Madonna Teaming Up with Kim Kardashian Actually Makes a Lot of Sense

Madonna has entered her latest era as a skin-care aficionado and beauty guru. The queen of pop released her line of luxury skin care, MDNA Skin, last September, and now she’s teaming up with an unlikely but powerful force: Kim Kardashian West.

After hanging out at Guy Oseary’s annual post-Oscar party on Sunday night, Madonna and Kardashian united for a panel on their respective beauty lines at Barneys in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Madonna, up to date on social media as ever, posted a photo of the two to her Instagram. “The next minute I was having a serious chat about skin care and beauty with @kimkardashian! Fun Day #mdnaskin #beauty #science #skincare. #epic @mdnaskin #loveyourself.”

Some of her Instagram followers, as they are wont to do, pushed back hard: “I can’t believe the woman I looked up to n idolised since 1982 has completely fallen from grace, in my eyes, by associating herself with trash nobodies like that KKW. WHY MADONNA WHY!?!? Why did u think u needed her on board??!! So so disappointing!!”

What would be surprising, though, is if Madonna didn’t align herself with a modern star who, like nearly every female star who has emerged in the last 30 years, is influenced by Madonna herself. Always a master at marketing her image and expanding her influence, Madonna’s venture into skin care is utterly of the moment; Kylie Jenner may be the Kardashian who is most closely associated with that industry, but Kim’s not a bad second. Fifteen years ago Madonna was teaming up with Britney Spears to maintain her place in the pop-culture firmament. Today it’s Kim, and for good measure Cardi B, with whom she also posed for photos at her Oscar party.

And Kardashian, no stranger to self-marketing ingenuity, recognizes a good partnership when she sees one. She posted photos of her mingling and business dealing with Madonna to her Instagram Stories and Twitter, along with what could be considered the pair’s hashtag, MDNA X KKW.

While not everyone will understand Madonna’s methods in the moment, it’s all a part of her master plan, which will involve magnetic clay masks and outliving us all.

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What It’s Like to Spend Five Minutes With Madonna

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

An exclusive encounter with the MDNA SKIN guru about freebies, dry elbows and why authenticity matters: “It’s not a vanity project.”

If I could do it all over again — if a wrinkle in time allowed me to redo Tuesday from scratch — I would have coated my elbows with lotion in the morning, and probably added another layer in the afternoon. So much lotion. At least the left one, the left elbow, because that’s the one Madonna touched as she drove home a point about what most men get wrong about skin care. 

“Men need to understand that they need to moisturize. They can’t go around being hairy beasts all the time. I tell that to my sons,” said Madonna, standing inside a private suite converted into a junket-style interview space on the second floor of Barneys New York, Beverly Hills. “You can actually get acne from having too dry skin. So, it’s important to take care of your skin. I don’t know why they don’t. They can just go around shaving and not bathing, and we have to do all the work! That’s not fair. When I touch a man’s arm…”

That’s when the 59-year-old global superstar turned activist turned skin care mogul, dressed in a Temperley London jumpsuit with Mindi Mond earrings, reached for my left arm, the one flaunting a desperately dry elbow, and ran her fingers toward the unfortunate joint. You know how this ends, but at least it came in the final moments of a 5-minute, 40-second interview because recovery may have been impossible.

“I don’t want…your elbows are a little dry, OK…,” she says, quickly pulling her hand back, the one covered with Kismet bling on each finger to spell out MDNA (and a Yeprem handpiece), the same name of her luxury skincare line, MDNA SKIN, which is what she’s here to promote just after 6 p.m. on March 6, 2018. I immediately apologized for the “error” that landed me on the “most men” list by offering the fact-based excuse that I had basically been working 24 hours straight covering Sunday night’s Oscars through Monday night print deadlines.

“Well, we’re all still a bit dehydrated from Oscar night,” explained Madonna, who had better reason than I since she hosted another iteration of her annual Oscar party at manager Guy Oseary’s Beverly Hills estate where the crowd included Kim Kardashian West and Oscar winners like Sam Rockwell. That event featured a private performance by Cardi B. and a photo booth overseen by French artist J.R., who was nominated for best documentary for his work with Agnés Varda on Faces Places and someone who probably has very nicely moisturized elbows. 

