only persistent criticism that Gaga has dealt with in recent years is that she’s too much like Madonna. It’s a hard shadow to escape. Madonna is a musical icon without peer. Her run of hits over the past 30 years is simply astounding, and when she hits the road, tickets sell like it’s a Led Zeppelin reunion tour. Sure, her last few albums didn’t match up to the classics. Nobody cares. She’s Madonna. Lady Gaga has accomplished more in recent years than any artist of her era, but she’s still got a long climb until she reaches Madonna level. It’s very likely that no other artist will ever reach it though. Her manager Guy Oseary recently tweeted that she’s started recording her 12th studio album, so clearly she has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

As I’ve said countless times before, Madonna is and always will be the Queen of Pop. Squares have four sides, China is the most populous nation on the planet, adults have 206 bones in their bodies, Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, and Madonna is the Queen of Pop. End of story.

Madonna - 2008

**Back in 2008, Madonna was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (the first year she was eligible – 25 years after her career started in 1983). Below is the video introduction from the ceremony: