Madonna’s Madame X Wows Wiltern (REVIEW)

Madonna is a multitude of things to a multitude of people: LGBTQ+ champion and feminist groundbreaker. Movie star and fashion icon. Prim Brit-esque author and tough-talking New Yorker. And of course, the Queen of Pop. Because through all of the tabloid sensationalism and premature reports of her career demise, nobody has been able to permanently dethrone Ciccone.

Critics have long accused her of being a bandwagoner, a trend-sponge who will latch onto what’s popular. There’s some truth in that but it only tells a fraction of the story. Like Bowie (not quite in his league but the comparison holds), Madonna schools herself, keeps current and then brings it all into her world. Sure, she’s a chameleon. But every shift and shimmy is on her terms.

Take her new Madame X album and the theatrical performance that she’s dreamed up to correspond with the concept. A concept, by the way, that appears to be deliberately vague. Madame X is a mother, a child, a teacher, a singer, a secret agent (“traveling the world in disguise”), a nun, a whore and a saint, according to Madonna. The character, then, isn’t as well defined as a Ziggy Stardust, but that allows for a lot of wiggle room and freedom.


At the Wiltern on Wednesday, the first of her 10-night stretch at the venue, an undeniably intimate setting by Madonna’s standards, we get to enjoy Madame X in all of her convoluted glory, fully-realized or not. The new album isn’t necessarily cohesive throughout, but the songs work well in the live setting, right from the opening “God Control.”

Incidentally, plenty has already been written about Madonna coming on stage late during this tour, and locking away everyone’s phones. Regarding the former, she’s always been a bit of an Axl Rose (or vice versa, more accurately) in that regard — longtime fans are used to it. Here, she started at about 10:45 p.m. (impossible to be sure, as our phones were locked away), not a tremendously late time by L.A. standards. As for the phones, she’s right. It is better to stay in the moment and enjoy the show, and it is better for the artist to look out at a sea of faces rather than phones. The “I paid my money, I’ll do what I want” argument holds no water.


Regardless of what career and lifestyle choices the character of Madame X has made, the music on the album varies dramatically and it was all covered in L.A. There’s the pulsating electro-pop of that show-opener and the chill Latin vibe of “Killers Who Are Partying.” Madonna reminds us that she’s been playing soccer mom in Portugal, simultaneously throwing herself into fado music and embracing the West African Batukadeiras drummers (who made a welcome appearance). As is the same on every night of the tour (the set list remains consistent), we got covers of Isabel De Oliveira’s “Fado Pechincha” and Cesária Évora’s “Sodade.”

The new songs sounded great and, with the show split into five acts and an encore, time flew by remarkably fast. There were some old crowd favorites thrown in, of course — we get shortened versions of “Vogue” and “Papa Don’t Preach,” a breathy “Human Nature,” an a cappella “Express Yourself” and a snippet of “La Isla Bonita,” before act VI brought with it a gorgeous rendition of “Frozen” complete with images of daughter Lourdes Leon on the big screen. In the final act, we got a hair-raising “Like a Prayer,” with choir.

The biggest criticism we can aim at the show is that the momentum and flow was occasionally stunted by some bizarre breaks. At one point, she sat down to indulge in some magic that only she and those immediately around her could see, with a child and David Blaine. She admitted that she finds magic boring, and she could see it. At her best, Madonna is a fierce, funny performer who can keep you enthralled for hours but there were a few moments on Wednesday night when the air came out a little.

Never for long though. For the gloriously defiant encore, “I Rise,” Madonna sang in front of a giant Pride flag to huge applause. She might not be one of music’s great political thinkers but Madonna has always made it clear where she stands, and that’s on the side of good. She interrupts “Papa Don’t Preach” after the “I’m keeping my baby” line to say words to the effect of, “but it wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t — a woman has a right to do what she wants with her body.” She tells us that she moved to Portugal in part to escape Trump. And as Madame X, she tells us all to “wake up!”

By the time we got out and had our phones taken out of the lockable wallets, it was 1:30 a.m. Time had flown by thanks to some excellent music old and new, a remarkable stage show, and a full cast of dancers, drummers and singers. A Madonna show is always going to be great — the only question is, how great?

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Review: Madonna is a superstar in a small room at the Wiltern

Madonna has described the title character of her latest album, “Madame X,” as a secret agent traveling the globe in disguise. Yet there was no concealing the singer’s hard-wired superstar nature Wednesday night as she brought her new tour to the Wiltern — as small a room as she’s likely played in decades, if not one free of unwanted noise.

“I know you love me, but can you be quiet?” she scolded a fan who’d dared to interrupt her at one point. “I’m in the middle of a story here.”

After countless concerts in stadiums and arenas, Madonna, 61, designed her new show for theaters where she can park the production for extended engagements. Wednesday’s gig was the first of 10 at the Wiltern, which seats about 1,800, through Nov. 25.

It’s a chance, she says, for a more intimate artistic experience (though in truth Madonna has never had trouble making an arena feel cozy). But the gambit also allows her to escape unflattering comparisons — well, some of them — to the younger pop stars who now can do more nights than she can at Staples Center or the Rose Bowl.

