- Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath, Nancy Sinatra, Carpenters, Led Zeppelin, The Supremes, Martha Graham, Rudolf Nureyev, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Fryderik Chopin, Carole Lombard, Judy Holliday, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Guy Bourdin
Madonna (born Madonna Louise Ciccone on August 16, 1958) is an American recording artist, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan
, and raised in Rochester Hills, Michigan, she moved to New York City
in 1977, for a career in modern dance. After performing as a member of the pop musical groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her self-titled debut album in 1983 on Sire Records
, a division of Warner Bros. Records
. The album was a hit, as well as a few of its singles, and with it Madonna started her rise to fame.
With her second album, Like A Virgin
(1984), Madonna rocketed to super-stardom. The album spawned a slew of hit singles (especially the titular single), and a live performance by the singer at the very first MTV Music Video Awards sealed the deal towards Madonna's ascension to super-stardom. Madonna's relationship with MTV further made her a household name; alongside Michael Jackson
, she became one of the defining artists of the 80s as her videos and sexually charged, often ironic and catching lyrics made her an icon of the era.
By this time, Madonna landed a supporting cast role in Desperately Seeking Susan
(1985), playing the title character Susan. The film was a commercial and critical hit, and was the first of many movie roles for Madonna. Unfortunately, her follow-up films Shanghai Surprise
(1986, with then-husband Sean Penn
) and Who's That Girl
(1987) didn't fare as well.
Her third album, 1986's True Blue
, saw the first of many re-inventions for Madonna, as she shed her "mall rat" persona and adopted a more sophisticated "sex kitten" image. The album also contained "Live To Tell", one of most important songs Madonna ever put out. The ballad won critics (many of whom had dismissed Madonna as a teenybopper act) over and breathed new life to her career. Additionally, the single "Papa Don't Preach", about an impregnated teenage girl who wants to keep her baby, caused some controversy.
Expanding on the use of religious imagery with Like a Prayer
(1989), Madonna received positive critical reception for her diverse musical productions, while at the same time receiving criticism from religious conservatives and the Vatican. The video for the title track gained massive controversy, costing Madonna a hefty contract with Pepsi for use of the song in its commercials. Madonna's marriage to Sean Penn also collapsed under accusations of spousal abuse, which Madonna addressed (for the first and only time) in the song "Till Death Do Us Part".
Madonna made her Broadway debut in 1988 in David Mamet
's Speed The Plow
, but her acting career took off again in 1990's Dick Tracy
, which also spawned one of her biggest hits, the song "Vogue". As the 1990s began, Madonna founded the Maverick corporation (the name is a portmanteau of "Madonna" and "Veronica", her confirmation name
), a joint venture between herself and Time Warner, and released The Immaculate Collection
, a "best of" album that featured the controversial single "Justify My Love". The video for the song was banned on MTV
, kicking up more controversy as Madonna entered into her "Sex" period.
1992 saw the joint release of the studio album Erotica
and the coffee-table book Sex
. This, plus the 1993 critical flop Body of Evidence
(which had Madonna playing a black widow nymphomaniac who used sex to kill men), created a firestorm of controversy regarding the artist.
1994 saw the release of Bedtime Stories
; besides featuring a collaboration between Madonna and Björk
(the album's title track) and the commercially successful video/song "Take a Bow", the album was released as Madonna landed the lead role in the 1996 film version of the musical Evita
. Winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, the film was a turning point as Madonna began the transition towards a more respectable mother image, which was enhanced with the birth of her firstborn child.
Madonna's seventh studio album Ray Of Light
(1998) became her big comeback album, as it was one of her most critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums. The album mixed dance music with introspective lyrics about motherhood and religion, as Madonna became involved in Kabbalah. With Music
(2000), Madonna returned to dance music full-time, the album also introduced Sacha Baron Cohen
, whose Ali G character was featured in the video for the title track, to American culture. Sadly, Madonna's decision to try her hand at rap and politically conscious, anti-war lyrics caused her 2003 album American Life
to flop. However, she rebounded with Confessions on a Dance Floor
(2005), a hugely successful album.
Departing from Sire/Warner, Madonna signed an unprecedented $120 million dollar contract with Live Nation in 2008. Her eleventh album Hard Candy
was released the same year; it received a pretty mixed reaction from hardcore fans and casual listeners alike for its Hip Hop
sound, because many thought she was trying to pander to listeners of urban music. In any event, it did feature some interesting collaborations with Justin Timberlake
, Kanye West
, Pharrell, and Timbaland.
