The Music Blog: That Material Girl

Some things wear you down, and some things wear you out. This is in music as it is in anything else, maybe more so. One of the things I really love about music is how it transforms the world around it. Take my favorite genre for example, Grunge. It was something to walk into a department store in Texas in late August with temperatures in the 100’s and see back to school sales that included flannel outfits just like all those Seattle rockers. It’s more than genres though, what I really love is how some artists reach iconic status. Elvis, Hendrix, Michael, Prince, The Beatles, The Stones have all reached a status that no other artist can be compared to them. It’s fascinating to watch, to experience.

MTV changed the music world. It ended careers because music became a visual art as much as a musical one. If you were not photogenic enough, if you were overweight, unattractive then your career never got off the ground. It made careers too, a great video could significantly enhance album sales or get a career started and in some cases it could help make you an icon.

I, like anyone my age, in the early to mid 80’s when I was home would have MTV on instead of the radio. It was the best place to hear new music. Like radio video hits were played every hour so. If you had a favorite video there was a good chance you would see it and not have to wait long. Remember how this opened some things wear you out and some things wear you down. The first time I saw her and her video I thought it was a train wreck and laughed. I wondered if she were trying to be funny. She dressed strangely, not weird strange, just different, all those bracelets, the way she wore her hair. Every day it played every hour and every time I watched, and it wasn’t long before I wasn’t laughing. She was cute, and she did have something even if at the time I might have been unwilling to share that with my basketball buddies.

The song was Lucky Star and the artist Madonna.

It didn’t take her long. Pretty soon you could see girls on campus who dressed just like her or some version of how she dressed. Girls wore more bracelets for sure. Madonna had other songs that followed and all of them were hits. She took the 80’s by storm, grabbed hold and never relinquished it. You might not like her, either personally or musically but you can’t ignore her and she deserves respect. There has been no one ever to come close to her and what she did, what she continues to do almost 40 years later. That alone commands respect. Not many last that long and still stay relevant. In 2019 she released the album Madame X.

I have never thought she was gorgeous but she has always been able to give me those funny feelings. I thought I was a bit beyond feeling that way and then the movie Die Another Day came out. It’s a James Bond film and Madonna not only sang the theme but also had a small role. When she turns around in that movie my heart skips a beat and it doesn’t matter how many times I have seen it. Don’t think the director didn’t know what she could do and would do. It was calculated. She has always been one of those wow girls to me. When I was in college I wanted a girl who had that look. I had a friend who I attended social work classes with and she made me a party tape, just a 90 minute cassette with 2 songs from different artists and Madonna was on that cassette. She laughed at me when I made a face but later when we were over her house listening to records I told her I loved Madonna. She just had something about her, that material girl.

Long ago I stopped worrying about whether people loved the music I did. I used to call these guilty pleasures and even recently used that term and then realized I am not guilty about loving any of the music I have. I bought it all for a reason, to listen to. There are some that I discovered were not as good as I originally thought, some I just got tired of but feeling guilty about liking them I just don’t. I bought Swing Out Sister because I found myself singing the song Breakout all the time. I bought Madonna because I loved the song Papa Don’t Preach and once I did that well it opened the door to buying a little more. Then I just decided I wanted all of it. Now I don’t love every song. I don’t have to. I don’t love every Beatle song. I mean seriously Revolution #9? There are bunches of Rolling Stones songs I just don’t like but they are still the greatest rock and roll band to ever walk the planet. I love Elvis. There are many who don’t. That does not make him less of an icon. I am shocked when I run across people who don’t like, in fact don’t love the Beatles but they are still iconic. Your like or dislike, your love or hatred of an artist doesn’t make them less iconic. If you read my blog all two of you then you just had an a-ha moment. Yea Mike what about Clapton? I like several of his songs, even like a few of his albums but I don’t like him as a person or even think he is that great. It doesn’t make him less of an icon. So however you feel about Madonna doesn’t actually matter much in the big scheme of things. Madonna is an icon.

Mike out

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