For Madonna, intimate doesn’t necessarily mean focused. Like the “Madame X” album, which mingles half-formed thoughts on sex, religion, family, violence, technology and the mutable concept of home, the opening Wiltern concert was a bit of a mess. Not in terms of logistics — it started more or less on time around 11 p.m. and ended at 1:30 a.m. or so — but as far as the story she was trying to tell.

The heart of the show had to do with her life in Lisbon, where she moved in 2017 to support her son David’s interest in soccer. The relocation wasn’t easy, she said; she was lonely for months until she began going out to the city’s clubs to listen to Portugal’s dramatic fado singers and to music from that country’s former island colony of Cape Verde, off the northwest coast of Africa.

Onstage here, in a detailed replica of one of those clubs, she sang songs clearly inspired by her surroundings — including the fado-style “Killers Who Are Partying” and “Batuka,” for which she was backed by more than a dozen vocalists thwacking out a Cape Verdean beat on hand drums held between their thighs. There was also a rendition of “Sodade,” well known to fans of the late Cesária Évora, and a retooled “La Isla Bonita.” (None of this was captured on camera; Madonna banned photography Wednesday, including by the media, and required fans to place their phones in locked pouches.)

You wouldn’t say her singing was doing anything to improve on what had moved her back in Lisbon. But you could sense the depth of Madonna’s connection to the place, and you had to admire her use of the Wiltern’s space to offer her audience a taste of it.

Yet this was just one act in a blithely disjointed production. A different section had Madonna performing “Frozen,” her techno-laced ballad from the late ’90s, behind a scrim onto which was projected a video that resembled a high-end perfume commercial starring her daughter Lourdes.

And another, set to the disco-ish “God Control” from “Madame X,” found the singer and several of her dancers in Revolutionary War garb as they battled police in modern-day riot gear. “I’ve got a lot of things I’ve got to get off my chest tonight,” she said. What some of these set pieces were supposed to mean — let alone how each was supposed to link to the others — seemed less important to Madonna than such concerns used to be.

In her mind, perhaps, the through line was simply the novelty of her outsize presence in this reach-out-and-touch-someone context. And indeed there were several amusing audience-participation bits, including one where she took a Polaroid of herself and sold it to an audience member who offered $5,000 — forced scarcity has its advantages — and one where she sauntered down from the stage to sit in an empty seat next to a guy who turned out to be the magician David Blaine.

After a version of “Like a Prayer” that made you think about how thoroughly so many of Madonna’s old transgressions have been absorbed into the pop mainstream, Wednesday’s show ended with “I Rise,” a would-be anthem from “Madame X” written in sympathy with the survivors of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Here “I Rise” was accompanied by a video of news clips that broadened the song’s message to encompass all manner of progressive causes: same-sex marriage, Black Lives Matter, the need for clean drinking water in Flint, Mich. It was a lot to shoulder for a pretty flimsy tune, which is no doubt why Madonna came into the crowd again to finish it.

She still understands that proximity to power can rally people to do virtually anything.

When: 10:30 p.m. Nov 14, 16-17, 19-21, 23-25

Where: The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd.

Tickets: $190-$507


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Madonna’s Madame X Tour goes on late at The Wiltern, but do her L.A. fans even care?

Madonna’s Madame X Tour will play out over 10 evenings at The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles including Nov. 13-14, 16-17, 19-21 and 23-25. (Photo by Kelli Skye Fadroski, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Before Madonna’s latest Madame X Tour, which has been set in more intimate theater venues across the U.S., kicked off at The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles for its 10-night run Wednesday night, West Coast fans were already hearing about the singer’s super late start times and she had also unexpectedly lopped off a few of her dates in select markets without rescheduling them, including Tuesday, Nov. 12 at The Wiltern.

There was even a class action lawsuit that came out of Florida last week from a fan that is suing Madonna for breach of contract, according to NBC News, for moving her ticketed start time from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. When the tour hit Las Vegas, fans reported that Madonna went on well after midnight. Tour promoter Live Nation did, eventually, change the ticket time on its website to reflect a start time closer to when Madge would actually hit the stage.

The other hot button issue for this tour was the use of the locking Yondr pouches, in which fans had to store their cell phones, smart watches and even Fitbits for the duration of the performance.

“We want you to be present and enjoy the journey with us,” a recording of Madonna’s sultry voice said ahead of Madame X taking the stage around 10:45 p.m. and playing until 1:30 a.m. for the first evening of her residency at the 1,850-capacity Wiltern.

So did the fans in Los Angeles care about a late start time or having their precious phones locked away in pouches? It didn’t seem so.

“I didn’t care at all,” Andy Polvorosa, 42, from Los Angeles, said as he was hanging out before the show in The Wiltern lobby, wearing his best Madame X-themed garb. “I’ve seen her many times and she’s always late and people need to get over it.”

Gio Portillo, 34, also of Los Angeles echoed Polvorosa’s stance as well as Madonna’s own response to the fan criticism, which was “a queen is never late.”

“I’m gonna stick with her no matter what,” he added. “I follow a bunch of forums and people were saying, ‘Well Beyoncé doesn’t do this’ or ‘Taylor Swift doesn’t do that.’ Well … they’re not Madonna! Who knows what Taylor Swift will be doing in 30 years … if she’s still around?”

