Madonna, prenez un salut: la diva de la culture pop honorée pour sa carrière musicale.
This article below features new commentary from Alanis Morissette, Emma Bunton (Spice Girl) and
Madonna's father: "It's exciting. I'm
happy for her," her father said by phone Friday of his daughter's entry into the Rock Hall.
Madonna, take a bow: Pop culture diva honored for musical career
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
Adam Graham / Detroit News Pop Music Writer
She's been called a Boy Toy, the Material Girl and the Queen of Reinvention. On one hand she's been labeled a provocateur, and on the other an opportunist, and in
between, everything from a genius to a sinner.
But whatever you call her -- and she's probably heard it all -- on Monday, Michigan's own Madonna adds one more title to her list: Rock and Roll Hall of
The honor will come at a glittery ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, and even at this prestigious, star-studded event -- fellow 2008
inductees include Leonard Cohen, John Mellencamp, the Dave Clark Five and the Ventures, and presenters include Justin Timberlake, Tom Hanks and Billy Joel -- Madonna will be, without a doubt, the biggest star in the room.
There's a reason for that. Over the past three decades,
she's been one of the most important and influential forces in pop culture, with her global influence spreading beyond music to books, fashion, music videos, movies -- you name it. She has
blanketed every facet of our culture, to the point where her likeness is as recognizable as the McDonald's Golden Arches. She's beyond pop culture, she is pop culture, and the past 25 years would
have been unimaginable without her ever-evolving presence.
"She has loomed for a long time as a really significant, really influential figure," said Alan Light, former
editor in chief at Spin magazine and a Rock Hall voter who cast his ballot for Madonna's entry. "She is as famous a woman -- if not in the world, certainly in the Western world -- as anybody that's alive."
She made underwear outerwear. She inspired a nation of Madonna-wannabes. She sold tens of millions of albums, formed a mutually beneficial relationship with upstart cable channel
MTV, and shocked the world with her ability to deftly and seamlessly change with the times. She pushed many a button -- probably yours, once or twice along the way -- and always made sure you
were aware of her. Even if you hated her, you couldn't look away, which played right into her master plan.
After she performed "Holiday" on "American Bandstand" in 1983, Dick Clark asked a young
Madonna, "What are your dreams? What's left?"
"To rule the world," Madonna answered.
She wasn't kidding.
But how was it that Madonna, who was born in Bay City to auto engineer Tony Ciccone and his wife, Madonna Fortin, grew to
become so powerful?
It was a mix of street smarts, ruthless ambition and boundless determination, said Madonna biographer Lucy
"I think she has that really rare quality of being totally, totally focused on her work, and never letting up," said
O'Brien, author of 2007's "Madonna: Like an Icon" (Harper Entertainment, $24.95).
That work ethic was triggered early on by family tragedy, when her mother died of cancer when Madonna was 5.
The abandonment and the grief from that incident pushed Madonna, O'Brien said, to fill the void it left in her
"She craved the love and attention she didn't have," O'Brien said. "I think the audience filled that gap for awhile, but it's one of those things that
just goes on and on. I think that's what has made her so restless, to always keep going from one thing to the next."
Born in Bay City on Aug. 16, 1958, Madonna Louise
Ciccone moved with her family -- she has five siblings and two half-siblings -- to Pontiac after the death of her mother.
They later relocated to Rochester, where Madonna attended West Middle School and Rochester Adams High School. At
Adams, she was an honor roll student, as well as a cheerleader and a member of the choir.
She wasn't cut out for life in Michigan, however, and after graduating from Adams in 1976, she briefly attended the University of
Michigan before leaving for New York City in 1977. There, she became a fixture in the city's underground dance club scene.
Combined with her hard-working, middle class background, those gritty New York years where Madonna toughed it out and schooled herself in the arts helped shape the performer
"She came out of this downtown New York City club culture, and you can overplay the significance of what that was, but in the end, she has a real
awareness of visual art and performance art, and a sensibility about those things," Light said. "Madonna has this ambition to rule the world, but it's this
ambition to still be really cool and progressive and forward as an artist while doing it."
She got her chance to be an artist in 1982 when she was signed to
Sire Records. Her debut album, titled simply "Madonna," was released in 1983, and you know the story from there: fashion trends, huge singles,
major controversies, triumphs, failures, boyfriends, marriages, kids, faux British accents -- all the spoils and trappings that go hand-in-hand with global domination.
A feminist message
What is unique to Madonna is her ability to captivate attention and -- even tougher -- to hold on to it, unwaveringly, for as long as she has. Other pop stars of her era -- think
Michael Jackson or Prince -- have seen their stars muted over the years, but Madonna's still shines brightly. Even comparable pop stars such as
Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey and Britney Spears have had a hard time sustaining the popularity and consistent level of artistry that Madonna has
held on to for so long. Twenty-five years into her career, her albums debut at or near the top of the charts, her tours smash records, and she's one of the most talked-about stars in the
Not that there haven't been speed bumps along the way. Partnered with her successes have been many major flops -- "the movie career has always been
problematic," Light noted -- but she's always gotten up from them and tried again.
