Friday, 16 March 2007

A little break.

Before I complete my Madonna love, I wanted to take a break. My cousin and I (we were strange children) used to re-enact this commercial on the beach, taking turns being the Mother. We would substitute the word 'douche' for something silly like 'bleach' or 'Campbells cream of mushroom soup' to try and make the other laugh. So this is mainly for her as she will pee herself.

Fresh as a daisy I'm sure!

Thursday, 15 March 2007

I LOVE Madonna (part 5)

Say what you will about her live, but the woman knows how to put on a show. She may not have the best live vocal, but she makes up for it in set pieces and pure energy. View the clips quickly before You Tube goes caput! Thank you to madonnalicious for the pictures. They have an amazing gallery!!

16 Music - Live 8 I mean, not her best performance vocally, but the day, the venue, the cause and the masses of people under her spell chanting “Music, makes the people come together!” for about 5 minutes. The power she displayed over the audience of was magical.

15 Drowned World/Substitute for Love - Confessions Tour It was a shame that on the concert DVD they chose not to show the performance from her birthday night (I was there and we had just sung happy birthday to her! Heeee!). Vocally she was perfect and sent chills down me especially as the entire arena sung along as she sat there, on those steps, singing us a song.

14 Deeper and Deeper/Why's it so Hard - The Girlie Show That afro wig shook as she shimmered in her disco romp. The clothes came off in an orgy of dancers and feathered boas as guy made out with guys, girls made out with girls and Madonna made out with all. Then the orgy ends and she starts into her gay rights anthem “Why’s it so hard to love one another”

13 Dress You Up - Virgin Tour Just pure energy and fun. Back when she was starting out, she was just performing for the joy of being on stage in front of her fans. Before she became a serious artist she was a girl excited to be on stage. It was tough to choose between this or her performance of Gambler on the same tour, but I went with this in the end for the sheer fun of it all. I sometimes find it difficult to believe that this is the same person she is today, it makes her achievement all the more inspiring.

12 Everybody/Everybody is a Star - The Girlie Show I loved this performance. This was her first ever hit, and it was so good to see her revisit it. The whole performance seemed so unrehearsed and full of spirit. Wish she would sing this again in concert, and reinvent it as she does that so well. This actually would have been a good ender for the Confessions Tour since that was based on people having a good time and dancing. Oh well, there is always next time.

11 Express Yourself - Blonde Ambition (note: not with the pony tail). This was iconic. This ushered in the new Madonna, and after this she was huge!!! Those turning gears, that smoke, those sweaty, sexy dancers, and that corset!! She was on top of the world and we all were in love. I remember sitting there watching this performance unfold when I was 15. I had loved her before, but now I was in awe. She made a gay man want to sleep with her. Great achievement…must have been the suit.

10 Like a Virgin - Blonde Ambition And it got sexier. I still remember sitting there listening to the first lines of this. I had no idea what she was singing until the chorus. This is probably one of the first instances of her completely reinventing a song (and bettering it imho), and with choreography that made her arms look like rubber she completely realised the songs full potential. The sex was right there, unabashed, and we all sat there mouths on the floor as she writhed on that bed and polished herself off in front of thousands of people.

9 Future Lovers/I Feel Love - Confessions Tour I mean come on. Of course this would be here, she hatches out of a giant disco ball for Gods sake. Standing there screaming as she emerged was a brilliant experience, she was right here in all her equestrian dominatrix glory, and then she goes and plays tribute to ‘ I Feel Love ’, Donna Summer’s disco anthem that inspired the beat for the song, and the crowd went into a dizzy frenzy. And don’t get me started on the dancers…..I have not wanted to ride a horse so badly in my life!

8 Music Inferno - Confessions Tour I have always loved the way that she not only pays tribute to other artist and songs, but also never forgets the songs that made her a success, even if it is a snippet. You hear a radio station tuning with bits of her hits coming through the static (Borderline, Erotica, Holiday) then it settles on ‘Disco Inferno’ . We hear the chorus of ‘Where’s a Party’ before the guitar riff of Music. Roller skaters fly out from all directions doing death defying stunts…..and then she appears in all her ‘ Saturday Night Live’ inspired glory. Truly got the blood pumping, and the feet moving. Her best rendition of this song, and another complete reinvention of it.

