Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Top Ten Madonna Moments of 2013

  
2013.  This was one of those Madonna years during which not much happened musically; a very small crowd was treated to the only live public performance.  Music aside, there was of course the usual mix of latter-day Madonna tidbits like Hard Candy Fitness center openings, her "feud" with Lady Gaga, and newsflashes about how much she earns (FYI, she's the highest paid musicianlast year's MDNA Tour cracked the all-time top 10 tours list; and the sale of her L.A. compound netted nearly $20M.)

But our favorite 55 (!) year-old, between showing her ass a lot and popping gold into her mouth, seemed to be kicking it old-school and showered us with surprises.  Who'd have foreseen her (finally) diving into social media?  Given - and then stripped of - the titles of both a Mensa-caliber genius and full-fledged billionaire?  Launching an excruciatingly teased and massively promoted art initiative?  Moving on from her boyfriend (fare thee well, Brahim!) while sidling up to a very famous ex?  Or serving us punk goddess, Marlene Dietrich, Bettie Page, and Boy Scout (!!) realness?

Let's just get into that and much, MUCH more.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Ten Madonna Moments of 2012

Madonna left quite the impression this year.

In every meaning of the word. 

First, "a notion or belief"?  Nearly 5,000 kids will be served by schools co-built by Raising Malawi, with more schools on the way.  Those kids will get the impression that there is good in the world and they could be summoned to a higher calling

Second, "the effect produced by an agency or influence"?  The Material Girl label thrived.  Hard Candy fitness centers expanded.  A workout tape arrived.  Even without Madonna pressing the flesh and pushing product herself, her influence was pervasive.  Joe Francis, the entrepreneur behind the low-brow "Girls Gone Wild" video franchise, decided, in a stroke of premature publicity-mindedness, to pick a battle with Madge over the preliminary title of "Girl Gone Wild" even though dozens of other songs share the title.  Lame move but telling of Madonna's dominion.

Third, in ad-speak, an "impression" is the measure of the number of eyeballs (or eardrums) garnered.  Consider that more than 14 million people had been exposed to "Give Me All Your Luvin'" before it had its debut at the Super Bowl a few days later.  That historic game, by the way, was the most-watched U.S. television event everMadonna's performance in the middle of that show saw a spike of two million more viewers, making her 12-minute set the most-watched TV segment in history.  One hundred fourteen million impressions.  (She also set a tweet-per-second record, if we're drilling down into numbers.)

Fourth, "a strong effect produced on the intellect, feelings, conscience, etc."?  Why, yes, the media blitzkrieg this year resulted in Madonna's placement as the sixth-most discussed public figure on Facebook and the highest ranking female.

All in a year's work for VH1's "Greatest Woman in Music." 

Here are the top ten ways she impressed us in 2012, an astonishing 30 years since her breakout single "Everybody" was released:

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

Top Ten Madonna Moments of 2011

We Madonna fans got a lot of hackneyed product this year, for sure. We got a perfume named Truth or Dare, a second Hard Candy Fitness Center (this time in Moscow), and of course more Macy's-based Material Girl clothes. What's next, a Ray of Light line of lamps?


We kid! We kid! If the foregoing was all Madonna did this year - and understandable as that may be with such an overstuffed 2012 on deck - we'd hang up our blogger pen and call it a year at that.

So, let's get serious.

"I Love New York" was featured on "Glee". David Guetta won a Grammy for his remix of "Revolver". Madonna has a new boytoy half her age named Brahim Zaibat.


Not enough? Okay, then, how about we get to the REAL Madonna year that was? Coming right up: a turgid twelve months of a woman that doesn't just rest on her laurels and think of goods to name after her famous song titles.
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Saturday, January 01, 2011

Top Ten Madonna Moments of 2010

The Madonna brand, in both the literal and figurative senses, seemed to be this year's dominant theme, from a passive investment in coconut water to more aggressive marketing in apparel and fitness clubs, to the expected musical accomplishment: tying with Bob Dylan with 19 Top Ten albums (by way of Sticky & Sweet Tour CD/DVD, released in March), 11 albums shy of Barbra Streisand's perch.

