Madonna - Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones + General Discussion | Page 2902 | The Popjustice Forum

Madonna - Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones + General Discussion

Discussion in 'Pop & Justice' started by debord, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. Right now, I'm appreciating Madonna's Erotica era videos. It's striking how they all seem to be so random, but there's a very underground, hypnotic quality that ties them all together. After the heights of stardom and public adoration she achieved from her previous eras, I'm floored that she highlights different characters that seem so deliberately unpopular... from the workaholic sex addict to the dominatrix to the worldly character in Deeper and Deeper. I'd really like her to have a retrospective career sit down not just to talk about her music, but just as importantly, her videography, many of which have layers upon layers to interpret and discuss decades later.

  2. The Deeper And Deeper video is so underrated. The disquieting ATMOSPHERE of it all.
    LTG, cheida, 4Roses and 16 others like this.
  3. I just finished rewatching A League Of Their Own and now I’m a mess.
  4. After Desperately Seeking Susan it’s my favourite Madonna movie. Such a great and emotional film.
    relby and Andy French like this.
  5. It's fascinating how she instinctively knew to go from the polished, LA sound of Like a Prayer to the gritty, NY sound of Erotica. Out of all the superstars, she made the most seamless transition from the decadence of the 80s to the post modernism of the 90s.
  6. How could you omit this visual masterpiece?

  7. That was awful of me! She looks ethereal in this video and I was watching it as well. I thought I included it as well, thank you for posting.
  8. And this could count as a Bye Bye Boppy video:
  9. It was used as a promo video yeah? I always think of it as the video in any case. A performance.
    Up Down Suite likes this.
  10. It's fun to look back on that era now, but at the time, people were busy ripping her to shreds. Oh, she's such a crazy slut, she looks sickly and like a freak without eyebrows, she's doing the old girl on girl routine again, she's old, out of touch, ugly, blah blah blah. I've never since seen anyone so vilified who wasn't being accused of doing something criminal.

    It was an important era that proved her bravery and resilience beyond doubt, but it was a very cruel and vicious time. Like she said, (paraphrasing) "I can't ever remember having so many enemies."

    Oh, I just remembered. In a recent speech, she said at the time, she thought her LIFE was over, not just her career. Heartbreaking, but I'm so proud of her for making it through it all.
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
    enhanced CD, cheida, acl and 6 others like this.
  11. We all think of her as being pure steel but it did get to her. I watched a Girlie Show era interview recently (Molly Meldrum) and she admitted it has been a very tumultuous year for her. It was such a torrent of hate, I'm surprised she handled it as well as she did and managed to stay sane and creative.
    girlsaloudjunkie, cheida, acl and 4 others like this.
  12. Erotica solidified her as a queen icon while gaining her a cute share of straight music fans (I've heard many say 'not into Madonna but I like darker Erotica' back then) so all was not lost.
    mpl, LTG, An Insider and 6 others like this.
  13. Such an underrated performance!
  14. Honestly I never realised how much the Erotica backlash really affected her until her Billboard Woman of the Year speech. It is extraordinary how she managed to keep going after that amount of backlash.
  15. Wasn’t American media very anti-sex at the time? Not to mention, it couldn’t have helped that the rise of Mariah and Whitney’s “cleaner” images gave people alternatives to Erotica’s marketing and packaging. If you listen to the album, it’s actually very... tame, lyrically though. Most of the songs talk about love and heartbreak.
    blod, tommylander and SlowBurn like this.
  16. Exactly. I remember here in Ireland, one of the newspapers got a celebrity priest to review the album, and that's pretty much what he said. He ended up praising most of it! The hilarity of it all.
  17. Love her interviews with Molly...
    Lioncourt and johnoclock like this.
  18. I have been working on this article, and figured the best place to share it would be on a Madonna forum. I do intend on seeking a place to publish it with more reach. Feel free to share it with others. It is an editorial piece, and I look forward to any mindful feedback should you wish to elaborate or enter into an exchange of ideas. I wrote it with love, and hope it will be received with openness and kindness:

    Madame X Revisited: Understanding The Madonna Myth.