7 Like a Virgin - MTV Music Awards I mean this had to be here. After the success of her first album, good ole Madge shocked audiences, when she appeared at the MTV awards singing about being a virgin ‘touched’ for the very first time, in a wedding dress no less. If that wasn’t enough for 1986 America, she then starts writhing around on stage as if post orgasmic. Collective jaws dropped if not at the writhing at the fact she was getting her nice dress all dirty. And a star was born.

6 Holiday - Re-Invention Tour I watched a taped DVD copy of this and the edited version in her documentary ‘I’m Going to Tell You a Secret’. Turning her pop celebration into an instant club classic. The kilts were whipped up into a frenzy and the sweat poured off her and the dancers and she turned up the voltage for the final song of the night with the flashing flags of the world illuminating the screen behind her. Watching the version on the DVD made me want to go clubbing so badly. The lighting, the confetti and Madonna belting out how we all need to get together, in every nation. Then it ends. Sob.

5 Mother and Father - Re-Invention Tour Many will ask why this is here. Simply because for me, everything came together so well. Her Joni Mitchell inspired costume, the fact she sat there strumming on her guitar all enhanced the performance. What made it phenomenal for me was her reinvention of the song and finally her voice. She sang it with power and passion, taking what was a good song on her ‘American Life’ album and making it a great one. Then at the end she gives her best vocal performance singing “Oh Mother, Oh Father, I’ve got to give it uppppp!!!!” before standing up and strumming with conviction. A lot of people have laughed off her guitar playing as very amateur….at least she is trying new things, I say bravo!

4 Let it Will Be - Confessions Tour She rocked her shit with this one! Off comes her jacked and on turns the energy as she struts, dances, trips and basically channels her inner rock chick like a woman possessed. The energy she gives off was intoxicating, and I for one was completely captivated. Then at the end of the catwalk she falls to her knees and wails “JUST WATCH ME BURN!!!!” Wow. And this is all before she takes the camera (that was filming the tour on the night I was there) in her hands and shakes the hell out of it. I still do not know how she found the energy after this tot sit down and sing ‘Drowned World’….guess that is why she took a little breather.

3 Holiday - Blonde Ambition The spinning Madonna in the opening is what gets me the most. The expression on her face was pure joy (maybe it was because she knew the night was almost over), and it was contagious. That dah da da dah da da dah da da dah beginning, then the lights come on full and it is celebration time. I guess I loved this so much due to the costume. The bell bottom sleeves and trousers covered in white and black polka dots shaking and shimmying across the stage with the dancers were truly inspired, thanks Jean Paul Gaultier!! (My good buddy Robyn made a brilliant replica for our fancy dress party….the blonde hair, however, did not suit her). When I watch it today, I worry that my face will explode from smiling.

2 Express Yourself - MTV Music Awards Madonna always uses either the Grammy’s or the MTV awards to do a public rehearsal of her tours. In 1989, as she was preparing for the Blonde Ambition Tour she opened the MTV Awards, in which she was up for loads, with the rough version of Express Yourself. Niki and Donna backed her up and the crowd went completely crazy for it. She hadn’t even done her roots, and her hair was a messy pile of curls, and she has rarely looked sexier. She just seemed so relaxed, and the interplay with the girls was fun to watch. This is my friend (and fellow Madonna fan) Robyn’s favourite EVER!!! Sadly this is not available to watch online, and probably most of the others will be deleted soon. Such a shame!

