Wednesday, July 26, 2006

pop goddess

Living in a Material World
Something I wanted to blog about yesterday, but was too bogged down in lethargia (hey, I'm a Maori - at least give me credit for my laziness). Yes, great news! Over 10,000 viewers vote Madonna 1st, 4th & 5th in MTV poll of 100 most groundbreaking videos. Quite rightly so, say I.

1. Madonna - Like A Prayer (1989)
2. Britney Spears - Baby One More Time (1999)
3. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1983)
4. Madonna - Ray of Light (1998)
5. Madonna - Vogue (1988)
6. Michael & Janet Jackson - Scream (1995)
7. Robbie Williams - Rock DJ (2000)
8. Eric Prydz - Call On Me (2004)
9. Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity (1997)
10. Spice Girls - Wannabe (1996)
Appropriate she should figure so large; she is MTV imo. Screeds of scorn have been written about Madge, incurring wrath from both left & right, but most overlook her phenomenal artistic achievements. Wrongly accused of 'corrupting' or 'degrading' culture (beguiling belles existed long before Mad's), she merely treads the trash chanteuse tradition of Donna Summer, Tina Turner, Bette Midler, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin et al; Rock's proverbial "bad girls," her stage personae heir to Josephine Baker Eddie and screen vamps like Mae West & Marilyn Monroe. Performers with artistic lineage descending from hetaera, geishas, belly-dancers, strip-tease artists and assorted temptresses.

The Material Girl is more than mere pop-tart. She is, imho, a consummate actress - 'MTV actress' that is; hopeless at spoken dialogue, but acutely expressive through mime, gesture & body language. Despite the odd cheesiness or contrived controversy, no other singer in history has so theatrically employed as wide a variety of dance styles in music video. From free-jazz of Lucky Star, through lithe cavortings in Like a Virgin, 30s cabaret of Open Your Heart, deft 'kung-fu' handwork in Vogue, to cowboy high kicks in Don't Tell Me; Madonna the dancer extraordinaire, continues to metamorphise, experiment & blaze new creative terrain.

No other pioneers, neither Elvis nor James Brown or Michael Jackson could be said to have reprised, reinvigorated or reinterpreted so many diverse dance steps and movements. And that - rather than her 'racy', 'shocking' image(s) - is, imo, Madonna's crowning glory, outstanding gift and enduring legacy to pop culture.

2 comments:

ruth said...

She's an amazingly successful and wealthy woman - and I admire her for that. She's getting a bit long in the tooth for the raunchy stuff now though - I see she's branching out into kids books.

phil said...

I like her. Her private life doesn't interest me, but her body of work's amazing. I've always loved music videos; grew up a devotee of Ready to Roll, Radio with Pics, Blerta (gosh, showing my age) etc..

For me, Madonna, along with Michael Jackson, epitomise the 'classic' dance era in Music videos, when choreography and talent actually mattered. Halcyon days before Britney Spears came along and showed that 'being pretty' was more important than talent. And before Rap came along and shot up everything in sight.