Madonna (born Madonna Louise Ciccone
on August 16, 1958) is an American recording artist, actress and
entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, and raised in Rochester Hills,
Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977, for a career in modern
dance. After performing as a member of the pop musical groups Breakfast
Club and Emmy, she released her self-titled debut album Madonna in 1983 on
A series of hit singles from her studio albums Like a Virgin (1984) and
True Blue (1986) gained her global recognition. It established her as a
pop icon for pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream
popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on
MTV. Her recognition was augmented by the film Desperately Seeking Susan
(1985) which widely became seen as a Madonna vehicle, despite her not
playing the lead. Expanding on the use of religious imagery with Like a
Prayer (1989), Madonna received positive critical reception for her
diverse musical productions, while at the same time receiving criticism
from religious conservatives and the Vatican. In 1992, Madonna founded the
Maverick corporation, a joint venture between herself and Time Warner. The
same year, she expanded the use of sexually explicit material in her work,
beginning the release of the studio album Erotica, followed by the
publishing of the coffee table book Sex, and starring in the erotic
thriller Body of Evidence, all of which received negative responses from
conservatives and liberals alike.
In 1996, Madonna played the starring role in the film Evita, for which she
won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.
Madonna's seventh studio album Ray of Light (1998) became one of her most
critically acclaimed, recognized for its lyrical depth. During the 2000s,
Madonna released four studio albums, all of which debuted at number one on
the Billboard 200. Departing from Warner Bros. Records, Madonna signed an
unprecedented $120 million dollar contract with Live Nation in 2008.
Madonna has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide. She is ranked by
the Recording Industry Association of America as the best-selling female
rock artist of the 20th century and the second top-selling female artist
in the U.S., with 64 million certified albums. Guinness World Records
listed her as the world's most successful female recording artist of all
time. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Madonna at number two, behind
only The Beatles, on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists", making
her as the most successful solo artist in the history of Billboard Hot 100
chart. She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the
same year. Considered to be one of the most influential women in
contemporary music, Madonna has been known for continually reinventing
both her music and image and for retaining a standard of autonomy within
the recording industry. She is recognized as an influence among numerous
Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan at 7:05 AM on August 16, 1958, to
Madonna Louise (née Fortin), who was of French Canadian descent, and
Silvio Ciccone, who was a first-generation Italian American
Chrysler/General Motors design engineer, originating from Pacentro,
Abruzzo, Italy. Madonna is the third of six children; her siblings are
Martin, Anthony, Paula, Christopher, and Melanie. Through her mother, she
is a descendant of Zacharie Cloutier and Jean Guyon du Buisson.
Madonna was raised in the Detroit suburbs of Pontiac and Avon Township
(now Rochester Hills). Her mother died of breast cancer at age 30 on
December 1, 1963. Then her father married the family's housekeeper, Joan
Gustafson, and they had two children; Jennifer and Mario Ciccone. Madonna
commented on her father's second marriage: "I didn't accept my stepmother
when I was growing up ... In retrospect, I think I was really hard on
her." She attended St. Frederick's and St. Andrew's Elementary Schools
(the latter is now known as Holy Family Regional School), and after that
West Middle School. There she became known for her high GPA - and for her
"unusual" behavior, particularly a kind of an underwear fetish: Madonna
performed cartwheels and handstands in the hallways between classes,
dangled by her knees from the monkey bars during recess, and thought
nothing of tugging her skirt up over her desk during class so that all the
boys could see her briefs.
Later, she went to Rochester Adams High School, becoming a straight-A
student and a member of the cheerleading squad. Madonna received a dance
scholarship to the University of Michigan after graduating from high
school. She wanted to take ballet lessons and convinced her father to
allow her to partake the classes. Her ballet teacher persuaded her to
pursue a career in dance, so she left the college at the end of 1977 and
relocated to New York City. Madonna had little money at that time and
hence lived in squalor, working as a waitress in Dunkin' Donuts and with
modern dance troupes. Of her move to New York, Madonna said, "It was the
first time I'd ever taken a plane, the first time I'd ever gotten a taxi
cab. I came here with $35 in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I'd ever
done." While performing as a dancer for the French disco artist Patrick
Hernandez on his 1979 world tour, Madonna became romantically involved
with the musician Dan Gilroy, with whom she later formed her first rock
band, the Breakfast Club, in New York. She sang and played drums and
guitar for the band and lived in a converted synagogue in Corona, Queens.
However, she departed from them and formed another band called Emmy in
1980, with drummer and former boyfriend Stephen Bray. She and Bray wrote
and produced dance songs that brought her to local attention in the New
York dance clubs. DJ and record producer Mark Kamins was impressed by her
demo recordings, so he brought her to the attention of Sire Records
founder Seymour Stein.
Madonna signed a singles deal with Sire Records, a label belonging to
Warner Bros. Records. Her first release was "Everybody" on April 24, 1982.
Her debut album, Madonna was primarily produced by Reggie Lucas. At the
same time, she became involved with artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, living
with him for a time in his loft, and visiting Los Angeles over December
82-January 83. She left the artist soon after, over his drug use and late
hours, and took up with musician John "Jellybean" Benitez, while
developing the album.
