To know me is to know I love Madonna so no surprise then when I got gifted a copy of newly released book Madonna: Ambition. Music. Style. As a fan it turned out to be a pleasing read; instead of the usual vilifying that goes on where she is concerned, finally here is a writer who is capable of seeing Madonna for the cultural icon she is, hallelujah! This beautifully presented book confirms what I have always known, Madonna is a big fucking deal.
It’s hard to remember a time before Madonna, can you believe Like a Virgin is 30 years old this month. I still remember the moment I fell for Madonna; I was ten years old and at my friend Karen’s house. One of her brothers had music magazines all over his bed and I, being at an age where I was beginning to develop my own music tastes, picked up the latest Smash Hits and there she was on the cover and that was it I was gone for. There was something in her eyes that lured me in and made me want to be a part of her world and I would spend the next thirty years trying to do that. To those close to me it has always looked to be an obsession and at times it probably was but I never saw it that way, to me it has been like having a big sister, someone who has been continually paving the way forward for me.
This is the Madonna that is known to the world. The singer/actress/provocataur/activist who in 1984 writhed around seductively in a wedding dress with her boy toy belt on stage at the inaugural MTV Video Music awards, singing about how falling in love made her feel like a virgin
AND who sang about being motivated by money rather than love (Material Girl)
AND who danced in front of burning crosses and kissed a black Jesus (Like a Prayer)
AND who championed the AIDS cause from the very beginning
AND the very same gal who said she loved crucifixes because there was a naked man on them
AND who told women everywhere to not go for second best (Express Yourself)
AND who had a music video banned for being too sexually explicit (Justify my Love)
AND whose simulated onstage masturbation during the Blond Ambition tour brought about the wrath of the Catholic Church and The Church of England
AND who created, starred and published a coffee table book of erotic photography called SEX
And all this before the 90s got properly started! A bit risqué for some but not to me – to me these were her best years, my teenage rebelheart had found a kindred spirit. This bold daring woman was going to do it her way and to those of us who came along for the ride – well what can I say – we were the lucky ones.
Madonna has been called irrelevant and to those under thirty who are reaping the spoils of her contribution, most likely without even knowing it – she might be and yet: When Like a Virgin was created, Madonna rebuked the then record industry norm and became the first female artist to call the shots on all decisions relating to her music. She remains the top selling female artist of all time. Her Superbowl halftime performance is the most watched set by a female artist to date and her last tour in 2012 was the highest grossing tour of that year (and it wasn’t even one of her best): But wait there’s more, her realm of influence transcends pop music; she has helped to develop the identity of the modern woman as an independent and sexual being. She has challenged the idea that women be sexual and yet submissive. Her unashamed attitude towards sex has helped to empower women. The ambition and independence she unabashedly displays firmly confirms that this is not just a man’s world. How many artists do you know that have an university course named after them?
This is the Madonna I love: A driven, hardworking, disciplined woman whose work is reflective of her own personal zeitgeist. It has always upset me how easily she gets trashed for absolutely everything she does but that is the way of a true rebelheart I suppose and I wouldn’t it have any other way. #Rebelheart #LivingforLove