30 years of Madonna

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - June 5, 2013 - 12:00am

It was the summer of 1983 and thanks to the phenomenal Thriller. Michael Jackson was crowned the King of Pop. The period was also a grand time for pop idols like Lionel Richie, All Night Long; the Police, Every Breath You Take; Chicago, Hard To Say I’m Sorry; Barry Manilow, Somewhere Down The Road; Queen, Another One Bites The Dust; and John Lennon, who was tragically killed after he had emerged from self-imposed retirement, had a big seller with Just Like Starting Over.

The girls had to work harder but were not really doing badly either. Barbra Streisand, Memory; Diana Ross, Endless Love with Richie; Irene Cara, Out Here On My Own; Kim Carnes, Bette Davis Eyes; Olivia Newton-John, Physical; ABBA, The Winner Takes It All; Pat Benatar, Hit Me With Your Best Shot; Donna Summer, On The Radio; Debbie Harry in Blondie, Call Me; Carol King, One Fine Day; and others.

They must have all felt fine and dandy then, unaware of a storm that had began in New York City and was destined to bring changes to pop music, rock gender politics and shock the establishment like never before. The summer of 1983 was when a young dancer named Madonna made her debut with the album also titled Madonna. The record produced five hit singles, Holiday, Lucky Star, Borderline, Burning Up and on reissue, Everybody, Madonna’s first-ever recording.

That was just the beginning. Pop music needed a queen and Madonna Ciccone, who once posed nude for a measly $25 because she had no money, was more than willing to play the part. What nobody was prepared or was that Madonna would do so only with her own set of rules. Within the ensuing years, she would flaunt her sexuality in a manner that would incur the ire of churches and moralists. At the same time, she was setting new standards in live performances and showing the entertainment industry what an astute businesswoman she really is. She pushed every possible boundary and emerged each time, bigger than ever.

Thirty years after Holiday, Madonna who was once dismissed as a fat, one-hit wonder without talent, is a singer, songwriter, music producer, screenwriter, film director and producer, (W.E., Truth Or Dare, I Am Because We Are) dancer, actress on film and on stage, (Evita, Dick Tracy, A League Of Their Own), clothes designer (Material Girl for H&M and Truth Or Dare), author (Sex, The English Roses), philanthropist (Raising Malawi Initiative), trendsetter (the underwear as outer wear style and others), entrepreneur (Maverick Entertainment, Hard Candy Fitness Salons), concert draw (The Blonde Ambition Tour, MDNA Tour) and I am sure also a lot of other things besides. She is the biggest female entertainer of all time. She is the biggest female recording artist. Take note, she is second only to the Beatles and has more No. 1 sellers than Elvis Presley.

Given all those honors and her obvious capabilities, I must say that Madonna is indeed one of the most powerful and most influential women in the world today. She did more for dance music than any other artist and ranks alongside Michael Jackson in bringing music videos to the attention of the masses. Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson and lots of other pop stars have at one time or another shown themselves inspired or influenced by Madonna. And not to forget, she is without doubt, the most successful master of reinvention. I have lost count of how many times she had changed her looks and produced an image to go with it. And each time we all gladly accepted the current Madonna and for a while admired that image until the next one came along.

But of course, none of those would have been possible without the hit songs. That is the bottom line. Everything that Madonna had done, be it in her concerts, films, books, etc. etc. were anchored on her music and the images she created for it. Would you believe, it was once said that she can’t sing?

Like A Virgin, Crazy For You, Into The Groove, Material Girl, True Blue, Live To Tell, Papa Don’t Preach, Open Your Heart, La Isla Bonita, Who’s That Girl, Like A Prayer, Express Yourself, Cherish, Vogue, Sooner Or Later, Justify My Love, Rescue Me, This Used To Be My Playground, Deeper And Deeper, Bad Girl, Fever, Rain, Bye Bye Baby, I’ll Remember, Secret, Take A Bow, You Must Love Me, Frozen, Beautiful Stranger, American Pie, Ray Of Light, Don’t Tell Me, Die Another Day, American Life, Hung Up, 4 Minutes, Celebration, Masterpiece and Gimme All Your Love.

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