Slowly Madonna's look and manner of dress, performances and music videos,
became influential among young girls and women. Largely created by stylist
and jewelry designer Maripol, Madonna's style of dress; defined by lace
tops, skirts over capri pants, fishnet stockings, jewelry bearing the
Christian cross, multiple bracelets, and bleached hair, became a female
fashion trend in the 1980s. Her follow up album, Like a Virgin (1984),
became her first number one album on the Billboard 200. Its commercial
performance was buoyed by the success of its title track, "Like a Virgin,"
which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks. The
album was certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of
America and sold more than 21 million copies worldwide. She performed the
song at the first MTV Video Music Awards, wearing her then-trademark "Boy
Toy" belt. The performance is considered as one of the iconic moments in
the history of MTV, as is the album Like a Virgin which, the National
Association of Recording Merchandisers and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
listed as one of the Definitive 200 Albums of All Time.
The next year, Madonna entered mainstream films beginning with a brief
appearance as a club singer in the film Vision Quest. Its soundtrack
contained her second US number-one single "Crazy for You". She also
appeared in the comedy Desperately Seeking Susan, a film which introduced
the song "Into the Groove," her first number-one single in the United
Kingdom. Although not the lead actress for the film, her profile was such
that the movie widely became seen (and marketed) as a Madonna vehicle. The
film received a nomination for a César Award for Best Foreign Film, and
The New York Times film critic Vincent Canby named the film as one of the
10 best films of 1985, with the lead Rosanna Arquette receiving a
supporting actress BAFTA for her role. While filming the music video for
"Material Girl" Madonna started dating actor Sean Penn and married him on
her twenty-seventh birthday that year.
Madonna embarked on her first concert tour in North America titled The
Virgin Tour, with the Beastie Boys as opening acts. In July 1985,
Penthouse and Playboy magazines published a number of nude photos of
Madonna taken in New York in 1978. Madonna posed for the photographs as
she was in need of money. But because she had signed the appropriate
release forms, she could not take legal action to block them. The
publication caused media uproar. However, she remained defiant and
unapologetic upon publication of the photos for which she was paid as
little as $25 a session. The photographs were ultimately sold for up to
$100,000. She referenced this incident at the outdoor Live Aid charity
concert. She stated that she would not take her jacket off because "they
might hold it against me ten years from now."
Madonna released her third album, True Blue, in 1986, prompting Rolling
Stone to comment that "it sounds as if it comes from the heart." The album
topped the charts in over 28 countries worldwide, an unprecedented record
at the time, and earning a place in Guinness Book of World Records. The
album spawned three number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 charts:
"Live to Tell", "Papa Don't Preach" and "Open Your Heart", as well as
other top-five singles "True Blue" and "La Isla Bonita". In the same year,
Madonna starred in the film Shanghai Surprise (which was panned by
critics) and made her theatrical debut in a production of David Rabe's
Goose and Tom-Tom, both co-starring Sean Penn. In 1987, Madonna starred in
Who's That Girl, and contributed four songs to its soundtrack; including
the title track and the United States number-two single, "Causing a
Commotion". The same year, she embarked on the Who's That Girl World Tour.
The tour was complimented for Madonna's innovative dresses. Later that
year, she released a remix album of past hits, You Can Dance. In 1988,
city officials in the town of Pacentro began to construct a 13-foot (4 m)
statue of Madonna in a bustier. The statue commemorated the fact that her
ancestors had lived in Pacentro. Madonna's marriage to Sean Penn also
ended. After filing and withdrawing divorce papers in December 1987, they
separated on New Year's Eve 1988 and divorced in January 1989. Of her
marriage to Penn, Madonna said, "I was completely obsessed with my career
and not ready to be generous in any shape or form."
By early 1989, Madonna had signed an endorsement deal with soft drink
manufacturer Pepsi. She debuted her new song, "Like a Prayer" in a Pepsi
commercial and also made a music video for it. The video featured many
Catholic symbols such as stigmata and burning crosses. This subject matter
led the Vatican to condemn the video. Since the commercial and music video
were nearly identical, Pepsi was unable to convince the public that their
commercial was not inappropriate. They revoked the commercial and
cancelled their sponsorship contract with Madonna. However, she was
allowed to retain her fee for the contract. Madonna's fourth studio album,
Like a Prayer was released the same year. It was co-written and
co-produced by Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray. Rolling Stone hailed it
as "...as close to art as pop music gets". Like a Prayer peaked at number
one on the Billboard 200 album chart and sold seven million copies
worldwide, with four million copies sold in the United States alone. The
album produced three top five singles namely the title track (her seventh
number-one single on the Hot 100), "Express Yourself" and "Cherish". By
the end of the 1980s, Madonna had become the most successful female artist
of the decade with three number-one albums and seven number-one singles;
surpassed only by Michael Jackson.
In 1990, Madonna starred as "Breathless" Mahoney in the film adaptation of
the comic book series Dick Tracy. The movie starred Warren Beatty in the
title role. To accompany the release of the film, she issued the album I'm
Breathless, which included songs inspired by the film's 1930s setting. It
also featured her eighth US number-one single, "Vogue", and "Sooner or
Later", a song that earned Stephen Sondheim an Academy Award for Best
Original Song in 1991. While shooting for the film, Madonna began a
relationship with Beatty. He appeared on the album-cover of I'm Breathless
and in her documentary Truth or Dare. Their relationship ended in the fall
of 1990. Madonna began her Blond Ambition World Tour in April 1990.
Featuring religious and sexual themes, the tour drew controversy for her
performance of "Like a Virgin" during which two male dancers caressed her
body before she simulated masturbation. The Pope again encouraged
Catholics not to attend. A private association of Catholics, called
Famiglia Domani, also boycotted the tour for featuring eroticism. In
response, Madonna said, "I am Italian American and proud of it" and that
the Church "completely frowns on sex ... except for procreation." She
later won a Grammy Award in 1992 in the Best Long Form Music Video
category for the lasrdisc relase of the tour.
