I remember when I was 2 years old, one of the most memorable videos to me was a woman wearing cornrows, & wearing latex clothing..dancing around asking rhetorical questions about her career at that point.
Who was that woman? The Queen of Pop, that is Madonna. For 35 years, Madonna has had the world in the palm of her hands. You name it, she literally has done it all. She was literally the biggest act since the Beatles in the 80s!
In undergrad, I had to write a paper on how important Madonna is in regards to pop culture. It is one of my favorite papers to date, & my response to that prompt was Madonna IS pop culture. Here’s why:
You know how easy it is to see women being sexually provocative in their videos & in their music? Thank Madonna for that.
In the 80s…ESPECIALLY in the 90s, Madonna caught a lot of flack for expressing how free she is through her music. Look at Justify My Love for example.
In its heyday, justify my love’s video was so controversial, that it was banned on networks like MTV & countless others for sexual themes. Nevertheless, it’s one of her number one singles & one of my personal favorites.
Madonna has so many memorable songs that it’s hard to touch on all of them! One of them being 1990’s “Vogue.” From the “I’m Breathless” soundtrack, she did the damn thing! Period.
I love the Evita soundtrack! Madonna sounds so good on this entire album! 😩🙌🏾
I was a huge Austin Powers fan growing up, & one of my favorite movies from the trilogy was “The Spy Who Shagged Me.” Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger was featured on the soundtrack for the film and it is so memorable.
The hauntingly beautiful “This Used To Be Our Playground” is one Madonna song you HAVE to hear!
Remember when Pop royalty collaborated for a bop? We do too.
Iconic performances are Madonna’s specialty. Exhibit A:
Favorites: Lucky Star, Borderline, Holiday, Burning Up,
Madonna’s debut album is post disco greatness. There isn’t one song to dislike on this one. With timeless tunes like Lucky Star & Holiday, it was a wonderful showcase of what was to come from Madge.
Like a Virgin (1984):
Favorites: Dress You Up, Like A Virgin, Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, Material Girl, Over & Over, Pretender, Shoo-Bee-Doo, Stay.
Sophomore Slump where? Not for Madonna’s Like A Virgin LP. It was a commercial success and took Madonna to bigger and bigger heights. The title track is one of her most memorable songs and rightfully so.
Working with Nile Rodgers (Chic) on the project made it a wonderful affair. Her cover of Rose Royce’s Love Don’t Live Here Anymore is so somber and magical.
& one of my all time favorites “Dress You Up” is one of Madge’s controversial tunes because it was apart of The Parents Music Resource Center’s (co-founded by Tipper Gore,) “Filthy Fifteen” list! It’s partially why there’s parental advisory stickers on albums today.
True Blue (1986):
Favorites: Open Your Heart, Papa Don’t Preach, Live To Tell, True Blue, La Isla Bonita, Jimmy Jimmy, Love Makes The World Go Round, White Heat.
True Blue solidified Madonna as one of the best selling woman artists in the 80s. It was literally hit after hit.
Here’s where Madonna goes for a true sound, with immaculate vocals and meaningful songs about teen pregnancy (Papa Don’t Preach) , an ode to 60s girl groups (True Blue) and overall a more mature sound than her previous work.
Like A Prayer (1989):
Favorites: Like A Prayer, Cherish, Oh Father, Dear Jessie, Keep It Together, Express Yourself, Love Song, Spanish Eyes, Promise to Try.
Y’all. Like A Prayer is one of the most important albums ever. Madonna did an extraordinary job incorporating themes of female empowerment (Express Yourself,) or a doting duet with the late great Prince (Love Song).
The title track is so amazing. It’s a haunting gospel rock record, but so perfect. The video was beyond controversial to the point where Madonna had pissed off the Vatican, family and religious groups…she had visuals of robbery and murder, a black Jesus and burning crosses in the storyline. That’s how you piss Off America. By discussing racism in the most powerful way ever…through ART.