True, a majority of 2010 found Madonna toiling away on her second feature film as director, set for release in 2011. But our London and New York-minded gal still bookended a typically crammed year by extending her presence (and presents) on other continents like South America (a sojourn to Carnival in Rio, the final throes of the Jesus Luz Affair) and Africa (laying the foundation for the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls, snagging a VH1 Do Something Award, playing Santa - and presumably not "Santa Baby" - for needy orphans).
With Madonna nearly everywhere, it's quaint knowing that there is at least one place, for now, that you definitely won't permanently see her name. This summer's delicious gossip upped the ante on the evergreen Vegas rumor by alleging Madge turned down a staggering $1 billion, five-year residency gig in Sin City.

Fat chance of "Madonna at Caesars" in the foreseeable future, but, hey, you never know, especially after skimming her wild year in the rearview mirror:


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Friday, January 01, 2010

Top Ten Madonna Moments of 2009

Madonna fell off a horse.A nude shot of her caused a commotion.
Letterman engaged her in a fizzy chat.She was protested, boycotted, and booed while on tour.Quick: What year was it?The Madonna Meta Machine chugged along another year, and you're forgiven for losing a sense of regularity. Her rare gift of perennial resurrection and reinvention assured that, even in comparatively low-wattage 2009, fresh M news blended with Groundhog Day-ish stories familiar, creating a stream-of-consciousness media cocktail of Madonna lore.To keep us on track, and in furtherance of her various interests - music, fashion, charity, sexual politics - Madonna was of course at the reins. As she closed out another decade - her third in the superstar stratum - we were reminded of all the irons this lady's got in the fire.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Top Ten Madonna Moments of 2008

It was by no means a bold prophesy to predict that we'd have an embarrassment of Madonna riches on our hands this past year.

With her countless projects and exhaustively crammed 2008 schedule, from "Heartbeat" to heartbreak, the most famous woman in the world didn't fail to
keep her name bouncing around the zeitgeist, notwithstanding a turning-point American election, a global economic crisis, and the unabashed headline-sucking of interchangeably wannabe starlets.

The media couldn't get enough Madonna, even in the (rare) times this year when it seemed like flying under the radar was her M.O. Whether it be a paparazzi fest in the Mumbai slums at the tail end of her long Indian vacation, feverish reportage of a Marilyn Monroe historian's confusion of
Sex-era Madonna and her onetime muse, or the pile-on of bad buzz during preparations for the Sticky & Sweet Tour - least of which was the almost-too-perfectly-timed release of "estranged" brother Christopher Ciccone's poison-penned book - the line between sanctioned product and leaks from within the Great Madonna Media Dam became increasingly blurred.

So much happened in the world of Madonna, in fact, that no less than her seventh career Grammy (for
The Confessions Tour DVD) is but a minor historical footnote of the past twelve months. The woman had a lot going on.

The following ten events best illustrate what made up the significant signposts of a busy time for the busiest lady, Madonna '08:


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Friday, December 21, 2007

Top Ten Madonna Moments of 2007

For a relatively lower-profile year, Madonna sure had an active twelve months.

By measure of music, yes, she was quiet. 2007 was the first year in a quarter-century in which Madonna didn't release a Billboard-charting
single. (The Live Earth-inspired "Hey You" never quite busted out of its promotional box.) Instead of a mammoth tour, there was exactly one live performance. And those "leaked" songs everyone heard from the upcoming album? Yeah, we didn't feel 'em either and, really, maybe we weren't supposed to yet.

2007 was indeed the calm before what promises to be the giant media storm of 2008, what with an album, a tour, her film directorial debut, more charity work, and a certain career-defining industry acknowledgement all in the offing.But, oh, what calm it was! When she wasn't busy assembling a Malawian orphan security detail or running around with gag-gift sex toys or shilling for a Japanese apartment building (um, really), Madonna handily maintained her rightful place at the top of the pop culture heap. No one lays low quite like Madge.Here are the most sterling examples of how she did it in 2007:

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Madonna Grammy History

With the 49th Annual Grammy Awards just around the corner - and M up for three trophies - the time calls for a look back at the many nominations (and five wins) our lady has racked up from the kudofest over the years:

1985: (nom) Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Crazy For You

1986: (nom) Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Papa Don't Preach

1987: (nom) Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media, Who's That Girl

1990: (nom) Best Short Form Video, Oh Father

1990: (nom) Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, Like a Prayer

1991: (win) Best Long Form Music Video, Blond Ambition World Tour: Live!
1995: (nom) Best Long Form Music Video, The Girlie Show: Live Down Under

1995: (nom) Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media, I'll Remember

