Today in Madonna History: July 1, 2019

On July 1 2019, Billboard’s Joe Lynch reported on Madonna’s performance at the World Pride festivities in New York City the previous night:

Madonna opened with her Harlem ballroom scene-indebted smash Vogue and the audience response was deafening. After that, the musical shapeshifter brought out a single it’s safe to say no one expected to hear as part of a limited-length set: American Life. That being said, while it’s not one of her, say, 20 most renowned songs, the message of American Life has only grown more timely in the 16 years since its release, and its strangely compelling melange of squelching synths, strings and folk had the crowd rapt — especially when she dove head-first into the “soy latte” rap (which reals Stans in the crowd parroted back to her perfectly).

Midway through her wind-whipped set, Madge spoke to the historicity of the moment and the significance to her life. “Fifty years, people,” Madonna said. “Fifty years of freedom fighting. Fifty years of putting up with discrimination, hatred and intemperance. Fifty years of blood, sweat and tears. Fifty years of not bowing down to fear. We have been on this journey together, and I am so proud and honored to share this historical evening with you.”

Before returning to performing, she shouted-out her early NYC days. “You really don’t know. Since I came to New York as a wee little girl, I have always been embraced by queer nation. I always felt like an outsider but you made me feel like an insider. You must know how much I love and appreciate everyone here tonight.”

After that, the cops busted in — well, at least the police-themed dancers Madonna employs. They helped her create a visually powerful live performance of her Madame X highlight God Control, replete with detailed choreography and a disco groove that had the crowd gyrating and shimmying. She closed with I Rise, a powerful anthem for both gun control and LGBTQ rights, after which fireworks exploded over Pride Island as starry-eyed attendees headed home.

Source: Billboard.com

Today in Madonna History: June 14, 2019

On June 14 2019, Madonna’s fourteenth studio album, Madame X, was released worldwide on Interscope Records.

In a 4-star (out of 5) review of the album, Slant Magazine’s Sal Cinquemani noted:

“Madonna has a reputation for being a trendsetter, but her true talent lies in bending those trends to her will, twisting them around until they’re barely recognizable, and creating something entirely new. Madame X is fearless, the sound of an artist unapologetically indulging all of her whims and quirks.”

Deluxe Album:

1. Medellín (feat. Maluma)
(Madonna, Mirwais Ahmadzai, Maluma Londono, Edgar Barrera) produced by Madonna & Mirwais
2. Dark Ballet
(Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzai) produced by Madonna & Mirwais
3. God Control
(Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzai) produced by Madonna, Mirwais & Mike Dean
4. Future (feat. Quavo)
(Madonna, Thomas Pentz, Brittany Talia Hazzard, Quavious Keyate Marshall) produced by Madonna & Diplo
5. Batuka
(Madonna, Banda, Mirwais Ahmadzai) produced by Madonna & Mirwais
6. Killers Who Are Partying
(Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzai) produced by Madonna & Mirwais
7. Crave (feat. Swae Lee)
(Madonna, Khalif Malik Ibn Shaman Brown, B T Hazzard) produced by Madonna, Billboard & Mike Dean
8. Crazy
(Jason Evigan, Madonna, B T Hazzard) produced by Madonna, Mike Dean & Jason Evigan
9. Come Alive
(Jeff Bhasker, Madonna, B T Hazzard) produced by Madonna, Jeff Bhasker & Mike Dean
10. Extreme Occident
(Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzai) produced by Madonna & Mirwais
11. Faz Gostoso (feat. Anitta)
(Carmo, Nuno, Oliveira, Seabra, Vieira, Rodrigues, Madonna) produced by Madonna, Billboard & Mike Dean
12. Bitch I’m Loca (feat. Maluma)
(Madonna, L D’Elia, Londono, Barrera, JAMES, Rodriguez, Stiven Rojas) produced by Madonna & Billboard
13. I Don’t Search I Find
(Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzai) produced by Madonna & Mirwais
14. Looking For Mercy
(Madonna & B T Hazzard) produced by Madonna, Jeff Bhasker & Mike Dean
15. I Rise
(Jason Evigan, Madonna, B T Hazzard) produced by Madonna & Jason Evigan

Deluxe CD Edition (Bonus Disc):

1. Funana
(Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzai) produced by Madonna & Mirwais
2. Back That Up to the Beat
(Madonna, Pharrell Williams, B T Hazzard) produced by Madonna, Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean & Pharrell Williams
3. Ciao Bella
(Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzai) produced by Madonna & Mirwais

Today in Madonna History: June 10, 2019

On Monday June 10 2019, the official Madonna store added the following new Madonnabilia items for sale (available for FIVE days only – so get in there!) in in support/celebration of World Pride 2019:

  • Limited edition lithograph (hand-numbered poster)
  • Limited edition t-shirt
  • Limited edition Pride flag (bundled with the limited edition rainbow Madame X picture disc vinyl)

Here is the message from the official store:

Celebrate your PRIDE and help Madonna support a great cause with the Limited Edition Madame X Crave x World Pride Tee & Digital Download

In Honor of Pride, all of Madonna’s proceeds will go to The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth.

