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Music / Madonna

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The undisputed Queen of Pop.

"I love you, baby
But face it, she's Madonna
No man on earth
Could say that he don't want her"
Robbie Williams, "She's Madonna"

Madonna Louise Ciccone (born 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 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 the 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 political commentary 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 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 Williams, and Timbaland.

2012 saw the release of her twelfth studio album MDNA, launched by a single featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., 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, would be released on March 10, 2015. Her latest album, Madame X, was released on June 14, 2019.

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. She also has had 50 singles reach #1 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart, the most for any artist on any Billboard chart. 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 & 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 albums:

Soundtrack albums:

Compilation albums:

  • You Can Dance (1987)
  • The Immaculate Collection (1990)
  • Something to Remember (1995)
  • GHV2 (2001)
  • Remixed and Revisited (2003)
  • Celebration (2009)

Material Tropes:

  • 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.
  • As the Good Book Says...: In "Justify My Love (The Beast Within Mix)," the verses taken from the Book of Revelation are as follows: 1:3, 7; 2:1-4, 9-10; 13:1-10; 21:1-8; and 22:10-13.
  • Auto-Tune: Madonna has used vocoders on "Nobody's Perfect," "Die Another Day," "Nobody Knows Me," and "Revolver."
    • On Madame X, several songs feature vocoders, including "Future," "Dark Ballet" (with some Daft Punk-like vocals at a point), "God Control" and "I Rise," among others.
  • Award-Bait Song: “Sooner or Later” from Dick Tracy; “I’ll Remember” from With Honors; “You Must Love Me” from Evita (which actually did win the 1997 Oscar for Best Original Song).
  • 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.
  • Berserk Button:
    • When the Rebel Heart demos leaked, Madonna called the whole incident "artistic rape" and "an act of terrorism." (She later deleted the post.) She also for some reason smashed an iPhone.
    • During the 'Sex Kitten' and 'Sexy' stages of her career she was Flanderized into an Extreme Omnisexual, usually by her detractors.
  • 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
    • A sorta of ironic and surreal one happens on "American Life," in which she raps about the privileges she has and sarcastically demands more.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Her hairstyle during the True Blue and the later part of the Erotica era.
  • Break-Up 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."
    • A few on Rebel Heart as well. "Living for Love" in which Madonna refuses to let the break bring her down, "Unapologetic Bitch" in which claims she is not at all sorry for the way she feels, and "Heartbreakcity" which describes how she was the last to find out she was being betrayed.
  • 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 initially marketed without her image, since the record execs thought audiences wouldn't take her seriously as a white girl singing urban music. The single's cover is a picture of a black neighborhood, implying that Madonna was a black artist. She had to fight to make a video for the song and actually 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 where people were able to submit a homemade music video for a chance for it to become the "official" video shown on MTV. Keep in mind that MTV had a day dedicated to showing all of the other submissions — every single one, which means if some mom filmed her daughter on a crappy VHS camera singing along to the song, MTV aired it.
    • "True Blue" is also a major source of discontinuity, since the song was written about love for ex-husband Sean Penn and Madonna has pretty much disowned the song, going so far as refusing to ever perform it in concert. However, she eventually performed it again at the Rebel Heart Tour (once with Penn in the audience).
    • 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.
  • Cape Snag: Madonna had one happen to her at the 2015 Brit Awards. In spite of meticulous planning of her routine, the cape she'd been wearing caught, pulling her off the stage and onto her back. Luckily for her, she wasn't hurt and continued with her performance.
  • 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 stars 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 on Music, "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.
    • And there are two tribute albums called Virgin Voices that feature covers of Madonna's songs.
  • 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.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Madonna had herself "crucified" on a glittery disco ball-like cross with a crown of thorns on her head during a live performance of "Live To Tell" from the Confessions Tour.
  • Culturally Religious: 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 pee the Church off so many times. She said in an interview that she's a lapsed Catholic: "there are certain things in Catholicism [...] that I can't get rid of." She also named her daughter (Lourdes) after a Catholic pilgrimage site.