J.R.’s body parts never came up in the 90210, though, when Madonna welcomed Pret-a-Reporter inside the suite to talk exclusively about skin care because she’s a few years deep into running MDNA SKIN, a Barneys exclusive she started in partnership with Japan-based MTG. It debuted in the United States in September 2017 (after launching first in Japan in 2014) but there’s a new product, the Reinvention Cream, that has just been put on Barneys shelves and on www.mdnaskin.us. The four-in-one retails for $75 and acts as a lotion, serum, cream and mask. MDNA SKIN includes face wash, rose mist, serum, eye mask, finishing cream, chrome clay mask, rejuvenator set and a travel kit.

You could probably use any of those on elbows, too.

Madonna has said that the line is for everybody, not just women, and she has admitted to liberal use of her products on all parts of her body including her famous derrière. But the first thing she said during these aforementioned 5 minutes and 40 seconds was, “Welcome to my padded cell,” as Pret-a-Reporter stepped into the suite which was covered in brown suede padded walls. It was quiet in there, nothing like the scene downstairs on Foundation Level where the Queen of Pop made a pit stop to greet Barneys customers, super fans and pose for a photos. (It was also nothing like the scene she would encounter later in the evening when she shared the stage with Kardashian West at YouTube Space for a joint conversation about beauty, workouts and Sunday night.) 

Back to Barneys, MDNA SKIN and how it all comes full circle. About the latter — in order to achieve the same standards for this interview, let’s start back at the beginning with question No. 1 for a full transcript of how much Madonna can say in under six minutes.

How was it down there?

“It’s fun, crazy! I was never a sales person, it’s kind of a fun, exotic moment for me.”

How did the launch event here compare to the one you had in New York?

“It’s different, it’s a younger crowd here and more enthusiastic. New Yorkers are a little bit…what’s the word? You know, New York energy and LA energy is very different anyway — equally interesting, just a different way of expressing it. New Yorkers are harder to impress.”

What have you learned from the MDNA launch that you applied to the Reinvention product?

“As we go, I’m learning that it’s really important to let people know about the authenticity of a product, where it comes from, and what makes my skin care line unique. And making sure to emphasize that it’s not a vanity project, that it’s something that I really believe in and a product line that I use. I’ve always stressed that and made that very clear to people, but you can’t stress it enough in a way.”

You have said that you always paid attention to skin care even when you were a kid. Is there something you’ve learned from MDNA that you wished you had known back then?

“In Michigan, there’s not a culture of sunbathing so I never was in the sun, I never smoked. Those are two things that I’m really glad I didn’t do. I always took good care of my skin, I don’t have any skin regrets. I may have gotten two tans in the 80’s and been forced to go to the Caribbean with my boyfriend at the time. But, you know, it’s OK.”

You have six children, famous friends and a billion fans, all of whom probably want MDNA SKIN freebies. What’s your strategy on who gets MDNA swag?

“I always share it with my friends and it’s important to share it with people who are beauty influencers, or people who can spread the message to the masses about my skin care line, so that’s important. You have to spend money to make money, that’s just good business practice. So, you have to give it away to the right people. And of course, my children steal it all the time — that’s a different kind of freebie.”

You’ve got this new product, and there are now close to 9 MDNA SKIN products. Where do you go from here?

“The thing about this line is that the skincare line, and the thermal water in this skin care line is from Italy, from Tuscany, which is in my DNA. That’s where where I got the idea of MDNA. The Reinvention Cream, which has the resurrection plant in it, comes from Africa. What’s interesting and significant about this plant is that it can go for a whole year without water, and you give it a few drops of water and it blossoms and grows and flowers. It’s one of the most resilient plants on the planet, and it’s found primarily in Africa. I have a big connection to Africa and I do a lot of work there; I spend a lot of time there. A portion of the proceeds go to Raising Malawi, my charity organization in Africa, that is primarily focused on education and building schools and hospitals. So it all comes full circle. And it will continue to expand.”

(No word on whether that expansion will (ever) include a cream specifically for one poor man’s elbows.)

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Madonna on Her Epic Oscar Parties, Plus: Her Secret to Success


In an exclusive interview, “Extra” Mario Lopez spoke to singer Madonna at the fashion-forward Barneys New York department store in Beverly Hills as she promoted the newest product in her very own skin care line!