Favorites: Deeper & Deeper, Erotica, In This Life, Rain, Fever, Bye Bye Baby, Bad Girl, Where Life Begins, Words, Why’s It So Hard, Waiting, Did You Do It?
Erotica is one of Madonna’s most under appreciated albums! Because of the book that was released coincidentally with the album, it was overlooked. Critics felt like Madonna had done “too much” and that her career was over, but today..it is a post feminist statement, & the album is a tale of romance and sex.
Erotica also took on a more serious turn with songs like In This Life. After losing two friends to the AIDS epidemic, Madonna had to write this song with longtime collaborator Shep Pettibone. It’s one of the early songs that discusses the epidemic and the gay community as a whole. Overall, a beautiful song.
Listen to it today, & you’ll see how relevant it is today’s sound!
Bedtime Stories (1994):
Favorites: Human Nature, I’d Rather Be Your Lover, Inside Of Me, Secret, Take A Bow, Don’t Stop, Forbidden Love, Sanctuary, Love Tried To Welcome Me, Don’t Stop, Secret.
Bedtime Stories is R&Bdonna in a nutshell. She worked with the best R&B producers at the time (Babyface, Dallas Austin, Dave Hall,) to produce her best work at the time. Bedtime Stories is an album that softens Madonna’s image after the controversial Erotica album, & the “Sex” book.
Artists like Tinashe, Rihanna & Jhené Aiko have songs that relate to the concept of the Bedtime Stories album because of how blunt Madge was with how she was treated by the media. Human Nature discusses how Erotica was allegedly the end of Madonna’s career and was practically the highlight! 🤗
Ray Of Light (1998):
Favorites: The Power Of Good-Bye, Sky Fits Heaven, Little Star, Mer Girl, Skin, Frozen, Nothing Really Matters, Candy Perfume Girl, Swim, Drowned World/Substitute for Love.
Electronica Music from Ray Of Light has often been credited for bringing it to the pop music circuit. Ray Of Light is one of the most important albums from the 1990s. Her new musical direction portrays Madonna in a new light..vocally and everything.
Favorites: Music, Don’t Tell Me, Runaway Lover, What It Feels Like For A Girl, Amazing, Gone, Impressive Instant.
Music is a refreshing affair from Madonna. A dance-pop & rock influenced album. Just an all around pop record from a pop genius.
American Life (2003):
Favorites: Hollywood, Die Another Day, Easy Ride, Mother & Father, I’m So Stupid, American Life, Intervention.
Although it was negatively received, I think it was really great!
Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005):
Favorites: I Love New York, Hung Up, Sorry, Let It Will Be, Forbidden Love, Jump, How High, Isaac, Push, Like It Or Not, Future Lovers.
Confessions On A Dance Floor is a magical album. It takes Madonna back to the dance floor with disco influenced bops!
Hard Candy (2008):
Favorites: Candy Shop, Beat Goes On, 4 Minutes, Give It 2 Me, Miles Away, Incredible, Spanish Lesson, Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You.
Hard Candy is one of my favorite Madonna albums. Nothing but bops here!
Favorites: Girl Gone Wild, Turn Up The Radio, Give Me All Your Lovin, Some Girls, Superstar, Masterpiece, Falling Free.
Madge showed the new generation that she still has it with this record. One of my favorites!
Rebel Heart (2015):
Favorites: Ghosttown, Living For Love, Bitch I’m Madonna, iconic, Joan Of Arc, Holy Water, Inside Out, Wash All Over Me, Veni Vidi Vinci.
At this point in her career, Madonna can do whatever she wants. Why? Because bitch, she’s MADONNA! Rebel Heart is one of her most cohesive albums in years. It proves that you can’t count out one of the best to ever do it!
Madonna is the definition of legendary. She is responsible for pushing the boundaries & the buttons of everyone through her music & visual content to make the world somewhat of a better place. Say what you want about Madge, but you can’t deny her brilliance, drive & the legacy that is still thriving to this day. Cherish MADONNA LOUISE CICCONE!