You may love her, you may hate her but one thing is for sure; whether you are 15 or 85, there is a really good chance you have heard of her! The Material Girl, known as Madonna, born Madonna Louise Ciccone, needs no other name. She has (and still does) shocked and stunned; she has broken boundaries, persevered, challenged, entertained, and opened wide the doors for future generations.
The eighties could not be the eighties without mentioning Madonna and her contributions. My gosh, who has not danced to “Everybody” or “Like a Virgin” or “Holiday”?
While I was never one to follow trends for dress, many others were. Bleached hair, thrift-shop style clothes consisting of lace tops, skirts over Capri pants, fishnet stockings, plastic bracelets, multiple necklaces (don’t forget the crucifix)… ring a bell to any of you? One of my favourite movies “Desperately Seeking Susan” with Rosanna Arquette brought this style to the big screen and really put her on the map making even more girls wanting to be just like her.
Of course, that particular style had an expiry date because she is definitely not one to stay in one groove forever. Her success is due to her versatility and ability to reinvent herself into the next version, not only musically but with her signature looks created through the outfits, from wild to questionable to glamourous. From blonde to brunette back to blonde, bustiers to cone-shaped bra outfits, to the ooh-la-la of Marilyn Monroe to Marie-Antoinette during her Vogue period. (Hey! Didja know that that dress was the one worn by Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons? Fitting, don’t you think? Dangerous and various liaisons were had by Madonna over the years).
In July 1985, Penthouse and Playboy published nudes of her, taken in 1978 when she was broke and needed the money. Needless to say, this caused an uproar for which she refused to apologize. To think she was paid $25 per session when the photos ended up being sold for up to $100,000. Good for her, I say. No need to apologize for who you are and what you choose to do, if no one is getting hurt.
Lady Gaga would not be Lady Gaga today if it hadn’t been for Madonna paving the way to the outrageous. Gwen Stefani said it best: “Some people say that I copy her. But show me one girl my age who was not influenced by her.” There would be no Britney Spears, no Christina Aguilera, no Avril Lavigne, no Rihanna, no… well you get the picture. The list is long. Many artists (including actors like Cameron Diaz) as well singers have said they are inspired by her, want her longevity, her bravery, her business sense. If that alone is not enough to merit a spot on the Mount, I don’t know what is.
The nineties turned her splash into a tidal wave. She created her own entertainment company called Maverick, giving her total control over her artistic endeavours. Nothing could stop her now. Businesswoman AND entertainer. A potent mix. Sexually explicit books, photos, music, videos were the ordre du jour. I’ll never forget her documentary “True or Dare”. The balls on this woman! Talk about not being afraid to put yourself out there, win or lose. She ruffled more than one feather, particularly during this decade. From the country of Puerto Rico to the Vatican to the general religious Catholic population. Provocation does sell.
And yet, during this time, she also played in another of my favourite movies “A League of Their Own” and “Evita” – this last one a project that she felt compelled to do and for which the powers that be had to acknowledge she did a more than decent job. Not bad for a kid from Michigan, who lost her mother (a French Canadian – how do you like them apples?) quite young and at the age of twenty moved to New York
The 2000’s brought a more subdued (okay, compared to herself!) Madonna – for a while anyway. Much as I love her music over the years, her album Ray of Light is the only one of hers that I ever bought! So many good songs on this album. I had a mix of songs on my old iPod that included the song “Music” which had the perfect beat to walk/run on my treadmill. Of course, she wasn’t done provoking and I don’t think she ever will.
I could have gone on and on, pointing out all her successes but let’s face it, most of us know that she has had a gargantuan career and she’s not done.
Robert M. Grant said: “that what has brought Madonna success is certainly not outstanding natural talent. As a vocalist, musician, dancer, songwriter, or actress, Madonna’s talents seem modest.” Possibly. You can be the judge. However, when it comes to meeting our criteria, there is no way in hell she does not deserve a place on MY Mount Rushmore. I say she didn’t need a prayer to get there.
Don’t forget to go check out Marc’s choice for the male side of things over on Sorryless.