Those failures, it should be noted, have been strictly of an artistic nature; never has she fallen prey to the substance abuse problems that plague so many of today's young celebs.
"She's never had any kind of substance issues whatsoever, and I think that's because her great addiction, for many years, was her career,"
MTV News correspondent John Norris said. While she didn't come of age in the celeb-scrutinizing era of TMZ, "drink or drugs
never got the better of her. You can count on one hand the number of times you've even seen Madonna tipsy."
In addition, Madonna's business acumen, do-it-yourself sensibility and blinding confidence have inspired an entire generation of females, not to mention female pop stars.
"To me, she's this woman that's deeply feminine, combined with this masculine drive," said Canadian pop singer Alanis
Morissette, who was signed to Madonna's record label, Maverick Records, in 1995. "For a long time as a kid, I felt very self-conscious about what a tomboy I was, but she was someone that I could always look up to."
Morissette, 33, said Madonna was always supportive of her career when she was on the Maverick label. "I just
remember getting these messages from her, championing me, supporting me, and it was always very flattering, and very sweet."
Spice Girl Emma Bunton -- she's "Baby Spice" in the UK quintet -- remembers having Madonna parties as a child, where everyone would dress up as
the pop star or risk not being admitted.
"She was this very strong female, out there doing it on her own," Bunton, 32, said. "I loved that. What spoke to
me about her is you can get out there, you can dress sexy" but still own your sexuality.
O'Brien said Madonna has always delivered a strong
feminist message, "although it's been quite paradoxical at times. She was trying to have it both ways -- to be the sexy siren and be a strong,
independent woman -- but she actually pulled it off. There's not a lot of female pop stars that have done that convincingly, and she's been the blueprint for that."
Family and fame
After the titillation of 1992's "Sex" book and high-profile romantic flings, Madonna -- who turns 50 in August -- has settled into what many
might call a regular life: a home in the English countryside, a seven-year marriage to British film director Guy Ritchie, three children (one of them controversially adopted from
Malawi) and the occasional record-smashing concert tour. (OK, we take back the part about it being "regular.")
And while she has skipped Michigan on her past two tours, she makes time to visit her father, who runs a vineyard in Suttons Bay, Mich. (There are even rumors
Madonna has spent time working in the vineyard's tasting room, unbeknownst to her customers.)
"It's exciting. I'm happy for her," her father said by phone Friday of his daughter's entry into the Rock
Madonna isn't planning to slow down anytime soon: Her 11th studio album, "Hard Candy," is due April 29, and last year
she inked a $120 million deal with concert promoter Live Nation that encompasses her albums, touring, merchandise and licensing for the next 10 years. So get used to having her
As for any gripes the pop singer doesn't belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, save it, said Light.
"If you define rock and roll in any way other than it has to be played with electric guitars and be based on blues changes or whatever, any definition that is more expansive than that --
anything that talks about the rebellious side of it, the counterculture side of it, the creative, ambitious side of it -- she clearly should be there," Light said.
"She changed the playing field."
And, in her own way, ruled the world.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
When: 8:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City
Watch it: Live on VH1 Classic, Check local listings
Madonna: Like a chameleon
A look at Madonna's various personas through the years:
Boy Toy (1983-85): Marked by her wearing lingerie as outerwear and sporting a belt buckle that spelled out "Boy
Toy," this was the fun, flirty Madonna who first captivated America.
Material Girl (1985-86): Inspired by Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" sequence in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,"
Madonna romped around in the video for "Material Girl" and sang "We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl." It became an
anthem for excess in the Reagan years.
Blond Ambition (1989-90): On her "Like a Prayer" album and subsequent Blond Ambition Tour,
Madonna pushed boundaries by playing with religious, sexual and racial themes in her work. These were considered to be her peak years, in terms of power, influence and
I Can't Keep My Clothes On! (1991-93): The "Erotica" album, the controversial "Sex" book -- a
coffee table book that featured a lot of taboo-smashing pictures of a fully naked Madonna -- and the desperate erotic thriller "Body of Evidence" marked
Madonna's most naked period. Literally. A backlash set in against the pop star.
Material Mom (1996-99): Following the birth of her daughter, Lourdes, in 1996, Madonna hooked up with electronica
producer William Orbit and recorded "Ray of Light," a return to form that wiped away the murk of the early '90s and returned her to the top of the pop charts.
American Cowgirl (2000-01): On her celebrated "Music" album and on the Drowned World Tour,
Madonna picked up a guitar and donned a cowgirl hat for a back-to-basics vibe.
Reborn Disco Queen (2005-06): Her 2005 album "Confessions on a Dance Floor" was a return to her New York City
dance club roots, and she dyed her hair red and sported a leotard in the album's videos and on the "Confessions" tour. Not bad for a mother of two in her late 40s.
Hip-Hop Honey (2008-): Her next album, "Hard Candy," (due April 29) finds Madonna working with
hip-hop heavyweights Timbaland, Pharrell Williams and Nate "Danja" Hills. No word on what look will accompany the material.
Source: Detroit News.