1996: (nom) Best Pop Vocal Album, Bedtime Stories

1999: (nom) Album of the Year, Ray of Light
1999: (nom) Record of the Year, Ray of Light1999: (win) Best Pop Vocal Album, Ray of Light

1999: (win) Best Dance Recording, Ray of Light
1999: (win) Best Short Form Music Video,
Ray of Light2000: (nom) Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Beautiful Stranger

2000: (win) Best Song Specifically Written for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media, Beautiful Stranger

2001: (nom) Best Pop Vocal Album, Music

2001: (nom) Record of the Year, Music

2001: (nom) Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Music

2002: (nom) Best Short Form Music Video, Don't Tell Me

2003: (nom) Best Dance Recording, Die Another Day

2003: (nom) Best Short Form Music Video, Die Another Day

2007: (nom) Best Electronic/Dance Album, Confessions on a Dance Floor

2007: (nom) Best Dance Recording, Get Together

2007: (nom) Best Long Form Video, I'm Going To Tell You a Secret

Her batting average on those nominations? A meager .136, not including this year's noms. But twenty-two nods is pretty staggering.

And who needs a trophy to validate a music career? Madonna's most memorable Grammy appearances, especially in the latter half of Her career, usually revolve around one of Her incredible live performances. The stunning trifecta of Nothing Really Matters in 1999, Music in 2001, and Hung Up last year are almost unparalleled in show-stealingness.
Capping a banner year proclaimed as Her umpteenth "comeback" era, Madonna opened up the 1999 Grammys in full-blown geisha mode. I had this to say about the performance in my column about Madonna's top live performances:
There is something haunting but absolutely essential about this oft-overlooked performance. Perhaps one of those most out-there Grammy numbers, Madonna’s geisha-infused set piece is inimitably hers, never to be replicated and virtually critic-proof.

I mean, there are very few grown-ups that we as a consuming public will allow play dress-up on such a large scale. Madonna recreates the herky-jerky movements from the video while balanced on obscenely high platform boots. This performance just barely edges out The Power of Goodbye performance from the Europe VMAs, but only because Madonna would later (finally!) collect several trophies for the Ray of Light album throughout the evening, making the 1999 Grammy telecast truly historic.
Madonna's next appearance at the Grammys - while not as successful trophy-wise as 1999 - yielded a second memorable opening number. Of Music in 2001, I wrote:
No one can open an awards show quite like Madonna, who is guaranteed to whip the crowd into hysteria before the proceedings even start. This was her first national performance of the blockbuster song that critics dubbed a
return to Holiday fun.
And --- ouch -- those deep leg lunges! E! Online said it all: “We love Madonna's Jennifer Aniston 'do, we love her cool black threads, complete with ‘Material Girl’ tank, we love the video montage of Madonna highlights past, we
love the gold confetti falling on the crowd, we really love the pimp-daddy limo driven by Lil' Bow Wow...If the rest of the ceremony is even half as ghetto fabulous as Madonna's opening performance of her Grammy-nominated Music, we are so gonna be lovin' this show.”
Surely making my list of top live performances - had it been written a few years later -would be Hung Up, yet another Grammy opening. It's debatable whether Madge should have sat last year's telecast out altogether, being that She wasn't in attendance to wait out any nominations but rather, blatantly, to plug Confessions. Not that anyone's complaining. Her tried-and-true run-through of Hung Up, a performance featuring the animated Gorillaz, ranked as the second best Madonna moment of 2006, behind only the monumental Confessions Tour. Her reason for showing up? To rock your face.
While we won't get a performance from Madge this year, perhaps She'll add a few Grammys to Her mantel. Good luck, Madonna!

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Top Ten Madonna Moments of 2006

The true Queen of All Media has had a busy twelve months: books, videos, live performances all over the world, endorsements, and more TV appearances than Milton Berle in his prime. Even though She debuted only one new song this year (the groovy B-side History), Madonna managed to stay in the headlines for a myriad of projects and newsworthy events.With so much going on - many undeniable hits (the Grammys! Confessions Tour!) and some debatable misses (sorry, H&M!, Boo, English Roses 2!) - it's difficult to catalog this year's highlights. But we'll sure try. Herewith, a rundown of Madge's finest moments of 2006 :

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Top Five Songs Madonna Should Resurrect

1. Take a Bow - C'mon, it's Her biggest hit and She has yet to sing it live (read: not lip-synched with Babyface on the American Music Awards in 1995). [ed. Okay, okay, this is officially retracted. She did sing live. Our bad.] Madonna should ditch the ban on "farewell" songs and perform this ballad, famous also for its cinematic video and prominence on Friends' first season cliffhanger. All of us must take an oath not to assume She's retiring if we hear Take a Bow. Bring it back, Madonna! "How was I supposed to know you'd break (you'd break, you'd break, you'd break) you'd break my heart?"

