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Madonna (born Madonna Louise Ciccone; 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 Sire Records.
A series of hit singles from her next studio albums, Like a Virgin (1984) and True Blue (1986), gained her global recognition. They 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 was criticised by 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 with 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 a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Motion Picture 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 namely Music (2000), American Life (2003), Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005) and Hard Candy (2008) 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.
According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, 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 United States, behind Barbra Streisand, 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 the most successful solo artist in the history of the 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 music artists.
195881: Early life and beginnings
Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan, at 7:05 AM on August 16, 1958. Her mother, Madonna Louise (née Fortin), was of French Canadian descent, and her father, Silvio Anthony Ciccone, was a first-generation Italian American whose family originated from Pacentro, Abruzzo, Italy; he worked as a design engineer for Chrysler and General Motors. Madonna was nicknamed "Little Nonni", to distinguish her from her mother. She is the third of six children; her siblings are Martin, Anthony, Paula, Christopher, and Melanie. 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, 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 pulled her skirt up 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 take 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, but soon departed from them and formed another band called Emmy in 1980, with drummer and former boyfriend Stephen Bray. Together they wrote and produced dance-pop songs, that brought her to the attention of DJ and record producer Mark Kamins. He was impressed by Madonna's demo recordings, so he brought her to the attention of Sire Records founder Seymour Stein.
198285: Madonna, Like a Virgin and marriage to Sean Penn
Madonna signed a singles deal with Sire Records, a label belonging to Warner Bros. Records. Her debut single, "Everybody", was released on April 24, 1982, and became a dance hit. Her debut album, Madonna, was primarily produced by Reggie Lucas. At the same time, she became involved with artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and lived with him for a time in his loft. Soon after, she left the artist because of his drug use and late hours, moving in with musician John "Jellybean" Benitez to continue developing the album. After its release, it peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200, and produced the top-ten singles, "Borderline" and "Lucky Star".
Slowly, Madonna's look and manner of dress, her performances and music videos, became influential among young girls and women. Mainly created by stylist and jewellery 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 of the 1980s. Madonna eventually achieved global recognition after the release of her sophomore album, Like a Virgin (1984). It topped the charts in several countries and became her first number-one album on the Billboard 200. The title track "Like a Virgin" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six consecutive weeks. Madonna performed the song at the first MTV Video Music Awards, where she appeared on stage atop a giant wedding cake dressed in a wedding dress, adorned with the infamous "Boy Toy" belt buckle, and veil. To date, the performance is noted as one of the iconic and biggest performance in MTV history. Like a Virgin was certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America and sold more than 21 million copies worldwide. The National Association of Recording Merchandisers and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed the album 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 Vision Quest, a romantic drama film. Its soundtrack contained her second US number-one single, "Crazy for You". She also appeared in the comedy Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), 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 it as one of the ten best films of 1985, with the lead actress Rosanna Arquette, receiving a supporting actress BAFTA for her role. While filming the music video for the second single from Like a Virgin, titled "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 had 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 of the photos caused media uproar, but Madonna remained defiant and unapologetic; 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 and stated that she would not take her jacket off because "they [media] might hold it against me ten years from now."
198691: True Blue, Like a Prayer and the Blond Ambition Tour
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. The album spawned three number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100: "Live to Tell", "Papa Don't Preach" and "Open Your Heart", as well as other top-five singles "True Blue" and "La Isla Bonita". 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 Penn. In 1987, Madonna starred in Who's That Girl, and contributed four songs to its soundtrack; including the title track and the US number-two single, "Causing a Commotion". The same year, she embarked on the Who's That Girl World Tour. It was complimented for Madonna's innovative dresses. Later that year, she released a remix album of past hits, You Can Dance. Madonna's marriage to Penn ended, and they filed divorce papers in December 1987, which was finalized 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."