1 Keep it Together - Blonde Ambition It seemed like ages after she finished ‘Holiday’, people were starting to leave the arena, then….“One child, grows up to be, somebody who just loves to learn….” And so begins Madonna on stage alone singing Sly and the Family Stones “ Family Affair ” as the second encore and there was a mad rush of people stampeding back into Wembley stadium. She kicks into “Keep it Together” and dancers in A Clockwork Orange inspired outfits rush to the stage with chairs for one of her most elaborate and beautifully choreographed numbers ever. Treating her dancers (Slam, Luis, Jose, Carlton, Oliver, Gabriel and Kevin) and her singers (Nikki and Donna) like family, Madonna actually seems like she has, on stage, a family unit. Whether that be real or rehearsed I do not care as it made me want to run away and join them. Then, as she sang “Keep people together. Keep people together forever and ever”, she said goodbye to them all until once again it was her and us, and then she was gone too soon. Every time I see it on my DVD of Truth or Dare I relive that experience and a little tear forms.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

I LOVE Madonna (part 4)

The Remixes

Whenever Madonna releases a single I, for one, cannot wait to see how the various DJ’s and producers she commissions to remix it have done. Most of the time nothing really grabs me, but occasionally a DJ can improve, if not equal, the original version. I especially love the fact that she sometimes allows a complete change of the original version. Lets face it, the woman loves to dance!

12 Nobody Knows Me (Above and Beyond Mix) (Love Profusion single) The way it get faster and faster almost makes me want to have a heart attack. My feet cannot keep up.

11) Take A Bow (InDaSoul Mix) (Take a Bow single) Takes a beautiful ballad and gives it a funky and very sexy r-n-b vibe. (not available to listen to on-line)

10) Jump (Axwell Club Mix) (Jump single) This is one of her remixes that was meant to be played in a hard core club. Dancing to this at Fire I thought I had died and gone to clubbers heaven.

9) What It Feels Like For a Girl (Above and Beyond Remix) (What it Feels Like For a Firl single) This was a very risky idea to release the music video with this remix. Although the verse is gone, it still retains the originals message.

8) Hollywood (Oakenfold 12" Full Remix) (Hollywood single) A lot of people like The Thin White Duke mix better, but I think this works as a remix so much better. Her work with Oakenfold is fantastic.

7) Get Together (Jacques Lu Cont Mix) (Get Together single) Totally reinvents this tune from a club floor ready cut, to a more acoustic cocktail bar lounger. I love the use of guitar in this. Stuart Price is a genius.

6) American Life (Oakenfold Downtempo Radio Edit) (American Life single) Improves so much on the original. More r-n-b than dance, this mix deserves to played loud in the car.

5) Ray of God (Madonna vs Sex Pistols) (bootleg) Nice little bootleg of Ray of Light and God Save The Queen. But you know it works bloody well. I remember hearing this in New York and thrashing about on the dance floor as my inner punk escaped.

4) Like A Prayer (Church Acapella Mix) (Remixed Prayers) Take it down to almost nothing, and it still retains its beauty. The best bit is at the end when the choir’s clapping hands adds the beat, the tambourines add the shimmy and you can still get down! (not available to listen to on-line)

3) Ray of light (William Orbit Liquid Mix) (Ray of Light single) Another case of why go faster for a remix. Of all the commissioned remixes of Ray of Light, this is the only one that worked, mainly because Orbit knows the song so well, and what it can be capable of. Especially love the bass break before the beat kicks in. (not available to listen to on-line)

2) Sorry (Green Velvet Mix) (Sorry single) Took a pure poppy disco anthem and turned it into a dirty dance floor filler. Took the song to a whole new lever, and improved upon it!!

1) Holiday (Madonna vs Stardust) (White Label) There was talk of releasing this as a single. I wish they had! Amazing use of the mash up and a great interpretation of her first big hit. I still remember being in Heaven and bouncing off the walls with my bleached hair to this. That was indeed heaven.

Monday, 12 March 2007

I LOVE Madonna (part 3)

The Videos

Madonna has created some of the best and most visually arresting music video's of our time, around 75 all together. Always pushing people’s buttons, and always thinking ahead, she has strived to present her music in both audio and visual means As she has grown as a musical artist she has also done so as a visual one.

My top 20 videos consists of some of her most visually arresting as well as some of her simpler ones. And before you ask why it is not here, I was never a huge fan of 'Vogue' as a song or a video.

I hope if you haven't seen them, you take the time to have a look.

20) 1986 "Open Your Heart" She famously described the video as a statement about innocence. Wonder how that kid turned out? I used to wish I was him.

19) 1998 "Frozen" I love Madonna with dark hair, and this video was a stunning departure. It was (a word I use alot) haunting.

