Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Pop, dance, recent forays into electronica
Most recent release, Rebel Heart (2 CD or CD/DVD, 2017; original release, 2015)
Wikipedia's entry on Madonna
Madonna's fan club site
Comparisons? She's so herself. She sets trends for others to follow. She's someone you compare other people to. Besides, she's so well-known, are comparisons even necessary? (JoAnn Whetsell)
What can be said about the public Madonna that isn't already known? Whatever you think of her and/or her music, I think it can be agreed that she has been a major cultural figure of the last 2 decades. Like most artists, she's done some incredible stuff (Like a Prayer, Ray of Light albums, and her performance in the film and the soundtrack of Evita) and some incredibly forgettable stuff. She has made great pop music over the years. Her songs could be used as a soundtrack to my youth. I think there is much to enjoy in her music and much to admire in her various roles as singer, songwriter, producer, actress, trend-setter, social provocateur and boundary-pusher, and mother. (JoAnn Whetsell)
I'm real mixed on Madonna; I love the new Ray of Light and think that Like a Prayer was phenomenal (and still listen to it fairly often), but never really cared enough to get any of her other albums. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I'd also add Madonna winning some deserved awards for an album that finally earned her some musical respect in my book (although I'd still consider myself a fan of Ray of Light but not a fan of Madonna's). (email@example.com)
I think if you were to hear some of Madonna's less-known work without knowing ahead of time that it was hers, you might receive it differently. Tracks such as "Has to Be", "Act of Contrition", and "Justify My Love", as well as some of her performance work, including the church sequence from the tour documented in Truth or Dare (although that movie cut it up so as to fracture its impact) and hmmm...the performance with the women in kimonos and the plastic bags of water (I forget which song or venue it was), stand up to anyone's work in the field. As far as the comparisons, one can play the apples-and-oranges game forever—most artists have one item in their litany that's a bit embarrassing. And the Madonna video in question ["Beautiful Stranger"] was actually a self-parody, done quite intentionally as such. Few artists have quite as clear a view of their own media image, as well as being comfortable enough with it to poke fun at themselves. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Recommended first album:
Like a Prayer or Ray of Light. (JoAnn Whetsell)
- Madonna (1983)
- Like a Virgin (1984)
- True Blue (1986)
- Who's That Girl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1987)
- You Can Dance (1987)
- Like a Prayer (1989)
- I'm Breathless: Music from Dick Tracy (1990)
- The Immaculate Collection (1990)
- Erotica (1992)
- Bedtime Stories (1994)
- Something to Remember (1995)
- Ray of Light (1998)
- Music (2000)
- GHV2 (compilation, 2001)
- American Life (2003)
- Confessions on a Dance Floor (2006)
- I'm Going to Tell You a Secret (live CD/DVD, 2006)
- The Confessions Tour (live CD/DVD, 2006)
- Hard Candy (2008)
- Celebration (compilation, 2009)
- Sticky & Sweet Tour (live CD/DVD, 2010)
- MDNA (2012)
- Rebel Heart (2 CD or CD/DVD, 2017; original release, 2015)
1990—Warner Brothers—D 254164
Highly recommended for fans
Only info on new tracks is listed:
Lenny Kravitz—background vocals on "Justify My Love"
Peter Schwartz—keyboards and programming on "Rescue Me"
Joe Moskowitz—additional programming on "Rescue Me"
Dian Sorel, Catherine Russell, Lillias White— background vocals on "Rescue Me"
Madonna, John "Jellybean" Benitez, Reggie Lucas, Nile Rodgers, Stephen Bray, Patrick Leonard, Shep Pettibone, Lenny Kravitz
Simply a great retrospective for people who like Madonna's 80s music. Of the two new songs, I actually enjoy "Rescue Me," while "Justify My Love" (despite the video controversy) is pretty forgettable. (JoAnn Whetsell)
1994—Sire Records—D 106356
Recommended for fans
Dallas Austin—drums, keyboards
Babyface—synthesizers and drum programming, background vocals on "Forbidden Love" and "Take a Bow"
String—synthesizers and drum programming
Jessie Leavey—arrangements and conducting
Niki Harris, Donna DeLory—background vocals on "Survival"
I'm not familiar with the whole album, but it does contain the songs "Bedtime Story" and "Take a Bow," two of Madonna's best (and most ecto-ish) songs ever, as well as the fun "Secret" and "Human Nature." (JoAnn Whetsell)
Fergus Gerrand—drums, percussion