2. Hollywood - Or, this century's Vogue. Hopefully, Madonna won't continue to distance Herself from 2003's sorely underrated American Life album. I'll put my fanhood on the line and declare that Die Another Day, Nothing Fails, Nobody Knows Me, and Intervention will stand the test of time. Likewise, Hollywood is that album's Sorry - the shoulda-been-a-smash that everyone with an ear for solid pop music heard and loved. It got a few live performances during the promotion tour of the album, but we all know a self-serious Madonna wasn't super gung ho about putting Her all into those gigs (Tower Records? Really?). A remix of the song was the backing for a Re-Invention interlude, but think of the fun She can have with this in the future.

3. Cherish - The video was a slice of Herb Ritts Velveeta: Madonna cavorti
ng on a beach with buff mer-men. Blond Ambition featured the tune, as well, and again trotted out the mermaid motif. This timeless song is rarely remembered amid the vast Madonna catalog of '80s output, when the likes of Like a Virgin and Like a Prayer overshadowed their album mates. But if Madonna feels She must again dip into the song well for another bucket o' oldies-but-goodies, She should look no further than this fluffy, feel-good confection. Without any fish theme, please.

4. Angel - Yeah, sure, Burning Up was fun two years ago, Lucky Star was a blast this summer, and Dress You Up might forever be stalled at the Reagan-era Virgin Tour, but what of Angel? Casual fans probably don't recognize the song from the mere mention of its title, but start singing "You must be an angel / I see it in your eyes ... " and anyone older than the age of 25 will take care of the rest.

5. Supernatural - It didn't make the cut for the Like a Prayer album and only found its home on the beloved
Red Hot + Dance compilation. Can you imagine what would happen if Madge reconfigured it for the new century? Fans everywhere would be seeing ghosts. Simmering anew will be the debate on whether the song is about a fantasy affair with a spirit or the more earthly pleasures of, er, large members.

For more unsolicited opinion, re-visit the Top Five Songs Madonna Should Retire.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Top Five Songs Madonna Should Retire

1. Music - Don't get us wrong. We love Music. It was a huge hit for Madge in 2000 and is the soundtrack to a plethora of fun clubbing memories. However, between the past three tours and Live 8's bludgeoning of its chorus (rivaling Hung Up's excruciatingly drawn-out exit during the Confessions Tour for biggest song-killer), Music is angling to become the next tired, overused trademark song. Having a workhorse tune is cute in an Eagles-do-"Hotel California" kind of way, yes, but why would She want to be saddled with another song She is expected - no, required! - to perform? Speaking of trademark songs ....

2. Holiday - Yup, we were all getting tired of this 1983 breakthrough/bar mitzvah staple, too. Was it missed on the Confessions Tour? Sure. Will we get over it? Certainly. She moves on, and we must follow. Let sleeping dogs lie. Note to M: Save Holiday for Your inevitable Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in a couple of years ... and then put it back into the mothballs until Lourdes asks to record it for Her debut album.

3. La Isla Bonita - What, exactly, is the tipping point at which fans were duped into believing that this is one of Madonna's best songs? As it insidiously worked its way into nearly all of Her concert setlists, albeit new-fangled with different, disingenuously Latin-flavored tweaks, La Isla finally hit its nadir: an embarrassingly literal-minded video and flat delivery on the Confessions Tour. Basta!

4. Material Girl - Okay, it was a highlight of Re-Invention. Not because everyone in the crowd, young or old, knew every lyric. No, it was a delight because Madonna took everyone by surprise for performing a song She swore up and down that She'd never sing again. The bone has been thrown, and we should forever be content that the Material Girl fleetingly recaptured and owned Her tabloid moniker. If Madge belts this out during a cabaret act when She's sixty, we'll go postal.

5. Nobody Knows Me - Speaking of the triumphant Re-Invention - which, in case you've been ignoring the hushed scuttlebutt, still persists as many people's favorite recent Madonna tour - the revelatory performance of Nobody Knows Me should preclude Her from ever attempting to top it. Forever.