  • 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 Ray of Light, 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 invokedTear Jerker.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The music video of "Vogue" was shot in black and white, to invoke The Golden Age of Hollywood.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "I'd like to direct your attention, to something that needs directing to" from "Where Life Begins."
  • 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 fork 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.
    • The first example has a Reality Subtext of her (alleged) abuse at the hands of former husband Sean Penn.
  • 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".
  • 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.
    • "Drowned World/ Substitute For Love" → "Swim" from Ray of Light.
  • 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.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Her infamous onstage kisses with Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.
    • She appears to be enjoying the bikini girls making out in "Music."
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: "Papa Don't Preach" discusses and deconstructs this trope, laying out the conflicting views and incentives for each decision. Her boyfriend wants to keep the baby and proposes to her, while her friends fear she is too young to be a mother and instead encourage her to "live it up." She wants her father's advice, but fears he will be too judgmental. In the chorus she declares, "I've made up my mind," but the video ends with her having a heart-to-heart with her dad, leaving her ultimate decision somewhat ambiguous.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Madame X, her latest album, features several songs partially sung in Portuguese, including "Faz Gostoso" (self-evident), "Killers Who Are Partying," "Crazy," "Batuka" and "Funana" (a song included in the super deluxe edition).
  • Gratuitous French: "Love Song", a duet with Prince, starts with her speaking the line, "Je suis prête. Vous êtes prêt aussi?" ("I am ready. Are you ready too?")
  • Gratuitous Spanish:
    • "La Isla Bonita," ("the beautiful island.")
    • "¿Quién es esa niña?" and "señorita, más fina" in "Who's That Girl."
    • "Spanish Lesson" is full of this.
    • "Medellín" and "Bitch, I'm Loca" on Madame X. Both songs feature popular Colombian singer Maluma. The latter's song, "Soltera," in which Madonna features on, also counts.
  • 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.
    • "God Control" and "I Rise" from Madame X lyrically discuss the failed gun control of America. The former also includes gunshot sounds, while the latter features a sample of X Gonzalez’s speech on demanding stricter gun control, following February 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
    • Also, the "American Life" video.
  • Hairy Girl: She flaunted her underarm hair. Also, way back before she was famous, she posed for nude photographs, displaying truly heroic amounts of pubic hair, even for 1979.
  • 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, 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 "mystic" 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), "Bitch, I'm Loca" (a duet with Maluma) and more.
  • It's All About Me: Her infamous "tribute" to Aretha Franklin at the 2018 VM As came off like this to a LOT of people, as she went on a long-winded tangent about herself and her struggles to make it as a singer, with Aretha herself getting a throwaway mention.
  • I Was Young and Needed the Money: One reason given for her nude photos taken pre-fame in 1978. Subverted, in that she's since proudly done similar.
  • 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.
  • Kinky Spanking: "Hanky Panky."
  • 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," "Dark Ballet," etc.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • Madonna's ballads, such as "Frozen."
    • Bedtime Stories. After the highly controversial "Sex" phase, Madonna aimed to soften her image with the album, which had a far less sexual approach.
    • Hard Candy has generally been criticized for being closer to the fluff pop of her earlier style than later works such as Ray of Light and Confessions on a Dancefloor.
  • List Song: "Vogue" has a list of celebrities from The Golden Age of Hollywood near the end of the song.
    • "Justify My Love," which is also an "I Want" Song.
    • "Killers Who Are Partying" lists all the things Madonna is to be if they happen to suffer.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "Promise to Try."
  • 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," "Sorry," "Medellín" and "I Don't Search I Find." The quotes in "White Heat," "What It Feels Like for a Girl" and "I Rise" 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.
    • "Inside of Me" is a smooth and sexy 90s R&B song about Madonna's reliance upon the memory of her mother who died when she was five.
    • The "Bang Bang" demo, a Mika-esque song about murder.
  • Mid-Vid Skit: In "Music", driver Ali G turns down the radio and tries to audition for her next single. Fortunately, she cuts him off, ensuring that the skit lasts less than ten seconds.
  • 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.
  • Modeling Poses: "Vogue" is about the dance called the same name. In the videos and performances, she and her backup dancers all do modeling poses like the dance.
  • 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 1980s and early 1990s, 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.
    • In "Open Your Heart," she kisses and dances with a prepubescent fan.
    • Even in real life, she does tend to date men who are younger than her.