Steve Sidelnyk—additional drum programming on "Nothing Really Matters" and "Little Star"
Donna DeLory and Niki Harris—backup singers on "Nothing Really Matters"
Marius DeVries—keyboards and additional programming on "Frozen"
Craig Armstrong—string arrangement on "Frozen" and "The Power of Good-bye"
Patrick Leonard—additional arrangement on "Frozen"
Madonna and William Orbit; Marius DeVries co-producer of 3 tracks, Patrick Leonard, co-producer of 4 tracks
This collaboration with William Orbit is the best thing she's done in years. (Greg.Jumper@Eng.Sun.COM)
A very fertile collaboration of Madonna and William Orbit. Fortunately she gave him enough room for his electronic experiments. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)
I haven't been inspired to buy a Madonna album since Like a Prayer, which I still find quite amazing a decade down the road. Still, when I heard she had worked with Orbit, I figured I'd need this, and bought it without hearing a note. While I obviously don't put Madonna on an artistic pedestal, she still manages to come out with amazing material from time to time, and has the sense to surround herself with people who can bring out her best—something we might all wish from time to time would happen to some of the self-producing folk we listen to. (email@example.com)
I've been absolutely adoring the new (gasp) Madonna single, "Frozen." The vocal training she took for Evita has really paid off; she's never sounded this good. And the song has a fabulous string arrangement and really cool percussive sort of something or other. This one might actually appeal to some of the alterna sorts who wanted to write her off as your average pop diva.
Or not; your mileage will *definitely* vary. ;-)
The last Madge album I bought before this was Like A Prayer, she sort of lost me for a while but in my opinion this is the best thing she has ever done. Fab production, great songs and Madge's voice is better than ever. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Madonna's new one: brilliant, william orbit did wonders. (email@example.com)
Ray of Light is about as Ecto as albums come. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2000—Maverick/Warner Bros.—CDW 47598
Highly recommended for dance and techno fans
Mirwais Ahmadzai—programming, keyboards, acoustic guitars
William Orbit—keyboards, guitars, FX guitars, backing vocals on "Runaway Lover" and "Amazing"
Michel Colombier—string arrangement on "Don't Tell Me"
Guy Sigsworth—programming, guitars, keyboards on "What It Feels Like For a Girl"
Paul Stacey—acoustic guitar on "Gone"
Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzai; William Orbit, Guy Sigsworth, Mark "Spike" Stent
This is a great album for people who like dance music and Madonna's pop/electronic mix. It's not nearly as deep as Ray of Light, although I think the ballad "I Deserve It" could fit on Ray of Light. It would make a great single and so would "Runaway Lover." Both are much better than the title track and first release, "Music." Anyway, this is a fun album, and fans who listen to it for that will probably enjoy it. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Let's be honest, music was Madonna's platform from the very beginning in order to reach her goal of fame. Music reaffirms the fact that it STILL is a major platform for her, and it's nowhere near as good as Ray of Light. But if it wasn't for the producers who worked with her on each album, Madonna couldn't cut it on her own. She's not a musical storyteller, she's a trend setter. And hell, she's not even setting the trends now, she's lagging pretty badly behind. I think it's pathetic that she is 41 years old and feels the need to act like a pimp at a strip joint, even for humorous purposes. She's covered sex a million times, and that seems to be the only thing she can think of to come back to. And, granted, I love songs like "Live to Tell" and "Who's That Girl" and many more...and she has had the ability to focus on serious issues in songs. But it's not JUST about the music. It's about being Madonna. The music is secondary to the image she has to uphold. That's my piece. (ToriCure@aol.com)
Only recommended for Madonna/pop/dance fans
Mirawais Ahmadzai—guitar, programming, background vocals
Nicky Brown Choir
London Community Gospel Choir
Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzai
"Nothing Fails" is my favorite song on the album. Well okay, it's the only song that I like on American Life. I hate the album—who in the world told her to rap? oh yeah. That Mirwais guy did. Damn him. (email@example.com)