In early 1989, Madonna 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, burning crosses, and a dream about making love to a saint, leading 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 unrelated to the video. 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 and sold thirteen million copies worldwide, with four million copies sold in the United States alone. Six singles were released from the album, including her seventh US number-one single "Like a Prayer" and the US number-two singles "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. It starred Warren Beatty in the title role. To accompany the film, she released 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", which earned songwriter Stephen Sondheim, an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1991. While shooting for the film, Madonna began a relationship with Beatty. Their relationship ended in the fall of 1990. Madonna began her Blond Ambition World Tour in April 1990. Rolling Stone called it an "elaborately choreographed, sexually provocative extravaganza" and proclaimed it "the best tour of 1990". The tour drew strong reaction from religious groups, for her performance of "Like a Virgin", during which two male dancers caressed her body before she simulated masturbation. The Pope encouraged the crowd and the Christian community not to attend the concert. 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 laserdisc release of the tour.
The Immaculate Collection, Madonna's first greatest-hits compilation album, was released in November 1990. It included two new songs, "Justify My Love" and "Rescue Me". The album was certified diamond by RIAA and sold over 30 million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling compilation album by a solo artist in history. "Justify My Love" became Madonna's ninth US number-one single. Its music video featured scenes of sadomasochism, bondage, same-sex kissing and brief nudity. The video was deemed too sexually explicit for MTV, and was banned from the station. The second single, "Rescue Me", became the highest-debuting single by a female artist in Hot 100 chart history at that time, entering at number fifteen and peaking at number nine. At the end of the year, Madonna decided to leave the Jennifer Lynch film Boxing Helena. From late 1990 to early 1991, Madonna dated Tony Ward, a model and porn star, who appeared 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 Hot 100 number-one hit.
199296: Maverick, Sex, Erotica, Bedtime Stories and Evita
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. It gave Madonna twenty percent royalty from the music proceedings, equal at that time to Michael Jackson's. The first release from the venture was Madonna's book, titled Sex. It consisted of sexually provocative and explicit images, photographed by Steven Meisel. The book caused strong reaction from the media and the general public, but sold 1.5 million copies, at $50 each, in a matter of days. At the same time she released her fifth studio album, Erotica, which 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, and was poorly received by critics. Dangerous Game was released straight-to-video in North America and was described by The New York Times as "angry and painful, and the pain feels real." 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 their national flag between her legs on stage. That year, she appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman. After Letterman introduced her on his show as "one of the biggest stars in the world", 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, 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 over.
Madonna tried to tone down the provocative image, by releasing the ballad single "I'll Remember" (1993), 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. Madonna realized that her music career needed some dramatic changes in order to sustain herself in the long run. With her sixth studio album, Bedtime Stories (1994), she 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. The album featured three new songs a cover of the Marvin Gaye's song "I Want You", "You'll See", and "One More Chance". The following year, Madonnas most critically successful film Evita was released, where she portrayed the title role of Eva Perón. She won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, for the role. Madonna released three singles from the soundtrack album, including "You Must Love Me", which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1997, and "Don't Cry For Me Argentina". On October 14, 1996, Madonna gave birth to her and Carlos Leon's daughter, Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon.
19972002: Ray of Light, Music and Drowned World Tour
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 on the Billboard 200. Ray of Light became one of Madonna's most critically acclaimed album and was listed as one of the Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Slant Magazine described the album as "one of the great pop masterpieces of the '90s". Ray of Light was honored with four Grammy Awards and six MTV Video Music Awards. The album's first single, "Frozen", became Madonna's first ever single to debut at number one in the United Kingdom, while in the United States, it became her sixth number-two singles and set another record for Madonna as the artist with most number-two hits. However, the song was adjudicated to be a plagiarism of Belgian songwriter Salvatore Acquaviva's 1993 song "Ma Vie Fout L'camp", and hence it was banned in Belgium. The second single, "Ray of Light", debuted at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and was used by Microsoft in its advertising campaign to introduce Windows XP. In 1999, 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.