The Immaculate Collection, Madonna's first greatest-hits compilation
album, was released in November 1990. It included two new songs called
"Justify My Love" and "Rescue Me". "Rescue Me" became the highest-debuting
single by a female artist in Billboard chart history at that time,
entering at number fifteen and peaking at number nine. "Justify My Love"
became a Madonna's ninth US number-one single. Its music video featured
scenes of sadomasochism, bondage, same-sex kissing and brief nudity. It
was deemed too sexually explicit for MTV and was banned from the station.
The Immaculate Collection eventually became the best-selling compilation
by a solo artist in the history. It was certified diamond by the RIAA and
listed as the best-selling album by a female artist in the United Kingdom.
At the end of the year, Madonna decided to leave the controversial
Jennifer Lynch film Boxing Helena. From late 1990 to early 1991, Madonna
dated Tony Ward, a model and porn star who starred in her music videos for
"Cherish" and "Justify My Love". She also had an eight-month relationship
with rapper Vanilla Ice. Her first documentary film, Truth or Dare (known
as In Bed with Madonna outside North America) was released in mid-1991.
The documentary chronicled her Blond Ambition World Tour, as well giving
glimpses of her personal life. The following year, she appeared in the
baseball film A League of Their Own in the role of Italian-American Mae
Mordabito. She recorded the film's theme song, "This Used to Be My
Playground" which became her tenth Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit.
In 1992, Madonna founded her own entertainment company, Maverick,
consisting of a record company (Maverick Records), a film production
company (Maverick Films), and also music publishing, television,
merchandising and book-publishing divisions. The deal was a joint venture
with Time Warner as part of $60 million worth of recordings and
businesses. The deal gave her a twenty percent royalty, equal at the time
to Michael Jackson's. The first release from the venture was Madonna's
first publication Sex, a book consisting of sexually provocative and
explicit images photographed by Steven Meisel. It caused strong reactions
from the media and the general public, but nevertheless sold 1,500,000
copies, at $50 each, in a matter of days. At the same time she released
her fifth studio album Erotica. The album debuted at number two on the
Billboard 200. Its title track peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot
100. Erotica also produced five further singles namely "Deeper and
Deeper," "Bad Girl," "Fever," "Rain" and "Bye Bye Baby."
Her provocative imagery continued with the erotic thrillers Body of
Evidence and Dangerous Game. The first film contained scenes of S&M and
bondage hence was poorly received by critics. Dangerous Game was released
straight-to-video in North America but received some good reviews for
Madonna's performance. The New York Times described that "She submits
impressively to the emotions raging furiously around her." Madonna
embarked on The Girlie Show World Tour at the end of 1993. It featured her
dressed as a whip-cracking dominatrix, surrounded by topless dancers. The
show faced negative reaction in Puerto Rico when she rubbed its flag
between her legs on stage. Orthodox Jews protested against her first ever
show in Israel. That year, she also appeared on the Late Show with David
Letterman. After Letterman introduced her on his show as "one of the
biggest stars in the world, and in the past 10 years she has sold over 80
million albums..and slept with some of the biggest names in the
entertainment industry," Madonna subsequently repeatedly used four-letter
words and asked Letterman to smell a pair of her underwear she handed him.
The release of Truth or Dare, Sex book, Erotica, Body of Evidence and the
appearance on Letterman - all of them made critics question Madonna as a
sexual renegade. She faced strong negative publicity with critics and fans
commenting that "she had gone too far" and that her career was to be over.
Madonna tried to tone down this provocative image by releasing the single
"I'll Remember", which she recorded for Alek Keshishian's film With
Honors. She made a tame appearance with Letterman at an awards show, as
well as appearing on the Jay Leno show, and made a new album, realizing
her music career needed some dramatic changes in order to sustain herself
in the long run. With her sixth studio album Bedtime Stories Madonna tried
to soften her image and reconnect with the general public once more. The
album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and produced four
singles— "Secret", "Take a Bow" which spent seven weeks at number one on
the Billboard Hot 100, "Bedtime Story" and "Human Nature". At the same
time she became romantically involved with fitness trainer Carlos Leon.
Continuing to tone down her image, Madonna released Something to Remember,
a collection of her ballads, in May 1995. It featured her cover of the
Marvin Gaye song "I Want You" and the top ten hit song "You'll See". The
following year saw the release of Madonna’s most critically successful
film, Evita. She portrayed the main part of Eva Perón, a role first played
by Elaine Paige in the West End. The soundtrack album contained three of
her singles including "You Must Love Me", a song that earned Andrew Lloyd
Webber and Tim Rice the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1997 and
"Don't Cry For Me Argentina". Madonna won a Golden Globe Award for Best
Actress in a Musical or Comedy for the role. On October 14, 1996, Madonna
gave birth to her and Carlos Leon's daughter, Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon.
After Lourdes' birth Madonna became involved in Eastern mysticism and
Kabbalah. Her seventh studio album Ray of Light reflected this change in
her perception and image. The album debuted at number two in the United
States. Allmusic called it her "most adventurous record." The album
produced two US top five singles: "Frozen", which reached number two and
"Ray of Light", which reached five. Madonna was honored three Grammy
Awards the same year. The title track "Ray of Light" won two Grammy for
"Best Short Form Music Video" and "Best Dance Recording", and was used by
Microsoft in its advertising campaign to introduce Windows XP. The first
single "Frozen" was adjudicated to be a plagiarism of Belgian songwriter
Salvatore Acquaviva's 1993 song "Ma Vie Fout L'camp", and hence the album
was banned in Belgium. Ray of Light has been ranked number 363 on Rolling
Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Beside the album, Madonna was
signed to play a violin teacher in the film Music of the Heart but left
the project, citing "creative differences" with director Wes Craven.