For her 14th album, “Madame X,” Madonna tapped into the music that has influenced her as she’s been living in Lisbon, Portugal, for the past few years. She was living as a glorified “soccer mom,” she joked on stage, as she supported her son David Banda’s passion for fútbol. The songs are a mix of pop, EDM and reggae music with the added sounds she discovered in Portugal, Spain, Brazil, France and Cape Verde.

She’s also taken on the persona of Madame X. Who is Madame X? She’s a secret agent, an enigma of sorts slowly uncovered via a collection of different characters. In her own words, Madonna explains that Madame X is “a mother, a child, a teacher, a nun, a singer, a saint, a whore and a spy.” She even infuses the characters into some of her biggest hits such as “Vogue,” “Human Nature,” “Papa Don’t Preach” and an a cappella version of “Express Yourself.”

The show is played out in a series of acts with a lot of production, numerous costume changes and several big moving parts. It’s like watching a Broadway production, a naughty cabaret and a really loose format stand-up comedy show.

Without cell phones recording her every word and move, Madonna was more free. She made jokes, she did some improvisation — which was hit-or-miss — and she expressed numerous times her joy at being able to look out into the crowd and see eyeballs instead of at phones since it’s “hard to enjoy intimacy with phones.”

Though the intimate setting and production were super cool, it was very warm and stuffy inside the venue. The fans who wanted to dance faced off against the fans who wanted to sit and enjoy the production and that resulted in some shouting wars between patrons across the venue. In quieter moments, a dozen or so obnoxious fans acted like hecklers in a comedy club. They couldn’t stop yelling out random things. Madonna did “shush” the crowd a few times and rightfully so, as they were being rude attention seekers.

There was plenty political commentary throughout the evening, though mostly done through her music and production. The opening number, “God Control,” took on the hot button gun control debate and it was a bit unnerving to hear dozens of gunshot sound effects echo through a very dark venue. But that was the point. She danced about the stage for “Human Nature” and the audience roared along to “Papa Don’t Preach.”

The third act was a multi-cultural musical melting pot. She brought out a collection of drummers, known as Batukadeiras for “Batuka” and took the audience into the world of Portuguese Fado music with a cover of Isabel De Oliveira’s “Fado Pechincha.” She soared through “La Isla Bonita” and her vocals were quite beautiful for Cesária Évora’s “Sodade.” She got the crowd to count down and “cha-cha-cha” to “Medellín” and wrapped up the act with “Extreme Occident.”

Before launching into “Frozen,” Madonna’s dancers, who were on-point all evening, did an incredibly interesting number as they all twisted and contorted in a line on stage and in perfect time. It was breathtaking and hard to look away from. With “Frozen,” Madonna was on stage solo, seated behind a screen and backlit by a single white light. As she sang, video of her eldest daughter, Lourdes Leon doing a stunning interpretive dance played out on the screen and at times, Madonna and the imagery of her daughter sweetly played off of each other.

Fans got up and danced to “Come Alive” and “Crave” before the venue turned into a church and everyone sang and clapped along to “Like a Prayer.” She ended the set with an encore performance of the powerful anthem, “I Rise,” the first single off of “Madame X” that includes selections of a speech by Emma González, a survivor of the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Madonna’s run continues at The Wiltern Nov. 16-17, 19-21 and 23-25. Suddenly there were more tickets available via this week. Fans can now score a ticket for a more reasonable price range of $132-$200 instead of the initial $375-plus tickets or the resale tickets, which were initially going for anywhere between $500-$1,500. Those resale tickets have also dropped significantly with many now available in the $200-$400 range.

Madonna’s Madame X Tour

When: Wednesday, Nov. 13

Where: The Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles

Next: 10:30 p.m. Nov. 14, 16-17, 19-21 and 23-25 at The Wiltern Theatre, 3790 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles. There are still tickets available ranging from $132-$375 via and resale tickets going from $200-$1,500 at

Setlist for Wednesday, Nov. 13 at The Wiltern: “God Control”/ “Dark Ballet”/ “Human Nature”/ “Express Yourself”/ “Vogue”/ “I Don’t Search I Find”/ “Papa Don’t Preach”/ “American Life”/ “Batuka”/ “Fado Pechincha” (Isabel De Oliveira cover)/ “Killers Who Are Partying”/ “Crazy”/ “La Isla Bonita”/ “Sodade” (Cesária Évora cover)/ “Medellín”/ “Extreme Occident”/ “Frozen”/ “Come Alive”/ “Future”/ “Crave”/ “Like a Prayer.” Encore: “I Rise.”

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Best concerts in L.A. this week: Sleater-Kinney, Bad Bunny and Madonna

Nov. 13-14, 16-17, 19-21 and 23-25
Madonna brings her latest “Madame X” persona to a theater stage with an 11-show run at the 1,850-seat Wiltern, marking her first smaller-scaled residency since 1985’s “The Virgin” tour. Beyond the much-discussed ’round-midnight starting time and cellphone prohibition, we’ll likely see Madge bring back the holograms she debuted during her Billboard Music Awards performance earlier this year.

The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd. Tickets start at $148.

