Today in Madonna History: March 11, 2015

On March 11 2015, Madonna was interviewed by Howard Stern on SiriusXM.

Here are some tidbits we learned about Madonna during the interview, according to Rolling Stone magazine:

  • Her shocking VMA debut of “Like a Virgin” was an accident. “I had come down the wedding cake and my shoe fell off,” she said. “I was like ‘Oh shit, I can’t dance in one shoe!” The mishap prompted quick decision-making on Madonna’s end as to how to proceed with the performance and led to the controversial stage-humping that took place at the first Video Music Awards. “I didn’t know my skirt was up. I proceeded to sing the song laying down on the ground. I was just making the best of the situation.” She noted that her manager Freddy DeMann told her that her career would be over following the performance.
  • She craves normalcy every once in a while. “Every 3 days I crave it,” she said. “Every three days I go, ‘That’s it. I’m moving to a cabin and living in the forest and no one’s gonna fuck with me anymore.'” Stern probed as to why she thinks she could never give up her career and life in the spotlight. “Because I’m an artist and I’m tortured. I’m a masochist and I like to create. I don’t know. Maybe one day I will.”
  • Madonna’s first year in New York included multiple robberies, an assault and an unreported rape. “I needed money for the payphone and [a stranger] gave it to me,” she said. “He was a very friendly guy, and the phone was ringing. He was like, ‘Oh, I live right across the street if you’d like to make the phone call from my house.” The then 19-year-old Madonna agreed, blaming her “stupid friendliness” from her Midwestern roots. “I trusted everybody. The rest is not worth talking about.”
  • She doesn’t hate David Letterman. Stern acknowledged some early interviews between the pop star and talk show host, noting he could never tell if she liked him or was annoyed. “Oh, that’s how I flirt with people,” she revealed. “One time I was mad at him, when I said the ‘f-word’ a lot, but the rest of the time was good.”
  • She dated Tupac Shakur. The late rapper had actually been the reason Madonna was mad at Letterman. “I was dating Tupac Shakur at the time, and he had gotten me all riled up about life in general,” she said. “When I went on this show, I was feeling very gangster.” Stern revealed his surprise about the little-known past relationship. “I think people know, if you’re in the know,” said Madonna coyly.
  • The misunderstood meaning of “Material Girl” gets on her nerves. “The song that irritated me the most about being associated with me is ‘Material Girl,'” she said. “It was an ironic song because I’m certainly not a materialistic person.” The topic came up as Stern had her clear up a rumor that she detested the success of “Like a Virgin” because other people had written it. The singer declared the rumor false, asserting that she loves the song and appreciates its writers.
  • Upon making her first $1 million, she indulged in buying a Frida Kahlo painting. “That was always my goal,” she said on her art collection. “When I was married to Sean [Penn], I said ‘When I make my first million, I’m going to buy art.'” Madonna had been a huge fan of Frida Kahlo since she was young. “I bought a self-portrait of hers. At the time it was rather inexpensive because people didn’t know who she was.”
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat destroyed all the paintings he had given to her. Madonna and Basquiat had dated when the singer was very young, but his heroin addiction ended up pulling them apart. “He was an amazing man and deeply talented. I loved him,” she said. “When I broke up with him, he made me give all [his paintings] back to him. And then he painted over them black.” She regrets giving the art back, but felt pressured to do so since it was something he had created.
  • She wrote “Vogue” in a few hours. Madonna stands by the idea that her best songs are the ones she wrote in only a couple of hours, “Vogue” included. “I thought it was a very cool dance, very presentational and elegant and all about vanity,” she said about the dance of the same name. The song had been written for Dick Tracy, the film she made with ex-boyfriend Warren Beatty, and was inspired by all the classic movie stars. “[Warren] dated all of Hollywood, basically.” She would ask him questions about what the stars she admired — and he dated — were like, including Natalie Wood and Julie Christie. “I looked up to [these women] and admired them.”

Today in Madonna History: February 19, 2015

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On February 19 2015, Madonna appeared on the cover of Gala magazine.

Here’s a snippet of the interview included in the magazine:

What is the greatest misconception people have about Madonna?

Oh well, there are plenty. One, for sure is that I am not vulnerable. Some people think that I am never sad nor depressed or exhausted and that I never suffer from a broken heart. They think of me as bigger than life. Or they believe that I am cold-hearted and calculating. But you know what? I hate this question (pours tequila and hands it over).

Hold on for a second: you said I had to drink for every stupid question.

Well, I extend it with another category: annoying. Cheers. Drink it up!

And where is the salt and the lemon?

We didn’t have enough money for that (laughs).

