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 AcclaimedMusic.net, “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.
More at SPIN
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: https://spoti.fi/34QOAEz
– Check out some Like A Virgin videos and remixes on Madonna’s YouTube: http://bit.ly/2QcA31V
– Order The Like A Virgin album (and her other first 3 lps) on clear vinyl: https://lnk.to/madonnacrystalclear
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
A large white X is printed on the front of a camo tee. You Can’t Hit a Moving Target is printed on the back ($35.00)
You can order it : madonnashop.com
— Gary Demasi (@gdemasi) November 10, 2019
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.
More at LasVegasWeekly
The chart, and all rankings dated Nov. 16, will refresh on Billboard.com 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)
1993, “Deeper and Deeper”
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, “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”
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, “B**** I’m Madonna,” Madonna feat. Nicki Minaj
2019, “Medellín,” Madonna & Maluma
2019, “I Rise”
2019, “Crave,” Madonna & Swae Lee
More at Billboard
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!
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
185 Christopher Street
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 Wonderwall.com 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.
Read more at MSN.com
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, www.wiltern.com.
More at LAWeekly
One of Madonna’s most memorable songs is without a doubt ‘Nothing Fails’, critics thought it to be a follow-up to the classic ‘Like a Prayer’ because of the fantastic use of the choir. Many fans felt it should’ve been the lead single off of American Life, but Madonna and Warner Music had different ideas.
The song was eventually released as official third single off the album but unfortunately without a music video to support the track. Many radio stations thought the song wasn’t ‘radio friendly’ resulting in a severe lack of airplay. A missed opportunity as it’s such a gem of a song! Madonna did perform the track during her ‘Re-Invention Tour’ in 2004 on guitar, but sadly hasn’t been performed since. The song would have fit perfectly in her current Madame X Tour.
For the discography we have collected 16 pressings, click HERE to view
For the tour behind her 14th studio album, Madame X, Madonna opted to do something completely different: an elaborate theater tour. And performing in far smaller venues than usual has naturally led to one of her most unique concert experiences ever. As Rolling Stone noted, at a September Brooklyn show she quipped from the stage, “Freedom is the theme of this show. And the theme of my life, for that matter.” Here are five reasons not to miss the Material Girl this time around.
1. The show reflects months of hard work and planning. Madonna treated the Madame X Tour much like the opening of a Broadway production, with workshops starting in May and intense rehearsals beginning in July in advance of the tour’s September launch. These practice sessions were well-documented online, especially on Instagram—in fact, videos even showed her performing several songs that didn’t make the show’s final cut—and revealed how much care and planning went into every detail of the concert, including choreography, costumes, song sequencing and musical arrangements.
2. Madame X is one of the richest, most provocative albums of her career. That’s a bold statement, considering Madonna built her reputation by crafting boundary-shifting (if not -breaking) pop music. But the deeply political Madame X addresses topics such as gun control, activism and corrupt leadership, while also examining the emotional toll of loneliness. Naturally the current tour focuses heavily on new material, so the show should be a thought-provoking, immersive experience.
3. The tour embodies Madame X’s musical depth. The album reunites Madonna with French producer Mirwais, and it also reflects her exploration of sounds from her current home country, Portugal, and includes collaborations with Colombian superstar Maluma and Orquestra Batukadeiras, an all-women Portuguese percussion troupe that specializes in the Cape Verdean genre batuque. The latter group performs onstage as part of the Madame X Tour, and reviews also note that Madonna incorporates the Portuguese genre fado into the show.
4. You never know what might happen at the concert. To be fair, this was also likely true of previous Madonna tours—but as the Rolling Stone review of the Brooklyn concert noted, “Her comic banter was as stellar as the music—she was loose, salty, spontaneous, thriving on her closeness with the crowd.” In fact, at that show she even cozied up to a fan in the audience and drank from his beer.
5. It’s likely a once-in-a-lifetime show. For starters, phones aren’t allowed into the show, meaning catching clips on YouTube or Instagram the next day likely isn’t an option. More than that, however, Madonna isn’t a fan of repeating herself. In fact, she’s notorious for not always playing her biggest hits live; and if and when she does play them, fans can expect different approaches and arrangements. That being said, Madame X Tour setlists do include a selection of familiar tunes (“Like a Prayer,” “Vogue,” “Express Yourself” and “Frozen”) in addition to Madame X songs. But with a show this elaborate, don’t count on it growing long beyond the already announced dates.
MADONNA November 7, 9-10, 10:30 p.m., $55-$328. The Colosseum, 866-234-7469.
More at LasVegasWeekly
Madonna Wants To Be Your Mom, Provocateur, and High Priestess in ‘Madame X’ Tour, and It’s A Lot (REVIEW)
“Are you all starting to get it?” Madonna asked from the stage, at least several times, to a fawning, screaming audience whom she treated at times more like a kindergarten classroom than who they were — a crowd of well-heeled, mostly middle-aged fans who could afford orchestra seats for her pricey Madame X tour.
“Madame X is a teacher. She’s a rebel. She’s a head of state. She’s a mother. She’s a child. She’s a whore. And she is a saint.” (I’m paraphrasing only slightly — no cellphones were allowed.)
Madonna, at 60, sees herself as all of the above, except (maybe) head of state. And in her new tour, which just finished the last of a three-night engagement at the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco, she is not so much playing a character as just another in a long series of chameleon-like variations on her public self. She sounds every bit the confident, caustic “bad girl” she wanted us to see on the Truth or Dare tour nearly 30 years ago, only she’s no girl anymore and likely more invested in her legacy as a performer than in selling albums or concert seats. (Or in making things pleasant for an aging fanbase, many of whom were weary and overheated in a stuffy theater by the time she went on, some 40 minutes later than announced and hours after the theater opened, around 11:10 p.m.)
She admits a little bit of weakness — twice she mentioned tendonitis in a hip flexor, an injury she apparently had when the tour began in September according to this Rolling Stone review, though perhaps this is a second injury. But that’s only so that you’re more impressed with all the dancing she does.
If I walked away with anything from Tuesday night’s show — apart from memories of a truly stunning visual spectacle, enhanced by recent advances in projection mapping — it’s that Madonna, more than ever, still craves respect and adoration as an artist and activist more than as a pop icon, but she’ll accept a role as quasi-religious icon if she must. She isn’t afraid to patronize the kids with auto-tuned, one-off singles like “Crave” (feat. Swae Lee) and “Future” (feat. Quavo) — or “Bitch I’m Madonna” from 2015’s Rebel Heart. But her heart is mostly in awing everyone with bold visuals of gun violence, gun protests, and the borrowed soulfulness of her video for “Batuka,” which is sung (along with the projected video) with the help of the Orquestra Batukadeiras — a group of African Portuguese Creole women from Cape Verde, whom she has brought on the tour with her.
Much of the new album grew out of Madonna’s recent experience living in Portugal while her now 14-year-old son David Banda was at a soccer school. As the story goes, she got bored being alone there while he played soccer, so she started going out to clubs and cafes and fell in love with fado, the guitar-based music genre native to Lisbon. According to this June profile in New York Times, “One night, she visited a Frenchman’s crumbling home on the sea for an improv session, mostly of fado musicians. ‘There was a vibration there that was magical and palpable, and suddenly musicians started playing,’ she said.”
And if you haven’t gathered by now, the show Madonna is now performing in small-ish theaters in major cities is a mashup of many things with only the vaguest threads to link them. A quieter central portion of the show, all set in a projected space meant to look like a fado cafe, features several of her new songs featuring Portuguese guitar — along with the strumming talents of 16-year-old Gaspar Varela, great-grandson of famed singer Celeste Rodrigues, whom Madonna also recruited in Lisbon. (“There’s not enough dressing rooms for everyone. My manager’s not talking to me right now,” Madonna said at one point, emphasizing that she still had to have her way and we should all be grateful.)
The show begins and ends with a James Baldwin quote that gets typed on a projection screen multiple times just to make sure we read and absorb it: “Art is here to prove that all safety is an illusion… Artists are here to disturb the peace.”
But while Madame X, the show is compellingly odd at times, and no doubt unique as a theatrical concert among her generation of icons, I still can’t say that Madonna has transcended to a level beyond “great performer” to disturber of the peace. The only moment of real theater I witnessed was when she sat on the edge of the stage and invited a stranger to give her a sip of their drink and chat. (The handsome military man who complied was clearly a prepped plant who handed her a glass beer bottle full of water, much like one a dancer had handed her earlier — and the Golden Gate Theater doesn’t sell beer in bottles to take to your seat. She then semi-convincingly played a beer drinker for 90 seconds while catching her breath.) Apart from nods to the Parkland and Pulse nightclub shootings, Madonna’s co-opting of yet another culture not her own and lazy off-the-cuff banter felt out of touch — even with evolving ideas about mental health when she griped about people getting up to use the bathroom or go to the bar as having “ADDDD or ADHD,” or when she asked an increasingly listless crowd if their Adderall was kicking in.
I thought about Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music. I sat through that in six-hour stretches and rarely felt very bored or restless. And no matter what I was feeling I knew that Taylor was going to come out with articulate and thoughtful thing to tie together whatever I just saw. Madonna tended more toward the persona and mode she’s most comfortable in — like that too-knowing friend of your older sister who likes to ask you sarcastic questions and never lets her guard down. “You get it yet!?”
For all the ways I love her “Bitch I’m Madonna” swagger and the unique position she is in as an artist and icon, there’s a point at which her bravado and aggressive diva-ness is lost on all but her super-fans, and the rest of us are left sighing to ourselves and saying “Bitch, just do ‘Ray of Light’ already.” I don’t want her retiring into a Las Vegas residency and turning into a caricature of herself, trotting out her hits and ceasing to look for inspiration. But I can’t say that the new material is inspiring enough to carry as much of this intimate show as she wants it to be. And I felt like I was expected to worship each costume change and come-to-church moment, spanning the cultures that have influenced her various albums, from Hindu-Buddhist to British trance to gospel to, now, batuque and fado.
There were a lot of slow moments, and the only times she truly energized the crowd were with excellent revisions of 90s hits like “Vogue” and “Human Nature,” very early in two hour and 20 minute set. By the time she’s taken off her embroidered sari and put on her priest’s vestments for “Like a Prayer,” which transitions into her finale with the new song, “I Rise,” it felt like she’d lost the crowd (except for the super-fans who’d already paid to see this once and were back again). I was ready to rise mostly because I was tired, it was 1:30 a.m., and I’ve outgrown the person who saw her as a flawless gay icon and god. I see we’re all flawed, and Madonna’s spent the better part of two decades trying to stay relevant if not quite edgy, and if nothing else I’m happy she found a new music genre to play with in Portugal.
I wasn’t the only one grumbling about the decided lack of crowd-pleasers in the set as we all filed to the doors to get our cellphone satchels unlocked so we could return to our realities.
And she still never did “Ray of Light.”
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Madonna’s been using the word paradox to describe her adventurous 2019 studio album “Madame X” and so indeed is her current concert tour, which closed a three-night engagement at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre on Tuesday.
Although the show’s setting was smaller than the arenas she’s filled during her decades as the world’s biggest pop star, it was hardly an intimate or casual affair. True, she chatted with the audience a bit, got a guy named Brad (a drill sergeant from Kansas City in the front) to give her a swig of warm beer and took a single Polaroid selfie, which she sold to another fellow for $4,000, with the money going to charity.
In a welcome nod to theater tradition, photos were not allowed; fans had to lock their phones into bags provided at the entry which were opened upon departure.
Paradoxically both charming and offputting, Madame X made demands of her audience. She asked if they were paying attention, told them to sit the f— down, and, after being distracted by doors at the back of the theater opening, queried, “Did you enjoy this fado club, those who stayed in the room?”
The fado café, her re-creation of her time spent as a soccer mom in Portugal, where she met local musicians and fell in love with their artistry, was a highlight in the middle of the two-and-a-half hour show (which started a half-hour late), a sometimes murky mix of performance art, politics and song.
The segment included the evening’s most joyous number, the call-and-response “Batuka,” featuring the gorgeous, dynamic, singing and hand-drumming, all-woman ensemble Orquestra Batukadeiras from Cape Verde.
“Killers Who Are Partying,” a solemn ode to those who are disenfranchised or facing discrimination, had some Portuguese lyrics, as did the pop-flavored “Crazy,” with accordion.
Singing “Sodade” and accompanying herself on guitar, Madonna explained that the song, popularized by Cesária Évora and sung in Creole, was about longing. Moving to Colombia, Madonna and company performed the catchy dance tune “Medellin,” then closed the club section with the introspective “Extreme Occident.”
The easygoing café was a big contrast to the jam-packed, high-concept start: a silhouetted character typing out James Baldwin’s credo “Artists are here to disturb the peace” as shots were fired, followed by the anti-gun disco-y “God Control,” a wild set piece with Madonna dressed as a founding father facing off with cops wearing riot gear, images of the American flag and video of gun violence. Whew!
“Dark Ballet,” the second number, was even more out there, with Joan of Arc references, religious garb and battles with dancers in gas masks reminiscent of the mice in “Nutcracker,” complete with an electronic alteration of Tchaikovsky’s familiar melody.
A jazzy, percussive version of “Human Nature” from 1994, one of a handful of non-“Madame X” tunes, had shadow images on the back wall and a throng of girls, including Madonna’s young daughters Stella, Estere and Mercy James, serving up MeToo era sentiments as Madge stated, “I’m not your bitch.”
There was an a cappella sing-along of “Express Yourself,” a too short rendition of “Papa Don’t Preach” and a noir-themed version of “Vogue,” with Madonna and dancers in blond wigs and trench coats.
Derided on its 2003 release, the busy rap-filled, social statement “American Life” — wearing her Madame X eye-patch, Madonna played guitar — sounded great and urgent.
“Frozen” was simple and beautiful, sung solo in front of a striking black-and-white video of her daughter Lourdes dancing that filled the theater’s back screen. Next, Madonna’s whole congregation, dressed in colorful flowing robes, convened for the positively upbeat “Come Alive.”
Back in a black robe studded with crosses for the penultimate “Like a Prayer,” Madonna had the audience singing along with religious fervor, before closing with the inspirational “I Will Rise.”
The tune began, accompanied by powerful video of Parkland demonstrators, and closed as fans on one side of the theater basked in their idol’s glow as Madame X herself exited down an aisle (letting people touch her!), with markedly minimal fanfare.
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