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Madonna
biography, albums,
sheet music by Madonna
Article added on October 11, 2000

Madonna Louise Ciccone was born in Bay City, Michigan, in 1958. She was raised in an Italian-American Catholic family. Her mother died early. Her father was a car welder who had to raise six children. As a teenager, Madonna learned to play the piano and took ballet lessons. At Rochester Adams High School she played the leading role in several theatre plays. After graduating, she went to the University of Michigan for one year to learn modern and jazz dance. Later, she became a member of a dance group led by John Flynn. In 1977, she went to New York, where she was accepted at the Alvin Ailey dance studio. There, she worked with choreographer Pearl Lang. She made a living as a model and doughnut-seller.
 
In 1979, Madonna became part of Patrick Hernandez' disco revue. She stayed there for half a year after which her mentor Hernandez sent her to a singing teacher in Paris where her first (unreleased) demo tapes were produced. Madonna learned to play the guitar, keyboards and drums. She sometimes played drums for Danny and Eddy Gilroy at the Breakfast Club. They introduced her into the New York music scene. She started composing, wrote lyrics and sang in the rock band Emmy.
 
In 1980, Madonna got a contract with Adam Atler's Gotham Productions. She worked as a background singer for Otto von Wernherr and Steve Brentzel. She also had jobs as a nude model and in a few films: Cosmic Climb, We Are The Gods and Wild Dancing. In 1982, she left the management of Gotham Productions. The disc jockey Mark Kamins sent her demo cassette Everybody to Sire Records. Subsequently, the label's president, Seymour Stein, took her under contract. In December 1982, Everybody was unsuccessfully released in Great Britain. But Madonna's songs Burning Up and Physical Attraction became hits on the club scene level.
 
In June 1983, Madonna presented the song Holiday, produced by John "Jellybean" Benitez, on a promotional tour through England. The mix of pop and new wave was a success. Sire Records teamed up with the promotional apparatus of Warner Bros. and, by the end of 1983, Madonna made it into the charts. Her debut album Madonna, already released in September 1982, now made it up to US #8. The singles Holiday (US #16), Borderline (US #10) and Lucky Star (US #4) also were huge successes. The ultimate breakthrough came in 1984 with the album Like A Virgin, which climbed to  #1 in the United States, Great Britain and Germany. Of her first album alone, Madonna sold more than 13 million copies. Until 1994, 26 of her songs made it into the American top 10. Madonna's worldwide success is also the fruit of a clever marketing strategy with provoking videos in which she can show off her skills as a dancer, which are also an asset on stage. Madonna is a versatile and extremely adaptable artist who knows how to change her image and make people talk about her. In May 1991, cardinal O'Connor even asked the Pope the excommunicate her for her "blasphemous" remarks.
 
In 1985, Madonna had her film debut in a leading role in Desperately Seeking Susan. The same year, she married actor Sean Penn from whom she divorced at the end of 1989. In 1986, the couple shot Shanghai Surprise in China, a film produced by George Harrison. In all her film roles, Madonna was never able to fully convince. In her career as a musician however, she was able to create a mania unseen since Elvis and the Beatles and only matched by the hysteria around Michael Jackson. For instance in 1986, Madonna's singles Papa Don't Preach, Open Your Heart and La Isla Bonita climbed to #1 in the United States, True Blue made it up to #3.
 
Until 1992, Madonna had made $200 million. The same year, she founded Maverick records, together with Time Warner, in order to coordinate her different marketing actions. In the autumn of 1992, her book Sex was published with in initial edition of 750,000 copies. Her album Erotica was the other part of that comprehensive campaign which proved to be successful. Madonna and her management know how to manipulate the media in order to create a fertile echo to promote her music. At the same time, her artistic qualities as a pop diva are beyond any doubt.
 
With her brand new, fourteenth album, Music, the 42 year old singer, actress and mother of two (1997 and 2000) proves once more that she is able to adapt to new styles and reinvent herself. Especially the tracks Music, Impressive Instant, Runaway Lover and Amazing play with hip hop and techno elements. Synthesizer, filter, echo and other alienation effects are very strong. Impressive Instant and Runaway Lover even remind me of Gigi d'Agostino. Whereas ballads like I Deserve It and What It Feels Like For A Girl are more traditional compositions. Already on her last album, Ray of Light (1998), she had made an important step towards "contemporary" music styles. On Music, she goes further down that road. The French producer, songwriter and re-mixer Mirwais Ahmadzaï plays an important part in Madonna's umpteenth re-invention. Music is not her best album so far, but one that surprises once more in a positive way. It is no unified album, but, as mentioned above, Music is divided into a techno/hip hop and a more traditional part. Ballads like Nobody's Perfect, in which her voice is alienated, partly build a bridge between the two styles. Madonna's attempt to connect to a younger generation is fully successful and, as always with her, a way above average pop album.
 
Added on October 30, 2002:
In Billboard's Hot 100, Madonna's Die Another Day (Warner Bros.) is already #18. With retail sales figures kicking in, it will easily be in the top-10 next week. Die Another Day is Madonna's 44th top-40 hit, the highest amount ever for a solo female artist. The material girl overtakes Aretha Franklin, who has had 43 top-40 hits on the Hot 100 to date. Madonna has reached the total of 44 top-40 hits with only 48 chart entries, an impressive ratio of hits. The four Madonna titles to miss the top-40 are Bedtime Story (#42 in 1995), Human Nature (#46 in 1995), Love Don't Live Here Anymore (#75 in 1996) and Nothing Really Matters (#93 in 1999). Die Another Day will be Madonna's 35th top-10 hit. That will push her past The Beatles' 34 top-10 hits and leave her second only to Elvis Presley, who has amassed 38 top-10 hits to date, a figure Madonna could be able to pass this decade.
 

Added on May 3, 2003:
Madonna's album American Life is deliberately simple ballad album. Some songs are a touch to simple and therefore boring. Get the CD American Life from Amazon.com or Amazon.de.


New in November 2005: Madonna: Confessions on a Dancefloor
. Album, 2005. Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.


Added on October 30, 2002: photograph from the James Bond movie Die Another Day. Copyright: Neal Preston/Warner Music. Get the single Die Another Day from Amazon.com.
 

Get the CD Music from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon Canada.
 
 
 


www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 10, October 2000
English edition  Archives  Politics  History  Art  Film  Music  Lifestyle  Travel
Edition française  Archives  Politique  Histoire  Arts  Films  Musique  Art de vivre  Voyages
Deutsche Ausgabe  Archiv  Politik  Geschichte  Kunst  Film  Musik  Lebensart  Reisen

© Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.