I’ve long stated that Madonna is queen of my universe.
My love for the Material Girl has persevered for 25 years and I’ve adored her through almost every incarnation – boy toy with roots as dark as her multitudinous jelly bracelets, sexed-up virginal bride, Madonna Antoinette, pouty-lipped gangster moll, honey-blonde Argentine spiritual leader, hippie yoga mom and Euro-pop club banger.
I loved her when she rocked Gaultier’s conical bra, dolled up like a dominatrix and when she stutter-stepped in a cowboy hat and plaid shirt.
I loved her making a joyful noise unto the Lord, I loved her stealing bases and snapping gum for the Rockford Peaches and I loved her boogie-woogie acid rock with Ali G.
However, love hasn’t made me blind to her (many) transgressions. The faux English accent makes me cringe (when did Detroit become part of the British empire?), her ropey, sinewy arms terrify me and the fact that she not only had sex with Vanilla Ice but documented it? It defies logic, explanation and good taste.
I call her out on these things. I grumble and gripe and then, I hear pretty much anything off the True Blue album and all is forgiven.
As another 80s icon put it — that’s the power of love.
That being the case, the 2012 Super Bowl Halftime show rocked me. Madonna’s performance that served as a metaphor for her entire career. She entered the arena like some sort of conquering Greco-Roman goddess, shimmied and pelvic-thrusted her ass off and disappeared in an explosion of glitter.
Some criticized her for lip-syncing but if you’re listening to Madonna and expecting vocal gymnastics, you’re doing it wrong.
If you want crystalline vocals, listen to Mariah, Celine, Christina or pre-crack Whitney. Or hell, go all out and listen to Maria Callas and Sarah Brightman.
Madonna isn’t about shattering glass. She’s all breathless moans, giddy squeals, hiccups and sass. She isn’t about perfection but about the unmitigated joy of the moment. For example, the first four seconds of Lucky Star – that shimmery, star-kissed skitter. Madonna may only have four minutes to save the world, but that’s three minutes and fifty-six seconds more than she needs. There is more life in the opening of that track than there is in the entire catalog of some artists.
If you grew up in the 80s and loved pop music, Madonna is the best friend you ever had.
She stared through you with those leonine eyes and demanded you ask yourself, “What are you looking at?”
She served as counselor – “Satin sheets are very romantic/What happens when you’re not in bed?” and “Freedom comes when you learn to let go.”
She taught you the art of seduction. Bawdy, winking lines like, “I’m down on my knees/I wanna take you there” and the sweetness and light of, “cherish is the word I use to remind me of your love.”
And most importantly, she encouraged you. She knows what it feels like for a girl so she tells you that you can dance for inspiration (come on!) and that you, “deserve the best in life so if time isn’t right, then move on. Second best is never enough, you’ll do much better, baby, on your own.”
So, haters and imitators? Back and to the left, to the left.
Madonna remains the queen of the universe and if you don’t like it, too bad. She’s not sorry and she’s not your bitch, so don’t hang your shit on her.