Tag Archives: Madonna

iTunedIN | MADONNA – I Rise (Remixes)

Rising above the rest “I Rise” emerges as a lead contender for dance floor addicts eager to raise the roof with Madonna’s latest offerings from Madame X.

The Etherial Girl may not be making the waves across the radio charts, Madonna has emerged in the last decade as the artist less attracted to making Top 40 music and on a binge to explore the all-new territory and push the envelope. The Queen of Pop’s latest full-length album Madame X is a world-music exploration, more inclined to attract that audience than to feed into the ravenous appetite of her dance floor devotees, but that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t given them something to play with.

The album itself runs the gamut of styles, though not as commercially friendly as say Confessions on a Dance Floor or Hard Candy. Both of those albums were very big on dance tracks inspired by the Euro-pop scene or stateside R&B/Hip-Hop. Madame X is clearly not in that vein, nor is it as bombastic as MDNA or as disjointed as Rebel Heart. There’s an elegance in the musical styles Madonna has driven into on this album’s setlist, but most of the music does have a provocative and very definite political angle.

The single “I Rise” is profoundly centered on drawing attention to the new generation’s eagerness to take action for themselves, especially given the clearly corrupt and uncaring state our fragile democracy is finding itself in. That doesn’t mean that the Queen of Pop isn’t determined to remain most relevant to the audience that made her a star to begin with. The artist has always understood the value of music to bring the people together, especially on the dance floor — and although the club scene has all but abandoned its most devoted, the cultural wave is still in existence.

Madonna’s “Madame X” has yielded (so far) remixes for “I Rise” and “Medellín” its first single. The artist is set to begin her “Madame X” Tour in September, and will be playing smaller theaters and opera houses rather than stadiums.

“I Rise” Remixed

Ironically that track that has the most direct political connectivity, is the one that has garnered the most attention — “I Rise” has a sizable appeal as an anthem, but it needed to be taken there. Leave it to one of the dance music scene’s most profound creatives to give the track a new sheen. Tracy Young revealed the first wave of remixes for the track and gave it a suped-up summer song feel with her “Pride” Remix. The music maestro has been a long-time favorite collaborator of Madonna’s and has given her greatest hits some of their most intense redux!

Young’s reinterpretation is no exception. In addition to Tracy Young, Madonna turned over the track to several other contemporary remix producers including Offer Nissim and Thomas Gold. Offer Nissim also took an interesting stab at Madame X’s premiere single “Medellín” featuring Maluma. Thomas Gold’s Remix of “I Rise” feels the most like a Madonna song, especially with its very 90s House-feel, it emerges feeling like something that might have appeared on Erotica even inspiring renewed interest in many of that album’s setlist, still considered some of Madonna’s best.

Available now on iTunes, Madonna’s “I Rise” (Remixes) are worthy of the artist, given her proclivity to remain close to her club roots, this emerges as one of the most outstanding works from her most recent endeavor Madame X. Listen to the Tracy Young “Pride” Remix here:

Madonna – I Rise (Remixes) available on iTunes.

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iTunedIN | MADONNA Introduces MADAME X

For her latest album project, the Queen of Pop is gearing up to present to her fans to her newest incarnation. On Madame X audiences will get a globe-trotting experience and a far more exotic Madonna than we’ve ever had before.

It would appear that even on vacation there’s no keeping Madonna down. While taking some personal time to reinvigorate her creative juices, the Queen of Pop dove into the multi-cultural diversity of Portugal and found the inspiration for her fourteenth studio album. Madonna is no stranger to reinvention, and has taken on several new personas to express herself on the album project entitled Madame X which she promises will highlight many of the spectacular new sounds she has been exploring.

The artist has commented on how homogenous popular music has become; Madonna has said that everything sounds the same, and the idea of releasing a new project that didn’t stand out just wouldn’t do. Collaborating with Mirwais on the new album also provided a creative safety net for the artist. The pair worked together on her Grammy® Award-Winning Ray of Light and its follow-up Music. The premiere single “Medellín” also features Colombian pop-singer Maluma. The controversial singer approached Madonna backstage at the VMAs and insisted they work together.

Intrigued by the invitation, Madonna and Mirwais familiarized themselves with Maluma’s work and found the perfect track bring him in on. The result is the world-dance sounding “Medellín” which immediately sets the tone and pace for what fans can expect from Madame X. Releasing a tease of the album’s themes via social networking, Madonna insists her newest incarnation is many things. “Madame X is a secret agent; traveling around the world — changing identities, fighting for freedom, bringing light to dark places.”

