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 Madonna slowly started her rise to super-stardom.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 and Prince, 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 Hot Mom 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 Sasha 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 / R&B 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 MIA, 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. However, the album is going to be further promoted on her upcoming MDNA Tour.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fangirl/Ascended Fangirl: Has a mutual supportive fangirl relationship with Britney Spears where since about 2002 she's made sure to work with her alot, 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.
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.
Informed Judaism: Okay, a somewhat "mystica" brand of Judaism in Kaballah, but Madonna rarely discusses it publicly.
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.
Just a Stupid Accent: During her marriage to Guy Ritchie, she infamously tried to adopt a British accent publically, 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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
"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.
Reality Subtext: "Me Against Madonna", Mad TV music video parody of the Britney Spears song "Me Against the Music", which portrayed Madonna (post American Life) hunting down Britney Spears so that she can bite her neck and drain her "youth and energy".
Rape As Backstory: She was sexually assaulted at knifepoint by two men before becoming famous
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"*
It was actually a black saint, inspired by St. Martin de Porres
Madonna and Janet Jackson were definitely not BFFs, to put it lightly. They did bury the hatchet after Michael Jackson's death.
Madonna almost started a rivalry with, of all people, Sinead O'Connor. Madonna, who was raised Catholic and been criticized by the Church for her stage acts, "Like A Prayer," "Erotica," the Sex book, and so on, spoke out against O'Connor's incident on Saturday Night Live. O'Connor claimed that Madonna said she "[looks] like [she] had a run in with a lawnmower and that [she] was about as sexy as a Venetian blind."
Has a love-hate relationship with Courtney Love. See their MTV interview at the red carpet in 1995.
Madonna is certainly perpetuating the idea that Lady Gaga is an up-and-coming rival. See Take That below.
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.
She Cleans Up Nicely: For a former teenybopper whose style became known as "mall rat" fashion, Madonna cleaned up rather well.
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".
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".
Madonna said outright that "Born This Way" was a great cover of "Express Yourself". She later 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.
Urban Legends: A popular urban legend in the late 1980s towards the story behind the song "Papa Don't Preach": Madonna had become pregnant in 1985, right before she was to go into the studio to start work on "True Blue". Rather than have the baby and risk derailing her career (which was at it's peak), Madonna secretly had an abortion to get rid of the pregnancy. However, her father had a major cow about his daughter having said abortion, leading to her writing, as a Take That, "Papa Don't Preach", in which she sarcastically opined what her father would say if she had gotten pregnant as a teenager and declared that she was going to have the child.