Your answer to the question about misconception shows that you are also a vulnerable person. “Rebel Heart” shows this part of your personality. Have you grown softer in the last years?

In some ways, yes. But even 25 years ago I already was romantic and sensitive. The other part of me will always be a rebel.

How do you handle the hostility directed at you?

Sometimes I am very hurt, when I read the hateful and nasty comments people make about me on the Internet. I think it’s shocking how mean and vicious some people can be. It’s a very cowardly behaviour. Those people would never say these things to my face, if they met me in the streets.

You really read the nasty comments about you?

Every now and then, yes I do.

Why do you hurt yourself this way?

Because, I am a very curious person. And luckily, there are not only nasty comments, but a lot of positive things. For me it’s exciting to see what my fans are thinking. And, concerning the haters: I have grown a very thick skin. I have always been criticized. Some people think I am a superwoman. But I am not. Some comments directed at me really get under my skin and hurt me. After all, I am just a normal woman.

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Today in Madonna History: December 31, 2015

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On December 31 2015, Madonna was featured on the cover of Elle France magazine.

Here’s a snippet of the article inside (translated):

“Morons have always hated her. Or loathed her. For Madonna is not only consumerism. It would be an insult to Madonna fans to speak of her only in terms of figures. Because she was the first to deliver this message to such big crowds, and still does after 30 years: that her femininity is openly in conflict with what religions demand from female individuals, yet her femininity never ceases to be spiritual.”

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Today in Madonna History: September 21, 2015

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On September 21 2o15, Sal Cinquemani (of Slant) published an article called, “10 Things I Learned at Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour.”

Here’s Sal’s list:

Over 30 years into her career, Madonna is still acting like a virgin. “I’ve never performed in Brooklyn before,” she coyly told a sold-out crowd at the Barclays Center in Prospect Heights Saturday night. The Rebel Heart Tour, which kicked off in Montreal two weeks ago and landed in the borough for one night after two performances across the river at Madison Square Garden, is the singer’s 10th stage show. While she’s finally warmed up to her ’80s hits after years of ignoring all but a handful, she still insists on challenging her fans, who, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to see, are still dressing up like her. Only now it’s the men. Here are 10 other things I learned at the show:

1. Yes, Madonna can sing.

As her shows have increasingly required her to be hoisted, flung, and swung around in the air for close to two hours every night, Madonna has in recent years relied, perhaps too heavily, on lip-synching. But she can carry a tune far better than she’s typically given credit for. Despite a mouthful of those pesky gold-and-diamond-encrusted grillz, she flawlessly serenaded old pal Debi Mazar, who stood in the audience singing along, with “True Blue,” and delivered an impassioned rendition of the blistering Rebel Heart ballad “HeartBreakCity.” Perched on the edge of a stage platform, playfully swinging her leg, she even belted out “La Vie En Rose” with relative ease.

2. Fifty-seven is the new 27.

At one point, Madonna dabbed her forehead with a towel and joked that sitting down to strum a ukulele was her favorite part of the show, but she barely missed a beat or broke a sweat throughout the 21-song setlist. With her dirty-blond extensions cascading around her shoulders, dark roots exposed, fingerless gloves, and jewel-encrusted blazer and ankle boots, she was the spitting image of the title character from Desperately Seeking Susan, in which she made her big-screen debut an astonishing three decades ago.

3. “Deeper and Deeper” belongs among Madonna’s classics.

With a catalogue as deep and wide as Madonna’s, it would be easy for gems like Erotica’s “Deeper and Deeper” to get lost to pop history. So it was a pleasant surprise to spot this one on the setlist and, aside from some amped-up EDM beats and a simplified flamenco guitar solo, hear it performed so faithfully.

4. Being Madonna (and working for her) is dangerous business.

As they say in Texas, everything is bigger on a Madonna tour…including the liability and personal injury insurance policy. Coverage must include, but isn’t limited to, performers being thrown off spiral staircases and tossed down giant LED screens, scaling and hanging precariously from poles, swinging back and forth from 10-foot stilts, and wearing capes with a recent history of violently yanking superstars to the ground from behind in front of an audience of millions.

5. Madonna really likes “Candy Shop.”

Though the Hard Candy opener was never released as a single, Madonna has a peculiar fondness for the track, having performed it during all of her last three tours. The singer’s tenacity and obvious enthusiasm for the song has practically willed it into becoming a staple, fitting inconspicuously between her signature hits “Music” and “Material Girl.”