18) 1999 "Nothing Really Matters" In the video Madonna plays a geisha, inspired by Arthur Golden's book Memoirs of a Geisha. Madonna wanted to represent herself as the one of the books characters, Hatsumomo. Oh...and she looked fierce!

17) 2003 "American Life" The controversial music video was shot by Jonas Ã…kerlund. While focusing on politics and attacking United States President George W. Bush's attack on Iraq, she probably did her career the most amount of damage. Radio wouldn't play her.

16) 1993 "Rain" The video, directed by Mark Romanek, was a lush video set on a sound stage. The overall effect of the make up and video's styling evoked Japanese sensibilities, a cultural approach she would time and time again borrow and remodel as her own.

15) 1993 "Bad Girl" One of Madonna's best narrative videos, it was directed by David Fincher. The video featured Madonna as Louise Oriole, a high-powered Manhattan female executive who has a penchant for one-night stands. She pays a heavy price.

14) 1987 "La Isla Bonita" This sees Madonna playing dual roles of piety and passion. The struggle between the two forms the backdrop of the video, which juts back and forth between red and blue backdrops and scenes. A young Benicio Del Toro appears in the video as a background character.

13) 1992 "Erotica" The music video for "Erotica" is one of Madonna's most infamous videos, directed by fashion photographer Fabien Baron. The footage for the "Erotica" video was shot during the Miami photo sessions for her infamous book Sex

12) 1989 "Like a Prayer" It attracted criticism for Madonna making love to Saint Martin de Porres, but it also garnered praise for its interpretation on discrimination, rape, and faith. The video topped MTV's countdown of 100 Videos That Broke The Rules in 2005, and for the 25th anniversary of MTV (August 1, 2006), viewers voted the video as the Most Groundbreaking Music Video of All Time.

11) 2006 "Get Together" The music video for "Get Together" was directed and animated by Logan and was heavily inspired by Italian artist Milo Manara's erotic artwork.
The videos feature Madonna's live performance at the KoKo Club in London. Animation effects were added to the footage and they show the world evolving through time, with erupting volcanos, flying dinosaurs and finally an urban panorama on the background. On a personal note, I enjoyed watching my BF geek out watching this video.

10) 2001 "What It Feels Like for a Girl" Directed by Madonna's husband, filmmaker Guy Ritchie, and used an alternate remix edit by Above & Beyond which featured almost no vocals from the original song. Madonna causes various degrees of mischief before finally crashing her car at full speed into a concrete pole. Critics railed the video for being overly violent and graphic; Madonna defended the video, stating that male artists get away with the same, if not worse, in their own music videos.

9) 2000 "Don't Tell Me" Shot by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, this is one of Madonna’s simplest and most visually arresting video’s. Madonna walks in front of a screen showing the desert, wearing plaid and denim. Soon she is accompanied by four male dancers and she dons full a cowgirl costume, executing a choreographed line-dancing routine. Never has simplicity been more beautiful.

8) 1989 "Cherish" Herb Ritts was one of Madonna's preferred photographers at that time and is best known for his photograph of Madonna on the cover of her 1986 album True Blue. In "Cherish" Ritts makes his photographs come to life, smoldering as they show Madonna reclining in the surf. His greatest achievement in the video was perfectly capturing Madonna's free spirit. I still remember re-enacting this on the beach with my cousin.

7) 1990 "Justify My Love" Although it was a number one pop hit, "Justify My Love" is perhaps most notable for its controversial music video, directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Featuring scenes of partial nudity, homosexuality, mild sadomasochism and other overt sexual situations, the clip became one of the first-ever music videos to be banned on MTV. We all know the story…she ended up laughing all the way to the bank.

6) 1998 "Drowned World/Substitute for Love" The video created a lot of controversy in 1998 due to the scenes that feature Madonna being chased by paparazzi on motor-bikes, a scenario similar to Diana, Princess of Wales's death in 1997. One of the most striking and memorable moments of the video occurs when Madonna passes a hotel maid, smiling at her. Madonna returns the smile. Then the camera goes off; the maid had just taken a picture of her.

