Today in Madonna History: May 19, 2019

On May 19 2019, Madonna was scolded in the international press for “making a political statement” during her performance at the Eurovision Song Contest held the previous day, which ended with performers wearing Israeli and Palestinean flags on their backs with arms interlocked in embrace and the words “wake up” appearing on a stage screens.

Madonna’s camp responded with what should be (but is apparently not) obvious: “A message of peace is not a political statement.”

Here is the common definition of the term political statement:

The term political statement is used to refer to any act or non-verbal form of communication that is intended to influence a decision to be made for or by a political party. A political statement can vary from a mass demonstration to the wearing of a badge with a political slogan.

How exactly Madonna’s performance constitutes a political statement in the eyes of the media is puzzling. She did not endorse the political advancement or agenda of either side; she simply reiterated her longstanding and widely expressed wish for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

A more reasonable argument would be that had she not included this symbolic gesture in her performance, it may have been construed as muted political support for Israel’s position. By making the gesture she did, she instead reiterated her political neutrality and her wish for peace.

Equally telling was the network’s response that its desire was to broadcast an entertainment special that essentially whitewashed the realities of the conflict. Clearly, they would have us believe that ignoring the conflict is the acceptable, non-partisan stance, while acknowledging the conflict and expressing one’s hope for its peaceful resolution should be viewed as provocational or controversial.

The irony is that it is only those who are trying to frame Madonna’s actions as a political statement that are, in fact, making one.

Today in Madonna History: May 6, 2019

On May 6 2019, Madonna officially announced the Madame X Tour. The tour includes  intimate theatre performances in the following cities (additional dates and venues to be announced):

  • Brooklyn Academy of Music (New York – 12 shows) – September 12/14/15/17/19/21/22/24/25/26/28 and October 1
  • The Chicago Theatre (Chicago – 4 shows) – October 15/16/17 and 21
  • The Wiltern (Los Angeles – 9 shows) – November 12/13/14/16/17/21/23/24 and 25
  • The Colosseum at Caesars Palace (Las Vegas) – dates to be announced
  • Boch Center Wang Theatre (Boston) – dates to be announced
  • Metropolitan Opera House (Philadelphia) – dates to be announced
  • Jackie Gleason Theatre (Miami) – dates to be announced

The tour will continue in 2020 with performances at the Coliseum in Lisbon, the Palladium in London and at the Grand Rex in Paris.

Go to madonna.livenation.com to request/get your tickets!

Today in Madonna History: May 4, 2019

On May 4 2019, a Live Nation web page promoting Madonna’s forthcoming Madame X Tour appeared online.

Additional details to be revealed on Monday May 6 at 9am Eastern Daylight Time.

Jay’s Note: Woo! And get your credit cards ready!

Today in Madonna History: May 3, 2019

On May 3 2019, British Vogue revealed that Madonna would be gracing their June cover, with photos by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott.

Vogue also published a fantastic article about Madonna’s fight against ageism:

Is The Fight Against Ageism Madonna’s Biggest Revolution Ever?

With her new album Madame X, out June 14th, Madonna stages another reinvention in her revolutionary career. But in a new era of self-expression, individual freedom and all-encompassing diversity, it’s perplexing that her age remains her biggest barrier, argues Anders Christian Madsen.

The morning after Madonna’s red-blooded performance at the Billboard Awards on Wednesday evening, entertainment websites quoted the court of Twitter. It was the same old story: granny emojis, ageist slurs and chauvinist memes. At the release of Madame X, her fourteenth studio album, 60-year-old rebel Madonna is still facing the toughest of all her revolutions: making the world accept that women at sixty can create, perform and make an impact with the same freedom of expression as a thirty-year-old. Regardless of her artistic merit, age and ageism have formed the background noise to every album Madonna has released since she turned fifty; perhaps even forty. What seems to be society’s issue with her is that she refuses to abide by the unwritten rules of age pertaining to everything from behaviour to dress codes and humour. The implication is that Madonna is in denial of her age; that she wants to trick us into thinking she’s young. The nerve!

Yet, on the contrary, Madonna’s music and performances in recent years have owned and celebrated her age and legacy, from the way she proudly references every reinvention of her career on her every tour, to her nostalgically reflective lyrics and samples of her own evergreens on her last album Rebel Heart, and her new single Medellín, which opens with verses that entirely embrace where she’s at in life: “I took a pill and had a dream, I went back to my seventeenth year. Allowed myself to be naïve, to be someone I’ve never been.” At sixty, Madonna is anything but old news. Medellín, a duet with Maluma, is the most experimental work she’s written since Ray of Light: a multi-layered, mostly Spanish-language song that breaks all the conventions of pop music, yet echoes in your ear like the catchiest of Generation Z radio hits. So why is BBC’s Radio 1 – home to all the pop stars for whom Madonna paved the way – not adding Medellín to its playlist?

