So, I've got this giant Madonna magnet on my fridge. Recently a friend stopped by and, upon noticing it, exclaimed "Oh, you like Madonna? Cool!" I was fucking flabbergasted. Is not liking Madonna even an option?
As it turns out, a passive backlash has been quietly taking place over the last several years (or perhaps decades). Legend status sometimes comes with a price. For the most influential pop and dance music artist ever, a three decade career of constant reinvention and forays into virtually every platform of media possible has created a sort of cultural exhaustion: Madonna Fatigue. Her omnipresence and sheer volume of work has overwhelmed the senses of popular culture, resulting in a growing collective ambivalence towards the Queen of Pop.
Now, after so many years in the spotlight, we might be inclined to take Madonna for granted. Madonna is just… Madonna. She's the woman who did "Like a Virgin" and "Vogue." She ruled the 80s and 90s. Sure, yeah, she's awesome but… yawn. Madonna's legacy is in danger of becoming grossly under-celebrated.
I get it, kinda. But that doesn't mean I can just stand by and let it continue. After all, this is the same woman who had the balls to record an album and then be like, "just call it Music." Much of today's dance music can trace its roots to artists like Madonna and even if pure pop is your thing, why waste your time on Lady Gaga's methadone when you can go straight for the pure shit? This calls for a revisiting of some of her lesser-known strokes of brilliance. Start here:Burning Up, 1983
While Burning Up didn't fare as well on the charts as Madonna's first single "Everybody", the track stands out from her early days as darker, sexier and more punk than her other pop-tastic offerings. The video was our first introduction to the intertwining of her sexual politics and music.Express Yourself, 1989
You probably know this song well, but when was the last time you watched David Fincher's Metropolis inspired masterpiece video for it? The song is timeless - as demonstrated in 2011 when another previously mentioned pop artist released a carbon copy interpretation to much acclaim - and a rousing feminist anthem. Fincher's lush black and white video depicts Madonna in both sexually dominant and submissive roles and demonstrates again how she uses her own sexuality to explore social issues.Deeper and Deeper, 1992
This dreamy, flamenco-inflected disco number is said to be about a young gay man's struggle to come out, but it's the video that's really everything. It's inspired by Andy Warhol's films and features early 90's zeitgeist queens Sophia Coppola, Debi Mazar and porn director/drag star Chi Chi La Rue.Secret, 1994
This song is one of many instances in which Madonna schooled everyone on how to do cultural appropriation the right way. While her feature film acting career hasn't been as stellar, she's able to transform constantly for her music - experimenting with genres and portraying a broad variety of characters in her videos. In "Secret", she's a Harlem nightclub chanteuse dripping in ghetto gold and singing over a hip-hop beat. And guess what? It totally works.Bedtime Story, 1995
This low-key ambient track was co-written by Björk and is probably the first techno single ever released by a huge mainstream artist. Directed by Mark Romanek, the video itself is a work of art - influenced by female surrealist painters - and has been exhibited and permanently kept in major art galleries like the Museum of Modern Art and at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.Get Together, 2006
Confessions on a Dance Floor is Madonna's best album, period. The third single, 'Get Together' was inspired by 1996 cult house track 'Music Sounds Better With You' by Stardust (a side project of Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter) and it is dance heaven.