Madonna was back at work after a celebratory weekend. Of her wildly popular Oscars party, she said, “I had so much fun. I always tell everyone the Oscar party is work, but we have to have fun while we work. I have to create a magical environment for people to come into.”

Madonna has managed to kept herself current over several decades, but what’s her secret? She revealed, “I think it’s a combination of things. I continue to be an incredibly curious person. Curiosity and being hungry for knowledge and trying new things. Taking risks is important. I’ve never been comfortable, and people have always given me a little bit of a hard time for my entire career, and in a way, that’s a good thing.”

During her illustrious career, Madonna has fought to be heard. Praising the #TIMESUP and #MeToo movements, she emphasized, “I feel like I’ve been fighting for what they’ve been fighting for — I’ve been doing that my entire career. I feel like all the hard times that I’ve received have been because I’m a female. I’m glad and happy to finally have some solidarity.”

As for why she’s now living in Lisbon, Portugal, Madonna explained, “Soccer. My son wants to be a soccer player. Of all the choices we had for soccer academies, I liked this one best. I’m a soccer mom, number one!”

As Madonna showed off MDNA Skin, she pointed out, “This is not a women’s skin care line, it’s for everybody.”

A portion of the sales from the line’s The Reinvention Cream will be going to Madonna’s nonprofit organization, Raising Malawi, which provides Malawian children with one full year of schooling. She tried out the product on Mario, pointing out, “You better use it, because dry-ass skin is not good!”

MDNA Skin can be found exclusively at Barney’s New York.

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Madonna visits MDNA SKIN Counter at Barneys New York, Beverly Hills – press pictures

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – MARCH 06: Madonna visits MDNA SKIN Counter at Barneys New York, Beverly Hills on March 6, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Madonna’s MDNA SKIN)
Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

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Listen to Lana Del Rey’s “You Must Love Me” cover

“Andrew Lloyd Webber has been one of my primary inspirations in music,” Lana Del Rey.

  
 

Lana Del Rey has covered “you Must Love Me,” a song originally written for the musical Evita and recorded in the ’90s by Madonna. The song will feature on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Unmasked: The Platinum Collection and can be heard above.

 

Evita, based on the life of Argentinian leader Eva Perón, first emerged on London’s West End in the 1970s. A movie version, starring Madonna in the lead role, followed in 1996.

Unmasked is being released to coincide with musical impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 70th birthday and includes his greatest musical hits alongside newly released tracks.

In a statement to press, Lana Del Rey said: “Andrew Lloyd Webber has been one of my primary inspirations in music, so to do a cover of one of his songs is a dream. I especially love this particular song, “You Must Love Me,” because of how unique the melody is. I’ve been incredibly inspired by all of Andrew’s work from Phantom of the Opera to Evita.”

Earlier this year Lana Del Rey was the subject of a kidnapping plot. One man was arrested in close proximity to one of her concerts.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Ethan Miller/Getty.

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Madonna Record Store Day 2018 exclusives? Read on….

Through the Steve Hoffman forums, a big list of possible Record Store Day 2018 releases has been leaked. Once again, with these leaks, we can’t confirm them, unless they’ve been reported previously on this site and announced officially.

The official list is coming on March 6.

— Madonna You Can Dance (Mix 2)(Vinyl)(RSD 2018 Exclusive)
— Madonna Madonna (Picture Disc Vinyl)(RSD 2018 Exclusive)

Read full article at modern-vinyl.com

 

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Body of Evidence blu-ray release June 12, 2018

Pop superstar Madonna stars with Willem Dafoe, Anne Archer, and Julianne Moore in the bold and titillating erotic thriller, Body Of Evidence.

Rebecca Carlson (Madonna) is a powerful woman. Intelligent, successful, and breathtakingly beautiful, she can bring almost any man to his knees … and that’s exactly where she wants them. But when a night of unbridled sexual abandon results in the death of a prominent businessman, Rebecca finds herself on trial for murder. Now it’s up to her attorney (Dafoe) to prove her innocence … but when he becomes entangled in her web of erotic games, his road to the truth proves to have as many curves as his enigmatic and seductive client!