Madonna followed the success of Ray of Light with the single "Beautiful
Stranger", recorded for the 1999 film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged
Me's soundtrack. It reached number nineteen on the Hot 100 and won a
Grammy Award for "Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or
Other Visual Media."
Madonna starred in the movie The Next Best Thing in 2000. She contributed
two songs to the film's soundtrack, "Time Stood Still" and the
international hit "American Pie", a cover version of the 1970s Don McLean
single. Madonna released her eighth studio album, Music in September 2000.
The album hit number-one position in more than 20 countries worldwide, and
sold 4 million copies in the first 10 days. In the United States, it
became her fourth number-one album and her first album to debut at number
one on the Billboard 200. It produced three singles; "Music", which became
Madonna's twelfth number one US single as well as "Don't Tell Me" and
"What It Feels Like for a Girl". The latter's music video depicted Madonna
committing murders and accidents with cars and was banned by MTV and VH1
from airing. The same year Madonna became involved in a relationship with
Guy Ritchie, whom she had met in 1999 through mutual friends Sting and his
wife, Trudie Styler. On August 11, 2000, she gave birth to their son,
Rocco. Later that year, Madonna and Ritchie married in Scotland.
Her fifth concert tour titled the Drowned World Tour, her first since
1993, started in May 2001. The tour visited cities in North America and
Europe. It became one of the highest grossing concert tours of the year
and grossed $75 million from 47 sold-out shows. She also released her
second greatest hits collection titled GHV2 to coincide with the home
video release of the tour. The album debuted at number seven on the
Billboard 200. Madonna also starred in the film Swept Away directed by her
husband Guy Ritchie. It was released in 2002. The film was a commercial
and critical failure and released straight-to-video in the United Kingdom.
Later that year, she released the title song "Die Another Day" to the
twentieth James Bond film, in which she had a cameo role. The song reached
number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated both for a Golden
Globe Award for Best Original Song and a Golden Raspberry for Worst Song.
In 2003, Madonna collaborated with fashion photographer Steven Klein for
an exhibition installation named X-STaTIC Pro=CeSS. It included
photography from a photoshoot in W Magazine and seven video segments. The
installation ran from March to May, in New York's Deitch Projects gallery.
It then traveled the world in an edited form. Madonna released her ninth
studio album called American Life. It was themed on the American society
and received mixed reviews. The title song peaked at number thirty-seven
on the Billboard Hot 100. Having sold four million copies, American Life
became the lowest selling album of her career. Later that year, Madonna
performed the song "Hollywood" with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and
Missy Elliott at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Madonna kissed Spears
and Aguilera during the performance, resulting in a tabloid frenzy. That
fall, Madonna provided guest vocals on Spears' single "Me Against the
Music". During the Christmas season of 2003, Madonna released Remixed &
Revisited, a remix EP that included rock versions of songs from American
Life, and "Your Honesty", a previously unreleased track from the Bedtime
Stories recording sessions. Madonna also signed a contract with Callaway
Arts & Entertainment for five books, and published the first one titled
The English Roses. The story was about four English schoolgirls and their
envy and jealousy of each other. After its release, The English Roses
peaked at the top of New York Times Best Seller list.
The next year in March, Madonna and Maverick sued Warner Music Group and
its former parent company, Time Warner, claiming that mismanagement of
resources and poor bookkeeping had cost the company millions of dollars.
In return, Warner filed a countersuit, alleging that Maverick had lost
tens of millions of dollars on its own. The dispute was resolved when the
Maverick shares owned by Madonna and Ronnie Dashev were purchased. The
company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Music but Madonna was
still signed to Warner under a separate recording contract. Later that
year, Madonna embarked on the Re-Invention World Tour in the United
States, Canada, and Europe. It became the highest-grossing tour of 2004,
earning $125 million. She made a documentary about the tour named I'm
Going to Tell You a Secret. That same year, Rolling Stone ranked her
number thirty-six on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time".
During the 2004 presidential election, Madonna endorsed Wesley Clark's
She participated in the televised concert "Tsunami Aid" and performed a
cover version of the John Lennon song "Imagine". The same year, Madonna
performed at the Live 8 benefit concert in London in July. Her tenth
studio album, Confessions on a Dance Floor was released in November and
debuted at number one in all major music markets. The album won a Grammy
Award for "Best Electronic/Dance Album". Confessions received positive
reviews with critics claiming it as a return to commercial prominence for
her. However, Israeli rabbis condemned the song "Isaac" from the album
because they believed it was a tribute to Rabbi Isaac Luria and claimed
that Jewish law forbid commercializing a rabbi's name. Madonna claimed
that she had named it after an Israeli singer and said, "The album isn't
even out, so how could Jewish scholars in Israel know what my song is
about?" The first single from the album, "Hung Up" went on to reach
number-one in a record breaking forty-five countries. "Sorry", the second
single became Madonna's twelfth number one in the United Kingdom.
By mid-2006, fashion clothing line H&M had signed Madonna to become their
worldwide model. The next year, the clothing line M by Madonna was
launched internationally. Madonna's Confessions Tour began in May 2006. It
had a global audience of 1.2 million people, with reported gross sales of
$260.1 million. The use of religious symbols such as the crucifix and
Crown of Thorns in the performance of "Live to Tell" caused the Russian
Orthodox Church and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia to urge
all their members to boycott her concert. The Vatican as well as bishops
from Düsseldorf protested against the concert. Madonna responded that, "My
performance is neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous.
