Madonna: 30 Years on the Throne

Madonna

It’s taken me two months to write this article.  I’m sure I had so much to say the day after her concert, but all I could process was that I saw Madonna in person.  Madonna.  The Queen.  In.  Person.

It may not mean much to you, but this was a concert that took 20 years to attend, a concert that was the best selling tour of 2012, though I didn’t doubt it would be. Every time she tours she breaks the record – set by herself.  With a career that started before I was born, of course I was a little late to the pop party.  I didn’t discover the influential enigma that is Madonna until the mid 90’s, but when I did it was fierce and with  uncontrollable fire, because someone with such passion and power and performance and presence doesn’t provoke fragile, fair feelings in their fans.

I was so overwhelmed to be sitting in a seat waiting while Madonna took the stage.  People were protesting outside, and I was reminded why, all these years later, I still love her.  It wasn’t just her success story, it was her unabashed ambition, her readiness to take risks, her brains for business, that she wasn’t scared to take a stance or provoke people to make her point, and she’s done it all unapologetically. Remember when the “Like A Virgin” video was almost banned and not just a protest of people, but an entire continent told her that if she sang that song on stage whilst simulating masturbation she would be arrested – and she did it anyway?  Remember when her controversial “Like A Prayer” video came out with all its cross-burning and stigmata and black saints, and the Vatican condemned it and Pepsi pulled their promotion?  Remember when MTV banned her “Justify My Love” video?  Remember when MTV banned her video for “What It Feels Like For a Girl?”     Remember when Russia tried to sue her?  I was sure this would be a memory in the making.

I should say that when the concert started I couldn’t even see the stage because tickets sold out so quickly.  During the first four songs, none of which I knew, I managed to make my way down so I could see her for myself.  “Papa Don’t Preach” started to play and it hit me so hard – I was witnessing history.  Pop music was powerful.  I was looking upon a living legend.

Although the show wasn’t nearly as controversial as I contemplated, I can’t complain about its content.  Although I didn’t know some of the songs, I sang along to most of her music, and with  her reputation and repertoire I would wait two hours just to hear “Holiday.”  I can actually say I saw most of Madonna’s record-breaking music live and hearing everyone singing along to “Like A Prayer” was a spiritual spectacle.  Although the nation didn’t ban her being here and she wasn’t under the threat of being arrested, she still got booed by a couple people for her personal political proclamations, told us not to be “stingy mother fuckers” whilst trying to rally us to raise money for Hurricane Sandy survivors, and I managed to get one picture that makes me so proud and sums up a small part she’s played in pop music:  Madonna flipping the finger, bra busting out.

Yes, I’m still talking about it two months later.  Yes, although I hadn’t done it in years, I still remembered the moves to “Vogue.”  Yes, when it comes to Madonna, I still get “Into the Groove.”  No, it wasn’t life-changing, but it was a dream come true.  A 20 year, two decade craze that finally had a conclusion.

Madonna released her first single, “Everybody,”  in 1983, so 2013 will be the 30th year she’s broken records and been the best.  She’s the one who told me to “Express Yourself.”  I will always “Cherish” her.  When it comes to the Queen, I am content being a pop music peasant, and will be a fan forever, even far past the point when she finally decides to “Take a Bow.”

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