2012 saw the release of her twelfth studio album MDNA
, launched by a single featuring Nicki Minaj
, and not to mention a major Super Bowl
halftime performance as well. It was a return to her dance-pop sound. However, it wasn't the comeback people were expecting. Many fans blame it on poor choices for lead singles and lack of promotion from Madonna. In December 2014, 30
songs from the recording sessions of Madonna's upcoming 13th album were leaked, even before Madonna even properly announced the album. Due to this, Madonna announced that her 13th album, entitled Rebel Heart
, will be released on March 10, 2015.
Madonna is ranked by the Recording Industry Association of America as the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century and the second top-selling female artist in the U.S., with 63 million RIAA-certified albums; she has sold over 200 million albums worldwide. In 2007, Guinness World Records listed her as the world's most successful female recording artist of all time, and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2008). Considered to be one of the most influential women in contemporary music, Madonna has been known for continually reinventing both her music and image, and for retaining a standard of autonomy within the recording industry; she is recognized as an influence among numerous music artists.
Studio album discography
Soundtrack album discography
- You Can Dance (1987)
- The Immaculate Collection (1990)
- Something to Remember (1995)
- GHV2 (2001)
- Remixed and Revisited (2003)
- Celebration (2009)
- Abusive Parent: "Oh Father" from Like A Prayer.
- Advancing Wall of Doom: In the music video for "4 minutes"
- Anti-Love Song: "Love Song", her duet with Prince on Like A Prayer, has it right in the words that it isn't a love song.
- Auto-Tune: Madonna has used vocoders on "Nobody's Perfect", "Die Another Day", "Nobody Knows Me", and "Revolver".
- Bad Girl Song: "Girl Gone Wild".
I know, I know, I shouldn't act this way
I know, I know, I know, good girls don't misbehave, misbehave
But I'm a bad girl anyway
- "Bad Girl", on the other hand, is a deconstruction. It's about a woman leading an unhappy life consisting of smoking, drinking, and having sex.
- Bare Your Midriff: Especially in the '80s; was practically a Madonna trademark at the time.
- Also in the video for "Ray of Light".
- Berserk Button:
- Let's just say no collaborations with Lady Gaga will be forthcoming any time soon and leave it at that.
- When the Rebel Heart demos leaked, Madonna called the whole incident "artistic rape" and "an act of terrorism." (She later deleted the post.)
- Bi the Way
- Boastful Rap: "I Don't Give A".
I'm moving fast, can you follow my track
I'm moving fast and I like it like that
I do ten things all at once
And if you have a problem
I don't give a
- Breakup Song: MDNA is full of songs relating to her divorce with Guy Ritchie.
- "Love Spent" is about how Guy Ritchie got a lot of money from Madonna after the divorce, and how he probably cared more about the money than her.
- "I Don't Give A" is about Madonna dealing with post-divorce problems. In addition, Madonna states that she tried her best to save her marriage, but she doesn't care if she was a failure.
- "Some Girls" is speculated to be how Madonna's so much better than Guy Ritchie's new girlfriend.
- The murdered lover in "Gang Bang" is speculated to be Guy Ritchie. While Madonna never confirmed that he was the lover, she did say that the song was directed at someone who pissed her off, and the song was her way of blowing off steam.
- "I Fucked Up" and "Best Friend" are less spiteful songs about the divorce. In these songs, Madonna acknowledge that she "fucked up" and that she lost her "very best friend."
- Burger Fool: Before hitting it big as a recording artist, she worked in a New York Dunkin' Donuts, and was actually fired for squirting jelly in a customer's face.
- But Not Too White: Her debut single, "Everybody," was marketed without her image. The single's cover◊ is a picture of a black neighborhood, implying that Madonna was a black urban artist. She had to fight the record label to make a video for the song and be in it.
- Canon Discontinuity:
- The video for "Holiday", also the original video for "True Blue", which was done by an amateur director as part of a MTV contest.
- "True Blue" is also a major source of discontinuity, since the song was written about love for abusive ex-husband Sean Penn and Madonna has pretty much disowned the song, going so far as refusing to ever perform it in concert.
- Madonna had "Material Girl" filed under Canon Discontinuity by the late 1980s, due to the Misaimed Fandom of the song and the way that the media and fans basically used the title as their de facto nickname for Madonna. It was performed on the Re-Invention Tour, but only because she couldn't learn how to play the chords for "Dress You Up" in time, and the tour director (Jamie King) convinced her to put the song on the setlist.