Rather, it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one
another and to see the world as a unified whole."
While on the tour, Madonna traveled to Malawi to help and fund an
orphanage as part of the Raising Malawi initiative. On October 10, 2006,
she filed adoption papers for a boy named David Banda Mwale from the
orphanage. He was renamed David Banda Mwale Ciccone Ritchie. The adoption
raised strong public reaction because Malawian law requires would-be
parents to reside in Malawi for one year before adopting. The effort was
highly publicized and culminated in legal disputes. Madonna refuted the
allegations on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She said that there are no written
adoption laws in Malawi that regulate foreign adoption and that Banda had
been suffering from pneumonia after surviving malaria and tuberculosis
when she met him. Some said that Banda's biological father Yohane did not
understand what adoption meant and had assumed that the arrangement was
fostering. He said, "These so-called human rights activists are harassing
me every day, threatening me that I am not aware of what I am doing." He
also said, "They want me to support their court case, a thing I cannot do
for I know what I agreed with Madonna and her husband." The adoption was
finalized on May 28, 2008.
In May 2007, Madonna released the download-only song "Hey You", in
anticipation of the Live Earth series of concerts. The song was made
available for free for its first week. She also performed it at the London
Live Earth concert in July 2007. Madonna announced her departure from
Warner Bros. Records and a new $120 million, ten year contract with Live
Nation in October. She became the founding recording artist for the new
music division, Live Nation Artists. Same year, the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame announced Madonna as one of the five inductees of 2008. The ceremony
took place on March 10, 2008. Madonna produced and wrote I Am Because We
Are, a documentary on the problems faced by Malawians. The documentary was
directed by her former gardener Nathan Rissman. The Guardian praised I Am
Because We Are, saying that she "came, saw and conquered the world's
biggest film festival." She also directed her first film titled Filth and
Wisdom. It received mixed reviews from the British press. The Times said
she had "done herself proud" while The Daily Telegraph described the film
as "not an entirely unpromising first effort but Madonna would do well to
hang on to her day job."
Madonna released her eleventh studio album, Hard Candy, in April 2008. It
was lauded by Rolling Stone as an "impressive taste of her upcoming tour."
The album debuted at number one in 37 countries worldwide, including
Billboard 200 with over 280,000 copies sold. The album received mostly
positive reviews worldwide, though some critics panned it as "an attempt
to harness the urban market". Its lead single "4 Minutes" reached number
three on the Billboard Hot 100. The single scored Madonna her
thirty-seventh Billboard Hot 100 top ten hit, thus surpassing Elvis
Presley as the artist with the most top-ten hits. In the United Kingdom,
she retained her record for the most number one singles for a female
artist, this being her thirteenth. To further promote the album, Madonna
embarked on the Sticky & Sweet Tour, which was her first major venture
with Live Nation. It became the highest-grossing tour ever by a solo
artist with gross of $US280 million, surpassing the title previous held by
her Confessions Tour. The tour was extended to the next year, adding new
European dates and places where Madonna did not visit previously, finally
wrapping it up with two final Tel Aviv dates. The total gross by the end
of the whole tour was US$408million.
Life with My Sister Madonna, a controversial book by Madonna's brother,
Christopher Ciccone, was released on July. The book debuted at number two
on the New York Times Best Seller List. It was not authorized by Madonna
and led to a rift between them. Madonna filed for divorce from husband Guy
Ritchie in October 2008. After being granted a preliminary decree of
divorce, the separation became final in December. On March 2, 2009,
Madonna was honored with the Japan Gold International Artist of the Year
award at the Recording Industry Association of Japan Gold Disc Awards for
her album Hard Candy. Madonna decided to adopt again from Malawi. The
country's High Court initially approved the adoption of Chifundo "Mercy"
James. However the adoption was rejected with court registrar Ken Manda
stating the reason being was that Madonna was not a resident of Malawi.
This ruling was overturned by the country's highest court. On June 12,
2009, the Supreme Court of Malawi granted Madonna the rights to adopt
In September 2009, Madonna released Celebration, her third greatest hits
album, and closing release with Warner Bros. Records. It contained the new
songs "Celebration" and "Revolver" (featuring Lil Wayne), plus 34 hits
spanning her career. The album became Madonna's eleventh number-one album
in the UK Albums Chart, tying her with Elvis Presley as the solo act with
most number-one albums in the British chart history. In June, Forbes
Magazine named her as the third-most-powerful celebrity of the year.
Madonna appeared at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on September 13, 2009,
to pay tribute to Michael Jackson with a speech.
Madonna performed "Like a Prayer" on the Hope for Haiti Now: A Global
Benefit for Earthquake Relief concert on January 22, 2010. She announced
the release of her third live album Sticky & Sweet on March 30, 2010. It
is her first release under the new recording and business deal with Live
Nation and will be distributed by her former record company Warner Bros.
Records. It was filmed at River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires in 2008 during
the Sticky & Sweet Tour.
As an artist, Madonna's music has been the subject of much scrutiny among
critics. Author Robert M. Grant comments in his book Contemporary Strategy
Analysis (2005), wrote that what has brought her success is "certainly not
outstanding natural talent. As a vocalist, musician, dancer, songwriter,
or actress, Madonna's talents seem modest." He asserts Madonna's success
lies in relying on the talents of others and that her personal
relationships have served as cornerstones to the numerous reinventions in
the longevity of her career. Conversely, Rolling Stone magazine has named
Madonna "an exemplary songwriter with a gift for hooks and indelible
lyrics, and a better studio singer than her live spectacles attest." She
has been called "the perfect vocalist for lighter-than-air songs", despite
not being a "heavyweight talent."