PRE-ORDER HERE

Product Information

Released: June 12, 2018 • Available in US & Canada

DISCS 1
RUN-TIME 101 min
ASPECT RATIO 1.85:1
COLOR Color
LANGUAGE English
REGION A
RATING Unrated
PRODUCTION DATE 1993
CLOSED-CAPTIONED No
SUBTITLES English

 

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Brugotta Tribute Madonna op 14 april – Madonna tribute in Belgium (not translated)

27 feb 2018

In 2017 vond de allereerste en nu al memorabele editie plaats van de driejaarlijkse Brugotta Awards. Driejaarlijks, maar dat  wil niet zeggen dat  we onze Stadsschouwburg in de tussenliggende jaren links laten liggen voor het vele talent in onze stad. Wel integendeel!

Dit seizoen palmen verschillende generaties Brugse muzikanten de Stadsschouwburg in om hulde te brengen aan niemand minder dan de onbetwiste koningin van de popmuziek: Madonna. 2018 is het jaar waarin de controversiële popdiva met oneindig veel wereldhits op haar palmares, de kaap van de zestig rondt.  

11 geselecteerde Brugse bands

27 Brugse bands stuurden Cultuurcentrum Brugge een originele ode aan The Queen of Pop. Uit die inzendingen selecteerde Cultuurcentrum Brugge, samen met Metronoom, 11 Brugse bands die het Tribute-podium mogen betreden: A New Difference, Bouvier, Tim De Roo, Eszra, Look o Kool, Seven Oaks, Shuriken II, Steel Orchid, Charlie Swyngedouw, Steffie Van Volsem en We are ooh people.  

Ook dit keer kunnen we rekenen op de muzikale ondersteuning en voorbereiding van Steven van Havere en MetronoomChris Dusauchoit, treedt net als bij de Brugotta Awards, opnieuw op als presentator.

Verwacht je aan een avond vol van eigenzinnige interpretaties van het tijdloze oeuvre van Madonna. We sluiten de avond, net als de Brugotta Awards, af met een afterparty in de foyer van de Stadsschouwburg.

BRUGOTTA TRIBUTE – MADONNA

Zaterdag 14 april 2018, 20.00u
Stadsschouwburg, Vlamingstraat 29, 8000 Brugge

www.ccbrugge.be/tribute

050 44 30 60
IN&UIT BRUGGE
www.ticketsbrugge.be

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Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’ at 20: Celebrating Her Psychedelic Masterwork

Happy birthday to Ray of Light, the masterwork that introduced the world to Cosmic Psychedelic Madonna, 20 years ago this week. Ray of Light was the queen’s first proper album in four years, dropping on March 3rd, 1998, a week after she unveiled her new sound with the single “Frozen.” It was Madonna’s motherhood album, after giving birth to daughter Lourdes. It was her avant-techno move, with U.K. producer William Orbit. It was her spiritual-awakening statement. But Ray of Light holds up as her most soulful and passionate music ever – a libido-crazed disco-hippie mom pushing 40 and proud of it, flaunting her artiest emotional extremes. As “Ray of Light” boomed out of radios all year, with Madonna chanting her mantra – “And I feeeel! And I feeeel!” – she seemed to be feeling twice as hard as everyone else.

By all rights, Ray of Light should have been a pretentious disaster. Yet it turned out to be a new peak, setting Ms. Ciccone off on a glorious four-year run: the 1999 single “Beautiful Stranger,” the 2000 album Music, the 2001 Drowned World Tour. If you’re the kind of fan who reveres her as a musician first, not a celebrity, this was the hot streak of her life. You could compare it to Elvis Presley’s mature phase with the ’68 Comeback Special and From Elvis in Memphis. Except at 42, Elvis was dead, while Madonna was just gearing up for her next phase, where she discovered Kabbalah, converted to Judaism and started asking people to call her “Esther.” Never say she isn’t ecumenical.

Ray of Light is easily the most intense pop album ever made by a 39-year-old – Madonna spends these songs celebrating her newborn daughter, mourning her long-lost mother and reckoning with her messed-up adult self. She also contemplates her newfound Lilith Fair–era consciousness, going off about karma and yoga. As she explained in Billboard, “I feel like I’ve been enlightened, and that it’s my responsibility to share what I’ve learned so far with the world.” Ominous words from any pop star, let alone this one. But she made it feel mighty real. (Like another album we all loved in 1998: Hello Nasty, a spiritual manifesto from the opening act on her first tour, the Beastie Boys.) Even those of us who’d devoted our lives to worshipping Madonna weren’t prepared for an album this great.

Strange as it seems now, people back then were mildly obsessive about the idea of Madonna being “over.” Predicting the end of her career was a weirdly popular Nineties fad, like swing dancing or psychic hotlines. The semi-monthly “is she finally done?” debate kicked up every time she did something ridiculous, which she did all the damn time, from her poetic musings in the Sex book (“My pussy is the temple of learning”) to her erotic thriller Body of Evidence, where she played a serial killer who specialized in humping men to death. The U.K. music mag Melody Maker, for its 1992 year-in-review issue, polled experts on the year’s big question: Has Madonna turned into a pathetic exhibitionist? The wisest answer came from (of all people) Right Said Fred’s lead singer: “Being an exhibitionist is only pathetic when nobody’s watching you.”

 

The queen kept expanding her sound – the Babyface collabo “Take a Bow” spent seven weeks at Number One in 1995. She also did vocal training for the Evitasoundtrack. (Count me among the fans who thinks Babyface taught her a hell of a lot more about singing than Andrew Lloyd Webber did.) But it was still considered exotic to take Madonna seriously for her music, rather than her image. It took Ray of Light to change that.

Her producer William Orbit had just worked wonders with U.K. ingenue Beth Orton, on her classic folkie-techno debut Trailer Park. Madonna playfully renamed herself “Veronica Electronica,” throwing in lots of what she and Orbit called “teenage-angst guitars.” They set the tone in the opening ballad, an emotional powerhouse called “Drowned World/Substitute for Love.” There’s too many gimmicks in the mix: moody electro bleeps, wind chimes, sitar, drum ‘n’ bass snare rattles, Sixties string samples, a very 1998-sounding vibraphone. Yet it never feels crowded or contrived – Madonna gives herself room to breathe deep, as she sings about letting go of the past and moving on. She keeps looping back to a mantra from John Lennon: “Now I find I’ve changed my mind.” (The Beatles’ “Help,” where John confessed his adult despair, was the perfect song to echo here.) When the rock guitar kicks in, at the three-minute point, it hits like a moment of pure serenity.

The goth power ballad “Frozen” was the first hit, but “Ray of Light” was the one that really summed up the new Madonna in one big kundalini disco rush. It came from the same place as the Talking Heads’ similarly titled Remain in Light, about how the world moves on a woman’s hips. The album’s premise was trip-hop, as we called it then – the moody electro-funk sound perfected by Massive Attack, whose mind-freak opus Mezzanine dropped around the same time. (She’d worked with them in 1995 – a bluer-than-blue cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.”) I interviewed Massive Attack in March 1998, right after Ray came out, and naively asked if they’d noticed how much it sounded like them. Yes, in fact, they noticed. As Daddy G cheerfully told me, “I put on that first track and said, ‘Here we go again.'”

The music is full of odd hooks – the Moroccan ghaita of “Swim,” the bossa nova of “To Have and Not to Hold,” the Britpop guitar in “Ray of Light.” She makes the Sanskrit chant “Shanti/Ashtangi” sound like Devo’s version of “Working in a Coal Mine.” In “Sky Fits Heaven,” she takes her sacred text from a Gap ad – the iconic TV spot starring bartender/poet Max Blagg and Twin Peaks siren Madchen Amick: “The sky fits heaven, so ride it!” (She even cut Blagg in on the credits.) And her spiritual pretensions were ripe for mockery – hence the brilliant parody in the Drew Barrymore flick Music and Lyrics, where the pop star shares her “Buddhism-in-a-thong philosophy.” 

Ray of Light sounds like an anthology of “only in the Nineties” ideas, from its coffeehouse-techno vibe to the whole notion of seeking mystic wisdom from a Gap ad. Yet the most Nineties thing about it is the way Madonna assumes you’ll put in the time the music demands. It’s pop designed to unfold over time, from an artist serenely confident her listeners will pay attention. If Ray of Light came out now, it would get dismissive Friday-morning quickie reviews listing the flaws of her latest rollout strategy. But because people still paid for their music in 1998, people really did put in the time to absorb it. Buying an album was an emotional commitment – walking into the store, plucking the CD off the rack, taking it into your home. You gave it a few chances before you gave up. So people stuck with Ray of Light, even if they initially laughed at it.

She picked the right moment to swerve hard into adulthood, just as a new crop of teen stars was rising. By the end of 1998, MTV’s newest star was a young Madonna fan named Britney Spears. Madonna kept tarting up the psychedelia with her bizarre 1999 paisley-disco hit “Beautiful Stranger,” from the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. It’s Madonna at her most breezily seductive, not to mention her funniest. (It’s also a righteous salute to then-incarcerated black hippie pioneer Arthur Lee and his band Love, goosing their 1966 flower-child classic “She Comes in Colors.”) Music was equally masterful, except now she was into line-dancing and cowgirl hats. Yet Ray of Light still stands apart in Madonna’s career. After 20 years of heavy listening, it remains the album of a lifetime.

Madonna’s collaborators on ‘Ray of Light’ delve into the making of the star’s pivotal 1998 LP. Watch below. 

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MADONNA DANCES AND SINGS To Her Own Song (to ‘Everybody’)

Madonna let the music take control and found herself in a dance-off … but she had the upper hand because she was grooving to her own hit track.

Madge hit the dance floor at Catch NYC late Thursday night while celebrating the birthday of her lead dancer, Loic Mabanza. She showed up after midnight with a large Gucci gift bag for Loic, and partied with the crew on the rooftop … even when the DJ got personal by playing “Everybody.”

That’s usually a party faux pas, but Madonna and Loic were into it.

We’re told Madonna stayed on the floor for a while — dancing, not only to her classics, but also current hip-hop. She showed people pics of her daughter, Mercy James, too.

Jeezy was also in attendance, and snapped a pic with his fellow ‘born legend.’

More at TMZ

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Official Charts Flashback 1998: Madonna – Frozen

With many of us experiencing a cold snap this week, it’s seems fitting that this week’s Flashback looks back at Madonna’s Frozen, which was Number 1 on the Official UK Singles Chart 20 years ago this week. 

The pop comeback that all other pop comebacks are measured against, Frozen was the beginning of a bold new direction for Madonna. She’d previously dabbled in maturer-sounding pop on albums Bedtime Stories and Erotica, but together with producer William Orbit and songwriter Patrick Leonard, Frozen and its parent album Ray Of Light saw her take things a step further, delving into dance music of the deeply spiritual kind.

Orbit’s signature ambient electronica sound proved the perfect match for Madge, who in the years previous had given birth to her daughter Lourdes, gained an interest in Kabbalah and Eastern mysticism and had taken on the title role on the film adaptation of the musical Evita. The resulting Frozen was a grand yet uncomplicated statement about her new perspective on life.

The song’s icy, gothic music video was shot by British artist Chris Cunningham and sees Madonna shape shifting into a flock of crows and a black dog in the middle of the desert. The symbolism of it all! Praise from the critics was unanimous and the visual was even awarded an MTV Music Video Award in 1998. 

Frozen was Madonna’s first single to debut at Number 1 in the UK, shifting 196,604 copies in its opening week. It’s total combined sales to date stand at 582,353, split between 560,000 physical sales/downloads and 2.2 million streams. It’s her ninth bestseller in the UK – check out the full Top 40 here.

Read back our interview with William Orbit about working on Madonna’s Ray Of Light and Frozen from 2015 here

Elsewhere in the Official Singles Chart Top 40 this week in 1998, Madonna had knocked Cornershop’s Brimful Of Asha down to 3 after one week at the top, and British band Space scored their biggest chart hit with The Ballad Of Tom Jones ft. Cerys Matthews (of Cataonia fame) at Number 4. 

The Top 10 also featured two songs that would go on to be huge hits; Leanne Rimes’ How Do I Live at 7 and Robyn’s Show Me Love at 8.