6. Madonna really hates “Take a Bow.”

Madge dusted off her ’80s hits “True Blue” and “Who’s That Girl” for the first time in 28 years. But some of her biggest ’90s ballads, from “This Used to Be My Playground” to “I’ll Remember” to “Take a Bow” (her longest running #1 hit ever), have still, to this day, never been performed on tour. Sure, they don’t fit obviously into the pop star’s latter-day dance-floor-driven output, but if the queen of reinvention isn’t willing to find a way to put a new spin on these old chestnuts, there must be a good reason. With songs as timeless as these, it’s just hard to imagine what that could possibly be.

7. You’re never too old to take a “Holiday.”

The only song to be performed during all or part of every Madonna tour aside from one, “Holiday” reclaimed its rightful place as the closing number during the Rebel Heart Tour. Over the years, Madonna’s first bona fide smash has been reimagined as everything from a disco bauble to an ironic military march to an EDM banger, but while a Latin-style medley of “Dress You Up,” “Into the Groove,” and “Lucky Star” proves she isn’t exactly becoming a purist, she refreshingly played it straight for her perennial call for a little celebration.

8. Madonna is more comfortable on stage than ever.

Madonna is a self-proclaimed showgirl, but despite a show clearly choreographed down to each flick of a wrist, she’s never seemed more unscripted. From the call-and-response exchanges with the audience during an acoustic version of “Who’s That Girl” to the addition of a new song to the setlist (a stirring, if pitchy, rendition of shoulda-been-a-sleeper-hit “Ghosttown,” which brought seemingly genuine tears to her eyes, a development that seemed to surprise even her), the Queen of Pop never looked so unguarded and at ease.

9. Madonna might be running out of ideas.

You’d be forgiven for thinking Madonna had already staged a show with scantily clad nuns twerking on cross-shaped stripper poles. From that perhaps too on-the-nose provocation to the multimedia prologue and guitar-wielding riot-grrrl shtick, Madonna seems to be recycling themes and concepts in ways that, while her contemporaries remained dogged in their adherence to formula, she managed to successfully avoid for the first few decades of her career.

10. …But she’s still the greatest performer of our time.

“It’s lonely at the top, but it ain’t crowded,” Madonna quipped, tongue in cheek, during a jazz-infused version of “Music.” As far back as 1990’s iconic, game-changing Blond Ambition Tour, her shows have always been theatrical, blending traditional rock-concert tropes with narrative storytelling; Rebel Heart, though, takes it to another level, equal parts Cirque du Soleil, Broadway musical, and burlesque—an immersive experience that redefines the meaning of maximalism.

Today in Madonna History: August 25, 2015

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On August 25 2015, Madonna’s The Immaculate Collection re-entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart at #187 (143 weeks on the chart).  The greatest hits collection also re-entered the Top Pop Catalog at #38 (427 weeks on the chart).

Today in Madonna History: August 16, 2015

On August 16 2015, singer/songwriter Joe Henry shared a touching birthday tribute to his sister-in-law, Madonna:

This is the young woman I met shortly after our family’s move to Michigan in 1975 – as I entered my sophomore year of high school and, she, her senior one. Together, we were in the Thespian Society; and in that winter’s first production, we were cast as mother and son – the wife and child of Ralph Waldo Emerson – in a play about Thoreau.

She was whip-smart and short on patience; and to tell the truth, she scared me more than a little, but along with her sister Paula, her presence upon my landscape nudged open a door through which I would pass and find my life utterly and forever changed…that unusual and sprawling family becoming, years later, my own.

No one is more surprised than I by the way our lives have expanded; by the way that our journeys have diverged and become entangled. Like anyone, I can sometimes forget to see the flesh and blood/heart and mind behind the parade float that is her public persona. But then I will find myself across the kitchen table from her, sharing a martini, and be additionally shocked to recognize anew the compact, terse-yet-compassionate human at the switches.

I have told this tale before, but it bears repeating: when Elvis Presley died on this date in 1977, this upstart professed in real-time that she felt his spirit had passed out of his body and through her own in exodus.

I laughed at her then for such outrageous self-possession, at the arrogance that I assumed must allow her to declare such publicly.

Today, when there is laughter, it is the laugh of recognition I hear – and it begins somewhere high above me, where things that once seemed implausible play with wild abandon and in broad daylight.

Happy Birthday, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone.

Today in Madonna History: June 26, 2015

On June 26 2015, Madonna joined the world in celebrating PRIDE with this Tweet:

Finally And at Last! The Revolution Of Love has Begun! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️#livingforlove ❤️#rebelheartsunite

You can read thousands of messages from Madonna’s fans thanking her for her support of the LGBT community throughout her entire career, even when it wasn’t popular to be supportive of the cause.

We love this one from James Davis: “Madonna…you helped all of this come together by standing up for gay rights back when no celebrities did…”

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