Today in Madonna History: April 3, 2000

On April 3 2000, Madonna appeared on the cover of People magazine with the headline, “Madonna’s Surprise: I’m Pregnant.”

Here’s a snippet from the article inside People:

When British filmmaker Guy Ritchie dropped by his dad and stepmum’s London home last week, he didn’t waste time with small talk. “Guy just told us straight out,” recalls retired advertising executive John Ritchie. Guy said, “Look, I think I should tell you this: Madonna’s pregnant.”

And so the elder Ritchie, 71, and his wife, Shireen, a charity worker, found themselves at ground zero for the bombshell that the rest of the world would soon hear.

“We’re happy to confirm rumors that we’re expecting a child at the end of this year,” Madonna, 41, and her 31-year-old paramour said in a joint statement issued March 20 from London, where the singer and her 3-year-old daughter Lourdes (nicknamed Lola) share a rented town-house in tony Kensington, about a mile from Ritchie’s home.

The announcement ended rumors that had been swirling on both sides of the Atlantic for months: that Madonna wanted to repeat her favorite role yet—motherhood.

“Are you pregnant? That’s the question everyone wants to hear,” Matt Lauer bluntly asked Madonna in a March 3 Today show interview to promote her recent film The Next Best Thing, about an unmarried woman who becomes pregnant by her gay best friend.

Though her answer was a flat no, Madonna herself fueled speculation when she told an interviewer for Jane magazine earlier this year that she would like to have another child. “I think Lola should have a brother or sister,” she said. “I think she’s incredibly spoiled. She needs a bit of competition.”

And on March 17, Britain’s Mirror, tipped by paparazzi that Madonna had made repeated visits to a London women’s clinic, predicted that a formal announcement of the pregnancy was imminent. When it came, it was with an appeal for privacy. “This is not a public pregnancy,” says Madonna’s publicist Liz Rosenberg. “It’s going to be as private as she can keep it.”

Today in Madonna History: March 28, 2012

On March 28 2012, Melissa Maerz reviewed Madonna’s MDNA album for Entertainment Weekly and gave it a B-.  Here’s what Melissa had to say about the album:

“Girls, they just wanna have some fun!” From the moment Madonna utters those words on MDNA, it’s clear that she’s trying really freaking hard to have a good time. With dance-music vets William Orbit, Martin Solveig, and Benny Benassi helming her return to the Euro-club stylings of 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, Madge spends nearly half the album insisting that this is the Best Party Ever, from the pom-pom-shaking ”Give Me All Your Luvin”’ to the Mardi-Gras-beads-tossing ”Girl Gone Wild” and stereo-blasting ”Turn Up the Radio.” The album title even suggests that Ecstasy is part of Madge’s DNA.

But while there are a few genuine moments of double-rainbow bliss here (check the ”whoo-ooh!” chorus of ”I’m a Sinner”), there’s also real darkness lurking under the air-popped beats. If Madonna’s sending us a message, it’s this: I spent all year perfecting my cartwheel for the Super Bowl, and now I’m gonna have fun, even if it kills me.

Maybe it’s just that MDNA‘s so hell-bent on showing how much energy the 53-year-old puts into her job. Many songs recap her gold-star résumé referencing her past hits lyrically or musically. ”Girl Gone Wild” shares its sassy legwarmer-disco vibe with 2005’s ”Hung Up,” while ”I’m a Sinner” reunites her with Orbit for a very cool guitar-boosted rave-up that echoes 1998’s ”Ray of Light.”

But all those reminders of her work ethic can feel exhausting. On the ridiculous electro-rap ”I Don’t Give A,” she runs through her insane schedule as a celebrity supermom. Before finishing her power workout, hiring a babysitter, ”tweeting on the elevator,” and riding a helicopter to her divorce lawyers’ office, she has an epiphany: ”Wake up, ex-wife/This is your life.”