Lest cynicism prevail, to be continued with the Top Five Songs Madonna Should Resurrect.

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Thursday, February 10, 2000

Madonna Grammy History

With the 49th Annual Grammy Awards just around the corner - and M up for three trophies - the time calls for a look back at the many nominations (and five wins) our lady has racked up from the kudofest over the years:

1985: (nom) Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Crazy For You

1986: (nom) Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Papa Don't Preach

1987: (nom) Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media, Who's That Girl

1990: (nom) Best Short Form Video, Oh Father

1990: (nom) Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, Like a Prayer

1991: (win) Best Long Form Music Video, Blond Ambition World Tour: Live!

1995: (nom) Best Long Form Music Video, The Girlie Show: Live Down Under

1995: (nom) Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media, I'll Remember

1996: (nom) Best Pop Vocal Album, Bedtime Stories

1999: (nom) Album of the Year, Ray of Light

1999: (nom) Record of the Year, Ray of Light

1999: (win) Best Pop Vocal Album, Ray of Light

1999: (win) Best Dance Recording, Ray of Light

1999: (win) Best Short Form Music Video,
Ray of Light

2000: (nom) Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Beautiful Stranger

2000: (win) Best Song Specifically Written for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media, Beautiful Stranger

2001: (nom) Best Pop Vocal Album, Music

2001: (nom) Record of the Year, Music

2001: (nom) Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Music

2002: (nom) Best Short Form Music Video, Don't Tell Me

2003: (nom) Best Dance Recording, Die Another Day

2003: (nom) Best Short Form Music Video, Die Another Day

2007: (nom) Best Electronic/Dance Album, Confessions on a Dance Floor

2007: (nom) Best Dance Recording, Get Together

2007: (nom) Best Long Form Video, I'm Going To Tell You a Secret

Her batting average on those nominations? A meager .136, not including this year's noms. But twenty-two nods is pretty staggering.

And who needs a trophy to validate a music career? Madonna's most memorable Grammy appearances, especially in the latter half of Her career, usually revolve around one of Her incredible live performances. The stunning trifecta of Nothing Really Matters in 1999, Music in 2001, and Hung Up last year are almost unparalleled in show-stealingness.

Capping a banner year proclaimed as Her umpteenth "comeback" era, Madonna opened up the 1999 Grammys in full-blown geisha mode. I had this to say about the performance in my column about Madonna's top live performances:

There is something haunting but absolutely essential about this oft-overlooked performance. Perhaps one of those most out-there Grammy numbers, Madonna’s geisha-infused set piece is inimitably hers, never to be replicated and virtually critic-proof.

I mean, there are very few grown-ups that we as a consuming public will allow play dress-up on such a large scale. Madonna recreates the herky-jerky movements from the video while balanced on obscenely high platform boots. This performance just barely edges out The Power of Goodbye performance from the Europe VMAs, but only because Madonna would later (finally!) collect several trophies for the Ray of Light album throughout the evening, making the 1999 Grammy telecast truly historic.

Madonna's next appearance at the Grammys - while not as successful trophy-wise as 1999 - yielded a second memorable opening number. Of Music in 2001, I wrote:

No one can open an awards show quite like Madonna, who is guaranteed to whip the crowd into hysteria before the proceedings even start. This was her first national performance of the blockbuster song that critics dubbed a
return to Holiday fun.

And --- ouch -- those deep leg lunges! E! Online said it all: “We love Madonna's Jennifer Aniston 'do, we love her cool black threads, complete with ‘Material Girl’ tank, we love the video montage of Madonna highlights past, we
love the gold confetti falling on the crowd, we really love the pimp-daddy limo driven by Lil' Bow Wow...If the rest of the ceremony is even half as ghetto fabulous as Madonna's opening performance of her Grammy-nominated Music, we are so gonna be lovin' this show.”

Surely making my list of top live performances - had it been written a few years later -would be Hung Up, yet another Grammy opening. It's debatable whether Madge should have sat last year's telecast out altogether, being that She wasn't in attendance to wait out any nominations but rather, blatantly, to plug Confessions. Not that anyone's complaining. Her tried-and-true run-through of Hung Up, a performance featuring the animated Gorillaz, ranked as the second best Madonna moment of 2006, behind only the monumental Confessions Tour. Her reason for showing up? To rock your face.

While we won't get a performance from Madge this year, perhaps She'll add a few Grammys to Her mantel. Good luck, Madonna!

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