She wanted to rule the world – and did. Madonna looks back on four decades of fame, why the music industry needs a #MeToo moment, and her still insatiable ambition

And yet it’s not just hindsight that makes the viewer realise something big is about to happen to her career. After she mimes to Holiday, the audience won’t stop screaming and cheering: Clark has to plead for quiet so he can interview her. Answering his questions, Madonna is funny and flirtatious and very, very confident. He asks her what her ambitions are. “To rule the world,” she answers.

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Madonna appearing on American Bandstand in 1984.

Thirty-five years on, Madonna laughs when I mention it. “Yes,” she nods. “Sorry for saying that.” The thing is, she says, she wasn’t confident at all back then: it was all a front. “I may have been insecure, I may have felt like a nobody, but I knew I had to do something. If I was going to make something out of my life, I had to, you know, hurl myself into the dark space, go down the road less travelled. Otherwise, why live?”

You clearly do. The Madonna that sits before me, perched on an overstuffed sofa in a swish hotel not far from the house she owns in central London, certainly doesn’t give the impression of being a woman terribly plagued by insecurity: a solitary wobble comes when talk turns to her then-forthcoming appearance on Eurovision, a venerable television institution almost unknown in the US and that, it quickly becomes apparent, Madonna has never actually seen. “Well, Jean-Paul Gaultier is obsessed with it,” she shrugs.

Her unexpected, apparently unresearched and ultimately divisive plunge into the world of Ding-a-Dong, Dana International and nul points pour le Royaume-Uni notwithstanding, she radiates starry self-assurance. And why wouldn’t she? A list of her achievements in the intervening 35 years includes becoming the bestselling female artist ever, the most successful solo artist in the history of the American charts, the highest-grossing solo touring artist ever and, as she dryly notes, “still being alive”, her only real competition for the title of most legendary pop artist of her era, Michael Jackson and Prince, having both prematurely passed away.

Sometimes when she talks, she unmistakably sounds like a pop star forged in a different era. She is “dizzy” at the sheer turnover of pop in the digital age – “There are so many distractions, so much noise, so many people coming and going so quickly, it takes away the artist’s ability to grow” – and says the modern way of writing pop songs, where artists are thrown together with a rotating cast of random star producers and writers at songwriting camps, didn’t suit her at all. “Oh, I tried that on MDNA and Rebel Heart. I worked with a lot of talented people, but it’s too hard to have a vision when you work with so many people: there’s so much input. I didn’t enjoy the process at all. Sometimes it was great, but it’s very weird to sit in a room with strangers and go: ‘OK, on your marks, set, write a song together!’ You have to reveal yourself, you have to be vulnerable, and it’s hard to do that right away.”

Full article at The Guardian