Their actions echo the statement made by the station’s head of music, George Ergatoudis, when Madonna released Rebel Heart in 2015: “The BBC Trust have asked us to go after a young audience. We’ve got to concentrate on [people aged] fifteen to thirty. We have to bring our average age down. That’s something we’re very conscious of. The vast majority of people who like Madonna, who like her music now, are over thirty and frankly, we’ve moved on from Madonna.” It was a sad message to stand by in a time when all the things Madonna has spent her life fighting for finally seem to be materialising in our shared mentality. Madame X is the first album Madonna has released since Time’s Up changed the world in 2017. Those waves made a lot of the causes she has worked for throughout her career come true. But they also brought with them a heightened sense of the witch-hunts Madonna has been subjected to since she hit the scene in the 1980s.

Her fearless tackling of sex as a topic in the public forum, refusal of sexual and gender-specific categorisation, and inexhaustible fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, religious suppression and ageism in the post-modern world should have made her the most celebrated pop star alive. And yet, by denying Madonna the same platform to promote her music as Rihanna, Beyoncé and Ariana Grande, we seem to forget the invaluable part she has played in creating the culture of individuality and diversity so attributed to the new generations. The destruction of icons has never been more practised than in this moment in time. There’s no knowing when the next accusations will hit the people you admire most, dead or alive, and tarnish their legacies with the indefinite effect that deems public defence temporarily unadvisable.

It’s why the opening scene in Madonna’s video for Medellín is so pertinent. “How could I trust anyone after years of disappointment and betrayal? How could I not want to run away?” she asks, confiding in her god the way she’s done it publicly so many times in her career. “I will never be what society expects me to be. I have been kidnapped, tortured, humiliated and abused. In the end I still have hope. I still believe in the goodness of humans.” Cynics will say her words are self-pitying and conceited, but for those of us to whom Madonna has served as an inspiration, an educator and a revolutionary for three or four decades, her prayer is as haunting as it is relevant. After all, it’s hard to think of a living person with a continuous platform as big as hers, who has persistently used it to inspire and improve the world around her. The provocative nature of Madonna’s behaviour is a very small part of her total sum as a freedom fighter.

But perhaps she’s met her match in what we all fear more than the battles she won in the past, which revolved around sexual and cultural differences and views different to our own. Age is the threat that hits us all, a fact that explains the existence of ageism. It’s why it’s such a towering barrier to climb, even for Madonna and her age-defying racehorse physique. But shouldn’t the #MeToo era, with all its morals and ethics, inevitably result in a better climate for a woman like Madonna? At the end of the day, she’s putting her 60-year-old, scanty-clad ass on the line for future generations to experience less societal limits than she did once she passed the 40-year mark. Rather than pointing out her age, every person on social media – young or old – should be celebrating it, thanking Madonna for continuously going where no one else dares to go. Because while all of Madonna’s revolutions have gained her attention, it’s nothing compared to what she’s done for the rest of us.

Today in Madonna History: May 2, 2019

On May 2 2019, Hello Magazine published a glowing review of Madonna & Maluma’s live performance of Medellin at the Billboard Music Awards (which aired on May 1).

Here’s a snippet of the review:

Madonna made a comeback like no other on Wednesday night as she broke boundaries once again on stage at the Billboard Music Awards. The American pop sensation took to the stage as she performed her new single Medellin with singer Maluma. Halfway into the performance, the pair were joined by four life-like holograms of Madonna, which appeared alongside them before quickly vanishing in puffs of smoke. Each hologram was wearing one of the costumes Madonna modelled in the music video for Medellin, and appeared again later in the performance, continuing to dance alone on the stage as Madonna and Maluma made their way into the crowds. The holograms were created by world-leading volumetric and 3D capture studio Dimension.

This was Madonna’s first performance at the Billboard Music Awards in over four years, and Maluma was only too happy to be sharing the stage with her. This was the Colombian star’s first-ever performance at the prestigious awards, and told E! on the red carpet how their collaboration came about. He said: “It was crazy, I went to the VMAs. I met her [Madonna] over there, then I was touring in Europe and in London she called me and she said she had a song for me called Medellín. I’m from Medellín, Columbia and it’s crazy that she said that she wanted me to be part of the project.” Madonna was just as happy to perform with Maluma, and said after the performance: “Madame X on stage performing with her favourite Papi – thank you @maluma.”

Today in Madonna History: April 24, 2019

On April 24 2019, Madonna’s music video for Medellín, featuring Maluma, premiered during an MTV special. The music video was directed by Diana Kunst and Mao Morco.

During the intro to the video, Madonna whispers:

“I will never be what society expects me to be. I have seen too much… I cannot turn back. I have been kidnapped, tortured, humiliated and abused. But I still have hope. I still believe in the goodness of humans. Thank god for nature. For the angels that surround me. For the spirit of my mother, who is always protecting. From now on, I am Madame X. And Madame X loves to dance… Because you cannot hit a moving target.”

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