    When Madonna introduced a reluctant public to Madame X in 2019, the official narrative seemed slightly aimless and arduous in the digital era of soundbites and euphemism. After years of slowly succumbing to the concessional notion that her pop cultural influence had diminished as a result of inherent sexism, misogyny and ageism, it was easy to fall in line with the mainstream media's dismissal of her creative force as being a byproduct of youth and ambition, and that Madonna was delusional in matters related to the former, and no longer entitled to the latter. For the greater part of the last decade she had seemingly fumbled between establishing herself as a global brand via a multitude of forays into perfumes and cosmetics, coconut water, fitness centers and dressing adolescent girls in attire she'd have probably laughed at in her imperial uprising in the 1980s, squeezing every last dollar out of her well-established touring income potential, and releasing a couple of albums that, for lack of a better understanding, seemingly failed to ignite the passion of her fanbase, leaving little chance of her work ever reaching the masses as had once been customary. The new songs served as the underlying script for her shows, with classics only appearing re-contextualized and remixed as if to stave off casual consumers. To further provide fodder for alienation, Madonna's politics often came across as awkward, murky, paradoxical, and perhaps even slightly hypocritical. From her Secret Project Revolution in 2013 to her public political declarations leading up to and following the election of the current president, it seemed clear that Madonna had a very particular understanding of the world she observed whenever she stepped outside of her own privileged and ostensibly sheltered microcosm, but to the masses it wasn't particularly clear what that understanding was. Like all cultural revolutionaries, the organic process was surely there to map, but through the veneer of fame, glamour and polarization, Madonna' s vision sometimes appeared gauche and misinformed, and mostly absurdly alarmist and off-putting in a time of limited attention spans and constant distraction. Implications of burgeoning fascism were undermined by alleged pop star rivalries, toy boys, and bizarre meta-skincare advertisements. To exist as a public figure in the 21st century, there is a requirement to streamline and edit; if it isn't spelled out clearly and concisely, the modern world is reluctant to pay attention. There is almost no investment in anything if it demands dissection and assimilation, and so the chances of dissemination are rather slim where there is any room for error in the presentation of the truth. As Madonna herself professed at the time of the release of her mainstream motion picture directorial debut W.E., fame tends to limit the spectrum of personality and accomplishment, and the more notorious one might become, the narrower the scope of public indulgence is.

    With the never-ending promise of social distancing and isolation, many of us have had more time than we could have ever imagined to contemplate the experiences that have shaped us, as well as seizing the opportunity to question our values and belief systems. This vastness of time and space has led to revisitation and reconsideration of much of what has led us to this point, and while there are more pragmatic concerns that have taken hold of the collective consciousness with a pandemic and an invisible war taking place, there is also room for exploration of the cultural landmarks we have failed to pay attention to, and that are still potent and worthy of exploration. This got me thinking, and then writing with a mission to recalibrate the cultural narrative. Madonna matters more than ever, and she is producing her most authentic and resonant work ever in her seventh decade! You don't believe me? I know this is where your resistance may kick in, and so I ask that you put aside preconception and hear me out as I make the case for Ms. Ciccone's return to preeminence in 2020.

