“Able to face fear or danger without flinching…resolute…invulnerable…valiant… venturesome.” That is a portion of the dictionary definition of the word “fearless.”
By Liz Smith, Huffington Post.
I don’t know Madonna well enough (believe it or not) to assess that she is actually without fear as a woman, or a human being. In fact she has admitted to being just as, if not more, insecure, than the average person. Fame and constant scrutiny does that to a person. She is far softer and more vulnerable than her public persona suggests. I know that, for sure. But whatever she is with her children, her man, her issues, she remains without a doubt one the most fearless and true-to-herself artists in the world. Madonna kicked off the American leg of her “MDNA” tour in Philadelphia on Monday night. She was full of patriotism, praised America’s freedom of speech, demanded the release of the imprisoned Russian performance artists Pussy Riot and denounced homophobia, as she has been doing for the last quarter century. (Long before Lady Gaga was telling her “little monsters” that they were “Born That Way,” Madonna was exhorting her fans to “express themselves” and was in the forefront of the AIDS crisis.)
“MDNA” is what has become the standard mix for a Madonna show–mind-blowing brilliance, dazzling sets, incredible dancing. And then there’s the stuff she does because she wants to! She is intent on taking her audience on a journey. Sometimes they are not ready for this journey. They want to groove on the old 1980s/90s jams, presented just as Madonna did in her famous videos. (Tough luck.) Madonna would wither and die if she had to repeat herself over and over. She is not messing with her fans, she’s making sure they’ve grown up. Yeah, and that is despite the campy majorette outfit she wears at one point. She’s not pretending time hasn’t passed. She’s a woman still young, still full of fun. (And wait until you see her marching band, in mid-air, elevated above the crowd!)
In “MDNA” Madonna gives her fans classics such as “Open Your Heart,” “Vogue” “Express Yourself” “Human Nature” and “Like a Virgin.” But, as in the case of “Like a Virgin,” she has totally transformed the chirpy ode to being “shiny and new,” into something almost unbearably dark. Is it pain? Is it pleasure? Is she suffering? Is she in ecstasy? Don’t ask me, and don’t ask Madonna. She hates to explain herself. She is far happier when the audience either makes up its own mind, or never does. Madonna considers herself a work in progress and she gives her audience the same respect. If you don’t get it, don’t worry. It’s life. Who can explain life?
This new concert relies heavily on her latest album relies heavily on material from her latest album, “MDNA.” And though the CD hasn’t sold as spectacularly as her past hits, the hot (as in almost passing out from the heat), hysterical audience went mad for newer songs like her opening “Girl Gone Wild,” “Revolver” and “Gang Bang.” This is the much criticized “violent” section of the show, but many people thought it was less scary and more a pastiche on the cult of violence, not to mention getting some tumultuous feelings off her chest about her ex, Guy Ritchie. She performs a set piece in a tawdry hotel room, swigging whiskey and being attacked by ninja-type assassins dressed in black.It’s witty. It’s nasty. It’s Madonna. The stage is full of movement, the sets gasp-inducing, the onscreen videos and visuals mesmerizing. (Including a gorgeous new black-and-white version of “Erotica” and the controversial “Nobody Knows,” with its images of violence, political revolution around the world, and a tear-inducing tribute to gay teenagers who have killed themselves.) Madonna’s voice, when she sings totally live, is effective and moving, especially on “Masterpiece.”
She ain’t ever gonna sing “Aida”, but but she has some chops. Her moves remain a miracle of athleticism, for any age. She looks better than she has on any recent tour, keeping her weight up and appearing utterly joyful. Her enthusiasm was infectious. At one point she declared, “Sometimes it’s easier to show your ass than your feelings.” Naturally, at that moment, she was showing both! Madonna capped off the night by whipping her audience into a frenzy with “I’m a Sinner,” “Like a Prayer” (which was so solid, beautiful sung and reverently raw that it was literally a religious experience) and the bouncy “Celebration,” in which her handsome young son, Rocco, gave mom some competition in the dancing department.
If you want Madonna singing the oldies, in the same key, the same outfits, the same mindset, “MDNA” might disappoint. If you want to see a woman still fighting the good fight, trying to entertain, educate and rile up her audience, you’re in for a roller-coaster ride, with Madonna herself at the controls. There is only one queen, and that’s Madonna, still.
A Pop Queen Flaunts Her Toned Maturity
PHILADELPHIA — A ritual, a blood bath, slacklining, a partial striptease, drummers in midair, traditional Basque harmonies, a psychedelic train ride — they’re all part of Madonna’s “MDNA” tour, which started its North American itinerary with an arena concert here at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. It comes to Yankee Stadium next Thursday and Sept. 8.
