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Sunday, May 2, 2010
Madonna, Louise Ciccone
A series of hit singles from her next studio albums, Like a Virgin (1984) and True Blue (1986), established her as a pop icon. She pushed the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on MTV. Her recognition was augmented by the film Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) which widely became seen as a Madonna vehicle, despite her not playing the lead. Expanding on the use of religious imagery with Like a Prayer (1989), Madonna received positive critical reception for her diverse musical productions, while at the same time was criticised by religious conservatives and the Vatican. In 1992, Madonna founded the Maverick corporation, a joint venture between herself and Time Warner. The same year, she expanded the use of sexually explicit material in her work, beginning with the release of the studio album Erotica, followed by the publishing of the coffee table book Sex, and starring in the erotic thriller Body of Evidence, all of which received negative responses from conservatives and liberals alike.
In 1996, Madonna played the starring role in the film Evita, for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Madonna's seventh studio album, Ray of Light (1998), became one of her most critically acclaimed, recognized for its lyrical depth. During the 2000s, Madonna released four studio albums – namely Music (2000), American Life (2003), Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005) and Hard Candy (2008) – all of which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Departing from Warner Bros. Records, Madonna signed an unprecedented $120 million dollar contract with Live Nation in 2008.
According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Madonna has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide. She is ranked by the Recording Industry Association of America as the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century, and the second top-selling female artist in the United States, behind Barbra Streisand, with 64 million certified albums. Guinness World Records listed her as the world's most successful female recording artist of all time. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Madonna at number two, behind only The Beatles, on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists", making her the most successful solo artist in the history of the chart. She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the same year. Considered to be one of the most influential women in contemporary music, Madonna has been known for continually reinventing both her music and image, and for retaining a standard of autonomy within the recording industry. She is recognized as an influence among numerous music artists.
In 2003, Madonna collaborated with fashion photographer Steven Klein, for an exhibition installation named X-STaTIC Pro=CeSS. It included photography from a photoshoot in W Magazine, and seven video segments. The installation ran from March to May, in New York's Deitch Projects gallery. It then traveled the world in an edited form. Madonna released her ninth studio album called American Life. It was themed on the American society and received mixed reviews. The title song peaked at number thirty-seven on the Hot 100. Having sold four million copies, American Life became the lowest selling album of her career. Later that year, Madonna performed the song "Hollywood" with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott, at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Madonna kissed Spears and Aguilera during the performance, resulting in a tabloid frenzy. In the fall of 2003, Madonna provided guest vocals on Spears' single "Me Against the Music". During the Christmas season of 2003, Madonna released Remixed & Revisited, an EP that included remixed versions of songs from American Life, and "Your Honesty", a previously unreleased track from the Bedtime Stories recording sessions. Madonna also signed a contract with Callaway Arts & Entertainment as the author of five books, and published the first one titled The English Roses. The story was about four English schoolgirls and their envy and jealousy of each other. After its release, The English Roses peaked at the top of New York Times Best Seller list.
The next year, Madonna and Maverick sued Warner Music Group and its former parent company, Time Warner, claiming that mismanagement of resources, and poor bookkeeping had cost the company millions of dollars. In return, Warner filed a countersuit, alleging that Maverick had lost tens of millions of dollars on its own. The dispute was resolved when the Maverick shares, owned by Madonna and Ronnie Dashev, were purchased. The company became an owmed subsidiary of Warner Music, but Madonna was still signed to Warner under a separate recording contract. Later that year, Madonna embarked on the Re-Invention World Tour in the United States, Canada, and Europe. It became the highest-grossing tour of 2004, earning $125 million.She made a documentary about the tour named I'm Going to Tell You a Secret. Same year, Rolling Stone ranked her number thirty-six, on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". Madonna performed a cover version of the John Lennon song "Imagine", in the televised concert titled Tsunami Aid. She also performed at the Live 8 benefit concert in London. Her tenth studio album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, was released in November and debuted at number one in all major music markets. Keith Caulfield from Billboard commented that the album is a "welcome return to form for the Queen of Pop." The album won a Grammy Award for "Best Electronic/Dance Album". The first single from the album, "Hung Up", went on to reach number-one in a record breaking forty-five countries, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records."Sorry", the second single, became Madonna's twelfth number-one, in United Kingdom.