Are you listening, Guy Ritchie? Because Madonna’s not done yelling at you. After revealing that she ”didn’t have a prenup,” she gets a decent gold-digger joke into the ABBA-remix-esque strains of ”Love Spent”: ”Frankly, if my name was Benjamin,” she deadpans, ”we wouldn’t be in this mess we’re in.” Less charming is the industrial thumper ”Gang Bang,” where Madonna holds a gun to her lover’s head, demanding, ”Drive, bitch!” True, she also recorded a mea culpa — on ”I F—ed Up” she says ”I’m sorry” in French — but it’s telling that she cut it from the album. Her apology’s just as unconvincing as her Gallic accent.

So it’s surprising that Madonna is at her best on the love songs. The W.E. ballad ”Masterpiece” (which won her a Golden Globe in January) begins with Spanish guitar and a finger-snap rhythm — a refreshing break from the relentless bass throbbing. When she’s singing about a guy who’s as pretty as the Mona Lisa, her voice is lovely. And the synth stomper ”I’m Addicted,” a warm ode to a crush, offers a good excuse to join in when she says, ”I need to dance.” Elsewhere, Nicki Minaj even shows some L-U-V for Lady M, proclaiming, ”There’s only one queen, and that’s Madonna, bitch!” Judging by MDNA, she may be overestimating her idol. But there’s just enough dance-floor bonhomie here to get that catchphrase bedazzled on a few dozen leotards. B-

Best Tracks:
Spiritual electro? Sacrilicious! I’m a Sinner
A flamenco-style ballad Masterpiece

Today in Madonna History: September 19, 2000

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On September 19 2000, Madonna’s eighth studio album Music was released by Maverick Records.  Music was released in some markets on September 18.

In anticipation of the release Madonna made this statement:

“Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on… Hi, it’s Madonna. You’ve probably been hearing about my new record, Music, for a while. Well, I just wanted to make sure you knew that the single is gonna drop very soon. I worked on it with a French guy named Mirwais, and he is the shit. The album will be released worldwide on September 19, and I hope you like my music.”

Today in Madonna History: August 28, 2000

On August 28 2000, Madonna appeared on the cover of People magazine with the headline: Labor Days! With Their Men Standing By, Madonna, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Iman Give Birth to New Little Scene-Stealers.

Here’s a snippet of the article inside:

August is often the busiest month for the nation’s maternity wards, but this year it was certainly the most glamorous. On Aug. 8 actress Catherine Zeta-Jones gave birth to son Dylan, with fiancé Michael Douglas nearby. Three days later, reportedly under more urgent circumstances, pop diva Madonna and film director Guy Ritchie welcomed son Rocco. And on Aug. 15 model-actress Iman and her husband, David Bowie, celebrated the arrival of daughter Alexandria. Here, the stories of those joyful beginnings. A Rocky Ride for Madonna’s Rocco There are limits even for those who like to have it all. With daughter Lourdes, 3, underfoot and another child on the way—an addition that she has said will add to her battalion of “nannies, housekeepers and assistants”—Madonna decided that life was getting a bit too hectic, shuttling between homes in Los Angeles, New York City and London, where she most recently shared a $15,000-a-month, four-story townhouse with Baby No. 2’s father, British director Guy Ritchie. Three weeks ago the Material Mom gave away two of her three Chihuahuas, letting Lourdes keep Evita while farming out Chiquita and Rosita to actor Glenn Shadix. “I e-mailed our mutual friend Rupert Everett in Italy to help convince Madonna that I would give the girls a proper home,” says Shadix, who owns two female terriers. “All four girls get along fabulously.”

Today in Madonna History: May 25, 2004

On May 25 2004, Rolling Stone magazine published a review of Madonna’s Re-Invention World Tour with the headline, “Madonna Reinvents herself. Amid images of war and peace, pop star shows she can sing.”

Here’s the review by Barry Walters:

After twenty years in the limelight, Madonna is expected to cause controversy and reinvent herself for every new tour. So for the May 24th Los Angeles opening of her Re-Invention world trek, Madonna did the most unexpected thing she could: She came back as a great concert singer.

