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Madonna: The Enduring Appeal

In music today, it’s incredibly hard for artists to stay relevant because we’ve already crowned the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the Prince of Pop, and even the Princess of Pop.

It’s a challenge for upcoming artists to break into this career thanks to reality shows like The Voice and X Factor, shows that are choosing people with a greater sob story than talent.

There is one artist, however, who is constantly changing to stay relevant.

She has been slandered in the media just for this, for her dynamic fashion and music style.

Who am I talking about? Madonna, of course!

When Madonna first broke out, she was the punky, pop tutu wearing definition of eighties style.

Her music was stereotypical of the time; very poppy and upbeat. One of her most well-known songs from her younger years is “Like a Virgin”. This song greatly encapsulates her style of the time, which was also heavily reflected in the video. This was the music video that shot her into stardom.

At the time, she was daring. Her video for the song “Just like a Prayer” pushed boundaries in the art of making music videos. It was one of her first songs that showed her experimenting with other forms of music, such as gospel. She sang using liturgical lyrics but changed the meanings to be sexual innuendos. This was seen as blasphemy by many. Along with the lyrics, the video itself was shocking at the time. It depicted Catholic symbols such as stigmata, a Ku-Klux-Klan style cross burning, and a dream where Madonna kisses a black saint.

Today, thanks to artists like Lady Gaga, this might seem fairly typical and normal for a popular artist. At the time, however, this video was quite controversial; the Vatican condemned it, and many family and religious groups protested against its broadcast. This snippet of drama surrounding Madonna’s career was only the beginning.

The nineties was filled with Madonna trying to break the stigma around female sexualisation in music videos, and the majority of her videos had erotic undertones, such as in “Justify My Love” and the aptly named “Erotica”. It was also during this decade she collaborated with electronica producer William Orbit, who may be the reason Madonna is now known as a dance artist more so than her original pop roots.

As the years went on we left the eighties and nineties moved into the new millennium lead by a new Madonna. Renowned for her vogue at this stage, she decided on yet another image change. This time, the tutu’s were replaced by cowboy hats in music videos as seen in “Don’t Tell Me” and “Music”.

Her songs also had a noticeably decreased amount of rock in them, with the electronica vibe more apparent than ever. At the time she was still seen primarily as a pop singer, but looking back there is quite a staggering diversity to her music.

Now an unstoppable force, Madonna has worked on music with Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Nicki Minaj, and M.I.A. Her reputation is constant, and her name is rarely out of the media. Be it her successes or her (sometimes literal) shortfalls with music, performing and style, she is apparent in today’s world. Madonna has mastered the art of reinvention in her style and her music.

For a woman who has had a career in pop for over thirty years, she has never seemed overly desperate for the media’s attention. Her talent greatly overshadows her personal life. Madonna is one of the top artists in paving the way for new experiences in music.

Thanks to her controversy and interest in different subcultures, we have seen various different kinds of music emerge due to her influence.

It’s difficult to imagine Lady Gaga, Marina and the Diamonds, or even Britney without Madonna. Here’s to another 13 albums.

Madonna’s most recent record, Rebel Heart, was released on the 6th of March.

Emma Costello

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