- She directed a critically panned and mostly nonsensical film called Filth and Wisdom in 2008. Three years later, when her next project came out, promotional materials claimed it was her "directorial debut". In an interview, Madonna claimed she only directed Filth and Wisdom so she could learn how to make a film, so apparently it doesn't count.
- Celebrity Resemblance: Has done this often in her career. Her music videos from the 1980s have her dressed in glamorous shout-outs to famous movie actresses of the past, most notably Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe.
- Charity Motivation Song: "Hey You", the theme song for Live Earth.
- Clear Their Name: The music video for "Like a Prayer" revolves around this.
- Controversy-Proof Image: Madonna has survived every possible scandal, many created by herself, and is still considered an admirable star.
- Cover Version: Madonna covered "American Pie" by Don McLean, "Fever" by Little Willie John, "If You Go Away" (a pop standard), "Imagine" by John Lennon, "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" by Rose Royce, "I Want You" by Marvin Gaye, and "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt.
- The Cover Changes The Meaning: "American Pie"; Madonna omitted most of the lyrics from the song that referred to the music scene of the late 1960s, to make it more of a dance song about music and love.
- Curse Cut Short: "I Don't Give A", natch.
- Curtain Call: At the end of "Like a Prayer".
- Darker and Edgier: Downplayed but still present with Music, which (despite the upbeat title track) is probably the dreariest/saddest album in her discography.
- Dated History: When her song "Vogue" was released on March 20, 1990, more than half of the people on her list were still alive (Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Joe DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, and Lana Turner). Garbo became the first to die about a month after "Vogue" was released; and by the time the last person on the list died on August 12, 2014 (Bacall), you'll never listen to the song in the same way again, as the anthem for the lost glamour of Old Hollywood is now turned into a Tear Jerker.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Her Blonde Ambition tour featured her mimicking masturbation during "Like A Virgin".
- Disorganized Outline Speech: Which she at least had the decency to lampshade, from the June 1990 Interview Magazine:
"You know how religion is, guys get to do everything. They get to be altar boys. They get to stay out late. Take their shirts off in the summer. They get to pee standing up. They get to fuck a lot of girls and not worry about getting pregnant. Although that doesn't have anything to do with being religious."
- Domestic Abuse: "'Til Death Do Us Part" and "Oh Father" from her Like A Prayer album both deal with abuse, first husband/wife, and second parent/child.
- Double Standard: Madonna is often criticized for sexuality that would be considered pretty standard for a male rocker. She especially explores the topic in "What It Feels Like for a Girl" with the lyrics "Girls can wear jeans, And cut their hair short, Wear shirts and boots 'Cause it's OK to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading 'Cause you think that being a girl is degrading."
- Ethical Slut: The subject of many songs like "Erotica" and "Human Nature", which provides the page quote.
- Fading into the Next Song: The entirety of Confessions on a Dance Floor.
- "Sanctuary" —> "Bedtime Story" from Bedtime Stories.
- "Dear Jessie" —> "Oh Father" from Like A Prayer.
- Fangirl/Ascended Fangirl: Has a mutual supportive fangirl relationship with Britney Spears where since about 2002 she's made sure to work with her a lot, on songs and videos, multiple different performances, wearing her shirt as support once or twice, even flirting with her on twitter, implying they'll work together again, and doing interviews about Britney voluntarily for many of Brit's documentary's like For The Record. She generally tends to say she sees a lot of herself in Britney Spears and her career and understands some of her more unusual choices personally and professionally.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Subverted. While Madonna generally runs full steam ahead and crushes the radar like a semi-truck on the freeway, she won't let the original version of "Human Nature" appear on her "best of" albums lest she get stuck with a "Parental Advisory" warning (even though the album that contains the song doesn't have said sticker). Also, her big NBC concert special opted to use alternate angles and screen cutaways to avoid showing Madonna mock-crucified during "Live To Tell".
- Getting the videos for "Like a Prayer" and "Justify My Love" played at all certainly counts, though.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Her infamous onstage kisses with Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: "Papa Don't Preach" is a subversion and a Take That against this trope.
- Gratuitous Spanish:
- "La Isla Bonita", ("the beautiful island").
- "Quien es esa niña" and "señorita, mas fina" in "Who's That Girl".
- "Spanish Lesson" is full of this.
