Thursday, September 18, 2008

Half Century Madonna

Madonna might be trying desperately to hang on to her youth by dedicating her movies and concerts to Britney Spears, who has become more and more boring as her life goes on. [Though half her age, B.S. is not nearly as interesting as Madonna, who's lived a very colourful life (to say the least).] So why does Madonna feel the need to do such a thing?

After all, she's got everything - fame, fortune, beauty, power, prestige... She's the envy of all the world and has more than reached her goal of "conquering the world" in the eyes of so many. She's great at collaborating on 3-1/2-minute videos that are brilliantly choreographed and designed. She's marvelous at arriving at carefully orchestrated photo shoots that depict her in the best possible light. She knows a good fashion show when she parades in one. She's got it all: marriage, children, the adulation of millions... And rumor has it that she might even go to the moon. At 50, her concerts are still sellouts and she's got the body of a 25-year-old. So why does she need Britney - a blubbery bobble-head bore that can't possibly measure up?

Madonna was recently referred to (by a nameless FNC commentator) as "shrewd, but not very bright." Maybe that's it. Maybe not. I was never a Madonna fan - that is, until her record, "Ray of Light" - a wonderful album produced by William Orbit - came out. I thought it was brilliant. I'd enjoyed "Vogue" and always sang along to the gorgeous "La Isla Bonita"... and reveled in the dominant feminine "Express Yourself"... but "Ray of Light" was the first time I really listened to Madonna and respected her as an artist (even if she more than likely had very little to do with the actual production of the album). I discovered it was William Orbit who really deserved most of the credit.

I speak from experience. I, myself, recorded an album - having been a songwriter since I was born - and I know the pain and labor that goes into the creation of a record. So I respected Madonna's efforts yet understood her limitations. I, myself, wrote my songs from start to finish, I played the instruments and sang and produced and sweated every aspect of my record. I don't think Madonna knows how to play an instrument and, having seen her play guitar on stage, I'd advise her never to do that again!

But she overcame a lot to sell her ideas and bring them to fruition. We have to give her a lot of credit. Though long-and-drawn-out, I enjoyed listening to her acceptance speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and the stories of how she "made it" were educational, albeit methodical and calculated - how determined she was! A true American success story! (It's too bad she's opted, now, to trash her own country and talk up and support other countries much in the same way as Oprah.)

Madonna's best in the rough... she was great in that MTV special when she goes back to the warehouse in New York in which she'd once resided during her early struggling days. She was marvelous in "Desperately Seeking Susan" playing herself - no matter what the critics say. She's most original and captivating in the video "Secret" where she portrays a street urchin, a torch singing vamp with smeared makeup huddling with the street people... Like Shelley Winters said, "Those are the most beautiful black people in that video!"

She found herself over and over, but as she admitted in "Ray of Light" - lost herself, too ("I traded fame for love...") What makes an artist the most interesting? The fact that he/she can admit to his/her own faults, limitations, fallacies and strives to be "something better than you are today." And reinvent... recreate... be born anew. Madonna is and remains, after all, Madonna.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Reading about the culture/talent-devoid VMAs this morning, the first line I saw was: "It took a year, but Britney Spears got the comeback she was seeking from the MTV Video Music Awards -- and she didn't even have to sing or dance." She won 3 awards!!! And a standing ovation!! For what? Bad behavior?? She stated she was shocked and didn't expect it - well, hello! She shouldn't have been honored in any way! What has this country come to when someone like her - who basically spent the past two years of her life running around the streets, jumping in and out of cars without underwear, getting in car accidents, being committed to mental wards and losing custody of her infant sons - is rewarded?!

How could a train wreck like B.S. "sweep" the VMAs unless they've lowered their standards to the pit of the bottom-feeders? And how can they call such a vile display as this show "tame"? Have they lost their minds?

They had Lindsay Lohan, skank queen of the year, giving out an award - someone who has accomplished nothing but bad acting in a lot of awful movies, singing like Minnie Mouse and endangering people's lives with her bad driving and drug use - and joke-of-a-lifestyle. And Ms. Famous-for-nothing, Paris H. representing as usual - a perfect match for the soulless show.

I was so depressed when I tuned in and saw two black guys wallowing around on stage grunting incomprehensible garble into microphones - one with his pants literally falling off! I thought, where's the talent? The lemmings in the audience stood up as though they'd witnessed the second coming!

I've loved music all my life and this fiasco really hurt. I was in pain watching it... and nauseous, too... and just had to turn it off.