I hated it at first, but it's growing on me. It's front-loaded with crud, but there are fine moments later on. I enjoy "Nothing Fails", though the lyric is weak. And walking in on some of the guitar-based songs I thought they were by some fledgling Ecto-goddess-in-training, and pretty good. As with much of her stuff, it helps not to know who it is while listening to it. But I do wish they'd actually gotten around to writing more songs rather than compiling lists of tired studio tricks to fill the earlier tracks. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Highly recommended for fans of Madonna and/or dance music
Mirwais Ahmadza—programming (4)
Stuart Price—additional drum programming (4), additional programming (12)
Yitzhak Sinwani—vocals (10)
Mango Guitar—additional programming (12)
Henrik Jonback—bass (12)
Monte Pittman—acoustic guitar (12)
Madonna, Stuart Price, Mirwais Ahmadzai, Bloodshy & Avant, Anders Bagge, Peer Astrom
Madonna's return to dance music is energetic pop fun. Sure, some of the lyrics are laugh-out-loud atrocious ("If you don't like it, then you can f—- off/Just go to Texas, isn't that where they golf" she sings on "I Love New York"), but this isn't about the lyrics. This is about the beats, the hooks, and the dancing. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Recommended for fans
Madonna—lead vocals, guitar
Stuart Price—keyboards, programming
Donna DeLory, Nicki Richards—backing vocals
Sara Martin; DVD executive producers Madonna, Angela Becker, Guy Oseary, Kai-Lu Hsiung, John Payne
Madonna's London concert makes an excellent DVD and a not-so-great CD. Of course, Madonna's voice is not her strength, so any live album is likely to be not as good as her studio work. But the real problem with the CD is that it's just an audio version of the show; it doesn't sound like it was edited to be a CD. There's a lot of crowd noise, which is jarring since you don't know what they're reacting to. Also, certain segments that served as time for Madonna to change costumes don't work without the visuals.
The DVD is great because there was such a heavy emphasis on visuals in the concert—dancers, videos, lights, religious and political symbols, and stage sets like a giant cross and a set of climbing bars/ladders you might find on a playground. You can argue about the artistic merit or whether it's all in good taste, but it seems hard to debate that this is a creative record of an elaborate show.
As for the music, most of it is updated to the dance sound of the Confessions album. This doesn't work so well for old songs like "Like a Virgin" and "La Isla Bonita." But "Lucky Star" over a sample of "Hung Up" is great, and "Music" over a sample of "Disco Inferno" is really fun. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Films: Madonna has appeared in Vision Quest (1984); Desperately Seeking Susan (1985); Shanghai Surprise (1986); Who's That Girl? (1987); Bloodhounds Of Broadway (1989); Dick Tracy (1990); Truth Or Dare (1991); Shadows & Fog (1992); A League Of Their Own (1992); Body Of Evidence (1993); Dangerous Game (1993); Blue In The Face (1995); Four Rooms (1995); Girl 6 (1996); Evita (1996), and The Next Best Thing (2000).
Soundtracks: Madonna's music appears on the following soundtracks: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Evita, Il Postino, The Wedding Singer, Vision Quest, The Next Best Thing.
Compilations: Madonna's music appears on the following compilations: A Very Special Christmas, Totally Hits 1 and 2, MTv Party To Go Volumes 3 and 7, MTv Party to Go Platinum Mix, Jock Jams Vol. 5, Inner City Blues: Music of Marvin Gaye, Rolling Stone Women in Rock, Deepak &Friends—Gift of Love—Music Inspired by Love Poems of Rumi, Just Say Roe, Red Hot &Dance, 1997 Rainforest Foundation, Warner Bros.—Film Music: 75 Years Entertaining the World, 1999 Grammy Nominees.
Tributes: Material Girl: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays Madonna (1998); Virgin Voices Vol. 1: A Tribute to Madonna (1999) and Vol. 2 (2000); Truly Blue: A Tribute to Madonna (2000); Salute to Madonna; Tranceformed: Tribute to Madonna (2000)
Other: Madonna has also appeared on stage in Goose And Tomtom (1986) and Speed The Plow (1988). She also did the infamous Sex book, now out of print. Video collections include The Virgin Tour, The Immaculate Collection, and Justify My Love.
ICON—the Official Madonna Fan Club, 8491 Sunset Blvd., #485, West Hollywood, CA 90069-1911
Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.
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jzitt @ humansystems.com
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