5) 1989 "Express Yourself" This video, which is based on the Fritz Lang classic film Metropolis, generated a great amount of attention in the media. In the video, directed by David Fincher, Madonna is seen as the epitome of femininity, residing with her cat high above the masculine world of hard work and steam, at once protected and isolated by her surroundings and "chained" to her desires. At the time one of the most expensive music video’s, and easily one of her best.

4) 1995 "Bedtime Story" The video, like the song, is one of Madonna's most experimental. It visualizes the concept of the song, showing images that seem like a dream or some other state of unconsciousness. Madonna - wearing a variety of blonde wigs - floats through the air, gives birth to doves and lays down on a surreal operation table. Inspired by Frida Kahlo's paintings. It has also been said that Bedtime Story was strongly influenced by Remedios Varo's painting The Lovers (Los Amantes), as well as by some scenes of Tarkovsky's movie Stalker.

3) 1995 "Human Nature" The video, directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino featured Madonna, her dancers, and her chihuahua, Chiquita, in black leather outfits. As an answer to her critics, this was one of Madonna’s funniest videos as well as being visually stunning. At the end of the video, the music cuts out suddenly and Madonna says "absolutely no regrets" reinforcing her point one last time as she closes her legs…..hilarious!

2) 1989 "Oh Father" Madonna plays a character who is coming to terms with the abuse she has suffered at the hands of her father. Directed by David Fincher, this has widely been considered as one of her very best. Fincher perfectly captures the confusion and loss she feels, and some of the most haunting imagery in this genre. Of all the things she did to rebel against her father, this probably hurt him the most.

1) 1998 "Ray of Light" This is a Koyaanisqatsi inspired music video, featuring sped-up images of daily life, from people riding a subway, ordering food, bowling, and children in a classroom to sped-up cityscapes and freeways at night. This perfectly captures the spirit of the song and its energy. Funnily enough, this is one of her video’s in which she appears the least about of time (except Dear Jessie where she was in cartoon form! This won her Video of the year from both the MTV awards, and the Grammy’s and deservedly so.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

I LOVE Madonna (part 2)

The Music.

(from the sleeve notes of ‘Something to Remember’ released November 7th, 1995)

"So much controversy has swirled around my career, that very little attention ever gets paid to my music. The songs are all but forgotten."

Can I have an A - MEN!!!! This is the main reason I love this woman. Her music. Not everything is a success (What the hell was she thinking with ‘One More Chance’?) but when she is on, boy is she on. She has recorded, what will go down in history as, some of the best pop music ever.

So I will celebrate what I think are the 25 best Madonna songs so far. Let me know if you feel I have been totally idiotic and left off something you think should be on here.

25 - Dress You Up A confident, fun and sexy floor filler. (album - Like a Virgin)

24 - Skin Why this wasn’t released as a club single I will never know. (album - Ray of Light)

23 - Till Death Do Us Part Dark and personal lyrics to a light poppy beat makes it all the more disturbing (album - Like a Prayer)

22 - Drowned World/Substitute For Love Grows better and better with each listen. (album - Ray of Light)

21 - La Isla Bonita I can smell the salt and coconut suntan lotion when I hear this song (album - True Blue)

20 - X-Static Process A small and quietly beautiful record where she duets with herself. Stuart Price can do anything. (album - American Life)

19 - Into The Groove - A song about dancing (or sex depending on which groove she means). Timeless. (album - Like a Virgin UK edition)

18 - Live to Tell Her first mature record. Still fresh today and musically and lyrically risky (album - True Blue)

17 - Impressive Instant One of the most silly and infectious dance floor fillers ever. (album - Music)

16 - Nothing Fails A beautiful almost acoustic love song, then out of nowhere that choir!!! The heart soars. (album - American Life)

15 - Express Yourself The female anthem and one of her funkiest tracks. (album - Like a Prayer)

14 - American Life Under rated. (album - American Life)

13 - Candy Perfume Girl Madonna at her most lyrically interesting, and rockiest. (album - Ray of Light)

12 - Keep it Together Pure soul and funk, and great message. (album - Like a Prayer)

11 - Erotica Makes me wanna go out to a sex club. (album - Erotica)