View the full Top 100 Official Singles Chart from this week in 1998 

Listen to the UK Top 40 from this week in 1998 on our streaming channels! Subscribe to our weekly Flashback playlist on SpotifyDeezerApple Music:

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Madonna’s Ray of Light 20 years on: still the peak of empowered pop

The year is young, but Grammy chieftain Neil Portnow’s suggestion that female artists need to “step up” will take some beating for tone-deafness. To help today’s heroines unseat the likes of Bruno Mars, he might look to the 1999 ceremony

The 41st edition of the awards properly reflected the female energy coursing through late 90s mainstream music. Only one out of 10 nominees for the record and album of the year categories was male-fronted, while Shania TwainSheryl Crow and Garbage’s Shirley Manson were all in their mid-30s; The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill ran out eventual winner in the album bracket. Madonna, snubbed in any meaningful category for so long, also finally got her dues. She took home three for Ray of Light and its title track. But, if anything, the album’s stock was modest then compared to now.

Ray of Light is probably Madonna’s most widely acknowledged classic. It is held as a high-water mark of pop-as-art, a work that still rings out as believable and true from a star who adopts and discards phases, passions and philosophies at pace. That era of Madge inspired half a catwalk’s worth of memorable looks (she was variously a geisha, a gothic witch, a gap-year student and a raven-haired mother reborn over rushing skylines), with such a superabundance of hits that Sky Fits Heaven was withheld as a single so as not to cannibalise the title track’s success.

Last week saw an outpouring of celebratory 20th-anniversary articles; later this week, London gay club the Glory is throwing a two-stage celebration of everything Ray of Light. Even for a cabaret haunt, the amount of effort being poured into one-time-only tribute costumes speaks to the devotion of this period.

Madonna’s look for Frozen, recreated by Margo Marshall, who will appear at the Glory’s Ray of Light cabaret event.
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 Madonna’s look for Frozen, recreated by Margo Marshall, who will appear at the Glory’s Ray of Light cabaret event. Photograph: Alexander Nunney

The album sold well in the US but didn’t exactly shatter the charts. By the end of 1998, it had sold just shy of 2.7m copies, ranking 18th in the Billboard end-of-year rundown. (Which illustrates how charged the market was then; last year’s bestselling physical release, Ed Sheeran’s ÷, managed sales of only 1.1m.) It’s consistently strong front-to-back, but only Frozen could reasonably be regarded as a contender for her greatest-ever song. William Orbit’s aquatic sound palette was a fine match, but so too was Mirwais Ahmadzaï’s mechanised funk on 2000 follow-up LP Music, yet Mirwais doesn’t field interviews about his impact to this day. So why does Ray of Light merit the obsession?

For one, the themes tackled are more complex than your usual dance-pop smash. She reconciles her complicit role as a bratty star in a male-controlled industry (Nothing Really Matters), the breakdown of love with Lourdes’ father, Carlos Leon (Frozen), and, purportedly, her stormy marriage to Sean Penn (The Power of Good-Bye). For Anna Cafolla, the Quietus pop critic who had an Irish-Catholic upbringing, the stark closer Mer Girl, wherein Madonna lets loose the weight of witnessing her mother’s overgrown grave, hit home hardest: “Lush, haunting, one I still feel particularly close to as a woman now … It also makes me want to give my own mum a really big hug.”

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It’s easy to poke fun at Madonna extolling the virtues of Kabbalah and her subsequent legacy of faux depth, but this sells her short. “We didn’t have Instagram grids to analyse an artist’s psyche,” says Cafolla, “[so] you took the intimacy you got.” As a more open-hearted reinvention, Ray of Light also flipped the narrative that Madonna’s moment in the sun was over. A lengthy losing streak of public evisceration in the mid-90s through her cycle of Erotica, Sex and generally standoffish behaviour led her to pull back and exhumed some ghosts of old. As a moment of reflection and acknowledgment of her position in the pop landscape, Nothing Really Matters just about shades Bitch I’m Madonna.

Timing played a major part. “We all thought Y2K was plunging us into darkness and leprosy,” recalls John Sizzle, of the Glory’s queen bees and a Madonna diehard who claims to have attended every global tour but one. There’s no small irony in the fact that an album by arch-exhibitionist Madonna provided a soothing balm for frazzled pre-millennium nerves and a path back to “the basics of nature, love and spirituality”, according to Sizzle. There’s another irony, too, that by adopting a more passive mode she placed a renewed spotlight on her sharp talent and capacity for impact, and in doing so restored her seat at the high table of pop.