For more information about their life-affirming work, please visit www.thetrevorproject.org.

If you’re thinking about suicide, The Trevor Project is free, confidential and here for you 24/7 – call them at 1-866-488-7386 or text 678-678.

Today in Madonna History: October 9, 2021

On October 9, 2021, Variety published the following recap of Madonna’s surprise performance at Red Rooster in Harlem, New York (performed the night before):

On Friday night in New York City, Madonna, joined by Jon Batiste, his band and a small group of fans, gave an intimate cabaret performance in the basement of Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant Red Rooster, before spilling out into the Harlem streets for a 2 a.m. parade set to “Like a Prayer.”

The midnight cabaret turned New Orleans-style street party rang in Friday’s release of “Madame X,” a documentary concert film of Madonna’s 2019 tour, released by Paramount Plus.

“Obviously, Madame X has been born,” Madonna said to the basement crowd, dressed in a black cocktail dress, lace gloves and long blonde wig. “She was always here. She’s always been by your side, encouraging you, pushing you, inspiring you, I hope.”

Taking the stage in the dimly lit supper club just after 1:40 a.m., Madonna, who laid on top of Batiste’s piano like Marilyn Monroe and climbed up the basements’ columns to grind up and down the wall, sang lounge renditions of “Dark Ballet,” “La Isla Bonita” and the Portuguese “Saudade.”

“Do you feel like something is missing from your life?” she asked the crowd, softly into the microphone while Batiste played beneath her. “So, what’s our job? What’s our destiny? To go out and find it,” she said. “I was talking to Jon on the way here, and we said to each other: Here’s the big question: How bad do you want it?”

The evening was almost impossibly intimate, attended by a crowd that looked to be about 100-200 friends, family and fans, who sank into the club’s plush banquets awaiting her arrival.

During the performance, after falling to her knees in a contemplative adaptation of “Like a Prayer,” Madonna grabbed a nearby megaphone, gestured to the musicians to pick up their instruments, and told the crowd to take to the streets. Obliging blindly, the partygoers climbed up the basement stairs — propelled by the rhythm of Batiste’s band and the sheer thrill of unpredictability — and filed onto 126th street. 

Tambourine in hand, Madonna led Batiste and a modest group of the party’s attendees through the early-morning streets of Harlem, joining together as the group sang an anthemic “Like a Prayer” into the night sky.

Traveling a few blocks down the street, the congregation ended outside a nearby church, where Madonna, framed by the ecclesiastical doors behind her, offered an invocation. “The Lord is with all of us,” she said. “Sometimes you just have to say a prayer.”

At Red Rooster, where most partygoers returned after Madonna’s streetside sermon ended, the room grooved far into the morning, voguing down the dance floor as the open vodka bar continued to flow.  Nearby, joined by queer icons like Aquaria, the Queen of Pop sank into the same plush banquets and watched from afar as the room danced, high and carried away.

Today in Madonna History: October 8, 2021

On October 8 2021, Madonna released Madame X: Music from the Theatre Xperience to digital platforms for streaming (audio) and Madame X the live film to Paramount +.

The concept film captures Madonna’s theater show performed in front of sold-out audiences worldwide in 2019 & 2020. Filmed in Lisbon & Paris, Madonna is joined onstage by 50 global performers including her children, & the all-female Orquestra Batukadeiras.

The live streaming track listing includes the following songs:

  1. Intro
  2. God Control
  3. Dark Ballet
  4. Human Nature
  5. Vogue
  6. I Don’t Search I Find
  7. American Life
  8. Batuka
  9. Fado Pechincha (feat. Gaspar Varela)
  10. Killers Who Are Partying
  11. Crazy
  12. Welcome To My Fado Club
  13. Medellin
  14. Extreme Occident
  15. Breathwork
  16. Frozen
  17. Come Alive
  18. Future
  19. Like A Prayer
  20. I Rise

Today in Madonna History: January 30, 2020

On January 30 2020, glowing reviews of Madonna’s first Madame X show in London were published:

Music critic Neil McCormick (The Telegraph) had this to say: Anarchic and experimental – her best show ever? 5 STARS (out of 5)

I’m not sure who was having more fun at the opening of Madonna’s London residency, the audience or the star. She sang, she danced, she joked and she beamed with almost childlike glee at the crowd’s adoring response.