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The 10 Best Things About Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’

A version of this story originally ran on November 12, 2014, for Like a Virgin’s 30th anniversary.

It defies logic a little bit, but the biggest hit off of a diamond-selling album by one of the biggest pop stars of all-time has become underrated. On the crit-praise aggregator website, “Like a Virgin” ranks as the No. 230 most-beloved song ever — a solid ranking, but a couple of hundred spots below “When Doves Cry” and “Billie Jean,” the signature songs from two of Madge’s megastar contemporaries, Prince and Michael Jackson.

The song appeared on neither the NME’s or Slate’s recent respective Top 100 Songs of the ’80s — despite the latter featuring five other Madonna songs in its top 50. Most incredulously, “Virgin” only ranked as Rolling Stone’s 67th-best pop song of 1984 alone, falling behind relatively forgotten hits like Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” and Rebbie Jackson’s “Centipede.”

Its declining reputation might lead one to believe that “Like a Virgin” is a poorly dated hit that was perhaps more historically significant than actually good — all of which couldn’t be further from the truth about a song as immaculate as “Virgin.” In honor of the 35th anniversary of the Like a Virgin album, we’ve written about the 10 qualities that make “Virgin” as much of a jam today as it was three decades ago, a song many of us may have come to take for granted, but one still worth serious consideration in any list of the greatest pop songs of all-time.

With no particular rank:

1. The Moroder-esque synth bass.
It goes throughout the majority of “Virgin,” anchoring the song’s disco-funk groove. The three-note pattern is borrowed from the Four Tops’ similarly enduring and chart-topping “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” a subtle and brilliant lift that gives the song an instant familiarity that you might never even be cognizant of if it wasn’t pointed out to you. And it has such a lurking, prowling insistence to it that of course they had to have a lion in the music video.

2. The surprisingly patient Nile Rodgers guitar hook.
Most of the Chic guitarist’s famous riffs are noteworthy for how crowded they sound. Think about “Get Lucky” — is there a millisecond in that song where Rodgers’ choppy strumming isn’t leading the way? But in “Like a Virgin,” he takes it supremely chill — when we first hear his guitar in its intro, it’s just four sharp strums of the same chord, spaced out over two measures. Where the bass line propels the song forward, the guitar hook keeps it from getting too rushed, giving the song a relaxed strut befitting the steaminess of the lyrics.

3. The first chord change.
Takes nearly 20 seconds to arrive! The song just bops on its opening chord for the entirety of its intro and the first four measures of its verse, before taking an unexpected jump up and then settling back down. It’s a very power-pop sort of chord change (which may help explain why Teenage Fanclub’s cover of the song turned out so well) and the way Madonna’s voice twists around it — at first matching the high note and then dropping down underneath it in time for the change back — is one of the song’s sexiest qualities.

4. “Didn’t know how lost I was until I found you.”
Just a brilliantly symmetrical pop lyric, courtesy of the ever-underappreciated Billy Steinberg — who didn’t write the song for Madonna or any other singer, but just based off his own experiences in romance, giving the song its intimate, personal feeling.

5. The wind-up into the chorus.
You don’t just drop into a chorus as revelatory as that of “Like a Virgin,” and Steinberg and co-writer Tom Kelly smartly build in an extended lead-in to raise excitement for it. They shift to a third chord, as Madonna teases the payoff with an extended “But you made me feel …,” pausing, then repeating “Yeah, you made me feel …” thereby creating an almost-unbearable tension before the title phrase finally lands.

6. Making you wait for the second chorus for the “HEY!
One of the most instantly unforgettable elements of “Virgin” is the ecstatic, falsetto’d “HEY!” that Madge releases after the title phrase in the chorus, the song’s greatest moment of pure release. BUT: It doesn’t give it to you the first time around. Once you’re familiar with the song, you expect it immediately after the first chorus, but it doesn’t actually show up until the second chorus, again building anticipation and delaying satisfaction, but proving well worth it once the rush of the long-awaited “HEY!” finally hits.

7. “You’re so fine … and you’re mine.”
Another perfect lyrical nugget, encapsulating the awe inspired by a burgeoning new relationship in six simple words, and delivered with the perfect amount of wonder and glee by the Material Girl. Steinberg and Kelly liked it enough to be the only line in the verse to appear twice, and it’s easy to see why.

8. The drum fills.
Chic drummer Tony Thompson doesn’t get a ton of room to flex on “Like a Virgin,” naturally, but he does get a couple lead-ins where he’s able to add character to the song’s drum part with some brief fills to introduce the next chorus. Small flourishes, but they keep the song from ever getting too monotonous, and help announce the arrival of the refrain with the authority it deserves.

9. “Can’t you hear my heart beat … for the very first time?”
Madonna’s breathless ad libs throughout the song’s outro section keep “Virgin” enrapturing through to its final seconds, none more so than on this most sensual of phrasings. Surprisingly, the now-trademark ad libs weren’t even Madonna’s own, but were copied faithfully from the original Steinberg/Kelly demo, apparently much to the writers’ amazement.