Madonna has described the show in a statement as “the journey of a soul from darkness to light,” and perhaps it is. Near the beginning, after tolling church bells and chanting, a gun-toting Madonna is besieged by assailants from all directions and dispatches them in self-defense as giant spatters of blood fill the video screen. In that opening segment she sings about jealousy, divorce and, in “Revolver” — with images of guns and ammunition — about sex as a weapon.
Yet the bad-gal nastiness soon gives way to more generous impulses, trading violent shock value for flamboyant showmanship. By the end she’s sharing a big dance party. And the concert is less a story than an excellent excuse for extravagant, perpetually surprising production numbers involving more than three dozen performers, while it turns some of Madonna’s past hits inside out.
Madonna, at 54, isn’t giving in to pop obsolescence. The concert is a display of energy and nutty inventiveness, with Madonna costumed as everything from baton twirler to folk dancer. Featured among the musicians is Kalakan, a trio of Basque singers and drummers who bring medieval and folky elements to various songs, including a version of “Open Your Heart” that arrived as a kind of Basque jig, with Madonna dancing and singing alongside her son Rocco.
“MDNA,” the album that supplies nearly half of the show’s songs, strove to connect Madonna with the latest highly commercial wave of electronic dance music. (The disc jockey and producer Laidback Luke opened the show with a set that remixed Madonna tunes alongside current dance floor staples.) But Madonna’s spectacle doesn’t confine itself to club land; its aspirations go further.
On this tour Madonna’s usual steely determination shares the stage with a new warmth and acceptance. One song has Nicki Minaj, on video, declaring, “There’s only one queen, and that’s Madonna,” and there’s also some sly professional rivalry. Performing “Express Yourself” Madonna slips in an excerpt from Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” pointing up its very similar melody and cadence. But the show soon veers away from self-promotion. In a midconcert interlude Madonna spoke about returning to America after touring Europe, going on to reaffirm the importance of freedom of speech; she cited the jailed Russian punk group Pussy Riot.
While Madonna flaunted her toned physique — in “Human Nature” she stripped down to lingerie, with “No Fear” written on her back — she didn’t hide her maturity. Gunplay aside, the concert’s most startling moment was its new take on “Like a Virgin,” a hit from 1984. Backed by a piano player wearing a top hat, it became a waltz in a minor key, with Madonna singing in an uncharacteristically low, slightly scratchy register — her Lotte Lenya voice, unassisted.
A song that had been a chirpy claim to easy renewal became, instead, a memory of distant innocence. “Hung Up,” a more recent song that was originally catchy enough for a phone commercial, was reworked as something ominous and obsessive.
Madonna may never have an impressive voice, only an adequate and tenacious one. Perhaps its limitations help her write melodies that are easier for the vast pop audience to sing. Backing vocals and electronic effects often help her along onstage, though she does dare to expose her voice for part of the show. And Madonna still looks silly when, as she did in “I Don’t Give A,” she slings an electric guitar and makes rocker-chick faces; it’s odd that someone so physically disciplined can’t fake better guitar moves.
But Madonna and her team do know how to dazzle. Her male dancers bounced on web tightropes in slacklining routines, twisted themselves in scary contortions and even wore some high heels. “Vogue” placed Madonna at a decadent party with a chandelier overhead, surrounded by dancers in angular black-and-white costumes, while she struck her own poses in a latter-day remake of her old conical bra, now a black-ribbed exoskeleton.
As Madonna sang “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” a large drum corps in band uniforms pattered away, suspended in midair. It’s hard to guess what “I’m a Sinner” has to do with a video train ride zooming through India, or how “I’m Addicted” connects to a group martial-arts ceremony, but both productions easily transcended the clichés in the lyrics.
Madonna’s set started nearly an hour later than planned, the result of last-minute adjustments for its American premiere. After apologizing, she said, “I wanted the show to be perfect for you, because my fans deserve it, and quite frankly I deserve it.” The details have always mattered to Madonna, and in this new extravaganza they add up. The effort is visible, but so is the delirious impulse behind it.
Is a journey.
The journey of a soul from darkness to light
It is part cinematic musical theatre.
Part spectacle and sometimes intimate Performance art.
But above all its a journey
From darkness to light
From anger to love.
From chaos to order.
It’s true there is a lot of violence in the beginning of the show and sometimes the use of fake guns – but they are used as metaphors.
I do not condone violence or the use of guns.
Rather they are symbols of wanting to appear strong and wanting to find a way to stop feelings that I find hurtful or damaging. In my case its wanting to stop the lies and hypocrisy of the church, the intolerance of many narrow minded cultures and societies I have experienced throughout my life and in some cases the pain I have felt from having my heart broken.
Ultimately as we follow through the journey of my story, the audience can see quite clearly what I see -
That the enemy is within and the only way to survive Disappointment Disapproval Judgment Heartbreak Jealousy Envy And Hatred Is with Love – not with revenge – not with guns and not with violence.
