L'âge de Madonna: La Reine de la Pop a 50 ans et elle est meilleure que jamais.
BY JIM FARBER
Thursday, August 14th 2008, 4:00 AM
Madonna won't be alone in celebrating her 50th birthday on Saturday. She's locked in sweet astrological harmony with two of her most starry peers - Prince and Michael Jackson, each of whom summits that same peak in '08. The former did so on June 7; the latter will two weeks from tomorrow.
In other words, the entire top troika of '80s pop stardom is cracking the half-century mark at roughly the same time, not only marking a milestone for them but tipping off a telling transition in the culture itself. By comparing their history to that of today's hitmakers, you can see a marked shift in the duration, depth and essential concept of stardom that's worth noting, if not necessarily toasting.
The achievements of Madonna and her equals feel particularly poignant and meaningful at a time when it looks doubtful that the current crop of music stars will make it to 30 alive, let alone to 50 and thriving.
Can you see Amy Winehouse wheezing on this Earth much longer? And if Britney does survive, do you see her having a vibrant career five years on?
Hosting on a weight-loss reality show doesn't count.
True, Jackson may endure solely because of his achievements from the distant past, but both Prince and Madonna seem as vital today as they did back when Reagan ruled the White House and "Dynasty" dominated the airwaves. Prince continues to sell out arenas around the world and has even figured a way to make a profit from his CDs when he gives them away, which he has done on several occasions and on more than one continent.
Madonna recently issued her most energetic, engaged and creative album in 25 years, "Hard Candy." And while it's sales haven't been stellar - only around 600,000 so far - that figure will certainly balloon to 1 million as her tour unfolds. The live extravaganza kicks off Aug. 23 in Cardiff, Wales, and hits the U.S. Oct. 4, at the Meadowlands. From there it tackles the Garden Oct. 6, 7, 11 and 12. Good luck getting tickets. All 70,000-plus local seats have been snapped up for a show that promises to feature the star's most punishing dance workouts since she was like a virgin.
The continued energy of Madonna and Prince is mirrored in their still-smashing looks. The two appear especially spry when compared to their predecessors, the pop gods of the '60s and '70s, who date from the drug culture and therefore have, in some cases, aged to an especially alarming degree. (Here Keith Richards comes chillingly to mind.) By contrast, Maddy and Prince stand as virtual paragons of good health and clean living. Even if they didn't seem so robust, the audience's evolving views of older pop stars - inspired by the sheer number of them still touring and recording - would have helped these guys age more gracefully. That, plus the aging of the population in general, will continue to buoy them, even once the sags surgery can't hide come into play.
The '80s line of icons can also thank the '60s and '70s music stars for prepping the masses to accept pop careers that seem to last forever - so long as they have the stamina, the songs and the will.
Right now, which pop stars of the '90s or beyond look to have that kind of fortitude, zeal or depth of hits?
Some from the realm of rock may have it. See: Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews, given their rich touring histories. A few rappers might, too. Strongest candidate: Jay-Z. But even if textbook mainstream pop stars of this era do manage to keep it up - with Beyoncé looking the most likely - they'll assuredly be the very last to do so.
The culprit behind this is the same force that determines everything good and evil in the world today: the Internet. The gargantuan range of musical information and access the Web provides has fractured attention spans and interrupted any attempt at a mass pop conversation. Listeners now have such vast choice, it's virtually impossible to corral everyone's attention around just a few icons, as in ye olden days.
What was once a focused conversation, controlled by a limited range of media, has turned into a Tower of Babble, open to everyone. Only the most garish gossip magnets, like Lindsay and Paris, can command the old brand of wall-to-wall attention - and that's a fleeting and shallow version of it, inviting derision or giggles, not loyalty or identification. The result leaves grandfathered-in pop stars like Madonna and Prince - even Jackson - as the equivalent of stars in the old Hollywood Studio system. They're antique in one sense, enduring in another.
That's a sad turn for anyone who treasures the connections forged by having everyone fantasize about the same pop icons. But it couldn't be better news for Madonna's ego on her birthday. What a present - to know that you're the absolute last of an always-rare breed.
Source: NY Daily News.