Madonna teaming up MIrwais and Colombian signer Maluma for her latest album project “Madame X” hitting stores in June.

“X” Hits the Spot

The last decade has suggested that Madonna is less interested in commercial success and far more focused on nurturing her creative animal. Her last two ventures 2012s MDNA and 2015s Rebel Heart proved exercises in experimentation. Madonna has always ventured the push the envelope especially when its come to her music, always preferring to take risks. Though critically well interpreted, these most recent offerings are perhaps the artist’s least cohesive explorations. Both albums featured multi producers and ran the gamut of genres, from dance to folk.

Though the details of Madame X have still appeared scarce, with Madonna taking a more reflective approach, perhaps this will be the album to present her best as the constant innovator she has demonstrated over the course of her legendary career. The track list on Madame X also suggests that Madonna still pursuing complex narratives of religion and soul searching, but only time will tell, and fans won’t have long to wait. Madame X will be dropping on June 14 and features guest collaborations with Maluma, Quavo, Swae Lee and Anitta.

A video for the debut single is expected to hit the airwaves the week of April 22 and will be introduced in traditional Madonna fashion. The artist is hosting a record listening and video premiere on MTV to air on Wednesday, April 24 to air live from London.

Madame X | Madonna will be released on June 14. The first single “Medellín” is available now. Check it out on iTunes here.

iEditorial | LIKE A PRAYER 30th Anniversary

Still considered the most seminal work of her career, 30 years ago Madonna released Like A Prayer her most introspective project at the time, redefined popular music and elevated her celebrity into the stratosphere.

Expressing herself has always been one of Madonna’s most enduring caveats as an artist. The Queen of Pop has never attempted to shy away from the criticism or the controversies that have followed her especially early on during her emerging career, and in 1989 the controversies were moving at a rapid-fire pace, and yet Madonna kept in step. Proving many of her harshest critics wrong she releases Like A Prayer her most honest and introspective work, the album reshaped the perception of the artist immediately.

There was her high profile divorce from actor Sean Penn. Their tumultuous marriage had been headline fodder for the tabloids since the moment the couple began to date; the distraction of having their lives constantly under the microscope inevitably led to the relationship’s downfall. Madonna emerged determined from the experience not to appear a victim of what many had conspired to describe as an abusive situation. Between her last full-length album and the release of Like A Prayer, Madonna appeared to have grown in leaps and bounds artistically.

The 11-tracks that culminate in the setlist for Like A Prayer beginning with the album’s title track read like an exercise in self-discovery and exoneration for Madonna. She’s putting it all out there and bringing her audience along with her. “Like a Prayer” proved more of a success than anyone could have bargained for. In the lead-up to the video’s MTV premiere, Pepsi had agreed to a multi-million dollar deal with Madonna to sponsor her upcoming world tour. The commercial featuring the track was the perfect marriage of artist and product typical of the 80’s branding of an image.

Unfortunately, the video for “Like a Prayer” with its profound use of religious iconographic imagery, some of which showed Madonna cavorting amorously with a man who appeared as a Christ-like reference while burning crossing raged behind her, may have been more than squeaky-clean soda manufacturer had bargained for. Madonna and Pepsi inevitably went their separate ways, though she kept the millions promised to her, and followed up the controversy of the first video with the even more flagrant “Express Yourself” directed by David Fincher.

Just Like A Dream

For the second single from Like A Prayer, Madonna threw all care to the wind and decided the video for the more up-tempo track would be her most audacious yet. Collaborating with David Fincher (the pair would work together often) the pair chose the art deco influences of the gothic futuristic film Metropolis set to the “non-stop” remix of the track by music producer Shep Pettibone, to drape Madonna in satin sheets, chaining her to a bed — a captive to her own desires — as she awaits the arrival of her oiled up, muscly laborer who toils in the depths of the city.

The imagery from “Express Yourself” alone fueled a movement and would eventually reveal itself as the opening arc of her blockbuster statement of 1990, the Blond Ambition World Tour. The album would go on to release several hit singles including “Keep It Together”, “Oh Father”, “Dear Jessie” and “Cherish” which also featured a video from fashion photographer Herb Ritts. The video which featured Madonna on the shores of a beach playing with mermen who swam amidst the crashing waves was an interesting parallel to Ritts’ other video for Janet Jackson.

Though their rivalry was never a publicly stated competition, the two artists often found themselves during the 80s and 90s battling for similar audiences. Ritts bathed Madonna in cool blues which played beautifully to her own eyes as her skin appeared wet and desirably supple in the watery backdrop, while Jackson’s video for “Love Will Never Do (Without You) placed Janet in the stark California desert, radiating a heat — both artists the lustful affection of several well-built male models; of the two videos Madonna’s the more playful and innocent, by comparison.