10. The title.
Great song titles ask a question that the ensuing song proceeds to answer. The phrase “Like a Virgin” could mean so many different things — things mysterious, exciting, even a little bit scary — that the title is basically daring you to unwrap the song to find out what it’s all about. You have to listen to both the verses and chorus of “Virgin” to totally get to the bottom of it, but the payoff is there: A song that’s sexy as hell while maintaining a core sweetness and never coming off the slightest bit exploitative. It’s a rare thing to promise and a rarer thing to deliver, and it’s the primary reason why “Like a Virgin” is still such an enjoyable listen 35 years after its release.

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Like a Virgin exclusive 35th anniversary merchandise and contest coming up! (ICON)

Today, back in 1984, Madonna released her second studio album, Like A Virgin! While we’ll be celebrating its 35th Anniversary throughout the month with the launch of exclusive branded merchandise and a special contest, here are a few ways to get the party started:

– Listen to the album on Spotify:

– Check out some Like A Virgin videos and remixes on Madonna’s YouTube:

– Order The Like A Virgin album (and her other first 3 lps) on clear vinyl:

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Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ at 35: All the Songs Ranked From Worst to Best

Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Madonna has definitely made better albums than Like a Virgin — among them, Like a Prayer, Ray of Light and her 1983 self-titled debut — but her second LP changed the course of pop history. Released 35 years ago on Nov. 12, 1984, Like a Virgin touched us for the very first time in so many special ways. Although Chic’s Nile Rodgers served as producer, it was Madonna who was the one making boss moves here.

In celebration of the Billboard 200-topping album’s 35th anniversary, we put on a white wedding dress and ranked all the tracks on this ’80s classic.

9. “Pretender”

There is a big drop-off in quality in the last third of the album, as demonstrated by this, one of four tracks that Madonna co-wrote with Stephen Bray for Like a Virgin. They would go on to do greater things together in the future, including “Express Yourself” and “Into the Groove” (which was added to a 1985 reissue of Like a Virgin), but the forgettable synth-pop filler of “Pretender” shows that their songwriting partnership still needed some work.

8. “Stay”

Like a Virgin’s last track possesses some of the same ’60s girl-group charm as future Madonna-Bray tunes like “True Blue” and “Where’s the Party,” but it’s not in the same league as those gems. The hook in the chorus is not strong enough to make up for those weak lyrics, which basically repeat “stay darling.” But it doesn’t exactly make you want to stick around for more at the end of the album.

7. “Shoo-Bee-Doo”

The only song on the album written solely by Madonna, this tracks opens as a stripped-down piano ballad, with the Material Girl displaying some raw, tender emotion.The track then turns into a deceptively bouncy ditty as she tries to get through to her confused guy. It’s refreshing to hear Madonna sounding so innocent here — like she could actually be a virgin.

6. “Angel”

When it was released as the third single from Like a Virgin, “Angel” had the dubious distinction of having a superior B-side in “Into the Groove,” one of Madonna’s all-time classics (from her 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan). Still, the song hit No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the strength of an irresistible giddiness that starts with those twinkling synths and giggles right at the beginning. The swoon is real.

5. “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”

Having included nothing but dance tracks on her self-titled debut, Madonna had yet to prove she could handle a ballad. But on this, the only ballad on Like a Virgin, she demonstrated that — while her vocal abilities may have been limited at the time — she could successfully slow it down. She brings a real authenticity to this Rose Royce cover — it’s by far the most soulful thing on the album — and really lets you see “through the windows of my eyes.”

4. “Over and Over”

It’s a testament to how many hits Like a Virgin had that “Over and Over” was never released as a single. The best of the Madonna-Bray tunes on Virgin, this had single written all over it. A synth-pop throbber with some of the punk attitude of “Burning Up,” it builds and builds to delirious bliss. Taking that uplifting refrain of “I get up again, over and over” to heart, you may find yourself pogoing up to the “highest mountain” by the time it’s all over.

3. “Dress You Up”

On the final single from Like a Virgin — which was the last track added to the album — Madonna promises to dress her man up in some head-to-toe loving. Her fourth top 5 Hot 100 hit off of the LP, it completely captures her in the process of becoming a sex-positive icon. For a song that Madonna didn’t have a hand in writing — Andrea LaRusso and Peggy Stanziale did the honors — it sounds so much like her. Or at least the Madonna she was back in 1984.

2. “Material Girl”

Long before Madame X entered the public consciousness, this was the tune that coined Madonna’s most famous nickname. As with many of her classic ’80s singles, it’s hard to separate the song from the video, but even more so with this one: Her spin on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes established her as a Marilyn Monroe-esque figure in her own right. This was the real beginning of the Blond Ambition era. The song itself may not hold up as well as some of her other early stuff, but this No. 2 Hot 100 hit is still synth-pop perfection.

1. “Like a Virgin”

The title track of Like a Virgin is on the short list of Madge’s best — and biggest — singles. Madonna’s first Hot 100 topper changed the game for her, taking her from the downtown dance diva she was on her eponymous debut to the future Queen of Pop. Written by the ’80s hitmaking team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, the song paved the way for other female pop artists — from Janet Jackson and Britney Spears to Beyoncé and Ariana Grande — to unapologetically explore the sexual wilderness. And 35 years later, it’s still catchy AF.

