In honor of Madonna's 58th birthday and the fact that we are celebrating the 90's here on John's Music World, here is a refurbished re-post of a piece I had written back in 2012. It's a great way o meld the two topics together, along with pictures, videos and remembrances. I hope you enjoy!
Many musical acts from the 80's really came into their own in the 90's. Artists like Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and George Michael were artists who'd first made waves in the previous decade and crossed that line from star to superstar in the 1990's. But there's only one of these artists who's popularity and legacy have endured and remain strong today and that is the iconic Madonna.
Goodbye 80's, Hello 90's
Blond Ambition was Madonna's third world tour, performed in support of the Like a Prayer CD. It was this tour that would set a new standard for concert tours from then on, as the entire show was performed in a series of carefully choreographed vignettes that were highly entertaining and visually stunning. A critically acclaimed documentary film, Truth or Dare, accompanied the tour and showcased what would be one of Madge's all-time best tours...named the greatest concert tour of the 90's by Rolling Stone Magazine.
One of the most inventive, and controversial, scenes in Blond Ambition was Madonna's performance of her standard, Like a Virgin. Lying on a bed surrounded by two male dancers with cone-shaped breasts, the singer works her way through a slowed down, erotic version of the old pop tune, coming to a climax, literally, at the end. In the film, this particular performance almost got her into a heap of trouble in the "fascist state of Toronto," hehe. Check it out:
Strike a Pose
Grouped together among all of the periodic and campy songs on that album was the song Vogue an homage to a dance craze that had become popular in the gay dance clubs of New York. Vogue was also included on the Immaculate Collection and quickly became one of Madge's all time greatest and most loved hits and of course, she still performs it.
Justify My Love is a bass-driven song full of sexual themes, and its video was considered too racy for MTV and thus banned. Ever the entrepreneur, Ms. M had the video packaged as a DVD single just in time for Christmas and voila! The video became the highest-selling such DVD in history and the song hit the top of the charts, but that was only the beginning...
The backlash, as one could imagine, was huge. That was the point in time where fans of the singer in the 80's were lost for the most part, yet hardcore fans like me grew stronger in their appreciation for her artistic prowess. In all, Erotica spawned six singles, three of which hit the top twenty (the title cut, #3, Deeper and Deeper, #7, and Rain #14). The album is chock full of great stuff, from beautiful, tender ballads to hard-driving, sexually charged club songs and intelligently-written mid-tempo stuff.
To me, it's still one of her all time best!
The Girlie Show
The Girlie Show was part circus act, part burlesque, and a little too much sex for my taste. The show did not include many of her earlier hits, except for a select few, but much of the fantastic Erotica album was covered. Check out a Girlie Show performance of Bye, Bye Baby, one of my favorites off Erotica:
This is not a love song...
I'm gonna tell you a story
Next up for Ms. M was the much overlooked Bedtime Stories album. Released in October of 1994, this one carried on where Erotica left off, only this one was less sexual in nature. The lead single was the smooth, rhythmic Secret, for which a beautifully shot black and white video was made. The song hit number three on the charts, followed by the tender Take a Bow hitting #1.
In March of 1995, Madge held a Pajama Party to introduce the video to the title track, Bedtime Stories, an expensive masterpiece unto itself. The party was broadcast live on MTV from Webster Hall in NYC, with superstar DJ Junior Vasquez on hand. During the show, Madonna told a bedtime story, Miss Spider's Tea Party, cajoled with the fans, and did an interview with then MTV correspondent Kurt Loder. Check out a clip from the show...
Here's a clip of one of my favorite tunes from Evita, the tender and sad Another Suitcase in Another Hall:
The first single was a dark masterpiece called Frozen, and its mystical video, in which Madonna portrays a witch-like creature, is equally wonderful. In all, the album spawned five singles, three of which would hit the top twenty: Frozen (#2), Ray of Light (#5) and Power of Goodbye (#11)), and one, Nothing Really Matters hit the #1 on the dance charts (along Frozen and Ray of Light!).
Here's my favorite track off of Ray of Light, one that inspires me and has been my driving theme to life and this blog. Check out the ethereal Sky Fits Heaven...
Traveling down, this road
Watching the signs as I go
I think I'll follow the sun
Isn't everyone just
Traveling down, their own road
Watching the signs as they go
I think I'll follow my heart
It's a very good place to start
The last thing Madonna would do in the 90's was a song for the soundtrack to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Beautiful Stranger is a fun song that remains as one of the singer's best. The singer looks great in the video and of course, with Mike Myers' Austin Powers, you can't hep but get a few chuckles in, too. Check it out...So there you have it, Madonna in the 90's! It's hard to believe that the icon is currently in her 4th decade of creating and performing music and still going strong. If she came out on fire in the 80's, it was the 90's that cemented her status as a world-class superstar. Beyond that, well, there's been plenty more. I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down Madonna memory lane and look for profiles of the singer's activities in other decades, as well. In the meantime stay tuned for more 90's stuff. Oh, and Happy Birthday Madonna!