    Madonna’s latest recorded opus and subsequent world theater tour deserved better from us all. In late Spring of last year as Madonna shared her first major music release since turning 60, we were lulled into a false sense of passive acceptance and fantasy, which turns out to have been a good barometer of what we were all feeling in the lead-up to the crisis we are currently managing collectively. Medellin was a quietly bittersweet study in self-awareness, possibly via hallucinogenics or other mind-altering substances (I took a pill and had a dream). The message was one of self-acceptance and the celebration of the ability to feel free to connect with the outside world that comes with self-knowledge. The music was frothy and understated, haphazardly anchored by the cryptic Madame X manifesto via the clanking of typewriter keys and a spoken introduction in the music video that juxtaposed Madonna's personal pain-conditioning via her wounds and losses with the freedom-fighting Revolution of Love rhetoric used in her more obviously politically projects. When Madonna performed at Eurovision in Tel Aviv, a shockingly messy live vocal mix distracted from the extraordinary bravery of her visual performance to such an extent that one might question if Madonna hasn’t been marked to fail in recent years. Madonna’s public reaction to the hacking of her Rebel Heart album in late 2014, months prior to its scheduled release, was met with cynicism and ridicule when she posted an image of a smashed iPod on her Instagram account and likened the experience to artistic rape. In hindsight, perhaps the public and media could have been kinder to a woman who had given so much of herself as both an entertainer and a humanitarian, but no one made mention of any concept of intentional sabotage at the time. Surely if anyone had wanted to hinder Madonna’s commercial reach it was probably because she provoked it, and not because of the album’s content and the artist’s intent. She had it coming, right? We were entitled to full-on conscious bias when it came to all matters related to someone who had taunted us for decades with her smut campaigns and religious shenanigans, weren’t we? The conclusion at the time? The older Madonna became the less room for failure there was.

    While for decades the Establishment had longed to see Madonna age out of relevance, writing her off as old when she was barely in her mid-thirties, actually seeing Madonna's physical vulnerability manifest in ways that could be easily documented had become a blood sport for some time. One only has to recall the measurable subversive glee at the time of her fall onstage at the Brit Awards in 2015. In the era of Instagram, and with no publicist as a buffer, Madonna was in direct communication with the public for the first time ever. It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that her supreme confidence, onstage and off, did seem shaken in the wake of that ultimately triumphant performance and the relative commercial failure of Rebel Heart, the album it had been in promotion of. It seemed that finally she could be written off for all the imaginary reasons they had been grasping at for years. The critics had hollowed her out publicly, and both the media and the public had taken to mocking her, playing into every prejudice imaginable. Subsequently, her popular legacy, once poised to carry her fame for generations to come, seemed like it was losing its shine. That Rebel Heart was filled with anthemic self-empowerment via a manifesto as arresting as it was inspiring was lost on the general public.

    As Madonna matured while showing a preternatural determination to conceal any outward signs of such biological processes that mere mortals are enslaved to, the focus should have been on the meaning and the value of her creative work. Instead the media had redefined her as a vampiric narcissist bordering more and more on the grotesque and distasteful; she couldn't possibly have an enriching inner life when out of the public eye! No one figured that refusing to toe the line for so long meant that Madonna had long been on her own ingenious path towards freedom by reinventing herself in the most nakedly ambitious way possible: by becoming a full-on meta performance artist! While we may have long ago been conditioned to the idea of Madonna being a master of disguise and reinvention, the critical assumption of her early video works was that she was a mediocre actress only capable of playing out her vision and her fantasies in condensed narratives, and that it was her uncanny ability to tap into the Zeitgeist that made the phenomenon of her success. As Madonna explained carefully and measuredly via her one major press junket for her last album of the 2010s, Madame X was a name given to her by Martha Graham long before she had even begun to aspire to the type of universal cultural domination she would go on to experience. As a woman of enormous renown, the delineation of the personal and the public had been intentionally blurred over the course of multitudes of era-hopping evolutionary pursuits, and it had always been obvious to her followers that she deplored labels. They limited her vision, and reduced her to the more superficial reaches of celebrity culture. Madonna wasn't merely a consequence of Warhol; she was a post-Warhol existentialist in the throes of deconstructionism. The arrival of Madame X confirmed this.

    Her modern manifesto was that going forth she was her own blank canvas. She was not just the public figure on display for all to elevate and tear down, although she had by now accepted the necessity of human sacrifice. She seemed to be consciously creating personae with much more intentionality than anyone had ever given her credit for. Her reflex was to wince at the implication of forceful image reinvention prior to her taking ownership of the process by naming her 2004 world tour The Reinvention Tour, but that was almost two decades ago, and those subsequent years were her most interesting in many ways. This was a person who had taken every lesson life had to offer and turned the experience into a channel for a great awakening of human consciousness in parallel to her own. She continued to create, not for egoic reinforcement, but in order to spread an invaluable message for Humanism. She didn't want to rule the world; she wanted to awaken the world to its divine essence.