Keep It Together

Perhaps the most significant extrapolation of Like A Prayer comes from its significantly closing the artistic collaborative efforts of songwriters Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray, who had been ever-present in Madonna’s early career hits. They would return to the fold, but after Like A Prayer and her next full-length album effort Erotica Madonna would begin to experiment with alternative producing and writing partners. The success of Like A Prayer would soon be eclipsed by the shockwave of a single hit song that almost ended up a B-Side. The song was “Vogue”.

iReview :: MADONNA’S Rebel Heart Tour Live!

Just in time to wrap up the summer season the undisputed Queen of Pop: Madonna releases the REBEL HEART TOUR Live on CD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD)!

Masterfully Madonna has demonstrated that in order to succeed in entertainment today, an entertainer must entertain! Record sales (or Digital Downloads) as they are most commonly referred of in today’s market, are only an introduction to what the artist is “thinking”. Tracks are longer referenced to relegated to success by how much radio play they get — (Does anyone even have a radio anymore?) it’s just not the way that musicians really remain relevant anymore.

The live concert stage has evolved into the new and more immediate medium by which an artist can truly rate just what their standing in popular culture is. Appearing on the scene more than 35 years ago and significantly synching her place on MTV proving that indeed “video had killed the radio star”, Madonna thumbed her nose in the face of her critics and revealed her naysayers for the hacks they were. Anyone that perceived her as a pop-tart, one-hit wonder, has eaten their words.

Madonna excelled at reinvention without really jumping onto the scene as such a manipulative commodity; this was an artist that existed for the provocative and edged on the titillating euphoria of grabbing attention! Her talent was always in pushing people’s buttons, and Madonna chose a platform by which she would always be guaranteed a spotlight in. Popular music gave her an audience and MTV a platform, and when that platform no longer was viable, Madonna evolved.

Rebel Heart

By the late 1990 it was evident that Madonna was not going anywhere! She’d just released her most well-reviewed album and critical success Like a Prayer, divorced her first husband and embarked on the most complex endeavor of her career The Blond Ambition Tour and revolutionized the way that pop artists performed live! Nearly three decades later, she continues to push the limits of her stage and arena tours and her most recent endeavor is no exception!

Available now as a digital download audio recording (also on a 2-disc CD) Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour (Live) is a fantastic example of her dominance as a live artist and unrelenting force in popular culture. The recording lifts from the more than 80 stops on this landmark world tour that promoted her most recent studio album of the same name. Rebel Heart may have only appeared a nominal success on the charts, but its accompanying spectacle perfectly played to Madonna’s audience.

Madonna carefully orchestrates her live performances, preferring to refer to them as installations than a concert, and the Rebel Heart Tour is elaborate in its detail. The opening of the show introduces Madonna as a “warrior goddess” — a medieval figure — surrounding by heavily armed guards who fall inline just as she begins with a rendition of the song “Iconic” before entering into the party track “Bitch I’m Madonna”.

It’s a beautifully crafty way of opening up her show in very heavy garb that evolves into a more Byzantine crafted look. Madonna learned during one of her previous forays on the stage that although the new songs beg to be performed, it’s significantly better branding to lace some of the classics throughout the setlist. Early on in the show, she performs “Burning Up” a classic from her very early days, and a pumped up rock guitar arrangement.

The rest of the setlist ranges back and forth from more contemporary hits to the clear nostalgia of “Holiday” which rounds out the end of the blockbuster performance. Among the standouts are of course the club anthem “Living For Love” and the title track “Rebel Heart”, but among the most endearing numbers is the ironically funny “Unapologetic Bitch”. During the show Madonna pulled up a who’s who of celebrities whom she had her way with — unapologetically.

Live Indeed

Anyone who has ever attended one of Madonna’s live shows understands the unrelentingly overwhelming feeling of good will and enchantment that falls over the audience. It’s an experience you wish you could bottle and keep stacked on your shelf like an exotic sweetener you would like to add every morning to your coffee. There’s plenty of that unabashed joy and frivolity all over the Rebel Heart Tour (Live) that many will want to revisit.

There’s an elation that comes over you brought upon by an intoxicating overload of your senses from the music, dancing and the visuals, and especially the feeling that if you reached out you could touch Madonna — you see her smile and you know that she feels the same way!

Rebel Heart Tour (Live) by Madonna is available now for download on iTunes.