Even the most diehard Madonna fan will concede that her live performances have almost without exception been plagued by a multitude of missed notes, breathy passages, and, as of late, fake British accents. But while Mariah and Whitney have of been losing the acrobatic vocal dexterity and lung power on which their reputations rest, forty-five-year-old Madonna, whom few have ever taken seriously as a musician, has never sounded better than she did during the first of several gigs in her adopted West Coast home. Whether rocking out with classic black Les Paul in hand during a metallic rendition of her early club hit “Burning Up,” or performing “Like a Prayer” behind a screen-projected gospel choir, Madonna belted, and did not once seemed strained. In the midst of a $1 million production festooned with a walkway that jutted out from the stage and over the audience, massive moving video screens, a dozen dancers, a bagpipe player, a stunt skateboarder and a whole lot of emotionally charged anti-war imagery, the focus was nevertheless on Madonna, and how she’s matured into a truly great pop singer.

Opening with a yoga-trained twist on her famous Louis XIV-inspired MTV Video Music Awards rendition of “Vogue” and ending on a kilt-wearing finale of “Holiday” against a video backdrop of national flags that eventually morphed into one, the show was thematically simpler and more focused than her last several productions.

The barbarism of war and the necessity of love were at the heart of the entire show, and both played off each other, sometimes for ironic and decidedly uneasy effect. The original military-themed video footage of “American Life” that the singer withheld at the start of the Iraq war was finally unveiled, and then expanded upon during “Express Yourself,” where Madonna sang her anthem of unbridled, intimate communication in front of dancers dressed as soldiers and goose-stepping with twirling rifles.

By contrast, Madonna closed an extended acoustic section of the show with a straightforward and thoroughly committed rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” as images of war and poverty-ravaged children eventually gave way to footage of a Muslim boy and his Israeli counterpart smiling as they walked with their arms wrapped around each other.

The heaviness of much of the imagery was balanced by Madonna’s own presence, which seemed remarkably fun-loving and self-assured for the opening night of her most technically complex production. Only when she strapped on an acoustic or electric guitar during several songs and repeatedly glanced at her left hand to make sure it was playing the proper chords did she seem at all nervous. “How many people out there really think that I am the Material Girl?” she asked during a break in her most iconic early smash as she strummed with much deliberation.

For the last several songs, Madonna and her dancers donned black and white kilts, an apparent nod to husband Guy Ritchie’s Scottish heritage, and black T-shirts that read “Kabbalists Do It Better,” a cheeky reference to both her religious studies and the “Italians Do It Better” T-shirt she wore during her video for “Papa Don’t Preach,” a song that was performed without the “near-naked pregnant women” described in pre-tour reports of the show. In a number dedicated for the “fans that’ve stood by me for the last twenty years,” she sang her earliest hit ballad, “Crazy For You,” earnestly and without contrivance.

Madonna’s continued relevance was impressive, but it was even more striking that she’s putting more love and genuine passion into her spectacle than ever.

 

Today In Madonna History: March 28, 2001

On March 28, 2001, Madonna began filming the BMW commercial Star in Los Angeles, California, co-starring Clive Owen and directed by Guy Ritchie.  Star was part of a series of short films (called The Hire) produced to promote BMW.

“I’m gracing this armpit of a town for one night, if you think I’m gonna know the name of the venue in El Arm-Pitto… You’re Sadly Mistaken” – Madonna’s character in Star

Today In Madonna History: March 16, 2001

On March 16 2001, MTV and VH1 networks announced that Madonna’s new video for What It Feels Like For A Girl would be broadcast only once on March 20 at 11:30 pm because of the controversy over its violent content.

Madonna later released What It Feels Like For A Girl as a DVD single.

Madonna biographer Andrew Morton had this to say about the video:

“The video is entirely consistent with the themes that she has been exploring for the last twenty years, namely the relationship between the sexes, the ambiguity of gender, and the unresolved conflict, for women in a patriarchal society of being fully female and sexual while exercising control over their lives.”

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