In 1985, Madonna commented that the first song to ever make a strong
impression on her was "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" by Nancy Sinatra
and that it summed up her "take-charge attitude." As a young woman, she
attempted to broaden her taste in literature, art, and music, and during
this time became interested in classical music. She noted that her
favorite style was baroque, and loved Mozart and Chopin because she liked
their "feminine quality". In 1999, Madonna identified musical influences
that impacted her such as Karen Carpenter, The Supremes and Led Zeppelin,
and dancers like Martha Graham and Rudolf Nureyev. In a 2006 interview
with The Observer, Madonna cited her current musical interests, which
included Detroit natives The Raconteurs and The White Stripes, as well as
New York band The Jett Set.
Madonna's Catholic background and relationship with her parents were
reflected in the album Like a Prayer. It is also an evocation of the
impact religion had on her career. Her video for the title track contains
Catholic symbolism, such as the stigmata. During The Virgin Tour, she wore
a rosary and also prayed with it in the music video for "La Isla Bonita".
She also referred to her Italian heritage in her work. The video for "Like
a Virgin", features Venetian settings. The "Open Your Heart" video sees
her boss scolding her in Italian. In Ciao, Italia! - Live from Italy, the
video release of her Who's That Girl Tour, she dedicates the song "Papa
Don't Preach" to the Pope ("Papa" is the Italian word for "Pope".)
During her childhood, Madonna was inspired by actors, later saying, "I
loved Carole Lombard and Judy Holliday and Marilyn Monroe. They were all
incredibly funny...and I saw myself in them...my girlishness, my
knowingness and my innocence". Her "Material Girl" music video recreated
Monroe's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" from the film Gentlemen
Prefer Blondes, and she later studied the screwball comedies of the 1930s,
particularly those of Lombard, in preparation for her film Who's That
Girl. The video for "Express Yourself" (1989) was inspired by Fritz Lang's
silent film Metropolis (1927). The video for "Vogue" recreated the style
of Hollywood glamour photographers, in particular Horst P. Horst, and
imitated the poses of Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Rita Hayworth,
while the lyrics referenced many of the stars who had inspired her,
including Bette Davis, described by Madonna as an idol, along with Louise
Brooks and Dita Parlo.
Inflences also came to her from the art world, most notably through the
works of artist Frida Kahlo. Her 1995 music video to "Bedtime Story"
featured images inspired by the paintings of Kahlo and Remedios Varo. Her
2003 video to "Hollywood" was a homage to the work of photographer Guy
Bourdin although it sparked a lawsuit by Bourdin's son, due to the
unauthorised use of his father's work. Other new-age artists like Andy
Warhol was the inspiration behing the music videos for "Erotica" and
"Deeper and Deeper". Warhol's usage of S&M imagery in his underground
films were reflected in these videos. Madonna even imitated Warhol's
one-time muse Edie Sedgwick in "Deeper and Deeper".
Madonna became a follower of the Kabbalah school of Jewish mysticism in
1994 after the release of her album Bedtime Stories. She has spoken about
the influence of the religion on her and donated millions of dollars for
schools based on the religion, around New York and London. In 2004, she
changed her name to Esther, which in Hebrew means "star". However, her
immersion in Kabbalah caused a furor and she faced opposition from Rabbis
who saw Madonna's joining the religion as sacrilegious and a case of
celebrity dilettanism. Madonna defended her Kabbalah studies by stating it
"would be less controversial if I joined the Nazi Party" and that the
Kabbalah is "not hurting anybody." The religion went on to influence
Madonna's music, especially albums like Ray of Light and Music. It made an
appearance in her 2004 Re-Invention World Tour where at one point of the
show, Madonna and her dancers wore t-shirts that read "Kabbalists Do It
In The Madonna Companion, biographer Andrew Metz noted that more than any
other recent pop artist, Madonna had used MTV and music videos to
establish her popularity and enhance her recorded work. According to him,
many of her songs have the imagery of the music video in strong context
while referring to the music. The media and public reaction towards her
most-discussed songs like "Papa Don't Preach", "Like a Prayer" or "Justify
My Love", had to do with the music videos created to promote the song and
their impact, rather than the song in itself. Her initial music videos
reflected her American and Hispanic mixed street style and a flamboyant
glamour. Essentially a dancer, Madonna expressed this imagery through her
music videos. With her first real music videos for songs like "Burning
Up", "Borderline" and "Lucky Star", Madonna transmitted her avant-garde
downtown New York fashion sense to the American audience. She continued
with the imagery and incorporation of Hispanic culture and Catholic
symbolism with the music videos from the True Blue era. Author Douglas
Kellner noted, "such 'multiculturalism' and her culturally transgressive
moves turned out to be highly successful moves that endeared her to large
and varied youth audiences". Madonna's Spanish look in the videos became
popular and appeared in the fashion trends at that time in the form of
boleros and layered skirts accessorizing with rosary beads and crucifix
like the video.
Academics noted that with her videos, Madonna was subtly reversing the
usual role of male as the dominant sex and destabilizing the usual power
relationship between the "voyeuristic male gaze and object". This
symbolism and imagery was probably the most prevalent in the music video
for "Like a Prayer". The video included an African American church choir,
Madonna "turning on" a statue of a black saint and singing in front of
burning crosses. This mix of the sacred and the profane upset the Vatican
and resulted in the Pepsi commercial withdrawal. From being in boy-toy
girlish roles of her earliest videos to the sexual persona in videos for
"Justify My Love" and "Express Yourself", Madonna represented herself as
someone who is unfazed by the cultures and the struggles she has endured.