In spite of all the chaos and darkness and intolerance we seem to be encountering more and more in the world,
We cannot allow our anger or bitterness to swallow us up.
We come to understand that
There is an innate and pure love inside us all and we have to find a way to tap into it.
And we can’t do it by being victims or placing the blame or pointing the finger at others.
But by recognizing that the enemy is within
And when we come to terms with it
And accept it
And struggle to change ourselves,
Then we can change the world without hurting anyone and we can inspire others to do the same.
When you watch a film there are usually good guys and bad guys to help illustrate this point, Sometimes I play both.
I enjoy acting out this journey.
For none of us are perfect and we all have our own journey of growth to go on.
I know people can relate to it.
It’s very important to me as an artist that my show not be taken out of context.
It must be watched with an open heart from beginning to end. I am sure if it is viewed this way, the viewer will walk away feeling inspired, Invigorated and will want to make the world a better place.
And this of course was always my intention.
Madonna earns her record-extending 43rd No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play Songs chart, as “Turn Up the Radio” lifts 2-1. (The ranking will refresh on Billboard.com Thursday, Aug. 30.)
“Radio” is Madonna’s third Dance/Club Play Songs No. 1 from “MDNA,” which bowed atop the Billboard 200 the week of April 14. “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., led the week of March 31, while “Girl Gone Wild” reached No. 1 just three weeks later.
“Radio” is headed for radio, too: Interscope Records begins seeking airplay for the song at mainstream top 40 stations on Sept. 25.
With her 43rd leading title on Dance/Club Play Songs, Madonna pulls further away from runner-up Janet Jackson, who has 19. Beyonce and Rihanna follow with 18 No. 1s each, trailed by Kristine W (16) and Mariah Carey (15).
Looking forward, with one more No. 1 on Dance/Club Play Songs, the Material Girl would claim even more historic honors.
Upon her latest coronation, Madonna is now one No. 1 away from tying George Strait’s record for the most toppers on any single Billboard chart. The King of Country has sat at the Country Songs chart’s throne with 44 titles between 1981 and 2009. With one more No. 1 on Dance/Club Play Songs, the Queen of Pop would tie Strait for unmatched Billboard chart royalty.
Given her multi-format appeal, as opposed to Strait’s status as a country-exclusive act (and an unparalleled one, at that), Madonna leads not only Strait but also all artists for the most No. 1s on all Billboard charts combined. With “Radio” ruling Dance/Club Play Songs, Madonna logs her record-extending 156th leader on an active, current-based domestic Billboard survey.
Here’s a breakdown of Madonna’s No. 1 sums on active, current-based U.S. charts: 43, Dance/Club Play Songs; 33, Hot Dance Singles Sales; 15, Hot Singles Sales; 12, Billboard Hot 100; 9, Radio Songs; 9, Music Video Sales; 8, Billboard 200; 7, Dance/Mix Show Airplay; 5, Adult Contemporary; 4, Internet Albums; 3, Digital Albums; 2, Dance/Electronic Albums; 2, Digital Songs; 2, Hot Digital Tracks; 1, Pop Songs; 1, Tastemaker Albums.
Here is an updated look at Madonna’s 43 Dance/Club Play Songs No. 1s, beginning with the double-sided single “Holiday”/”Lucky Star,” which reached the top the week of Sept. 24, 1983. (For titles that spent multiple weeks at No. 1, total frames in the lead are noted in parentheses).
1983, “Holiday”/”Lucky Star” (five weeks at No. 1)
1984, “Like a Virgin” (three)
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 featuring 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 featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland (two)
2008, “Give It 2 Me”
2012, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” Madonna featuring Nicki Minaj & M.I.A.
2012, “Girl Gone Wild”
2012, “Turn Up the Radio”
by Gary Trust
Source : Billboard
Madonna has moved to end her long-running feud with Sir Elton John by dedicating her song “Masterpiece” to the rocker during a concert in France earlier this week.
The Material Girl has kept silent throughout the one-sided war of words with the “Rocket Man” legend, who has taken several swipes at the star over the last few months.
John took aim at the singer after she beat him to the Golden Globe for Best Song in January, when “Masterpiece,” her track from her period film “W.E.,” won the honor.
He then branded Madonna a “fairground stripper” after she exposed her breast on stage during her MDNA tour.
But the pop superstar chose to take the higher ground during a concert in Nice on Tuesday by dedicating the song to her most famous critic, telling the crowd that she “forgives” him for his constant criticism.
She said, “I want to dedicate this song to a Mr. Elton John. I know he’s a big fan of it, and I know he’s a big fan of mine. And you know what, I forgive him. You gotta start somewhere.”