Madonna is omnipresent in the news: Adopting twins from Malawi, giving a controversial speech at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., dressing as Beauty and the Beast for a Purim costume party. Indeed, Madonna’s such a force of nature that it’s almost impossible to separate her public persona from her music, and yet, in the wake of Prince’s death last year and Michael Jackson’s untimely passing in 2009, she’s the last standing of the MTV era’s titans.
There were other giants from the advent of the medium who transformed the music industry, but of them Bruce Springsteen and the late David Bowie were really just passing through. Madonna neverleft the public stage, and she has a songbook of some of the most recognizable pop tunes around, including “Borderline,” “Holiday,” “Like A Virgin,” “Vogue,” “Ray of Light,” “Express Yourself,” “Material Girl” and more. But with an artist that’s so iconoclastic, and so steeped in celebrity, how do you really evaluate her work?
We could immerse ourself in her music, digging deep to see what makes it tick … or we could do as we’vedone before, and ask a bunch of musicians to cover one of her songs without knowing in advance what it will be or who it’s by. This time, more than 100 musicians, producers and videographers across the United States and in the United Kingdom, Canada and Sweden collaborated to cover 70 of Madonna’s best- and least-known songs, from more than 30 years’ worth of albums.
Much like Madonna’s own systematic reinventions, the covers were all over the stylistic map, from jazz to techno. Worcester-area singer Lovina teamed with Jillian Suchodolski for a straightforward and heart-wrenchingly beautiful rendition of “Live to Tell,” then teamed up with the band Punk Rock Playhouse for a jazzy and cheeky spin on “Hanky Panky.” Ukulele advocate Rich “the Amazing Dick” Leufstedt put a Lou Reed-esque spin on “Thief of Hearts,” and the band Clinical D — comprising Deborah Beaudry, Sean Revoltah, Dan Morrissey and Jeréme Lawrénce — worked over computer from Worcester, Seattle and England to create a hard-rocking version of “Why’s It So Hard?”
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