More at Billboard

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Happy 35th to ‘Like a Virgin’ one of the greatest iconic and legendary albums of all time

Happy 35th to one of the greatest legendaries albums of all time; Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’. Not only legendary but also one of the most succesful albums of all time, and how about that iconic cover artwork?

To check out more on Like a Virgin:

  • Check out our Album Promo page, tons of original memorabilia, press articles, facts, video and more
  • Check out our Discography, which is always updating with new items
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1. While a lot of Colosseum concerts seem to be tryouts for longer-term residencies, nothing about Madonna’s performance suggested that it would be suited for an extended stay in Vegas. In an approach similar to her last several tours, Madonna omitted most of her biggest hits in favor of playing nearly every song from her latest album, June’s Madame X, and the hits she did include were often presented in truncated or reworked formats. She took the stage at midnight (for a show scheduled to start at 10:30), devoted lengthy segments to talking directly to the crowd and did not seem to care that at least half the audience acted openly hostile, heckling and booing even after the delayed show finally started. This was an ambitious performance piece from an artist still determined to challenge herself and her audience, not the career victory lap people expect from a Vegas residency.

2. As has been the case with her uneven studio output of the last decade or so, the songs from Madame X benefited from the live treatment, giving them a grander context than the sometimes cluttered studio versions. The odd middle section of “Dark Ballet” became an actual ballet, with interplay between Madonna and her talented, versatile troupe of dancers. “Batuka” was a glorious celebration of the power of music, thanks to the contributions of the Orquestra Batukadeiras, the musicians from Cape Verde whose drums and vocals inspired the song’s sound. And recent single “Crave” became a throwback disco dance party, complete with mirror ball.

3. Madonna’s current tour marks her first time playing theaters since 1985, and she clearly wanted to take advantage of the more intimate setting by connecting directly with the audience. That’s not easy with a crowd of rowdy drunks who just want to hear “Material Girl,” though, and thus some of the slower segments fell flat. A bit that she’s been doing every night on the tour, taking a Polaroid selfie and auctioning it off to an audience member for charity, went on way too long and was mostly just an invitation for pushy people to rush the stage. And her stories about living in Lisbon and discovering Portuguese music (the inspiration for much of Madame X) were less affecting when they kept getting interrupted. “I still love you, in spite of your hostility,” she said at one point, but that might have been a slight exaggeration.

Despite the smaller venue, the show’s production was every bit as majestic as Madonna’s arena tours, with a huge team of dancers (including her young daughters Mercy, Estere and Stella) and musicians (many of them recruited from Portugal). Set pieces included a German-expressionist dystopia, a Portuguese-style fado bar and strident political protest imagery for opener “God Control” and closer “I Rise.” Madonna complained of knee problems and a cold (and repeatedly asked for the air conditioning to be turned off), but the 61-year-old easily kept pace with the rest of the performers for the entire show, singing, dancing and changing costumes multiple times.

5. Among the handful of older songs that made their way into the set, “Human Nature” and “American Life” fit best with the theme of defiance, and Madonna emphasized the DGAF attitudes of both. Most of the classics sounded great, especially a soaring “Frozen” (set to a giant video of Madonna’s daughter Lourdes dancing) and main-set ender “Like a Prayer,” which was every bit as awe-inspiring and empowering as when it was first released. The fans who had stuck around filled in the empty seats at the front of the venue, and everyone sang along, in the kind of cathartic moment of unity that the best pop-music shows can deliver. Madonna finally gave the audience what they wanted; they just had to work for it.

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Madonna Adds 49th No. 1 on Dance Club Songs Chart With Swae Lee Collab ‘Crave’

Ricardo Gomes

Madonna earns her record-extending 49th No. 1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Songs chart, as “Crave,” with Swae Lee, ascends 2-1 on the Nov. 16-dated list.

The chart, and all rankings dated Nov. 16, will refresh on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

“Crave,” which marks Lee’s first No. 1 on the ranking, was remixed for clubs by Tracy Young, Benny Benassi and DJLW, among a host of others.

With 49 toppers on Dance Club Songs, which measures reports submitted by a national sample of club DJs and which launched as a national survey in the Billboard issue dated Aug. 28, 1976, Madonna outpaces runner-up Rihanna (33 No. 1s), while Beyoncé and Janet Jackson follow with 22 and 20, respectively.


“Crave” is Madonna’s third leader, all this year, from her album Madame X, following “Medellín,” with Maluma (June 29), and “I Rise” (Aug. 31). Madonna adds her ninth No. 1 this decade and has earned three each from her last three studio albums, with each triple tallied in a single year. Madonna also scored three No. 1s each from 2015’s Rebel Heart (“Living for Love,” “Ghosttown” and “B**** I’m Madonna,” featuring Nicki Minaj) and 2012’s MDNA (“Give Me All Your Luvin’,” featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., “Girl Gone Wild” and “Turn Up the Radio”).