Devoid of this, she portrayed herself to be dancing off-screen to the
music at the end of the video. Her re-invention has continued in her most
recent videos like "Ray of Light", which was lauded with the video of the
year award at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.
Madonna's emergence occurred during the advent of MTV, and "with its
almost exclusively lip-synced videos, ushered in an era in which average
music fans might happily spend hours a day, every day, watching singers
just mouth the words." The symbiotic relationship between music video and
lip-syncing led to a desire for the spectacle and imagery of music video
to be transferred to live stage shows. Chris Nelson of The New York Times
reported: "Artists like Madonna and Janet Jackson set new standards for
showmanship, with concerts that included not only elaborate costumes and
precision-timed pyrotechnics but also highly athletic dancing. These
effects came at the expense of live singing." Thor Christensen of the
Dallas Morning News commented that while Madonna earned a reputation for
lip-syncing during her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour, since then she has
reorganized her performances by "staying mostly still during her toughest
singing parts and leaves the dance routines to her backup troupe ...
rather than try to croon and dance up a storm at the same time."
"When I'm hungry, I eat. When
I'm thirsty, I drink. When I feel like saying something, I say it."
"Children always understand. They have open minds. They have
built-in shit detectors."
"I think that everyone should get married at least once, so you can
see what a silly, outdated institution it is."
"A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they
don't get what they want." (From her book "Sex")
(To David Letterman) "Listen, all you do is talk about my sex life
on your show, so now you don't want to talk about my sex life when
I'm on your show?!"
"Can I just say that I find it really irritating that everyone beats
up on Britney Spears? I want to do nothing but support her and
praise her and wish her the best. I mean, she's 18 years old! It's
just shocking. I was so gawky and geeky and awkward and unsure of
myself." - Elle, February 2001
"I sometimes think I was born to live up to my name. How could I be
anything else but what I am having been named Madonna? I would
either have ended up a nun or this."
"I feel just as hungry today as I did the day I left home."
"Better to live one year as a tiger, then a hundred as sheep."
"I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art."
"I live for meeting with men in suits. I love them because I know
they had a really boring week and I walk in there with my orange
velvet leggings and drop popcorn in my cleavage and then fish it out
and eat it. I like that. I know I'm entertaining them, and I know
that they know."
"I'm like a cockroach - you just can't get rid of me!"
"People who have nothing better to do than talk about my hair color
have no lives."
"I'm a gay man trapped in a woman's body!"
"Not only do we suffer from racism and sexism, but we also suffer
from ageism. Once you reach a certain age you're not allowed to be
adventurous, you're not allowed to be sexual, I mean is there a
rule? Are you supposed to just die when you're 40?"
"Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand
and the mind."
"I'm tough, ambitious and I know exactly what I want... if that
makes me a bitch - okay!"
"Fame can be very disruptive. It can be like a drug. It gives you
the feeling that you're happy, it gives you the feeling of
self-importance, it gives you the feeling of fullfilment... but it
can distract you from what is really important."
"There is nothing rebellious about today's sounds, and music needs
to be rebellious!"
"My ambition may be American, and I may have married a Brit, but my
heart belongs to France." (on winning a French NRJ Career Award,
I wouldn't live in Chicago cause it's too conservative, aside for
the fact that Oprah Winfrey lives there. (from her documentary, "In
Bed with Madonna_qv" )
I know I'm not the greatest singer or dancer, but that doesn't
interest me, I'm interested in being provocative and pushing
I have two beautiful children and a brilliant, gorgeous husband. I
have my work and my faith...If that's boring to some people, I can't
tell you how much I don't care.
"I think that Kabbahlah is very punk rock."
"A lot of people thought that I was a black artist before they saw
my videos, because a lot of my music is more R&B oriented, and I
think that I'm a white artist doing R&B music, getting played on pop
stations. And I think that the kind of records I make are really
changing peoples ideas of splitting up and categorizing artists and
I think that's opening ways for Black and white artists as well."
"Videos might have a limited audience in one sense. But on the other
hand you could be reaching a lot of people that would never be able
to come see you live. So I think they're definitely an advantage.
Kids today worship the television, so I think it's a great way to
reach them. When you perform on stage you're acting. That's a
performance. If someone sticks a camera on you what's the
difference?" (August 1984)
"I would like to ultimately achieve. I already told Dick Clark once
on "Bandstand" (1952). So I repeat it again and annoy everyone who
was annoyed before when I said it. I want to conquer the world"
"Everybody in our family studied a musical instrument. My father was
really big on that. Somehow I only took a year or two of piano
lessons and I convinced my father to let me take dancing lessons."
"When I first came to New York I was a dancer, and a French record
label offered me a recording contract and I had to go to Paris to do
it. So I went there and that's how I really got into the music
business. But I didn't like what I was doing when I got there, so I
left, and I never did a record there. (May 1984)
"So then I'm playing drums and were getting gigs in certain downtown
clubs like CBGB and the Mud Club, and Max's Kansas City. And I'm
starting to write music for the band too, like some songs but they
already had two singers in the band, so they would never let me get
up and sing a song because what's the point? One day I finally
convinced them. I'll just play guitar and sing one song. Please,
please, please. And they finally said OK. So then I got up to sing
one song and the other guy went back to play the drums. And like I
got a standing ovation." (December 1985)
"I befriended one DJ in particular and he worked at a club called
Danceteria, which was one of my favorite clubs. And we talked a lot
about music. I knew a lot about singers, and I knew a lot about
different groups and stuff like that. And he said: `How come you
know so much about this.' And I said: `I'm really interested in
music.' And he said: `Well, in what way?' And I said: `I'm a
singer'. He said: `No kidding'. And I said: `Yeah, and I just happen
to have this tape right here'. I mean I was carrying this tape with
me everywhere, at every club, waiting for the moment to pop it on
somebody. So I said: `Would you play it?'. And he said `Well I can't
play it in the middle of the night. I haven't heard it. What if it's
terrible? What if everyone stops dancing?' And I said `Alright well
you listen to it, take it home with you tonight, and listen to it.