- Grief Song:
- Madonna's mother died when Madonna was only five. Her death influenced the songs "Promise to Try", "Mer Girl", "Inside of Me", and "Mother and Father".
- "In This Life" was based on various friends that died from AIDS.
- Gun Porn: The "Transgression" segment of the MDNA Tour, especially "Revolver" and "Gang Bang", revolves around guns. Everyone Is Armed, and the video backdrop for "Revolver" glamorizes guns and bullets.
- Also, the "American Life" video.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: "Heartbeat", natch.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: A staple of her wardrobe, including high-heeled boots, riding crops etc.
- Hotter and Sexier: Depends on the song; some have very blatant sexual content (see Moral Guardians, Banned in China) while others are Lighter and Softer.
- Hymn to Music: "Music".
Music makes the people come together
Music mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel
- Iconic Outfit
- Her corset with its garter straps and famous conical brassiere from the 1990 Blonde Ambition tour.
- All kinds of bras, bustiers and corsets, worn as outerwear or just showing under skimpy clothes.
- Visible bra straps (a look that was considered very tacky before Madonna popularized it).
- Informed Judaism: Okay, a somewhat "mystica" brand of Judaism in Kaballah, but Madonna rarely discusses it publicly.
- Initialism Title: MDNA
- In Medias Res: The music video for "Like a Prayer" opens up with the heroine running in distress toward a church, while flashbacks of what has happened before briefly appear.
- Intercourse with You: "Where Life Begins", "Like a Virgin" (self-explanatory), "Erotica", "Justify My Love" (especially the notorious video), and more.
- I Was Young and Needed the Money: One reason given for her nude photos taken pre-fame in 1978.
- Just a Stupid Accent: During her marriage to Guy Ritchie, she infamously tried to adopt a British accent publicly, which just left everyone confused at what the point was.
- Last Note Nightmare: The final song of Like a Prayer, "Act of Contrition". The whole song is pretty ominous, but the last four seconds will make you jump out of your seat. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, IT'S NOT IN THE COMPUTER?!"
- Le Film Artistique: Some of her more "high concept" videos, such as "Justify My Love", "Frozen", "Bedtime Story" etc.
- Lighter and Softer: Madonna's ballads, such as "Frozen".
- List Song: "Vogue" has a list of celebrities from The Golden Age of Hollywood near the end of the song.
- Lonely Piano Piece: "Promise to Try".
- Long Runners: She's been around for over three decades now.
- Love Is A Drug: Madonna compares love to MDMA in "I'm Addicted".
- Lyrical Cold Open: Many songs start out like this, including "Hung Up", "American Life", "4 Minutes", "Girl Gone Wild", "Love Profusion", and "Sorry". The quotes in "White Heat" and "What It Feels Like for a Girl" also start at the very beginning.
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "Till Death Do Us Part", a bouncy song about a woman who's vows to leave her abusive husband, only to go back to him and the implication that "Till Death Do Us Part" is going to be the only way she'll get free from him.
- The "Bang Bang" demo, a Mika-esque song about murder.
- Missing Mom: Madonna's mother died when she was very young. Her song "Promise To Try" from Like A Prayer, which was played during a scene from the documentary film Truth Or Dare, is about her coming to terms with her mother's absence in her life. In the video for "Oh Father", the absence of the mother also affects the father's relationship, resulting in domestic abuse in one scene where the actor playing him roughly scolds the little girl playing the young Madonna for wearing her mother's clothes and jewelry.
- Mood Whiplash: Most of her albums have at least one song, but the worst offender is MDNA with two. The entire album is pretty dance happy, and then you get to "Masterpiece", which is a slower romantic song, and then "Falling Free", a power ballad that will make anyone cry as you get closer and closer to the end.
- Moral Guardians: The reason she was so controversial in the 80s, and still is to some extent today. The music videos for "Justify My Love" and "Erotica" was almost entirely banned from appearing on TV; "Like a Prayer" was challenged almost as much.
- Mrs. Robinson: Recent music videos have shown her cavorting with boys who look like they're barely legal.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Then-husband Sean Penn's Saturday Night Live appearance, during which he got into a fistfight with the Church Lady when "she" provided (music) video evidence that indeed, his girl was a slut.
- New Sound Album: She's known for having worked in many genres. Some of these would be synthpop, disco, house, ambient, techno, Latin, rock, gospel, funk, and R&B.