“Crave” additionally marks Madonna’s ninth consecutive Dance Club Songs No. 1, her longest such streak. (Katy Perry holds the record with 18 straight No. 1s in 2009-17.) Twice before, Madonna managed seven straight No. 1s, first with “Causing a Commotion,” from the Who’s That Girl soundtrack (1987), through “Justify My Love,” from her first greatest hits set, The Immaculate Collection (1991), and then with Ray of Light‘s “Nothing Really Matters” (1999) through Music‘s “Impressive Instant” (2001). Madonna’s current run began with “Luvin’ ” in 2012.

In celebration of Madonna’s newest No. 1, here’s an updated look at her Dance Club Songs leaders. (Of note, at various points before Feb. 23, 1991, full albums were eligible to chart, which allowed for a full remix album of Madonna’s You Can Dance to reign. Plus, for titles that spent multiple weeks at No. 1, total frames in the lead are noted in parentheses.)

Madonna’s 49 Dance Club Songs No. 1s
1983, “Holiday”/”Lucky Star” (five weeks at No. 1)
1984, “Like a Virgin” (four)
1985, “Material Girl”
1985, “Angel”/”Into the Groove”
1987, “Open Your Heart”
1987, “Causing a Commotion (Remix)”
1988, You Can Dance (LP Cuts)
1989, “Like a Prayer” (two)
1989, “Express Yourself” (three)

1990, “Keep It Together”
1990, “Vogue” (two)
1991, “Justify My Love” (two)
1992, “Erotica”
1993, “Deeper and Deeper”
1993, “Fever”
1994, “Secret” (two)
1995, “Bedtime Story”
1997, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”
1998, “Frozen” (two)
1998, “Ray of Light” (four)
1999, “Nothing Really Matters” (two)
1999, “Beautiful Stranger” (two)

2000, “American Pie”
2000, “Music” (five)
2001, “Don’t Tell Me”
2001, “What It Feels Like for a Girl”
2001, “Impressive Instant” (two)
2002, “Die Another Day” (two)
2003, “American Life”
2003, “Hollywood”
2003, “Me Against the Music,” Britney Spears feat. Madonna (two)
2004, “Nothing Fails”
2004, “Love Profusion”
2005, “Hung Up” (four)
2006, “Sorry” (two)
2006, “Get Together”
2006, “Jump” (two)
2008, “4 Minutes,” Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland (two)
2008, “Give It 2 Me”
2009, “Celebration”

2012, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” Madonna feat. Nicki Minaj & M.I.A.
2012, “Girl Gone Wild”
2012, “Turn Up the Radio”
2015, “Living for Love”
2015, “Ghosttown”
2015, “B**** I’m Madonna,” Madonna feat. Nicki Minaj
2019, “Medellín,” Madonna & Maluma
2019, “I Rise”
2019, “Crave,” Madonna & Swae Lee

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Madame X Tour Las Vegas 11/7 FAN REVIEW

Wow, it is hard to know what to say about last night’s show, which has provoked some pretty passionate reactions! Factually what everyone is saying is absolutely correct, Madonna did come on very late (last time I checked my watch was 11:55pm and Madonna was still not on), and finish time was around 2:30am which is far too late, and I was totally exhausted at the end. People were leaving, one couple in front of me were demanding a refund at around 11:30 and left, so I moved into their seats, and quite a few others left, and their seats were soon filled up with some pretty passionate fans. So, it was fantastic to be surrounded by lots of really hard-core fans who were all enjoying themselves, though we all were quite tired. I had prepared myself for a long wait, and spent the time milling around chatting with all the other passionate funs, who were easy to spot as they were the ones dressed up, standing, smiling and not dozing off! Her Fado band who came on earlier in the night were fantastic and I would have love to have heard them more. Yes I wish she had come on 1-2 hours earlier, but she didn’t, I knew it in advance, so got over it pretty quickly.

Atmosphere in the Orchestra, was pretty good, once Madonna came on everyone stood up and a lot of people, including me, did stay standing for most of the show, but when I turned back I could see quite a few people sitting, which is understandable given the late hour, but I stood most of the concert and had no one behind me complaining. Caesars actually had a sign up at the box office encouraging patrons to stand up. I overheard one disgruntled fan tell another dancing fan that they would call security if they didn’t sit down, so wonder how that went…..:) Madonna came out into the audience twice, once during Medellin on the far left (facing the stage) and of course at the end for I Rise, on the far-right aisle.  For the beer discussion she sat on the stage in front of my section, so I had a wonderful view.

I won’t go into the actual set list etc as it has been covered to death, but from fans I spoke to afterwards, apart from her banter, it didn’t vary from the other shows they had seen. Highlights for me were Crave, which was a fantastic dance mix and at that point of the concert I had moved into the front row aisle and was dancing right in front of Madonna and she looked straight into my eyes!!!! God Control was amazing, and got everyone around me up on their feet. During Like a Prayer I was standing 2 metres away from my idol while she sings the first verse of my favourite song of hers, without doubt this is the absolute highlight of my Madonna career! Frozen as everyone says is amazing, I can only imagine those fans on opening night who saw it for the first time how spectacular it would have been, it was visually stunning, but already knowing it was Lourdes took some of the joy and wonder out of it for me, but take nothing away, it was a beautiful performance.