Madonna :: Her Live Ambition (Part 1)

For three decades the unopposed Queen of Pop revolutionized the live stage show and toured around the world commanding record audiences with an unparalleled ease!

The benchmark of any pop-artist’s career is the live show! The ability to sell out a venue whether a house as epically regarded as Madison Square Garden or Los Angeles Staples Center is sure an easy enough swift kick to the ego, but once you have those fans in the house, you best be prepared to set a table! No other artist has evolved more dramatically and pushed the creative of the live pop-show than Madonna.

When she first hit the road in 1985 on her critically well-received and perfectly named premiere showcase, Madonna didn’t mince words and The Virgin Tour was not only about getting her music out to her fans, but it was also about introducing herself to the world as a force in entertainment. That initial concert tour broke records as it criss-crossed North American and Canada and played to sold out venues, including a record-breaking 3 nights in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

Madonna would solidify herself as one of the world’s biggest stars when she launched the Blond Ambition Tour in 1990.

Madonna had come a long way since her days hitting the pavement and securing appearances at downtown East Village venues including Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs.

Appropriately designed The Virgin Tour predominantly promoted her first two album releases and immediately set the pace for what Madonna had in store for her audience. She would continue to evolve and charge the expectations of her audience especially with each consecutive live stage appearance, and the next time Madonna brought her music to life, she took it globally and never looked back.

Who’s That Girl took Madonna to the global stage and marked her first world tour. Arbitrarily coordinated to promote the comedic film of the same name starring Madonna as well as its accompanying soundtrack, it incorporated tracks from her then-latest release True Blue, but no one would be prepared for what was to come next, as Madonna took herself off the live stage forum to focus on reassessing her priorities in life (her marriage to actor Sean Penn was ending) and recharged her creative energies.

With the release of her fourth full-length studio album Like A Prayer Madonna was poised to reintroduce herself as more than just a pop-act! The critically successful release positioned her (finally) as one of the music industries most innovative and unique artists. With a new blockbuster film set for a summer release, Madonna had secured a key role in Warren Beatty’s big-screen adaptation of the comic strip Dick Tracy, and a new single that would ignite a wildfire.

With so much swirling around her at the time, 1990 would prove one of the most pivotal years in her career, both creatively and personally. Her high-profile marriage to Penn was behind her and the artist dove herself emphatically into her work including her music and movie projects. Like A Prayer would prove one of the year’s biggest hits and give her audience a unique insight into Madonna’s world, although it was only a glimpse. To maximize her exposure Madonna would chart all new territory and mount a world tour unlike anything anyone had ever experienced.

Perfectly christened the Blond Ambition World Tour it would span the globe the summer of 1990 and redefine the live pop music concert! The tour was designed to engage both the artist and audience in an experience that was transportive. Madonna, an accomplished dancer, directed a nearly two-hour stage performance (along with long-time collaborator Vincent Paterson) with an all-male troupe of dancers, back-up singers Niki Haris and Donna DeLory and her full band. The tour would be artistically directed by Madonna’s brother Christopher Ciccone with costumes by fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Mixing elements of Broadway and old Hollywood glamour, with high-fashion and state of the art stage and lighting execution, Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour established a new dictum for how to approach live concert tours, and imitators would follow, though none would match Madonna’s sensibilities and her taste for controversy. The themes explored within the two-hour long installation did not only serve to spotlight her growing catalog of hit songs, but it explored a narrative.

Not simply content to sing at the microphone any longer, Madonna was more interested in giving her fans a cathartic experience. She brought to life many of her already innovative videos, by building the sets of the dystopian future from the “Express Yourself” video inspired by the film Metropolis to taking it to the oceans and fashioning fishtails for her dancers turning them into mermen to evoke the “Cherish” video. Madonna has said that the tour was about her “growing” — “Once you get on this train, you can’t get off.”

The Blond Ambition Tour certainly suggested Madonna had grown-up as an artist and personality, and she was decidedly taking us all along for the ride. Evoking many religious themes and exploring the contradictions of life, faith, sex, endings and new beginnings, the show pushed Madonna’s agenda as a provocateur and feminist, mostly she intended to inspire, to give her audience reason to ask questions and come up with conclusions of their own.

It was a liberation that was told through the lyrics of Madonna’s hits “Like a Virgin”, “Papa Don’t Preach” and culminated with the fierceness of “Vogue”, but the entire time it was Madonna finally putting it all out and truly expressing herself.

This is “Part 1” in series discussing the contributions and innovations made to the live concert stage by Madonna. In the next feature the Queen of Pop’s ambition continues to grow and her follow-up to Blond Ambition goes further than anyone could have anticipated.