“How happy I am to have made it this far,” she declared, calling London “my second home”.

Madonna first played the city in 1983 to 1,500 early adopters at the Camden Palace. Her next London gig was Wembley Stadium. She was clearly delighted to be back in a venue where she could not just reach out and touch the audience, she could descend from the stage and sit in their laps. “It’s so intimate. It’s gorgeous and a thrill for me to be able to see all your faces.”

David Smyth of the Evening Standard gave the show 4 STARS (out of 5): Madame X is tireless, imaginative and powerfully intimate.

Such drama before Madonna could even take to the stage for her first theatre tour since 1985! Would she arrive drastically late? Would she cancel at the last minute? Tenterhooks all round.

Monday was supposed to be the first of a planned 15 nights at the Palladium, cancelled on doctor’s orders. It was the 10th dropped concert of the Madame X Tour, which began in New York in September and gathered complaints for its late start times.

But tonight at 8.45pm, there she was, dressed as a bloodstained, eyepatch-wearing revolutionary soldier. She was also a spy, a protest marcher and a Portuguese fado singer in the course of a tireless, imaginative show that was far from shrunken arena pop. Thanks especially to an extraordinary troupe of dancers, it was a spectacle that felt more powerful up close.

Like Bruce Springsteen, who showed a different side of himself in his recent Broadway run, and Kate Bush, whose live comeback was more theatre than concert, the 61-year-old has unearthed something new late in her career. The Madame X album may have plummeted out of the charts in an instant, but here its songs dominated and found their purpose.

Batuka, tuneless on record, was euphoric when performed with a mass of smiling, rump-shaking Batuque drummers from Cape Verde. I Rise was far more powerful when backed by footage of anti-gun protests and gay pride marches.

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian, also gave the show 4 STARS (out of 5) and noted: London residency short on hits but big on British banter.

She sings the bare minimum of big hits – Vogue, Like a Prayer, Human Nature – with Express Yourself and La Isla Bonita reduced to interstitial roles (the former performed as a sweet, but brief a cappella duet with her daughter Mercy), and American Life performed in full.

Still, it occasionally serves to remind you that some of Madame X is better than its relatively muted commercial response might suggest – Medellín sounds like the hit single it wasn’t, as does the gorgeous album track Crazy. This is presumably part of the point – the other part being a certain screw-you intransigence designed to underline that we are in the presence of an artiste, not a pop star.

And the BBC had a few fun notes to add in their review:

The audience were required to store mobile phones in sealed pouches as “an intervention for us all”. However, Madonna admitted that even she was getting anxious without a phone nearby.

“I’m having little panic attacks,” she joked. “I’m like, ‘Why is no-one taking my picture?'”

But the gambit worked: Freed from distractions, the audience gave the concert their undiluted attention; while Madonna seemed to relax and have fun without a phalanx of tiny cameras recording her every move.

At one point, she slipped into a British accent and recalled how she’d been ridiculed for developing similarly plummy vowels during her marriage to Guy Ritchie.

“I didn’t know what anyone was talking about until I heard old interviews of myself,” she said. “And then I was horrified and flabbergasted. Why did you let me do that to myself? I’m from Michigan!”

“It’s all Guy Ritchie’s fault,” she decided. “He made me to it.”

Today in Madonna History: December 17, 2019

On December 17 2019, Cyndi Lauper posted this message on Facebook about Tracy Young’s Grammy nomination for her remix of Madonna’s I Rise:

I’m so excited to hear that Tracy Young has been nominated for a Grammy! This is a BIG deal. Not only did she do a killer remix of “Shine” for me in 2002, but she has been breaking ground for women for years. I can’t wait to vote for her and I urge all Recording Academy / GRAMMYs voting members to join me.

Tracy’s nomination is for her remix of Madonna’s I Rise – a great song with a really powerful message. One of my faves off the Madame X album. Tracy’s nomination marks the FIRST time a female Producer/Remixer has EVER been nominated in the Best Remixed Recording category since its inception in 1998, despite Tracy being eligible in previous years. Tracy has had over 60 #1 Billboard Club Chart Hits. She also worked with Michelle Obama on her This is for my Girls song. Tracy is a true pioneer and I hope this inspires future generations of female Producers/Remixers. We NEED more of ya! #SheIsTheMusic

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