  • 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: For many years. Started changing around the 2000s when she started to show her age.
  • 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.
  • Parody Assistance: Remarked in a casual conversation, “When is Weird Al gonna make 'Like a Surgeon'?” Word got back to Weird Al, and the rest is history. Weird Al has said this is the only time he has made a parody based off the originator's suggestion.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Pun: The print ad for Something To Remember featured the Tagline "Multi-Platinum Blonde."
  • Rape as Backstory: She was sexually assaulted at knife-point 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.
    • Her version of "American Pie" took a few liberties, to say the least. Don McLean himself gave it a positive review, however, saying that the album's cover was "a gift from a goddess," and that her version was "mystical and sensual."
    • The dance remix of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina."
  • 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" at the near end, which fits quite oddly in a song that is less about fun and dancing and more about dancing and coming out as homosexual in an otherwise very sophisticated and conscious song.
      You got to just let your body move to the music
      You got to just let your body go with the flow
    • She also uses a snippet of Vogue in Rebel Heart's "Holy Water," also near the end.
    • Some lyrics from "Don't Tell Me" appear in "Future"
      Don't tell me to stop 'cause you said so
      Tell the sun not to shine 'cause you said so
  • Refuge in Audacity: Plenty of what she has done counts, starting with her stage costumes.
    • Most of the appeal of the song "Holy Water" comes from this.
  • Remix Album: You Can Dance remixes songs from her first three albums, plus one new song.
  • 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.
  • Re-release the Song:
    • "Holiday" was re-released in 1985 and 1991 in the UK.
    • "Crazy for You" was re-released in 1991 in the UK.
    • "Oh Father" was re-released 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:
  • Silly Love Songs: Many of Madonna's songs deal with love in some way, but special attention should go to "Cherish," "Superstar," "True Blue," "Love Profusion," "Crazy" and so on.
  • Spelling Song: Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. 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.
    • Mike Tyson open "Iconic" with one.
    • "Medellín" starts this way, with Madonna whispering "one, two, cha-cha-cha" which recurs throughout the song, as well as saying "Slow down, papi" several times.
    • Both "Bitch, I'm Loca" and "Soltera" (a Maluma song featuring Madonna) have similar lyrical beginnings: they call out each other's names.
  • Story Arc: The video for "You'll See" is basically the same storyline as that of "Take A Bow", as both are about a woman cheated on by a matador.
  • 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's "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.
  • Team Mom: She plays this role to her dancers in Truth or Dare.
  • 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."
    • The similarly titled, "Bitch, I'm Loca."
  • 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."
    • A recurring premise in "4 Minutes" as well.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: Actually quite rare in her body of work, only two of her singles use this as a trope:
    • "Rain": the key change occurs during the bridge (after "and I say, never go away"). The song reverts back to the original key for the final chorus only to go back up for the coda.
    • "Hollywood" plays it straight, though her vocal after the change is so heavily auto-tuned and high pitched it may also verge on a parody.
  • Undercrank: Her "Ray Of Light" video is mostly sped-up film of everyday life.
  • Unscaled Merfolk: The "Cherish" music video has merfolk that are half cetacean.
  • 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.
  • Vocal Evolution: She started out with a much higher voice, which some critics compared to "Minnie Mouse on helium", that eventually lowered when that type of vocal went out of style. For Evita she underwent extensive vocal training as the play's songs were outside her usual range. This permanently expanded her vocal abilities which are evident on subsequent recordings.
  • Video Full of Film Clips: "Into the Groove" for Desperately Seeking Susan; “Who’s That Girl?” from Who's That Girl; “This Used to My Playground” from A League of Their Own; “I’ll Remember” from With Honors. Though, in each case except "Into the Groove," movie clips only played over the chorus or the musical solo.
  • 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 M.I.A. appear on "Give Me All Your Luvin'."
    • Nicki Minaj also appears on "I Don't Give A."
      • Nicki appears again on "Bitch I'm Madonna."
    • 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.
    • Chance The Rapper appears on "Iconic."
    • Maluma appears on "Medellín" and "Bitch, I'm Loca." Madonna also featured on Maluma's song, "Soltera," recorded at the same time as the other two songs.
    • Quavo appears on "Future."
    • Swae Lee appears on "Crave."
  • World of Symbolism: The music video for "Like a Prayer" revolves around this, despite it being very controversial. See here.


Video Example(s):


Who's That Girl

Madonna's video for the song, "Who's That Girl?" features clips from her film, "Who's That Girl?" Go figure!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / VideoFullOfFilmClips

Media sources: