If anyone could do a backflip in heels, it’s Gigi Goode, one of the top contestants from season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. But that actually wasn’t the hardest part of channeling Madonna in her rendition of “Papa Don’t Preach,” Gigi tells Women’s Health in the latest episode of “Performance Review.” (As it turns out, mastering the iconic chug in the number was much harder for Gigi.)
In the video, Gigi shares tons of behind-the-scenes stories from “Madonna: The Unauthorized Rusical,” one of the highlights of the season.
“Being in drag is working out,” Gigi says. “You’re constantly in heels, your legs hurt, your waist is cinched, you have to be standing up straight the entire time. There’s a heavy wig on your head, heavy costumes.”
While planning out the Rusical, contestants had to figure out who would play each version of Madonna. Though at first Gigi wanted to play “cone-bra Madonna,” she ultimately landed on “Papa Don’t Preach” Madonna, in part because of the outfit. “You don’t want to be swallowed up by the look,” when you’re doing a Rusical, she says, so she thought to herself, “I’m going to be able to be Madonna, Madonna is not going to take over me.”
For Gigi, the choreography in the Rusical experience proved challenging since it normally isn’t a part of her drag performance. In order to nail the musical number, she worked with choreographer Jamal Sims — who she now DMs almost every day, lol — who helped her master the classic “Papa Don’t Preach” chug.
“They say drag is a contact sport,” Gigi says, “and they are so right about that.”
Fans can catch all new episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars followed by Untucked, every Friday, starting at 8/7c on VH1.
Click HERE for the video and more at Women’s Health
A year has passed since Madonna released Madame X on June 14, 2019 and the world is a very different place. We’ve had a global pandemic, UFOs and a righteous uprising of citizens demanding change and justice. It’s noteworthy then, that the Queen of Pop’s 14th album feels more timely now than it did upon release. Madame X is essentially a protest album that simmers with fury and frustration about the state of the world. For every fluffy bop, there are two or three hard-hitting tracks about racism, gun violence and LGBTQ+ rights.
To celebrate Madonna’s prescient album, I’ve rounded up some pics from the utterly chaotic Madame X era. It was triumphant (her performance at the Billboard Music Awards), infuriating (we need to have a long conversation about the Madame X Tour one of these days) and controversial (toe-gate and many other mini-scandals). But that’s what makes it special. With all due respect to other legendary divas of a certain age, their new releases come and go without making a ripple. Madonna still has the girls seeing red and that’s what makes her legendary.
Revisit some of the highlights of the Madame X era in our gallery up top. You also might want to revisit my album review here and watch the mind-melting “Medellín” video for the umpteenth time below.
Full article at IDOLATOR
Revisiting Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy
In 1990, Warren Beatty came out with yet another of his wildly ambitious projects in which he himself served as director, producer, and star. That was Dick Tracy, which arrived a year after Tim Burton’s Batman, at a time before comic book adaptations were nearly the cultural force that they would eventually become.
Beatty’s Dick Tracy marks its 30th anniversary this week, and despite having been a Disney/Touchstone release, it’s currently available to stream not on Disney+ or Hulu, but rather HBO Max.
Nine years after Reds, and eight before Bulworth, Dick Tracy was a very different kind of Beatty auteur project: An adaptation of a comic strip serial dating back to the 1930s, made into a movie deeply rooted in the film noir tradition, with major actors playing all the criminal roles and Madonna, at the height of her superstardom, portraying the femme fatale. It even featured, in a rarity for the movies, original music by master Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, most of it performed by Madonna herself.
A triumph of gorgeous and elaborate visuals, thanks to production designer Richard Sylbert and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, Dick Tracy starred Beatty as the titular hero, a police detective known for his Technicolor yellow hat and jacket. Beatty’s Tracy goes toe-to-toe with a rogue’s gallery of cartoonish gangland figures, led by Al Pacino’s Big Boy Caprice, and also featuring the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Mandy Patinkin, Paul Sorvino, and James Caan.
Tracy’s love is Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headley)- none of the names in this movie are particularly subtle- and he soon becomes a father figure to a street urchin known only as “The Kid” (Charlie Korsmo.) But that’s all threatened by singing femme fatale Breathless Mahoney (Madonna, with whom Beatty famously, had a romance around this time, which can be glimpsed in the 1991 documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare. This was not long before the legendary Hollywood lothario finally got married, to Annette Bening.)
Watching Dick Tracy for the first time probably since its release, I was taken by just how beautiful, creatively rendered, and high-effort it was, compared to most of the comic book movies that would follow in the ensuing years. Sure, the plot is a bit thin, but it gave plenty of chances for over-the-top criminal performances, especially by Pacino, at the start of the overacting phase that comprised the bulk of his output in the 1990s. The Sondheim-written, Madonna-sung songs- collected on a soundtrack album called I’m Breathless – was fine, if not quite up there with the greatest music produced by either.
Did you remember that Dick Tracy was a cop? I think I misremembered him as a private eye, largely because he doesn’t dress anything like even any plainclothes detective I’ve ever seen. We even get a scene where a crooked district attorney questions why such a “maverick detective who keeps making false arrests of private citizens.”
Perhaps the strangest story that came out of the movie’s all-star cast was that of Charlie Korsmo, who played “The Kid.” He was a child actor, in this film and many others. Then he became a lawyer, law professor, and occasional political commentator, although he returned to acting last year, in as a Werner Herzog-like German filmmaker in the indie film Chained For Life.
Dick Tracy was a big hit for Disney in the summer of 1990, although due to some legal wrangling that continued for years, there was never a sequel, nor was there ever a remake or reboot, or even talk of one. But 30 years on, Dick Tracy remains a winning, fun movie, with first-rate production design and a hell of a cast.
More at Goombastomp
30 YEARS AFTER ITS RELEASE, WARREN BEATTY’S STAR-STUDDED, LOVINGLY FAITHFUL COMIC ADAPTATION IS STILL ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE EXAMPLES OF ITS GENRE.
In the summer of 1989, Tim Burton’s Batman took the box office by surprise, decades before movies based on comic books could be counted on to draw in the crowds. Hot on his heels the following summer came another movie based on a famous comic character, this one from the funny pages of the Tribune Company’s syndicate, Dick Tracy.
The 1990 adaptation of Chester Gould’s yellow hat-and-coat-wearing detective finds a man too over-committed to his endless quest to put the City’s big bad mob boss Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice (Al Pacino) out-of-business. It’s a full-time job that leaves Tracy’s girlfriend Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly) feeling left out and worried about their future together. But their lives take a turn when Tracy rescues a wisecracking street kid (Charlie Korsmo) who wants to stay with the couple, a smooth-talking femme fatale named Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) enters the picture, and Big Boy escalates his turf war to wipe out Tracy. It’s a colorful fantasy world frozen in the early 1930s in a place where the good guys wear badges and the bad guys are noticeably grotesque figures with names like Pruneface, Flattop, and Mumbles.
Although Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy didn’t quite win over audiences and critics as strongly as Batman did the previous year, here’s why it remains a movie worth revisiting 30 years later for its wild direction, astonishing production design, and catchy music.
WARREN BEATTY’S DEDICATION TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL IS CLEARLY EVIDENT
Part of the appeal of 1990’s Dick Tracy is that it doesn’t remotely resemble reality. Beatty, a fan of the Dick Tracy comic strips from back in the day, chose to stick to the source’s two-dimensional layout, limited color palette, and cartoon-esque aesthetics. According to Vox, the actor turned director and producer had first tried to adapt Dick Tracy for the screen back in the 1970s. A number of notable directors were considered for the project, including Steven Spielberg, John Landis, Walter Hill, and Martin Scorsese, but ultimately, Beatty gave himself the job.
Introduced in 1931 at the tail-end of Prohibition, Dick Tracy quickly became a popular comic strip crimefighter who battled scary-looking mob bosses and shifty gangsters. Before Beatty’s movie, Dick Tracy enjoyed a brief run as the hero of serials and movies in the 1930s and 40s, as well as occasional TV appearances in the 1950s and 60s. Many of these adaptations jettisoned the character’s original backstory and supporting players, but Beatty wanted to do justice to his first big-budget adaptation.
For Beatty, that meant going all-in on Tracy’s original aesthetic, which mostly took its cues from how newspapers cheaply printed its comic pages; there would be limited colors and patterns on
Milena Canonero’s costumes. While Beatty already came to the starring role with his character’s square jaw, make-up artists John Caglione Jr. and Doug Drexler would create the monstrous features of the mobsters. The screenplay by writing duo Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. (Top Gun, The Secret of My Success) includes many characters from the original comic strip series like Tess, the orphan who names himself after Dick Tracy, and the rogues’ gallery. Although the film didn’t become a roaring success at the box office, it still made its parent distributor Disney over $100 million at the domestic box office, and it went on to earn seven Academy Away nominations –– including nods to Pacino, Canonero, and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro –– and win three Oscars for Best Makeup, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Song.
THE FILM’S EYE-POPPING PRODUCTION DESIGN IS A SIGHT TO BEHOLD
There’s a good reason Dick Tracy took home the Oscar for Best Art Direction: It’s truly stunning what Beatty, production designer Richard Sylbert, and art director Rick Simpson accomplished on an astonishing scale. Before computer technology could easily and cheaply create worlds beyond our reality, filmmakers had to rely on old school practical effects to make these made-up worlds appear on screen. That meant tricking out a lot of backlot space to look less like our world and more like Tracy’s, carefully set-decorating each room to look as they would in a comic strip and using matte paintings and other visual effects to bring the inky pages of a newspaper to life.
Under the lens of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor), the colors of the sets and costumes brightly pop off the screen, much in the same way that comic strips in a newspaper would appear after pages of black-and-white text. The lighting in the movie sometimes casts a red or green glow over the wet pavement, and sometimes the shadows on Tracy’s face make him appear more like the hand-drawn character on the movie poster than Beatty. Vanity Fair noted how Storaro’s shooting style on the film helped create the illusion that this was a panel-by-panel Dick Tracy adventure. Through careful composition, his still camera would frame each moment as if it were a panel in the comic strip, taking the idea of a comic adaptation to a whole new level years before movies like 300 or Sin City did the same.
AL PACINO’S UNHINGED PERFORMANCE IS BOTH SURPRISINGLY INTENSE AND FUNNY
As in the comic strips, Beatty’s Tracy is a pretty straightforward guy. He loves his girlfriend, he busts organized crime rings, and he’s unsure about settling down and adopting the orphan he rescued. That’s a bit of a meta-joke on Beatty’s longtime bachelor status, but it also works in the case of his workaholic detective. He doesn’t have the baggage of a lost home planet like Superman or the tragic death of his parents like Batman. He’s a straight man in need of a foil, a Joker to his Batman if you will.
In the movie, it’s up to Al Pacino as Tracy’s nemesis Big Boy to serve the film its dose of chaotic energy. This is possibly the actor’s most scream-heavy role, which is pretty stiff competition in a filmography that includes Scarface and Any Given Sunday. Even under prosthetics, nothing stops the actor from barking commands at Tracy, his bumbling goons, and his reluctant new gangster moll, Breathless Mahoney. Flanking Pacino are a number of famous faces, some almost unrecognizable under layers of makeup, like Paul Sorvino, Dustin Hoffman, Dick Van Dyke, Mandy Patinkin, and James Caan. But no one, not even the calm, cool-headed Tracy, can hold a candle to the fiery rage of Big Boy’s apoplectic tantrums.
DANNY ELFMAN AND STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S SCORE IS UNFORGETTABLE
Batman may have paired up composer Danny Elfman with Prince, but Dick Tracy brought Elfman’s bombastic orchestral superhero theme music together with Stephen Sondheim’s sensitive and catchy Broadway-esque tunes. Elfman’s opening theme captures the danger, romance and adventure the movie has to offer; though the score vaguely sounds like his theme for Batman, there are no ominous notes of doom and gloom. Instead, there’s a sense of mystery and grandiosity, as well as a frenetic feel, as if Tracy were searching for Big Boy in the sheet music. Then, it swells to the romantic ties between Tracy and Trueheart, a constant throughout the story.
Madonna and Sondheim round out the film’s music with a set of five show-stopping numbers, including “Sooner or Later” and “Back in Business.” The former is a bluesy number that explains Breathless’ insistence on seducing Tracy away from Trueheart because she “always gets” her man, while the latter is an upbeat jazz song that comes at an inopportune time for Tracy, and they make up two more reasons Dick Tracy is so fun to watch all these years later.
THE MOVIE IS FULL OF CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD REFERENCES
Matte paintings aren’t the only old Hollywood tricks up Beatty’s yellow sleeves. Beatty, who had come to Hollywood in the waning days of the studio era, incorporated a number of homages to classic movies, the most noticeable of which is Breathless Mahoney, a film noir-inspired femme fatale given a Marilyn Monroe-inspired ‘do. In one scene, she’s even wearing a two-piece white suit that looks a lot like one of the costumes Rita Hayworth wears in Gilda, in which she plays the new wife of a club owner who, like Breathless, also sings and flirts with the main character.
From its start, the comic series had always been criticized for its violence, and the movie version is no different. There are car explosions, shootouts, attempted (and successful) murders, and lots of gun pointing between cops and criminals. Since Dick Tracy’s comic strip debuted around the same time as gangster movies like The Public Enemy (1931), Little Caesar (1931), and Scarface (1932) hit theaters, it’s also probable that Beatty incorporated those influences into Dick Tracy decades later.
The two aforementioned Sondheim songs, “Sooner or Later” and “Back in Business,” play over musical montages, each tracing the rise and fall of our hero. In one set of the montages, it’s Tracy breaking up Big Boy’s racket at every turn, cut in-between shots of the increasingly exasperated mob boss and newspaper headlines and radio announcers regaling Tracy’s successes. In “Back in Business,” Tracy’s been framed and locked-up, leaving the gangsters to regain control of the city while he stares hopelessly at the ceiling. But when Elfman’s score swells again, it’s Tracy’s turn to get back to business.
In a way, Dick Tracy is a movie of its time and outside of it, a film about a 1930s hero remade with as much leniency towards violence and sex as a 1990s PG-movie would allow. It’s a pastiche of nostalgia boiled down to its bare elements: good and bad, love and lust. It might have been an otherwise forgettable entry in the early days of movies based on comic characters, but Beatty and his team made it a cult favorite. There are few other movies that work as hard to make the real world look hand-drawn, to recreate each minute detail down to its monochromatic costumes, set decor and matte paintings, to recreate Tracy’s world from the page to the screen, and it’s all the more unique for it.
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Despite what you may have heard, comic-book movies peaked 30 years ago, well before the genre would go on to dominate multiplex screens and cultural conversations.
On June 15, 1990, the third film directed by and starring Warren Beatty (after the 1978 comic fantasy Heaven Can Wait and the 1981 historical epic Reds) was released to much fanfare. Dick Tracy, an adaptation of the hardboiled ’30s comic strip, is a fever dream of a movie packed with New Hollywood stars like Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman and James Caan hamming it up in front of garish, proudly artificial backdrops. Madonna winkingly sizzles as a femme fatale lounge singer (singing original songs written by Stephen Sondheim and accompanied on piano by Mandy Patinkin, no less) and the film fills out its admittedly thin plot of a good guy fighting bad guys with stylish montages that are equal parts ’30s Hollywood and MTV music video. Watching Dick Tracy today, the film feels more relevant than ever — it stands out as a model of how to make a movie that looks and feels like an old-school comic in all its lurid glory.
The film came just a year after Tim Burton’s blockbuster Batman and shares with it a heightened style, Danny Elfman score and vigorous marketing campaign. In an episode of her podcast You Must Remember This covering the Madonna/Beatty relationship, critic Karina Longworth called Dick Tracy an “even more sophisticatedly designed movie than Batman, and even more surface oriented.” Beatty’s film was hardly just an attempt to cash in on the burgeoning popularity of comic-book movies. The actor/director had been interested in adapting Dick Tracy since 1975, and the property was optioned in 1977. Directors from Martin Scorsese to John Landis to Walter Hill were attached to the film over the years, until Beatty finally bought the rights and decided to directed it in the late ’80s.
Dick Tracy may be Hollywood product (a contemporary cover story in Newsweek proclaimed that everyone knew about the film, “unless you’ve been living in an igloo somewhere near the North Pole, with no access to a satellite dish, a newspaper or a shop that sells $300 Dick Tracy silk pajamas”), but it’s far more aesthetically adventurous than comparable mainstream films today. The film was distributed by Buena Vista Pictures, a division of the Walt Disney Company, with an attendant huge promotional budget and much summer movie hype. There were Dick Tracy McDonald’s toys, cups and scratch-off cards, and even today a search for Dick Tracy merchandise on eBay brings up thousands of results. It’s easy to dismiss a film with this level of marketing as Hollywood at its most corporate, yet the film bears many signs of being a labor of love. In an Entertainment Weekly article Beatty said, “When I realized I was going to direct it myself, I evolved a concept that it could recapture my point of view at the age of six or seven when I was really interested in the strip … Emotionally, I began to get interested in that childlike feeling about the thrill of bright, primary colors, the sight of the stars and the moon, and people with primary emotions.” The kids today might put it more simply: Dick Tracy did not have to go that hard, but it did.
Full article at InsideHook
“We found ourselves attracting the caliber of talent with which ‘event’ movies could be made. And, more and more, we began making them. The result: costs have escalated, profitability has slipped and our level of risk has compounded,” Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg wrote in January 1991. “The time has come to get back to our roots.”
This assertation was part of a larger memo, dubbed “The World is Changing: Some Thoughts on Our Business” and distributed to key Disney executives like Michael Eisner, Frank Wells, Dick Cook and the “creative staff” of live-action Disney shingles Hollywood and Touchstone. While the memo claims that its creation was inspired by many issues plaguing the industry, namely a lackluster Christmas 1990 season which saw the release of such costly misfires as Brian De Palma’s The Bonfire of the Vanities and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, Part III, it was clear that the note was mainly inspired by Disney’s biggest hope (and biggest regret) of 1990: Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy.
Full article at COLLIDER
There’s absolutely no shortage of content on HBO Max. The new streaming service launched in late May with a robust library of over 600 films ranging from essential classics to modern blockbusters. Choosing which one to watch as my inaugural venture into the world of HBO Max was tough—until I saw Dick Tracy on the service.
Like all the other kids that became pop-culture-sentient in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy was up there with Michael Keaton’s Batman, Kevin Costner’s generically American Robin Hood, and the Nazi-punching Rocketeer in the ranks of summer movie idols. I had to revisit Dick Tracy now that it’s—oh god, brace yourselves for a mortality check—30 years old, and I had a decidedly different takeaway now in the summer of 2020 than I did in the summer of 1990. Instead of being obsessed with the adventures of a bunch of cops (yep, you have to reckon with how pop culture really skewed how us white kids view law enforcement!), I was left breathless by Madonna’s gowns.
Not only have I not seen Dick Tracy since I was a child, I also haven’t seen it in the 15 years since I came out of the closet. So I did not know what I was in store for when Dick Tracy became my first HBO Max watch. And then I saw Madonna…
In the grand scheme of divas, Madonna is like… upper middle-of-the-pack for me? She’s no Janet Jackson. I listen to (and love) way more of Carly Rae Jepsen. And being from the South, I claim Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn as hometown heroes. I was not predisposed to go gaga over her in this movie, all of which illustrates how good these looks are. They’re good enough to make me pitch and write a whole article about them!
In retrospect, Dick Tracy probably represents Madonna at the peak-iest of the many, many peaks in her career. The movie came hot off the heels of her groundbreaking Like a Prayer album, and her Dick Tracy companion album I’m Breathless featured the world-changing single “Vogue.” Those two albums fueled the iconic Blond Ambition World Tour, a tour that I definitely did not see (I was 6 and very Southern Baptist) but was keenly aware of because Madonna was as omnipresent as the sun in the summer of 1990. All that is to say, when you watch Dick Tracy, you’re seeing Madonna at the height of her Madonna-ness—and she delivers.
Madonna’s acting ability is often teased, sometimes rightfully so (you can also stream Shanghai Surprise on HBO Max). That’s not the case in Dick Tracy, which gives Madonna a part to play that was as tailor made for her as those exquisite retro gowns. She stars as Breathless Mahoney, a vampy lounge singer, a dangerous seductress, and the ultimate comic book femme fatale. But Mahoney does more than writhe on Dick Tracy’s desk and pull him into her shadow. Madonna plays Mahoney with all the tension of a clenched fist. She’s a woman caught in a bad situation with very little in the way of exits. Madonna brings a level of messy vulnerability to a character that could be no-dimensional. You can see the look of tired and annoyed resignation on her face in every scene with Al Pacino’s Big Boy Caprice.
Mahoney turns a lot of looks in Dick Tracy, which is notable considering that nearly every other character sticks to their rigid costuming and color scheme (Dick Tracy’s canary yellow trench, Caprice’s green suspenders, etc). She has looks for performing, practicing, seducing—while Breathless Mahoney is trapped in a criminal’s nightclub, we see a whole world in her wardrobe.
Just look at this gown she sports while paying a visit to Dick Tracy’s office! That’s Madonna strutting past the kid, who stands in for all of the gays who were completely floored by this look.
There’s a real, “What, this old thing?” vibe to Mahoney’s energy in this film, a kind of effortless strength and unassuming confidence that, honestly, had to have been a stretch for Madonna. This is the era of Madonna getting frisky with a Black Jesus and strutting her stuff in a razor-sharp cone bra. She was strong and confident, but there was nothing unassuming about her in 1990. Madonna had the range in 1990!
Y’know who else had the range? Academy Award-winning costume designer Milena Canonero, who scored another nod for Dick Tracy (and lost to Cyrano de Bergerac, whatever). Canonero, a frequent collaborator with Stanley Kubrick, had to come up with heightened takes on period looks for civilians, law enforcement, a menagerie of creepy mobsters, and this one night club diva. And while that’s a range of looks, Canonero actually didn’t let herself play with a wide range of colors.
As she told the Chicago Tribune in 1990, she limited herself to a color palette of 10 in order to mimic the limited printing capabilities of the source material, a 1930s comic strip. She even eliminated grays and browns from the film, which is why every character looks kinda like a crayon in a fedora. But then there’s Breathless Mahoney, who Canonero described as a “creature of the night.” Even clad in head-to-toe black sequins, she still catches your eye—even when she’s not in focus!
That’s how stunning she is. In a movie where every character is either Warren Beatty cosplaying as a dapper banana or a who’s who of Hollywood legends covered under pounds of cartoonish latex, Mahoney is an eye-catching example of sleek and simple elegance.
No moment is wasted, either—not even a blink-and-you-miss-it look she delivers during one of the film’s many montages! Every time she’s onscreen, Canonero made sure that Mahoney was iconic.
So if you’re going to watch Dick Tracy in the year 2020, right here and right now, then you need to do it for Madonna’s looks first and foremost. Do it for the gowns, and not for the glorification of the police. There’s one aspect of the movie that’s aged exquisitely, and it has nothing to do with Dick and everything to do with this dame.
More at DECIDER
There’s no doubting Madonna’s cultural significance over her 30 year career but in the most recent decade, the collective opinion was that she was chasing trends rather than blazing a trail as she had on her ascent to become one of music’s most successful artists of all time.
A year after its release, Madonna’s Madame X is a return to her being ahead of the curve with a record that now was clearly before it’s time and perfect for the summer of 2020.
A cohesive piece of art that is held together by the notion that the power of music is unifying around the world. It is the language that inspires us all, whether you understand the words or not , the rhythms align with our soul’s vibrations universally. Often times we find comfort in the tribes of our favorite musical genres, with Madame X Madonna brings those tribes together to help us listen and understand, to shift our perspective and ultimately unify.
The album begins in Medillin, Colombia on a slowly percolating romance with latin music star, Maluma. On this track, Madonna sings of how travel and exploring the world can help us begin again and refresh our soul, especially when we open ourselves to love and romance. “ I forgave myself for being me” Madonna reflects on the trip. With Medillin, Madonna and Maluma let you know that you can travel through the music with them “ Ven ConMigo, Let’s Take a Trip” Madonna welcomes us on the journey that is Madame X until the slow burn of the song erupts into a Cha-Cha groove that is undeniable.
With her live shows and best albums, Madonna creates a cathartic journey from darkness to light. The darkness begins with “Dark Ballet” a song that clocks in just over 4 minutes but feels epic as it takes us on a musical journey as hip hop beats blend with piano before giving way to Tchaikovsky’ s Nutcracker Suite. This prescient song hints of what was percolating beneath the surface of our society that has erupted this summer. The song hints of how we have covered up our rage, our disappointment, our spiritual misalignment under our “Supreme Hoodies” but that ultimately “ the storm inside is beginning to howl” while reminding us that despite all of this “it’s a beautiful life”.
On “God Control”, Madonna continues to explore the simmering rage singing through gritted teeth the song equates loosing our spiritual way because we feel powerless. “Everybody knows the damn truth, we’ve lost control. I think I understand why they get a gun”. The song then erupts into a disco jam with Madonna imploring us “We need to wake up!” With a powerful music video that plays more like a film, Madonna contrasts the joy of a dance floor and coming together with others vs. the harsh reality of violent gun assaults on places intended for happiness such as Pulse Nightclub or a country music concert in Las Vegas. A call for gun control , Madonna explores the notion that it is the loss of God/Spirituality that is the control we have lost.
As these seemingly disconnected musical genres begin to merge , the journey continues as Madonna is joined by QUAVO of Migos for the reggae tinged FUTURE. Rather than dwell on the darkness, the journey to the light begins as Madonna encourages us to “let your light shine” and Quavo tells us to “Sparkle” in his signature Migos ad-lib style. However, Madonna tells us that not everyone is coming to the future, because they refuse to learn from the past. As light has been shined on the darkness with the social unrest this summer, it’s clear that the future Madonna was alluding is arriving now.
Before the listener gets complacent that Madonna is falling into a comfort zone of a reggae tinged pop song with a mainstream hip-hop feature a refreshing sonic blast takes us to Cape Verde for a call and response call to action with the style of music called “BATUKA”. In this song, Madonna agains predicts the Storm Ahead of social unrest and that’s it’s been a long journey to social justice but coming together , joining voices, listening and responding as is the style of Batuka that we can progress our society.
On “Killers who are Partying”, Madonna explores perhaps what is most missing in leadership, Empathy. Allowing herself to be equated with those who are oppressed in society, Madonna is showing an empathy but also an understanding of her own privilege. “ I know what I am and I know what I am not”.
Without blinders on and a sense of empathy and purpose, Madame X continues to span musical genres on some lighter themed songs. One of the few Madonna singles to get airplay in the last decade, “Crave” features guest vocals from Swae Lee on one of her most accessible pop songs in years that is perfect for any summertime playlist. Although not included on the album, the remix of this song by Tracey Young, broke a glass ceiling as Young became the first woman to ever win a grammy for remix production at this year’s ceremony. Madonna continues to explore relationships with the bilingual “Crazy” that blends English and Portuguese in what should have been a featured single. The joy of music from around the world continues with “Come Alive” a song calling for peace which features Moroccan rhythms as Madonna encourage us all to be authentic and express ourselves. To truly “Come Alive” she sings she/we must “ Stand Out, No I don’t want to blend in- Why Would you want me to?”
A year after its release the second most streamed track from Madame X, received very little promotion but was clearly discovered by listeners with over 30 million streams on Spotify alone. Madonna did not perform it on the Madame X tour nor did she release a video but listeners found “Faz Gostoso”. Not totally inexplicable as the original version of this song by Blaya was a monster hit in Portugal, where Madonna lives and recorded most of Madame X. For this version, Madonna is joined by Anitta on another bilingual floor filler, that should satisfy long time fans who love when Madonna leads them to the dance floor.
There is one last blast of sassy Madonna fun, as Maluma returns for “Bitch, I’m Loca” a bi-lingual back and forth that highlights the undeniable chemistry between the two. Madonna returned the favor of vocals on Maluma’s album with another track “Soltera” making him one of the artists Madonna has collaborated the most with over the years.
Now that we have taken the journey around the world , through musical genres and languages ,Madame X begins to bring the journey to a cohesive finish for the final three tracks of the deluxe edition. With “ I don’t search, I find” , Madonna merges the comfort of a track sonically reminiscent of the iconic “Vogue”, this time Madonna lets us know that “ there is finally enough love” because she has stopped searching elsewhere and found it within. “I found peace, I found love, I found a new view.” This song earned Madonna her 50th #1 Dance Song, making her the artist with the most top songs on any individual chart by any artist in musical history.
The album ends with a song about the power of protest. An anthem ahead of its time and perfect for the summer of 2020. “I Rise” ends the album with hope that we can rise above any challenges we face personally or as a society , that with challenges there is opportunity and ultimately belief that together we can and will rise above our differences and “get it together”
Over three decades into her career, last summer Madonna was way ahead of the curve, aware of simmering tensions , the power of music and vibration to unite us through common experiences and being open to listening to one another. A year early Madonna created the perfect album for the summer of 2020.
More at Elephant Journal
Stay tuned for unreleased mixes by DJ Barry Harris today Sunday June 14, 2020 Thunderpuss pt. 3 The Finale! 3 pm (ET) Live on twitch.tv/djbarryharris
Since Madame X was released worldwide today, we as a team are looking back on it and discuss how we felt about it then vs now
1) What is your favourite song on Madame X then vs now?
Fred: In the beginning I liked a lot of songs, but particularly “Come Alive”. In the end I remember most “God Control” and “Dark Ballet” (it’s really hard to tell them apart!)
Kimberly: Dark Ballet upon first hearing it, when now I have a favourite trinity ‘Medellin’, ‘Dark Ballet’ and ‘Killers Who Are Partying’
Dave: Crave & Crave (fell instantly in love)
Amon: Extreme Occident + Medellin
Fred: This album definitely shook up my favourite Madonna album chart… (American Life, Madame X, Erotica, Music….) It’s almost on the same level as my favourite album!
Kimberly: It’s up there as my all time favourite along with American Life, I think M and Mirwais make the most wonderful music together
Dave: Hmmmm It’s definitely in my top 3. Erotica number 1 and maybe a shared second spot for Madame X and Like a Prayer
Amon: Between 5-8
3) Favourite music video of the album?
Fred: I love “Dark Ballet”, but I think I’m going to rank first “God Control” because the video is very ambitious and reminds me of the singer’s best video’s (“Express Yourself”, “Justify My Love”…) Aesthetic, provocative videos, but always with a message
Kimberly: ‘Dark Ballet’ without a doubt. Not only do I think it’s one of her most powerful music video’s she’s ever put out, and probably the most important video since ‘Like a Prayer’. But in my book it’s also my all time favourite along with ‘Die Another Day’
Dave: Tempting to say Medellin (because of Maluma LOL) but God Control it is…
Amon: God control
4) What was your first thought when you heard the album?
Fred: This album has shaken up my opinion on Madonna’s creativity, it has given me a new insight into what makes the singer’s soul, her struggles, her positions and also a little bit her provocations. It’s what she’s always done, but she’s been a bit lost for a few years now. For me, it’s almost a return to her roots
Kimberly: It was an ‘Impressive Instant’ for me. I fell head over heels in love. After the lacklustre ‘Rebel Heart’ which I felt was way too long, overproduced and rushed. This was a true return to form, there wasn’t a single song I disliked. At the top of her (and Mirwais) creativity, this is what genius music sounds like
Dave: Weird but in an addictive way..
Amon: Really good especially after the last few albums an exhiliration! Interesting and especially variable in sound. M was back and how! Powerful vocals, impressive lyrics…..
5) what did you think of the Madame X Tour?
Fred: After the surprise announcement of a theater tour I didn’t know what to expect from such an announcement, small room and mini residence. In the end, it’s a very big show that highlights this album so complete, it’s in a universe that she makes us travel, and seeing almost all of this album on stage is a real pleasure. This new experience is almost a success (apart from the cascading cancellations). I would however retain the intensity of the songs was only stronger and the proximity of such an experience
Kimberly: I think the drama (postponements, cancellations, late starts, injuries) completely overshadowed the brilliance of the show. As the album I think Madame X the live show was a true return to form. It had MADONNA written all over it. A genuine theatrical production with a kick ass artist that lights up the entire venue. The shows I saw in London (Feb 4+5) rank among the greatest shows I have EVER seen. She was in fact so impressive, that I kept mouthing ‘WOW’ to Dave throughout the show. London was quite different from the shows in Paris though, Madonna seemed like a completely different performer and seemed to have lost her drive and fire
Dave: I Loved every second of it!!!! Saw the show 2x in every EU city. Very fresh with a lot of Blond Ambition flashbacks
Amon: Stressfull…. really too much. Good show in a fantastic ambiance but the long wait, being sick and the stress greatly influenced my experience. It was however a great ‘get together’. Looking back on it I cherish the weekend in Paris, especially in these Corona times
Afterthought by Dave
RELATED:10 Madonna Movie Roles, Ranked
In addition to her music career, Madonna has also starred in roughly 20 feature films to date. She’s worked with some of the finest film directors in her career, including Warren Beatty, Woody Allen, Penny Marshall, Abel Ferrera, and more. She’s even directed two features, Filth and Wisdom and W.E. For more, here are Madonna’s 10 Best Movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Shadows And Fog (1992) 50%
Woody Allen’s black and white comedy Shadows and Fog concerns a murderous strangler on the loose in a small village. When accountant Kleinman (Allen) is rousted out of bed by an angry mob on the hunt for the killer, he gets swept up in terrifying murder mystery.
Madonna plays Marie in the film, a seductive artist prone to adulterous affairs. When clown-artist Paul (John Malkovich) has an affair with Marie, the act prompts his wife Irmy (Mia Farrow) to have sex with Student Jack (John Cusack) while the killer continues to lurk.
9 Vision Quest (1985) 57%
Although she’s credited as Singer at the Club, it doesn’t change the fact that Vision Quest marks the second feature film of Madonna’s movie career behind the 1979 title A Certain Sacrifice.
Directed by Harold Becker, Vision Quest is a coming-of-age sports drama in which a young student-athlete named Louden Swain (Matthew Modine) dedicates himself to becoming the greatest athlete he can be. To do so, Louden rids all distractions from his life to focus on athletic improvement. But when a drifter named Carla (Linda Fiorentino) rents a vacant room in his home, he falls head over heels in love with her.
8 Die Another Day (2002) 57%
Madonna not only sang the iconic theme song for the 007 film Die Another Day, but she also appeared in the film as the uncredited Verity. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.
Starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond and Halle Berry as his reluctant sidekick Jinx Johnson, the plot of the film revolves around a diamond magnate who may be involved with a North Korean terrorist out to create an intergalactic weapon. Madonna also made a four-minute music video for the title track Die Another Day.
7 Dick Tracy (1990) 62%
In Warren Beatty’s comic-book crime picture Dick Tracy, Madonna plays the role of Breathless Mahoney. Her character is not only the chief entertainer at Club Ritz, but she’s also the lone eyewitness to many of Caprice’s (Al Pacino) criminal endeavors.
For her singing performance in the film, Beatty hired acclaimed theatrical songwriter Stephen Sondheim to write five new songs that Madonna could deliver on stage. One of Sondheim’s songs, “Sooner or Later,” was nominated for an Academy Award.
6 Evita (1996) 63%
In Alan Parker’s musical biopic Evita, Madonna portrays the real-life figure Evita Duarte de Peron, an Argentian actress who rose to prominence upon marrying the nation’s President, Juan Peron (Jonathan Pryce).
The stage-to-screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical won an Oscar Award for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s original song “You Must Love Me.” Plot-wise, Eva Peron endures a love-hate relationship from her fellow nationals as her husband’s political career becomes more and more complicated.
5 The Universe Of Keith Haring (2008) 68%
The life work of gay New York street artist Keith Haring is the celebrated subject of Christina Clausen’s 2008 documentary. Several fellow artists from New York and elsewhere pay tribute to the lasting legacy Haring left behind, whose life was cut short of AIDS-related complications in 1990. He was 31 years old.
In addition to Madonna appearing in archival footage, participants include Yoko Ono, Fab 5 Freddy, Bill T. Jones, and Keith’s parents, Joan and Allen Haring.
4 A League Of Their Own (1992) 78%
In Penny Marshall’s sports comedy about the first female professional baseball organization, Madonna plays the sexually-liberated center-fielder Mae Mordabito, aka “All the way Mae.”
The crux of the drama centers on Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis), star catcher and team captain of the Rockford Peaches, one of four all-female baseball teams. Along with her kid sister Kit (Lori Petty), Dottie leads her team to the championship game with the help of drunken manager Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks).
3 Unzipped (1995) 80%
In the 1995 documentary Unzipped, the work of high-fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi is chronicled in great detail ahead of his 1994 autumn collection rollout. Several high-profile fashionistas appear in the film, including Madonna, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, and more.
For his work, director Douglas Keeve earned an Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival. The film shared the honor with Ballot Measure 9.
2 Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) 83%
Madonna’s first starring role on the big screen came in the 1985 musical rom-com Desperately Seeking Susan, directed by Susan Seidelman.
Co-starring Rosanna Arquette in a Golden Globe-nominated performance, the film follows Roberta Glass (Arquette), an unhappy housewife in the suburbs who spontaneously responds to a personal ad in the newspaper. Her response leads her to bustling New York, where she has an accident in the street that leaves her with amnesia. When she awakes, Roberta finds herself mistaken for Susan (Madonna), a cool city girl with a unique fashion sense.
1 Madonna: Truth Or Dare (1991) 87%
Madonna’s candid sexuality is on full display in the 1991 documentary Truth or Dare, an explicit account of her controversial 1990 tour Blonde Ambition.
The globetrotting doc spans from Japan to Detroit and Canada as Madonna exposes her daily routine ahead of a global music tour. The artist’s personal and professional life is detailed in vivid fashion, with several of Madonna’s band members, backup singers, and dancers weighing in. Despite portraying herself in the film, Madonna received a Razzie nomination for worst actress in 1992. In 2012, the film was nominated as Best Documentary at the 20/20 Awards.
More at Screenrant
It’s one year ago today that we Dutchies were able to purchase Madonna’s brand new album ‘MADAME X’ at Concerto in Amsterdam.
A turn in traditions as we usually celebrate a new Madonna release at FAME Megastore in Amsterdam, and while that location WAS planned to celebrate the release too, in the end it didn’t happen.
Concerto however with its superb location and history made a fantastic party happen. Weeks before the date we started to exchange e-mails between MadonnaUnderground, Concerto and Universal Music to discuss the event.
We already had an incredible single (Medellin) and were looking forward to whatever Mirwais and Madonna cooked up together this time.
To treat people attending the Dutch releaseparty we all made sure there was a nice goodiebag for giveaway for the first 200 people. The goodiebag contained an official Dutch postcard set, a laminate for the party, bookmark, large postcard and the dedicated Madame X bag itself.
The party was shared on Madonna’s official website (madonna.com) and a lot of people were looking foward to it.
The day had arrived and it was a particular stressful one for me personally as I had a double date that night (actually a triple date but London with M was just not doable) I was also holding a ticket to Mariah Carey’s Caution show that same evening at Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam. But I was going to make it to both, I was determined to Make It Happen ;)
Besides the goodiebag there were also two different official Madame X posters to give away. When the store opened for the party and the posters were given out, we ran out of stock quickly so there was a 1 poster per person policy (thank you to all for understanding). Our own team member Amon was once again the DJ of the night to spin various Madonna tracks before launching into Madame X the album.
Me and Dave were helping out at the cashier’s register, handing out the posters and goodiebags. I was already familiar with the stellar songs on the album (thanx to tracking down leaks) but for Amon and Dave it was their first time hearing it. Of course when you’re busy helping out there is not much room to give your ears an easy listen, but what Dave and Amon heard they really liked.
The store was filled with fans and everyone danced to the tracks, I chatted to a bunch of people and we had a lot of fun. When the album almost finished I really had to go and leave for the scheduled concert but made it just in time. There I was at a Mariah Carey concert wearing a Madonna sirt, Madonna jacket and a Madonna laminate. People must’ve thought I was at the wrong show…….
To see our full photogallery of the release party click HERE
To visit our Madame X page click HERE
I delved into my many boxes and after searching for a few hours and messing up my back I finally found it. I haven’t looked at it in years as it’s always been stored away.
Turns out it is not a script perse but the full itinerary to shooting the music video. The itinerary holds 24 pages and includes full details to:
- all contact information of personnel, crew, styling, make up, production, dancers and Madonna’s people
- full schedule as to when and where M will be rehearsing
- Address details to studio and more
- Lyrics to the song and specified how it’s vocally delivered
- Madonna’s travel plan
- Hotel information
- plan of layout studio’s
- Post production
- Stage information
- vendor/supplier list
- Travel directions
- and more
I included a peek inside. For obvious reasons I won’t be scanning the entire document.
Like a Virgin has been re-issued on vinyl in Argentina, same catalogue number as the previous clear vinyl release. The back cover is not upside down as originally pressed.
To check out images of the record visit madonnadiscography.pl
Thanks to Diego Jazmin
Madonna inside the Uptown Theater in Washington DC on June 10, 1990 for the Dick Tracy premiere.
Photo’s: Celena for Dick Tracy Movie Fansite