In 2000, Madonna starred in the film The Next Best Thing. She contributed two songs to the film's soundtrack, "Time Stood Still" and the international hit "American Pie", a cover version of Don McLean's 1971 song. Madonna released her eighth studio album, Music, on 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, Music debuted at number one and became her first number-one album in eleven years, since Like a Prayer. It produced three singles; "Music", which became Madonna's twelfth number-one on the Hot 100, 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 Ritchie. Later that year, Madonna and Ritchie married in Scotland.
Her fifth concert tour, titled the Drowned World Tour, 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. GHV2 debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200. In 2002, Madonna starred in the film Swept Away directed by her husband Guy Ritchie. The film was a commercial and critical failure, and was released direct-to-video in the United Kingdom. Later that year, she released "Die Another Day", the title song of the twentieth James Bond film of same name, 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.
200306: American Life, Confessions on a Dance Floor and adoption case
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 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. In the fall of 2003, Madonna provided guest vocals on Spears' single "Me Against the Music". During the Christmas season of 2003, Madonna released Remixed & Revisited, an EP that included remixed 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 as the author of 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, 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 an owmed 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. Same year, Rolling Stone ranked her number thirty-six, on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". Madonna performed a cover version of the John Lennon song "Imagine", in the televised concert titled Tsunami Aid. She also performed at the Live 8 benefit concert in London. Her tenth studio album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, was released in November and debuted at number one in all major music markets. Keith Caulfield from Billboard commented that the album is a "welcome return to form for the Queen of Pop." The album won a Grammy Award for "Best Electronic/Dance Album". The first single from the album, "Hung Up", went on to reach number-one in a record breaking forty-five countries, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. "Sorry", the second single, became Madonna's twelfth number-one, in United Kingdom.
In 2006, the clothing line M by Madonna, under H&M, was launched internationally. Madonna's Confessions Tour began in May 2006. It had a global audience of 1.2 million, and grossed over $194.7 million, becoming highest grossing tour ever for a female artist at that time. 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: "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 later 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, which Madonna did not do. She refuted the allegations on The Oprah Winfrey Show, saying that there were no written adoption laws in Malawi that regulated foreign adoption and that Banda had been suffering from pneumonia after surviving malaria and tuberculosis, when she had met him. Banda's biological father, Yohane commented, "These so-called human rights activists are harassing me every day, threatening me that I am not aware of what I am doing. [...] 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.
200709: Live Nation, Hard Candy and the Sticky & Sweet Tour
In May 2007, Madonna released the download-only song "Hey You", for the Live Earth series of concerts. The song was available as free download the first week of its release. She also performed it at the London Live Earth concert in July 2007. In October, Madonna announced her departure from Warner Bros. Records, and a new $120 million, ten-year contract with Live Nation. She became the founding recording artist for the new music division, Live Nation Artists. The same year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced Madonna as one of the five inductees of 2008. The induction ceremony took place on March 10, 2008. Madonna produced and wrote I Am Because We Are, a documentary on the problems faced by Malawians. The documentary was directed by her former gardener Nathan Rissman. She also directed her first film titled Filth and Wisdom. The Times said she had "done herself proud" while The Daily Telegraph described the film as "not an entirely unpromising first effort [but] Madonna would do well to hang on to her day job."
Madonna released her eleventh studio album, Hard Candy, in April 2008. Rolling Stone complimented it as an "impressive taste of her upcoming tour." The album debuted at number one in 37 countries worldwide, including the Billboard 200. The album received generally positive reviews worldwide, though some critics panned it as "an attempt to harness the urban market". Its lead single, "4 Minutes", reached number-three on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was Madonna's thirty-seventh Hot 100 top ten hit, thus surpassing Elvis Presley, as the artist with the most top-ten hits. In the United Kingdom, she retained her record for the most number-one singles for a female artist, "4 Minutes" being her thirteenth. To further promote the album, Madonna embarked on the Sticky & Sweet Tour, which was her first major venture with Live Nation. It became the highest-grossing tour ever by a solo artist with gross of US$ 280 million, surpassing the previous record held by her Confessions Tour. The tour was extended to the next year, adding new European dates. The total gross by the end of the whole tour was US$ 408 million.
Life with My Sister Madonna, a book by Madonna's brother Christopher Ciccone, was released in July 2008. The book debuted at number two on the New York Times Bestseller list. It was not authorized by Madonna, and led to a rift between them. She filed for divorce from Ritchie, in October 2008; it was finalized in December. On March 2, 2009, Madonna was honored with the Gold International Artist of the Year, at the Recording Industry Association of Japan Gold Disc Awards, for Hard Candy. She decided to adopt again from Malawi. The country's High Court, initially approved the adoption of Chifundo "Mercy" James. However, the adoption was rejected since Madonna was not a resident of Malawi. Madonna re-appealed, and on June 12, 2009, the Supreme Court of Malawi granted Madonna, the rights to adopt Mercy James. In September 2009, Madonna released Celebration, her third greatest hits album, and the closing release with Warner. It contained the new songs "Celebration" and "Revolver", plus 34 hits spanning her career. Celebration was 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. Madonna appeared at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on September 13, 2009, to pay tribute to deceased pop star Michael Jackson, with a speech.
2010present: Upcoming projects
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 Tour, on March 30, 2010. It is her first release under Live Nation, but will be distributed by Warner Bros. It was announced in February, Madonna would co-write with Alek Keshishian, and direct her second film, W.E., a biopic about the affair between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.
As an artist, Madonna's music has been the subject of much scrutiny among critics. Robert M. Grant, author of Contemporary Strategy Analysis (2005), commented that what has brought Madonna success is "[c]ertainly not outstanding natural talent. As a vocalist, musician, dancer, songwriter, or actress, Madonna's talents seem modest." He asserts Madonna's success is 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 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." Madonna has always been self-conscious about her voice, especially when compared to her vocal idols, a group that includes Ella Fitzgerald, Prince and Chaka Khan.
The release of her first album, Madonna (1983), heralded her arrival but her vocal abilities were not fully formed artistically. Her vocal styles and lyrics appeared similar to those of other pop stars of that period, namely Paula Abdul, Debbie Gibson and Taylor Dayne. The songs on Madonna reveal several key trends that have continued to define her success, including a strong dance-based idiom, catchy hooks, highly polished arrangement and Madonna's own vocal style. In songs such as "Lucky Star" and Borderline", Madonna introduced a style of upbeat dance music that would prove particularly appealing to future gay audiences. The bright, girlish vocal timbre of the early years became passé in Madonna's later works, the change being deliberate. Her second album, Like a Virgin (1984), foreshadowed several trends in Madonna's later works, including references to classical works (the pizzicato synthesizer line that opens the song "Angel"); potential negative reaction from social groups ("Dress You Up" which was blacklisted by the Parents Music Resource Center); and retro styles ("Shoo-Bee-Doo", Madonna's homage to Motown). Madonna's early style and the change that she ushered in it, is best evident in the song "Material Girl". It opens with Madonna using a little-girl voice, but following the first verse, she switches to a richer, more mature voice in the chorus. This mature artistic statement was visible in True Blue (1986). "Papa Don't Preach" from this album, was a significant milestone in her artistic career. The classical introduction, fast tempo and the gravity in her voice was unprecedented in Madonna's oeuvre at that time.
With Like a Prayer (1989), Madonna again entered a new phase, musically. Widely denoted as her most frank record, Like a Prayer reflected Madonna's thoughts on her failed marriage to Penn and her loneliness. Madonna commented "[The album] was a real coming-of-age record for me emotionally. [..] I had to do a lot of soul-searching and I think it is a reflection of that. The album introduced live recorded music and incorporated different genres of music, including dance, R&B, Gospel music. Her relationship with her parents and Penn had a profound effect on the lyrics of the songs. Madonna continued to compose ballads and uptempo dance songs for Erotica (1992) and Bedtime Stories (1994). She tried to remain contemporary by utilizing the use of samples, rap music, drum loops and hip-hop in the songs. Her voice grew much deeper and fuller, evident in the tracks like "Rain" and "Take a Bow". During the shooting of Evita, Madonna had to take vocal lessons, which increased her range further. She herself commented: "I studied with a vocal coach for Evita and I realized there was a whole piece of my voice I wasn't using. Before, I just believed I had a really limited range and was going to make the most of it." Continuing her musical evolution with Ray of Light, the track "Frozen" displayed her fully formed vocal prowess and her allusions to classical music. Her vocals were restrained and she sang the songs in Ray of Light without vibrato. However, the intake of breath within the songs became more prominent. With the new millennium, came her album Music. From that album, Madonna has sung in her normal voice in a medium range, and sometimes singing in a higher register for the chorus. Fouz-Hernández commented that "Throughout her career, Madonna's manipulation of her voice shows us that, by refusing to be defined in one way, she has in fact opened up a space for new kinds of musical analysis."
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". Other musical influences included Karen Carpenter, The Supremes, Led Zeppelin, and dancers like Martha Graham and Rudolf Nureyev. Madonna's Italian-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". 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 dedicated the song "Papa Don't Preach" to the 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 look in the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She also 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 photographs, in particular those by 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. Influences also came to her from the art world, most notably through the works of artist Frida Kahlo. The music video of the song "Bedtime Story", featured images inspired by the paintings of Kahlo and Remedios Varo. Her 2003 video for "Hollywood", was an homage to the work of photographer Guy Bourdin; it sparked a lawsuit by Bourdin's son, against Madonna, Webo Girl Publishing, Inc., Warner/Chappell Music, Warner Bros. Records, Warner Music Group, MTV Networks, and Jean-Baptiste Mondino, due to the unauthorised use of his father's work. Other new-age artists like Andy Warhol's usage of S&M imagery in his underground films, were reflected in the music videos for "Erotica" and "Deeper and Deeper". Madonna became a follower of the Kabbalah school of Jewish mysticism after the birth of her daughter in 1996. She has been open 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". After she joined the religion, she faced opposition from Rabbis, who felt Madonna taking up Kabbalah was 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. During the Re-Invention World Tour, at one point of the show, Madonna and her dancers wore t-shirts that read "Kabbalists Do It Better."
Music videos and performances
In The Madonna Companion, biographers Allen Metz and Carol Benson 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 them, 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 itself. Madonna's initial music videos, reflected her American and Hispanic mixed street style and a flamboyant glamour. She was able to transmit her avant-garde downtown New York fashion sense to the American audience. The imagery and incorporation of Hispanic culture and Catholic symbolism, continued 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 the fashion trends of that time, in the form of boleros and layered skirts, accessorizing with rosary beads and crucifix like the video of "La Isla Bonita". Academics noted that with her videos, Madonna was subtly reversing the usual role of male as the dominant sex. 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 attracted to 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.
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 Blond Ambition World Tour, since then she has reorganized her performances by "stay[ing] mostly still during her toughest singing parts and [leaves] the dance routines to her backup troupe ... [r]ather than try to croon and dance up a storm at the same time." She was instruemntal in introducing RF microphones, generally known as Boom Mounting the use of a headset boom fastened around the head or over the top of the head, with the microphone capsule on a boom arm that extends to the mouth. Later, it came to be known as the "Madonna-mic" because she was one of the first major performers to use them.