    It's no wonder the second track of the album, Dark Ballet, has her channeling Joan of Arc, and there isn't even a hint of anything subliminal or ironic about such a choice, even if she insists on delivering the patron saint's manifesto via a delirious vocoder-filtered nursery rhyme over Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Reed Flutes! It was partially inspired by A Clockwork Orange, a consistent source of dystopian inspiration in Madonna's visual canon harkening back to the days of Express Yourself and Blond Ambition. This isn’t the first time Madonna has penned a variation on the significance of the Maid of Orléans either, although a previous composition assured the listener that she was not that kind of martyr much in the same way she paid homage to Marilyn Monroe, but protested that she would never end up self-destructing. It’s clearly a reflection of a kindred energy she feels, and for the extraordinary experiences she has had of life thus far she should be allowed to choose to relate to whomever she wants to, even when piety risks ridicule. That’s the point. She doesn’t care! Dark Ballet is the most punk rock thing to have happened in music in 2019, and the fact that Madonna made that happen deserves, at the very least, an enthusiastic nod. When first performed as part of a three-act showcase for the Met Gala in 2018, the sparse piano and hip-hop beat combo was underscored by warring choreography. Dancers wrestling with her rather than allowing her to bask in the glow of enlightenment promisingly delivered via a Gregorian-chanting choir offering a heartfelt rendition of her ultimate gospel Like A Prayer. The struggle ends in surrender; not to her detractors, but to God itself, and a renewed sense of purpose via an unexpectedly disarming interpretation of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

    On the album, Dark Ballet segues into God Control via a choir of blowing and gasping for air featuring her youngest twin daughters, the sound of crackling embers perhaps implying the literal and metaphorical concept of fanning the flames, or trying desperately to put them out. I suppose that depends on what side of the fence you find yourself on. The juxtaposition of gun shots and disco strings may be jarring to the listener at first, but therein lies the purpose of the track. How do we connect the dots in a world this confused and lost? How do we embody light when we are complacent in the face of mass shootings and terror? "People think that I'm insane, the only gun is in my brain", delivered in uncanny shades of Tina Weymouth’s Wordy Rappinghood, is a political statement within itself, but it's mostly an invitation to dive deeper beyond the issue of gun control. It's the loss of faith that is lethal in the end.

    Future opens with Quavo introducing Mambo, a name affectionally used by Madonna's children for their mother. One might wonder if that is a clever association of the term's various meanings as a dance, a greeting and a voodoo priestess, the latter in particular given the global awakening prophecy the track explores. Madonna also performed it at Eurovision by depicting each paired dancer at the song's conclusion in surrender to Gaia and the Universe in order to escape societal oppression. There is no doubt that "Woke Madonna" has done more than her fair share of exploration of the contemporary spiritual movements that embrace this time as one of ascension from 3D to 5D. It turns out the kabbalistic teachings about the proverbial big picture were timelier than we thought when Madonna first embraced them over twenty years ago, which only leads to affirm that it's an exercise in frivolity to doubt Madonna's direction. We always benefit from going along for the ride as there is so much more to the message than meets the eye…On Batuka, the fascinating integration of the Orquestra Batukadeiras and their underlying history of spiritual survival faced with colonialism and slavery is central to the album's theme in that these two very different worlds find commonality in the search for peace and transcendence in confronting oppression. That Madonna performed this as a plea for mercy and joy as a collective jam with the all-female troupe on her recently completed tour was a perfect example of Madonna's intelligent transcultural sensitivity, but there is evidence of this throughout Madame X as she navigates from her latin pop roots, embellished further by the recent discovery of Portuguese heritage, into Moroccan and Indian influences, and even Diplo-driven reggae.