And I'll come back here tomorrow, and if you like it then you play
it again. So that was a Friday night, so he went home. On Saturday
night I met him again, and I came back before the club opened and he
said he really loved it. So he played it. He played two songs. One
of them was `Everybody'." (December 1985)
"I like them. I know I am not supposed to. Every time someone says
something bad about them, I say, 'Hey, wait a minute, I was a Spice
Girl once!'" - on the Spice Girls.
"Even if I feel like shit they still love me!"
"You have to be patient... I'm not!"
"I hate people who hate women. Actually I hate people who hate!"
"I do think that the birth of my daughter was sort of a rebirth for
me. It made me look at life in a completely new way. And that made
me appreciate life in a way I don't think I ever had before."
"When I was growing up I was religious in a passionate adolescent
way. Jesus Christ was like a movie star, my favorite idol of all."
"I feel really protective of her. Don't even ask me why. there's
something about her. Even though she's terribly successful, for some
reason I think of her as an underdog." - on Britney Spears
"I see her as my little sister. She asks me for career advice. For
the most part, I try to make her understand this isn't real life and
she can't take everything people say seriously. I can understand
some of the stuff she's going through. I help her with that." - on
her relationship with Britney Spears.
"I don't want people to dress like me anymore. Now, I want them to
think like me. Dress like Britney Spears and think like me, and
everything will be fine".
"I've learned from studying Kabbalah that if your happiness is based
on people approving of everything you do, you're doomed to fail...
Kabbalah helped me stand up and take responsibility for everything
to do with me."
"I can be arrogant sometimes, but I never mean it intentionally. I
can be really snotty to people but that's not anything new really. I
always acted like a star long before I was one. If people don't see
my sense of humor then I come off as being expensive, but I always
endear myself to people when I find their weaknesses and they
acknowledge it. It's the people who try to hide everything and try
to make you think they're so cool that I can't stand."
[About her famous appearance in 1994 on "Late Show with David
Letterman" (1993)] "That was a time in my life when I was extremely
angry. The press was constantly beating up on me, and I felt like I
was a victim. So I lashed out at people and that Letterman was one
of them. I am not particularly proud of it".
"I skip the huge breakfast. Once you eat it, I don't know how you
can get up and move around...I go out and shoot some pheasants."
"TV is trash. I was raised without it, I didn't miss anything. TV is
poison. No-one even talks about it around here. We don't have
magazines or newspapers in the house either."
You can't go to London and not start drinking Guinness. And I have
been known to eat fried fish and French fries. When in Rome - right?
"I was just frigging devastated, it was a real sad day. I don't get
how people can have all these facts and still turn away from them.
9/11 was too ambiguous. You couldn't prove how the government was
somehow in on the deal. You could say, 'Oh that's just Michael
Moore'. New Orleans was undeniable irresponsibility."
"If you take everything I do at face value, you're going to be
horrified. Or intimidated. Or insulted. Or bored."
"It is a struggle to balance my career with my children. I'm always
going, 'Oh God, I'm a crap mother.' I want to get home and put my
kids to bed. And then sometimes, if I'm spending a lot of time with
my children, I think, 'Oh God, I just want to be an artist.'"
About her daughter Lourdes: "Sometimes she doesn't want me to come
to certain things because she knows everyone is going to pay
attention to me and then they'll treat her differently. I took her
to school on the first day last year, and all these kids were
buzzing around. She came home that day and she was really irritated
and kind of bummed out, like people were playing this contest --
what would it be like to be Madonna's daughter?" (5-2006)
On the adoption of her son, David: "My husband and I began the
adoption process many months prior to our trip to Malawi. I did not
wish to disclose my intentions to the world prior to the adoption
happening as this is a private family matter. After learning that
there were over one million orphans in Malawi, it was my wish to
open up our home and help one child escape an extreme life of
hardship, poverty and in many cases death, as well as expand out
family. Nevertheless, we have gone about the adoption procedure
according to the law like anyone else who adopts a child. Reports to
the contrary are totally inaccurate. The procedure includes an l8
month evaluation period after which time we hope to make this
adoption permanent. This was not a decision or commitment that my
family or I take lightly. I am overwhelmed and inspired by my trip
to Malawi and hope that it helps bring attention to how much more
the world needs to do to help the children of Africa. My heartfelt
thanks for all the good wishes I have received and I hope the press
will allow my family some room for us to experience the joy we feel
to have David home." (October 17,2006)
"My kids don't watch TV. We have televisions but they're not hooked
up to anything but movies. TV is trash. I was raised without it. We
don't have magazines or newspapers in the house either." (February
"My daughter has a problem picking things up in her room. So if you
leave your clothes on the floor, we put them in a trash bag. She has
to earn them back by being tidy. I'm a disciplinarian. Guy's the
spoiler." (February 22, 2007)
"When I came to New York it was the first time I'd ever taken a
plane, the first time I'd ever gotten a taxi-cab, the first time for
everything. And I came here with $35 in my pocket. It was the
bravest thing I'd ever done."