According to Rolling Stone, Madonna "remains one of the greatest pop acts of all time". She has been dubbed the "Queen of Pop" and listed by Guinness World Records as the world's most successful female recording artist of all time. On March 10, 2008, Madonna was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the first year she had been eligible for the honor. Billboard magazine ranked her as the most successful solo artist (second artist overall, behind only The Beatles) on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists". She is also the most successful female solo artist in the British chart history, with the most number-one albums and number-one singles. Madonna is featured in the book 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century, published by Ladies' Home Journal in 1998. In July 2003, VH1 and People magazine listed her as seventh in the "200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons of All Time." In 2006, a new water bear species called Echiniscus madonnae, was named after her. The paper with the description of E. madonnae, was published in the international journal of animal taxonomy Zootaxa in March 2006 (Vol. 1154, pages: 136). The Zoologists commented: "We take great pleasure in dedicating this species to one of the most significant artists of our times, Madonna Louise Veronica Ritchie." The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) number of the species is 711164.
Throughout her career Madonna, like David Bowie, has repeatedly reinvented herself through a series of visual and musical personas. Fouz-Hernández agrees that this re-invention is one of her key cultural achievements. Madonna re-invented herself by constantly working with upcoming talented producers and previous unknown artists, while remaining at the center of media attention. In doing so she has provided an example of how to maintain one's career in the entertainment industry. Madonna represented herself as someone who continued to change her persona and image from time to time. Such re-invention was noted by scholars as the main tool in surviving the musical industry, for a female artist. As Ian Youngs from BBC News commented, "Her ability to follow the latest trends and adapt her style has often been credited with preserving her appeal." Madonna's use of shocking sexual imagery, has benefitted her career and impacted public discourse on sexuality and feminism. The Times commented: "Madonna, whether you like or not, started a revolution amongst women in music. [...] Her attitudes and opinions on sex, nudity, style and sexuality forced the public to take up and notice." Rodger Streitmatter, author of Sex Sells! (2004), commented that "from the moment Madonna burst onto the nation's radar screen in the mid-1980s, she did everything in her power to shock the public, and her efforts paid off." Shmuel Boteach, author of Hating women (2005), felt that Madonna was largely responsible for erasing the line between music and pornography. He stated: "Before Madonna, it was possible for women more famous for their voices than their cleavage, to emerge as music superstars. But in the post-Madonna universe, even highly original performers such as Janet Jackson now feel the pressure to expose their bodies on national television to sell albums."
Madonna has influenced numerous music artists throughout her career. Mary Cross, in her book Madonna: A Biography, wrote: "Her influence on pop music is undeniable and far-reaching. New pop icons from Nelly Furtado and Shakira to Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera (not to mention Britney Spears) owe Madonna, a debt of thanks for the template she forged, combining provocative sexiness and female power in her image, music, and lyrics." Fouz-Hernández commented that female pop performers such as "Spears, Spice Girls, Destiny's Child, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Minogue and Pink were like Madonna's daughters in the sense that they grew up listening to her and admiring, while deciding to emulate her style." Among all of them, Madonna's influence was most notable in Spears, who was called her protégé. She has also been credited with the introduction of European electronic dance music into the mainstream of American pop culture, and bringing European producers like Stuart Price and Mirwais Ahmadzaï into the spotlight.
Madonna has also received acclaim as a role model for businesswomen in her industry, "achieving the kind of financial control that women had long fought for within the industry" generating over $1.2 billion dollars in sales within the first decade of her career. After its establishment, Maverick Records - unusually for such labels - became a large commercial success due to her efforts. Guinness Book of World Records names Madonna as the world's highest earning female singer, after making £26.6 million in 2004 alone. Music journalist Robert Sandall, said that while interviewing Madonna, it was clear that being "a cultural big hitter" was more important to her than pop music, a career she described as "an accident". He also noted the contrast between her anything-goes sexual public persona, and a secretive and "paranoid" attitude towards her own finances; she fired her own brother, when he charged her for an extra item. London Business School academics called her a "dynamic entrepreneur" worth copying, identifying her vision of success, understanding of the music industry, ability to recognise her performance limits (and thus bring in help), hard work and ability to change, as the key to her commercial success. Reporter Michael McWilliams commented: "The gripes about Madonna she's cold, greedy, talentless conceal both bigotry and the essence of her art, which is among the warmest, the most humane, the most profoundly satisfying in all pop culture."