10 - I Love New York This is probably her most joyous record since Ray of Light. You can just imagine her smiling away in the recording booth and dancing around laughing as she sings of her love for the city that made her a star. Bonus points for she manages to use the word ‘dork’. Pure brilliance!! "Other cities always make me mad, other places always make me sad. No other city ever made me glad except New York!!! I love New York!!!" (album - Confessions on a Dance Floor)

9 - Holiday Madonna’s first message song, and in fact her first chart hit, and still the most relevant. One of those songs that could life the darkest heart. You just wanna grab the person next to you on the dance floor and hug them while jumping around in circles singing along at the top of your voice. Everyone was so disappointed she did not sing this in her last tour. I still remember hearing this on the radio in the car when I was 9, and I was hooked. A bouncy little whirl without end!!! “holiday!! Celebration!! Come together in every nation!” (album - Madonna)

8 - Don’t Tell Me How many people thought they had purchased a defected CD when they first heard this. Music stores reported many people trying to return the CD only to be told it was intentional. Brilliant use of guitar and stop/start mixing. This was a surprise it was even released as it was not the most obvious commercial choice for a single, but proved to be a big success, I even think it was played on country radio in the states. Showed that the audience were yearning for something a little different. “Tell the bed not to lay, like the open mouth of a grave”. (album - Don't Tell Me)

7 - Oh Father One of the most haunting songs she has recorded. Although she has claimed to not have a great singing voice, her honesty in this recording makes up for lack of range. One of the stand outs on a brilliant album. Stunning work and painful in its confession and anger! “Maybe someday, when I look back I'll be able to say, you didn't mean to be cruel. Somebody hurt you too” (album - Like a Prayer)

6 - The Beast Within/Justify My Love Technically a remix, but one of her best. Like the musical equivalent of The Exorcist, but with less violence and more seduction. Controvery when this came out, and religious groups called her anti-semetic until she pointed out she was just reading the bible. The original was a long slow orgasmic climax of a song. Gives you dirty thoughts just listening to it. What ever the controversy the remix and the original were sexy brilliance. “Poor is the man, whose pleasures depend, on the permission of another” (album - justify my Love single)

5 - Mer Girl She sang this in one take in the recording studio, and it is like listening to a private therapy session. When I heard this I realised just how she had set herself free. She was no longer bound to pop’s conventions. She was making music for herself. William Orbits production sets the serious and personal mood. This is probably her best song that no one knows “I ran from my house, that cannot contain me, from the man that I cannot keep” (album - Ray of Light)

4 - Gone The last song on the Music album and the best. A guitar driven ballad explaining why she keeps going, and what drives her to continue even when her critics try to beat her down. Like ‘Mer Girl’ this finds Madonna at her most personal and what am amazing way to end an album. All the more poignant since the American Life controversy and U.S. backlash towards her. “Turn to stone, lose my faith, I’ll be gone before it happens” (album - Music)

3 - Ray of Light I would not be surprised if she was actually flying at the speed of light while singing this. The chorus leaps over buildings and takes you to dizzying heights. This is what happiness sounds like if you were able to capture happiness in a song. This also showed of her new post-Evita vocal range. To think Celine Dion’s – ‘My Heart Will Go On’ beat it for best song at the Grammy’s. What a huge mistake. “And I feel like I just got home” And so did we. (album - Ray of Light)

2 - Let it Will Be The highest point on Confessions of the Dance Floor. From the music productions, to her voice, and lyrics. I can't understand why it was not released as a single, even just for the clubs and DJ’s. This is pure dance floor perfection. “Now I can see things for what they really are, I guess I'm not that far, I'm at the point of no return. Just watch me burn” (album - Confessions on a Dance Floor)

1 - Like a Prayer I am sure you are not surprised. I pretty much think this is everyone’s favourite Madonna track. From the guitar riff/heaven’s angels opening, to the gospel choir’s knees up dance-a-thon at the end. This is where she became an icon and proved her musical worth to her harshest detractors. Most critics who thought she was a flash in the pan, had to eat their words and finally see her as more than a gimick. This is the song you don’t want to ever end, you want it to go on forever and keep you dancing at the church of Madonna far into your next life. (album - Like a Prayer)

26 - 75 are in the comments!!