    Upon release, Killers Who Are Partying was initially received as a lyrical embarrassment, enhanced by Madonna's forceful enunciation via a barrage of enumerated compassion plays from "the gays" to "the native Indian". The musicality of the track, and perhaps even the entire album, was rarely explored at the time of its release. Madonna, never one to take her finger off the pulse, was keenly aware of the criticism leveled at her and didn't hesitate to replace a reference to Israel in the song with Palestine in her live show. After all, the lyrics assure us that she knows what she is, and also what she is not. It is gorgeously orchestrated in shades of saudade, and whether or not Madonna and co-producer Mirwais intended to distort her vocals due to limitations or due to artistic vision remains equally irritating and reassuringly topical throughout the production of these recordings, perhaps even more so in consideration of how authentically raw her voice had appeared on their last major collaborative project, 2003’s pivotal American Life. There is no doubt that Madonna's voice is front and center as an instrument in the mix, but it seems cloyingly intimate for isolated instances, and then suddenly hopelessly distant. This duality is less noticeable throughout the home run that sits at the middle of this musical journey: Crave, Crazy and Come Alive all present themselves as viable contemporary pop/soul confections, but there is a deeper existential angst and resolve in each that lend a maturity worthy of Madonna's experience and tenure. The same can be said of the deceptively simple Extreme Occident, on which she tells a tale of seeking her center of gravity in a world of confusion and growing turmoil. I'll go with my hunch that it's better to give Madonna the benefit of the doubt by accepting that there are no accidents in her world. Whatever is happening to her voice on these tracks is exactly as she intended it to be.

    Rather jarringly, following the final declaration of Extreme Occident that she "wasn't lost", we are taken immediately into a double whammy of ultra-contemporary pop duets with Brazilian singer Anitta and Medellin partner Maluma. Both are palatable, but also seem to lack the earnest quality of the rest of the album, and in consideration of the three closing tracks of the deluxe issue of Madame X, they seem better suited to a separate project altogether. Perhaps this is again intentional in order to hammer home that all those dance anthems and pop classics that were the soundtrack of so many lives contain their own mini-manifestos equally worthy of investigation and reconsideration. Fortunately any point made by the inclusion of these paeans to dance and sex isn’t particularly heavy-handed, and I Don't Search I Find resumes Madonna's far loftier metaphysical ambitions as it channels the deep house of Vogue while promising further insight into who Madame X might really be; a vessel for truth, love and light. Looking For Mercy is a prayer for survival and ultimate thrift that showcases the fullness of Madonna's deeply emotive vocal prowess. Delivered with despair, grit and determination, the song's repetitive chorus outro reveals itself to be more of a mantra than a lyric; hope for an escape from all the pain and sorrow. The aspirationally anthemic I Rise closes out the collection as a call to arms. The inclusion of an excerpt from Emma González’ viral post-massacre survivor’s speech is effective, even if there was controversy at the time due to Ms. Gonzalez’ sensitivity to the graphic depiction of gun violence in Madonna’s subsequent video for the single Gun Control. The song also closed her Madame X theater tour performance each night as she joined the crowd, fist-bumping with audience members as she and her dancers made their way to the theater exit. She triumphantly smiled all the way despite suffering from serious knee and hip injuries, and unknowingly being infected with Corononavirus prior to the tour's slightly premature end due to impending lockdown policies in Paris. The message was clear. Madonna's cartel of love is one that everyone gets to join once they wake up, and when they do there is no doubt the world will have more potential to be a better place.

    As for Madonna's future, I imagine Madame X will return. At her core, Madonna is steadfast and stronger than ever. She has the unique perspective of one who was not born into privilege, but who tried to earn it, only to realize that there is great darkness and corruption at the top. It doesn't seem to faze her, and it isn't hard to understand why when you step into her world. In her very own words is the simplest and strongest of manifestos: Finally enough love.
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
  19. @Alchrist2 I liked it on principle, now let me read it.
  20. Don't know if this has been posted but the fan from Instagram that teased the remastered videos finally put them up in glorious 1080p HD. Some of them look incredible.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.