In 2006, the clothing line M by Madonna, under H&M, was launched internationally. Madonna's Confessions Tour began in May 2006. It had a global audience of 1.2 million, and grossed over $194.7 million, becoming highest grossing tour ever for a female artist at that time. The use of religious symbols, such as the crucifix and Crown of Thorns, in the performance of "Live to Tell", caused the Russian Orthodox Church and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, to urge all their members to boycott her concert.The Vatican, as well as bishops from Düsseldorf, protested against the concert. Madonna responded: "My performance is neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous. Rather, it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and to see the world as a unified whole." While on the tour, Madonna traveled to Malawi to help and fund an orphanage, as part of the Raising Malawi initiative. On October 10, 2006, she filed adoption papers for a boy named David Banda Mwale, from the orphanage. He was later renamed, David Banda Mwale Ciccone Ritchie.The adoption raised strong public reaction, because Malawian law requires would-be parents to reside in Malawi for one year before adopting, which Madonna did not do. She refuted the allegations on The Oprah Winfrey Show, saying that there were no written adoption laws in Malawi that regulated foreign adoption and that Banda had been suffering from pneumonia after surviving malaria and tuberculosis, when she had met him. Banda's biological father, Yohane commented, "These so-called human rights activists are harassing me every day, threatening me that I am not aware of what I am doing.They want me to support their court case, a thing I cannot do for I know what I agreed with Madonna and her husband." The adoption was finalized on May 28, 2008.
As an artist, Madonna's music has been the subject of much scrutiny among critics. Robert M. Grant, author of Contemporary Strategy Analysis (2005), commented that what has brought Madonna success is "[c]ertainly not outstanding natural talent. As a vocalist, musician, dancer, songwriter, or actress, Madonna's talents seem modest." He asserts Madonna's success is in relying on the talents of others, and that her personal relationships have served as cornerstones to the numerous reinventions in the longevity of her career. Conversely, Rolling Stone has named Madonna "an exemplary songwriter with a gift for hooks and indelible lyrics, and a better studio singer than her live spectacles attest." She has been called "the perfect vocalist for lighter-than-air songs", despite not being a "heavyweight talent." Madonna has always been self-conscious about her voice, especially when compared to her vocal idols, a group that includes Ella Fitzgerald, Prince and Chaka Khan.
The release of her first album, Madonna (1983), heralded her arrival but her vocal abilities were not fully formed artistically. Her vocal styles and lyrics appeared similar to those of other pop stars of that period, namely Paula Abdul, Debbie Gibson and Taylor Dayne. The songs on Madonna reveal several key trends that have continued to define her success, including a strong dance-based idiom, catchy hooks, highly polished arrangement and Madonna's own vocal style. In songs such as "Lucky Star" and Borderline", Madonna introduced a style of upbeat dance music that would prove particularly appealing to future gay audiences. The bright, girlish vocal timbre of the early years became passé in Madonna's later works, the change being deliberate. Her second album, Like a Virgin (1984), foreshadowed several trends in Madonna's later works, including references to classical works (the pizzicato synthesizer line that opens the song "Angel"); potential negative reaction from social groups ("Dress You Up" which was blacklisted by the Parents Music Resource Center); and retro styles ("Shoo-Bee-Doo", Madonna's homage to Motown).Madonna's early style and the change that she ushered in it, is best evident in the song "Material Girl". It opens with Madonna using a little-girl voice, but following the first verse, she switches to a richer, more mature voice in the chorus.This mature artistic statement was visible in True Blue (1986). "Papa Don't Preach" from this album, was a significant milestone in her artistic career. The classical introduction, fast tempo and the gravity in her voice was unprecedented in Madonna's oeuvre at that time.
With Like a Prayer (1989), Madonna again entered a new phase, musically. Widely denoted as her most frank record, Like a Prayer reflected Madonna's thoughts on her failed marriage to Penn and her loneliness. Madonna commented "[The album] was a real coming-of-age record for me emotionally. I had to do a lot of soul-searching and I think it is a reflection of that. The album introduced live recorded music and incorporated different genres of music, including dance, R&B, Gospel music. Her relationship with her parents and Penn had a profound effect on the lyrics of the songs. Madonna continued to compose ballads and uptempo dance songs for Erotica (1992) and Bedtime Stories (1994). She tried to remain contemporary by utilizing the use of samples, rap music, drum loops and hip-hop in the songs. Her voice grew much deeper and fuller, evident in the tracks like "Rain" and "Take a Bow". During the shooting of Evita, Madonna had to take vocal lessons, which increased her range further. She herself commented: "I studied with a vocal coach for Evita and I realized there was a whole piece of my voice I wasn't using. Before, I just believed I had a really limited range and was going to make the most of it." Continuing her musical evolution with Ray of Light, the track "Frozen" displayed her fully formed vocal prowess and her allusions to classical music. Her vocals were restrained and she sang the songs in Ray of Light without vibrato. However, the intake of breath within the songs became more prominent. With the new millennium, came her album Music. From that album, Madonna has sung in her normal voice in a medium range, and sometimes singing in a higher register for the chorus. Fouz-Hernández commented that "Throughout her career, Madonna's manipulation of her voice shows us that, by refusing to be defined in one way, she has in fact opened up a space for new kinds of musical analysis."
