As expected, Madonna’s “MDNA” fell significantly in its second week on the Billboard albums chart, and as expected, the vultures were all over the Internet dancing atop Madge’s supposed “failure.” Seriously, I could have predicted how this week would go even before the Superbowl performance!
Throughout Madonna’s entire career there has always been a faction of people rooting for her to fail. It’s been this way for the last 25 years. Part of it is the media’s desire to build up and tear down celebrities, and part of it is a resentment of strong women actually being successful. In any case, Madonna (and her fans) have become quite use to being rooted against.
Last week, Madonna’s 12th studio album “MDNA” debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, selling more than 360,000 copies. That amount was inflated because Madge’s team was able to include albums sold with a concert promotion. People who bought upcoming concert tickets were able to get the album as part of their concert ticket purchase. So, given that the first-week sales were inflated to begin with, and given that Madonna hasn’t done any major promotion of the album since the Superbowl — it would have been reasonable to expect a steep decline in charting this week. (Read a balanced take on the charting of the album here.)
Despite that expectation, the Internet was ablaze the last two days, trumpeting the decline of Madonna, and calling her album a flop. Common sense would tell you that 14 days is insufficient time to label an album a flop!
As you might expect, such knee-jerk declarations of failure are not entirely accurate. While it’s true that Madonna does not sell as many albums as she once did, she does sell-out concert venues around the world. So, while some people may not spend $15 on a Madonna album, they do spend on average $115 on a concert ticket. And many fans spend much more than that to see Madge live.
When you consider the number of shows Madonna will sell out, and when you look at how much people are spending to see her, you get a fuller view of her popularity and relevance. It’s hard to sell CDs when radio stations refuse to play your music! But given that her stage shows are second to none, Madge has made a strategic decision to focus on perfecting them. And that’s a smart business move…just like every business move Madonna makes.
At 53, I doubt Madonna cares much about her press clippings. She is now a living legend, and has nothing else to prove to anybody. But as a devoted fan, it does bother me that hateful people look for any opportunity to bring this woman down. Every thing that Madonna has now she has earned. Her success is a true testament to resilience and hard work. I think it should be celebrated.
The critics actually believe that their hatefulness will hurt Madge. But the truth is, after all these years — people are still talking about, thinking out and musing about, Madonna. And she’s laughing all the way to the bank.