I knew that Madonna was suffering from a cold, and with that knowledge, I think you could tell. A lot of the singing was distorted through the mic (e.g. God Control) as per the recorded song, but I was so stunned with how beautiful her voice was in the Fado section when she sang the songs in Portuguese, absolutely sublime singing. To see this on a night when she was in fullforce would be an absolute treat. What a trooper she is for coming on when she wasn’t 100% – no doubt the revenue earned would be a motivating factor as well…..  The sound of the bass was pretty full on, I could feel my whole body vibrating sometimes during the fast-paced numbers, not sure if that is common, or they need to do some work on the sound levels at this particular venue.

Her knee was taped up with KT tape all around the thigh, so clearly that has been giving her some issues, and Madonna didn’t dance around as vigorously as I have seen her in the past, though not sure if that is the same for the full Madame X, or was cut down for the LV show.

It was absolutely an amazing experience and for me, well worth the 4-figure ticket price, (and I cannot wait to see her again in Paris, if I can swing it, I might to catch her in another city) though for some I can see how they would be disappointed. Most people reading this will be pretty passionate fans and know what to expect and will really cherish this beautiful experience, but for those casual fans, who want her to ‘dance and sing, get up and do your thing’ old style Madonna at a civilised hour, they may be disappointed for sure. For those who want to go and appreciate Madonna’s artistry, hear her message and have an intimate experience with an amazing woman, I cannot think of a better experience. I actually had someone came up to me after the concert and comment on how much they could see I was enjoying it, and I certainly was! What a (late) night. Madame X was everything I expected and more, both from a show, the intimacy and overall experience. Honestly the fact that I had my best Madonna experience at such a controversial concert is the icing on the cake!

For everyone who is yet to see the show, keep an open mind, enjoy the experience, plan for a late night and don’t get too hung up on the start time. 


Thank you to Beautiful Bicycle for sharing!

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MADAMEXGIVING : A Madonna Dance Party 11/27 at Rockbar

Going through Madame X withdrawal? Have no fear…Chauncey and Dexter are here! It’s time to give thanks to her majesty at MADAMEXGIVING: A Madonna Dance Party
Wednesday, November 27th

Celebrate The Queen of Pop with two of her biggest fans at Rockbar on the night before Thanksgiving in NYC!

DJ Chauncey D of Madonna Worship and Dexter Driscoll of Body Language team up for the very first time for a rowdy night of Madonna classics, rarities, remixes and more!

Drink specials at the bar
A special performance by LA DIVA CICCONE
and more…
$5 cover

Rockbar NYC
185 Christopher Street


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Fans boo, chant ‘refund’ as Madonna starts concert after midnight (MSN)

Many of Madonna‘s fans expressed themselves on Thursday night (er, rather Friday morning) when she was nearly two hours late for her Las Vegas concert.

An entertainment source tells that “over 500 refunds” were issued after Madge eschewed her 10:30 p.m. start time, instead taking the Caesars Palace Colosseum stage past midnight, which is technically Friday morning. The show also ran longer than anticipated, and eventually let out around 2:45 a.m.

Fans, however, weren’t pleased with the late start, many of them started booing and chanting the word “refund,” according to local reports and Twitter users.

“@madonna is completely disrespectful to audience starting so late. Lost a fan,” one person said.

Since doors for the show opened around 8 p.m., many fans were in the venue for over four hours before getting their first glimpse of Madonna.

Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes tweeted, “Reports that #Madonna took the stage at about 12:30 a.m. at the Colosseum last night/this morning. She is famously late to the stage, but this might be some sort of record.”

The blog Breathe Heavy noted, “Some people in attendance were annoyed, so it didn’t help that Madonna ribs the audience by essentially calling them poor, cursing up a storm and explaining her political views. It reportedly resulted in boos and chants for refunds.”

Many on social media noted that fans were sleeping during the show due to the time.

“You were seriously late to the show your fans payed good $ to see = disrespectful,” one Twitter user wrote. “Fans were walking out, if you can’t see that’s a problem you’ve a big problem on your hands.”

Irked by Madonna’s tardiness, one Twitter user said, “1.5 hours late. Indifferent-to-hostile audience. Juvenile attempts at humor met with audience silence. I’ve never seen anyone less in control of a room. Truly amateurish.”

The tweets all came after the concert was over in the wee hours of the morning, as the show was “phone free,” meaning concertgoers had to lock up up their cell phones.

Madge’s defenders noted that Madonna has been continuously late for her shows throughout her storied career, claiming attendees should have expected it.


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Madonna begins the first of 10 nights at the relatively intimate Wiltern instead of the sports arenas she usually plays. In a bold move, she’s primarily performing songs from her recent album, Madame X, a disparate collection of moods and styles ranging from electronica, house and hip-hop to Latin pop and traditional fado melancholia sung in three languages (English, Portuguese and Spanish). While not always cohesive, the eclectic settings — many of which were inspired by her sojourn in Lisbon — give Madonna intriguing spaces to contrast romantic passion with larger social issues such as gun control. “Everybody knows the damn truth/Our nation lied, we lost respect,” she sings on “God Control,” one of the record’s most ambitious tracks, which segues from funereal choral reverence into deceptively fizzy dance-pop and spacey rap. Through November 25.

The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Wed., Nov. 13, 9:30 p.m.; $160-$757. (213) 388-1400,

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