- Non Indicative Name: "Gang Bang," which isn't even about sex in the slightest! It's actually about murder...
- Of Corsets Sexy: Pretty much single-handedly introduced the word "bustier" to the English lexicon.
- Older Than They Look: Believe it or not, she was born in 1958.
- One Mario Limit: There is no possible association for the name "Madonna" other than her.
- Unless, of course, you're Roman Catholic, and the first thing that comes to your mind upon hearing the name "Madonna" is the Virgin Mary.
- Only One Name: Hardly ever uses her surname.
- Pep Talk Song: "Hey You", which contains general and vague statements like "Don't you give up/It's not so bad for us."
- Precision F-Strike: "I Fucked Up".
- Pretty in Mink: Has worn some furs in her videos, like a white fur wrap in "Material Girl" and a white mink coat in "Music".
- Quadruple Meaning Title: The title of her forthcoming MDNA. can be taken four different ways;
- As an initialism of her name (MaDoNnA). Simple enough, right?
- But it also sounds suspiciously like the drug MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy. Leave it to the Moral Guardians to make a big stink over this interpretation just a day after the title being announced.
- The third interpretation can be taken from mtDNA (or mitochondrial DNA), which is the kind of DNA that is solely inherited by the mother of an organism. Many speculate this is a Take That to a certain pop singer who has obviously been inspired by Madge in recent years...
- And the fourth interpretation of the theme of the album is Madonna's DNA, harking back to her old pop ideas and inspirations, a retrospective of sorts. Also noted in the artwork which was rather science-like.
- Protest Song:
- "American Life" is partially about how the American dream is not what it seems. The original video protested the Iraq War.
- Starting with The Confessions Tour, Madonna would have a video interlude that was politically-charged, usually protesting poverty, war, religious intolerance, homophobia, greed, certain politicians, and environmental pollution.
- Raised Catholic: Okay, she may dance provocatively in front of religious symbols but they're Catholic religious symbols. The symbolism in Like A Prayer is Catholic and overall it probably takes a Catholic to piss the Church off so many times.
- Rape as Backstory: She was sexually assaulted at knifepoint by two men before becoming famous
- Rearrange the Song:
- For the Confessions Tour Madonna used a less vulgar demo ("You Thrill Me"), added some lyrics from the final version of "Erotica", and reworked it into an electronic/dance/disco song.
- "Deeper and Deeper" was re-invented into a jazz song on the Re-Invention Tour.
- Most of her old songs have received this treatment when performed on recent tours.
- "Bang Bang", a happy-sounding song about murder, was transformed into "Gang Bang", a much darker song about murder.
- She does it right in the same album, I'm Breathless. "Now I'm Following You (Part 2)" is a rearrangement of Part 1 so that it would sound like a 1990s-style dance song.
- Record Needle Scratch: Madonna does this twice on the song "Now I'm Following You (Part 2)" from her Dick Tracy soundtrack album I'm Breathless...the first time is when the record skips, presumably when it finishes playing the previous song on the album, "Now I'm Following You (Part 1)", and near the end when she says "Will you knock it off, please?", a Call Back to her response in the song "Cry Baby".
- Recycled Lyrics:
- Madonna recycled a lyric from "Love Song" into "Hung Up".
Time goes by so slowly for those who wait
- Madonna recycled lyrics from "Vogue" into "Deeper and Deeper".
You got to just let your body move to the music
You got to just let your body go with the flow
- Refuge in Audacity: Plenty of what she has done counts, starting with her stage costumes.
- Repetitive Audio Glitch: Her song "Now I'm Following You (Part 2)" begins with the record skipping, presumably after Part 1 finishes playing if you're listening to the entire album I'm Breathless straight from the CD. Madonna says "Oh, dear" and fixes the record player so that it starts with the playing of Part 2's music.
- Repurposed Pop Song: In 1989, Pepsi-Cola paid $5 million to use Madonna's single "Like a Prayer" in a commercial, but the soft drink company chickened out after protests by religious groups in the wake of the song's video release... A video that, for anyone that doesn't know, includes burning crosses, stigmata, and Madonna having sex with what they assumed to be "Black Jesus"note . Mmm, Pepsi.
- Rerelease the Song:
- "Holiday" was rereleased in 1985 and 1991 in the UK.
- "Crazy for You" was rereleased in 1991 in the UK.
- "Oh Father" was rereleased in 1995 in Europe.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Why else would Madonna compare her love to a revolver in "Revolver"?