According to Rolling Stone, Madonna "remains one of the greatest pop acts of all time". She has been dubbed the "Queen of Pop" and listed by Guinness World Records as the world's most successful female recording artist of all time. On March 10, 2008, Madonna was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the first year she had been eligible for the honor. Billboard magazine ranked her as the most successful solo artist (second artist overall, behind only The Beatles) on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists". She is also the most successful female solo artist in the British chart history, with the most number-one albums and number-one singles.Madonna is featured in the book 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century, published by Ladies' Home Journal in 1998.In July 2003, VH1 and People magazine listed her as seventh in the "200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons of All Time." In 2006, a new water bear species called Echiniscus madonnae, was named after her.The paper with the description of E. madonnae, was published in the international journal of animal taxonomy Zootaxa in March 2006 (Vol. 1154, pages: 1–36). The Zoologists commented: "We take great pleasure in dedicating this species to one of the most significant artists of our times, Madonna Louise Veronica Ritchie." The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) number of the species is 711164.
Throughout her career Madonna, like David Bowie, has repeatedly reinvented herself through a series of visual and musical personas. Fouz-Hernández agrees that this re-invention is one of her key cultural achievements. Madonna re-invented herself by constantly working with upcoming talented producers and previous unknown artists, while remaining at the center of media attention. In doing so she has provided an example of how to maintain one's career in the entertainment industry.Madonna represented herself as someone who continued to change her persona and image from time to time. Such re-invention was noted by scholars as the main tool in surviving the musical industry, for a female artist. As Ian Youngs from BBC News commented, "Her ability to follow the latest trends and adapt her style has often been credited with preserving her appeal." Madonna's use of shocking sexual imagery, has benefitted her career and impacted public discourse on sexuality and feminism. The Times commented: "Madonna, whether you like or not, started a revolution amongst women in music. Her attitudes and opinions on sex, nudity, style and sexuality forced the public to take up and notice."Rodger Streitmatter, author of Sex Sells! (2004), commented that "from the moment Madonna burst onto the nation's radar screen in the mid-1980s, she did everything in her power to shock the public, and her efforts paid off." Shmuel Boteach, author of Hating women (2005), felt that Madonna was largely responsible for erasing the line between music and pornography. He stated: "Before Madonna, it was possible for women more famous for their voices than their cleavage, to emerge as music superstars. But in the post-Madonna universe, even highly original performers such as Janet Jackson now feel the pressure to expose their bodies on national television to sell albums."
Madonna has influenced numerous music artists throughout her career. Mary Cross, in her book Madonna: A Biography, wrote: "Her influence on pop music is undeniable and far-reaching. New pop icons from Nelly Furtado and Shakira to Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera (not to mention Britney Spears) owe Madonna, a debt of thanks for the template she forged, combining provocative sexiness and female power in her image, music, and lyrics." Fouz-Hernández commented that female pop performers such as "Spears, Spice Girls, Destiny's Child, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Minogue and Pink were like Madonna's daughters in the sense that they grew up listening to her and admiring, while deciding to emulate her style." Among all of them, Madonna's influence was most notable in Spears, who was called her protégé. She has also been credited with the introduction of European electronic dance music into the mainstream of American pop culture, and bringing European producers like Stuart Price and Mirwais Ahmadzaï into the spotlight.
Madonna has also received acclaim as a role model for businesswomen in her industry, "achieving the kind of financial control that women had long fought for within the industry" generating over $1.2 billion dollars in sales within the first decade of her career. After its establishment, Maverick Records - unusually for such labels - became a large commercial success due to her efforts. Guinness Book of World Records names Madonna as the world's highest earning female singer, after making £26.6 million in 2004 alone.Music journalist Robert Sandall, said that while interviewing Madonna, it was clear that being "a cultural big hitter" was more important to her than pop music, a career she described as "an accident". He also noted the contrast between her anything-goes sexual public persona, and a secretive and "paranoid" attitude towards her own finances; she fired her own brother, when he charged her for an extra item. London Business School academics called her a "dynamic entrepreneur" worth copying, identifying her vision of success, understanding of the music industry, ability to recognise her performance limits (and thus bring in help), hard work and ability to change, as the key to her commercial success. Reporter Michael McWilliams commented: "The gripes about Madonna — she's cold, greedy, talentless — conceal both bigotry and the essence of her art, which is among the warmest, the most humane, the most profoundly satisfying in all pop culture."