Read full article at TheGuardian

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So what is Madonna working on?

So Madonna is working on something new involving a photoshoot, Steven Klein, The Fat Jewish and her usual stylists. She tagged MDNA Skin and since she’s worked with The Fat Jewish on an MDNA Skin commercial before, you might think they’re working on a new campaign. Or is she starring in a new Moschino campaign? Nicki Richards is in Lisbon too…..who knows! Time will tell. The only fact we know right now, is that she looks absolutely stunning.

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What Gianni Versace’s Death Tells Us About Madonna’s ‘Ray Of Light’ Renaissance

“Traveling, traveling / In the arms of unconsciousness,” Madonna cooed on the Björk-assisted single “Bedtime Story,” released in 1995. Overexposed and castigated after the ruckus surrounding “Erotica” and the carnal coffee-table book Sex, she’d forged a reverie about disconnecting from reality. “Today is the last day that I’m using words / They’ve gone out, lost their meaning.”

But by 1998, Madonna had awoken again. On “Sky Fits Heaven,” the seventh track from the enlightened electro-rock masterpiece “Ray of Light,” she repeated a familiar phrase ― except here it ended on an upbeat: “Traveling, traveling / Watching the signs as I go.” This time, pop music’s doyenne of reinvention was anything but unconscious. 

Her footpath from the “Bedtime Story” era to “Ray of Light,” which turns 20 on Feb. 22, places Madonna at the nexus of celebrity culture circa 1997 (when she spent five months writing and recording the album) and early 1998 (when she released and promoted the album, which went on to win three Grammys and six MTV Video Music Awards). Nearing 40 and competing with a fresh generation of A&R-packaged teenyboppers, Madonna had risked aging out of mainstream stardom, one of the many sectors of society that isn’t kind to mature women. Instead, the ambient fizzes and mystical flurries on “Ray of Light” formed a cutting-edge benediction that rehabilitated Madonna’s image ― a coup few legacy acts could hope for today. She was a new mother, animated by Kabbalah and Ashtanga yoga, but uninterested in maternity leave.

Madonna’s late ’90s eminence can be further distilled through one morsel about the creation of “Ray of Light,” her seventh studio disc: On July 15, 1997, the day she recorded the gritty meditation “Swim,” Donatella Versace called Madonna to report that her brother Gianni had been shot outside his Miami mansion. 

William Orbit, the English producer who helped shape “Ray of Light,” has related this anecdote at least twice. The first time was in 1998, during an interview with Music Week.

“The day she [recorded ‘Swim’] she got a call on the way to the studio that her next-door neighbor Versace had been murdered,” he said. “Lyrically it was written before that, but it is topical.”

And again in 2002.

“We were recording ‘Swim’ on the day Versace was murdered,” Orbit told Q magazine. “Madonna was very friendly with him and his sister, Donatella, who was in the street, distraught, on her cellphone to Madonna. But she did the vocal, which is probably why it has such an emotional impact.”

Earlier this month, I emailed Orbit to ask for more details. “There’s quite a story around that,” he confirmed, declining an interview in the same breath. Representatives for Madonna and Donatella Versace did not respond to my inquiries.

Madonna was famously chummy with the Calabria-born Versaces, first posing for their fashion line’s ad campaign in 1995 when, as Orbit indicates, she and Gianni both owned townhouses on 64th Street in Manhattan (though they weren’t next door to each other). A month and a half after recording “Swim,” she penned the couturier’s eulogy for Time magazine, recalling, among other lavish details, the days she borrowed his well-staffed Italian villa. “I’ve got a pocketful of memories in my Versace jeans, and they’re not going anywhere,” she wrote.

Read full article at HuffingtonPost

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‘Ray Of Light’ At 20: Madonna’s Experimental Grammy Winning Album

“And I feel like I just got home.”

So goes the lyric in the title track from “Ray of Light”, Madonna’s seventh studio album released on Feb. 22, 1998. The album remains one of Madge’s most successful and critically-acclaimed: a celebration of spirituality, self-reflection infused with electronica and the dance floor beats. So, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its release, let’s take a look back at the album Rolling Stone placed number 28 on its list of the 100 Best Albums of The ’90s.

 
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