- The Rival: In light of the "Two Steps Behind Me" controversy (Rumors claimed that the song was directed at Lady Gaga), Madonna stated that she doesn't "wish ill will" towards any female artist and that she never has. The entries below... contradict that.
- Rockumentary: Truth or Dare and I'm Going to Tell You a Secret. The latter shows how much Madonna has changed in 14 years after having kids, marrying Guy Ritchie, and converting to Kaballah.
- Self-Deprecation: In one segment of The Hire, a series of big-budget short promotional films done by BMW, she plays a bitchy, entitled singer. The segment was directed by her then-husband, Guy Ritchie.
- She once did an SNL sketch where her character at one point went off on a tirade about what a horrible slut Madonna is.
- Self-Titled Album: Her debut album.
- Sexophone: Used in "Where Life Begins".
- She Cleans Up Nicely: For a former teenybopper whose style became known as "mall rat" fashion, Madonna cleaned up rather well.
- Shout-Out: "Hung Up" is a five-minute love song to the 1970s, with the video being based on Saturday Night Fever and the song's hook being a sample from ABBA's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! A Man After Midnight".
- The video for "Ray of Light" is a Shout-Out to Koyaanisqatsi.
- Vogue references glamorous Hollywood actors and actresses: Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and her husband baseballer Joe Di Maggio, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Jean Harlow, Grace Kelly, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Katherine Hepburn, Lana Turner, Bette Davis (we love you)
- Silly Love Songs: Many of Madonna's songs deal with love in some way, but special attention should go to "Cherish", "Superstar", "True Blue", and "Love Profusion".
- Spelling Song: Nicki Minaj and MIA tell us to L-U-V Madonna in "Give Me All Your Luvin'".
- Spoken Word in Music:
- The beginning quote in "What It Feels Like for a Girl" was said by Charlotte Gainsbourg in Cement Garden.
- "White Heat" quotes the titular movie.
- Surreal Music Video: "Fever", "Bedtime Story", "Dear Jessie", and "Nothing Really Matters".
- Take That:
- "Human Nature" is entirely about having a healthy attitude about sex, and a Take That against the criticism she routinely gets for being too provocative.
- Madonna directed several take-thats towards Lady Gaga.
- Madonna said outright that Lady Gaga "Born This Way" was a great cover of "Express Yourself."
- She sang a bit of "Born This Way" during her MDNA Tour performance of "Express Yourself," then followed that up with the lyric "she's not me."
- A take that from the critics: a few reviewers described MDNA and/or its singles as "reductive", a word Madonna used to describe Born This Way.
- This Is a Song: Madonna acknowledges in-song that she wrote "American Life" because she tried to be various things (i.e. a boy, a girl, a mess, the best), but apparently messed them up.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!:
- "Thief of Hearts" ("Bitch! Sit your ass down!").
- Madonna uses 'bitch' in "Gang Bang" to the point of Refuge in Audacity.
- "Bitch I'm Madonna."
- Three Minutes of Writhing: Not uncommon in her videos.
- Tick Tock Tune: "Hung Up" opens with clock ticking, then ends with an alarm that flows into "Get Together".
- Undercrank: Her "Ray Of Light" video is mostly sped-up film of everyday life.
- Unscaled Merfolk: The "Cherish" video.
- Urban Legends: According to 1980s lore, Madonna recorded "Papa Don't Preach" as a biting answer to her father's criticism of an abortion she had in 1985 (i.e. what he would have said if she'd decided to keep the baby). Needless to say, none of this is fact.
- Villain Song: Madonna has "Back In Business" from her Dick Tracy soundtrack album I'm Breathless, probably reflecting her character in the film "Breathless" Mahoney. Surprisingly, a different song called "Back In Business" appears in the movie instead of Madonna's version.
- A Wild Rapper Appears:
- Nicki Minaj and MIA appear on "Give Me All Your Luvin'".
- Nicki Minaj also appears on "I Don't Give A".
- Lil Wayne appears on "Revolver".
- Missy Elliott appears on "Into the Hollywood Groove".
- Kanye West appears on "Beat Goes On".
- Meshell Ndegeocello appears on "I'd Rather Be Your Lover".
- Ali G tries it in the video for "Music", to Madonna's annoyance.
- World of Symbolism: The music video for "Like a Prayer" revolves around this, despite it being very controversial. See here.
- Zettai Ryouiki: Madonna pulls off a nice Grade B in the music video for "Celebration".