Madonna, the undisputed Queen of Pop, was born Madonna Louise Ciccone August 16, 1958 in Bay City, Michigan. She became an international icon in the ’80s with her hit songs, style trends and controversial music videos. Known for pushing boundaries and reinventing her music and image, she was considered a controversial figure in the ’80s.
Queen of Pop’s ’80s Music
Madonna moved to New York City in 1978 to pursue a career in dancing. Instead, she established herself as a singer and was signed by Sire Records in 1982. Sire released her single “Everybody” that same year and, because of its success, they released her full-length self-titled debut album in 1983. Produced by the legendary John “Jellybean” Benitez, the album produced hit songs “Holiday” which reached #16 on “Billboard” magazine’s Hot 100 chart and “Lucky Star” later landed in the #4 spot.
Madonna’s second album, “Like a Virgin,” was released by Sire in late 1984. Recorded at the famous Power Station studio in New York, her sophomore album was produced by the legendary Nile Rodgers. The album produced five hit singles, including her first number one with “Like a Virgin.” This iconic album proved to critics that Madonna was not a one-hit-wonder by becoming her first number one album on the “Billboard” 200 and by making her the first female in the United States to sell more than five million copies.
Her 1986 album, “True Blue,” was dedicated to her then-husband Sean Penn. She co-wrote and produced the entire album with Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard. All of the songs are very personal to her life, like the hits “Live to Tell” and “True Blue.” She also tackled the social issue of teen pregnancy with “Papa Don’t Preach.” The album achieved critical acclaim as critics felt Madonna had grown musically and was vocally stronger.
Her fourth studio album, “Like a Prayer” was her last release in the ’80s. Again, she co-wrote and produced all of the songs with Bray and Leonard and she added Prince to her team. Critics called it her most personal and introspective release to date and Madonna admits most of the songs were about her mother who died when Madonna was only five years old.
Influencing ’80s fashion
Madonna’s look and style of dressing became one of the most popular female fashion trends of the 1980s. Created by stylist and jewelry designer Maripol, her early ’80s look consisted of lace tops, skirts over capri pants, fishnet stockings, jewelry bearing the crucifix, bracelets, lace headbands and bleached, messy hair with dark roots.
In the mid-’80s, her look for the “True Blue” album release reflected a ’50s, edgy street-style with leather jackets, cropped hair and a “bad girl” look. In 1989, Madonna reinvented her look and adopted a sexy vixen style to coincide with the release of her “Like a Prayer” album.
Videos and Scandals
Madonna’s career has had its fair share of controversy but she is a marketing genius who has used it to her advantage. In 1984 at the MTV Music Video Awards, Madonna’s heel slipped off while she was on stage performing “Like a Virgin” while as a bride. To cover, Madonna started squirming on stage and the crowd interpreted it as her enacting a woman losing her virginity on her wedding night. Critics thought this would end her career, but this “mishap” is considered the moment that launched her to international stardom.
In her 1986 “Papa Don’t Preach” video, Madonna plays a pregnant, unwed teenager, who wants to keep her baby. The politically-charged song caused a lot of controversy with both pro-choice and anti-abortion camps. Planned Parenthood called the song anti-abortion, while Catholics felt it promoted sex outside of marriage.
The music video for “Like a Prayer” stirred up religious controversy because of its use of the stigmata and burning crosses. Catholics were outraged by a dream sequence where Madonna makes love to a saint. The Vatican condemned the video, which caused Pepsi to cancel Madonna’s sponsorship contract. Madonna’s first and only Pepsi commercial was set to the hit single but the controversy caused Pepsi to air the commercial only one time. The controversy around the video caused Pepsi to cancel their contract after the Vatican urged a boycott of Pepsi products. The uproar didn’t impact Madonna – the song was a hit and she still made $5 million from that one commercial.
Madonna is noted as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records, having sold more than 300 million records worldwide. She established herself as the Queen of Pop in the ’80s, but hasn’t stopped releasing music and is still a music icon.
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