Madonna news - July 2010

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29 July - Madonna photographs Taylor Momsen for Material Girl
The Queen of Pop can't let go. Madonna, who is debuting a new fashion line, hand picked her poster girl - "Gossip Girl" actress Taylor Momsen - and even shot her for the campaign out now.
Madge's new juniors fashion line, Material Girl, is a collaboration with her 13-year-old daughter, Lourdes, that launches at 200 Macy's stores on Tuesday.
But designing a new collection clearly isn't enough to keep the pop powerhouse busy. Madonna shocked everyone on set in Williamsburg when she took creative control of the campaign shoot, styling many of the looks and borrowing the photographer's camera to shoot them, too.

"When she took the camera, it was insane," says Dari Marder, chief marketing officer of manufacturer Iconix Brand Group, of the shoot, which took place in May. "But she clearly knew what she was doing, and it just looked so natural."
When Madonna arrived on set, she introduced herself and started styling Momsen. "She flipped up a collar, wrapped a scarf, gave her a hat - with no game," Marder says. Retailing from $12 to $40 for a target audience of 14- to 24-year-olds, the Material Girl brand offers a few pricier pieces called "Wow" items, such as an $80 motorcycle jacket.
It may be 2010, but it looks like we're still living in a Material World. (source: NY Post)

~ Since the photoshoot, Madonna has travelled to Nice, France and more particularly to the coastal village Villefranche-sur-Mer, where she continues the shooting of her movie W.E.

Taylor Momsen for Material Girl, shot by Madonna Madonna shoots Taylor Momsen for Material Girl Madonna, Lola, Taylor Momsen and crew during the photoshoot for Material Girl Madonna and Taylor Momsen during the photoshoot for Material Girl Madonna, Lola during the photoshoot for Material Girl

26 July - Madonna plans Malawi benefit (denied)
Madonna is planning a star-filled Live Aid-style concert as a benefit in September for her Raising Malawi charity, according to England's Sunday Mirror. The publication quotes a source as saying, "Plans are in place to make this the biggest fundraiser the world has ever seen. Madonna is throwing everything into it. She knows the bigger the event the more money will be raised." The superstar plans to to give away 60,000 free tickets to fans for the stadium concert in Blantyre, Malawi and plans are being made to have the concert broadcast worldwide, much like Live Aid, the 1985 fundraising concert that raised $225 million for African famine relief at which she performed.

Madonna has adopted two children from the impoverished nation, 5-year-old Mercy, and 4-year-old David, and is building a school there. (source: Advocate)
Update: Raising Malawi has denied such plans.

19 July - Mad-Editorial: Is pop music meant to last?
Pop music, by definition, is music that is popular. There are several ways to measure popularity, yet none of them can be claimed the definite one. But if all those methods fail to indicate popularity, it's still pop music, because of its purpose. It was written, produced, recorded and released to gain popularity, which leads to profit for all the people involved.

Borderline Pop music is often labeled as the lowest common denominator with the masses and is meant to be instant, catchy and undemanding. It's supposed to make people want more, hear it over and over again, it should not be enough to hear it once in a while on the radio, they want you to invest in owning the piece. How do they achieve that? They make sure you can't escape it on radio, they produce a video that's constantly on channels, preferably it's talked about a lot. Some imagery gets attached to it, or even a message, so most people notice.

What happens after they succeed? You, and preferably a lot of others bought it, so everyone is happy. But are you going to play the song in question until the end of time? Will you constantly revisit it on lazy afternoons, hot summer days and so on? Probably not. Why? Because the hit factory doesn't sleep, songs will keep on coming out, trying to get your attention. And since the upcoming tracks will have the "new" feeling, you will start to prefer it over the previous song, and it goes on like this.

These songs are meant for the moment, not for a lifetime. When it's discussed that song in question "will be remembered in so many years", it'll be either due to people holding onto their memories too much, and not being interested in constantly pay attention on what's new, or due to the song being chosen to become a nostalgia-flagship, to represent an era and "keep on selling".

Into The Groove Let's look at it through Madonna's discography. She scored 37 top 10 hits, which means she had 37 songs that were undoubtedly popular at one point in time. Nowadays, not all 37 are still played on the radio. Roughly half of them are, so unless you were a Madonna fan for decades, you won't know the song Keep It Together for being a pop hit. Most of Madonna's remembered hits are from the 80s, featured on The Immaculate Collection. Songs like Into The Groove or Lucky Star are still played a lot today, but so is Holiday, which was far from a #1 hit at the time. There are other anomalies: the song Ray Of Light did well on the US and UK sales charts, but showed poor chartings in many countries, was one of the worst performing Madonna songs on US radio up to that point and nowadays it barely gets recurrent airplay there. Yet it's undoubtedly one of Madonna's signature songs and gets an amazing response each time Madonna performs it live.

But what does all that mean? Are these songs, that are still remembered after so many years, "better"? Better than those songs that are not played anymore, better than, God forbid, all those songs that never got the chance to become hits? Definitely not. They were produced the same way as any pop songs, nobody ever imagined they would be radio staples 25 years later. Especially if we remember that several hits from her first few years weren't even written by herself, there wasn't any artistic demand to create those songs, Madonna recorded tracks like Borderline, Dress You Up or Open Your Heart because they had the "hit-potential", she and her label wanted to sell her brand. Coincidentally they were flanked by a lot of Madonna's trendsetting imagery and the height of the MTV era helped too.

Ray Of Light Whether you think those songs are "better" than current ones, that's entirely up to subjective taste, the purpose of a popular recording artist is always the same as long as she's employed by a major record label. Pop music is constructed to have hooks, catchy melodies, sing-along choruses, most likely condensed into 3-4 minutes. Some songs have only a verse and a chorus, other songs have more variation and include more hooks. But it's still pop music, there's no hierarchy among the songs, whether a pop song succeeds, it boils down to a lot of circumstances. In 2010, Madonna cannot get airplay in the US, no matter how "good" the song in question is found by a certain amount of people. Yet, the same exact song could be recorded and released by a younger and currently hyped artist, it will most likely become a hit. Artists will always come and go, people lose interest, but there'll always be someone singing catchy choruses and people paying attention to them.

When Madonna's new music is released, it will be pop, just like what she's been doing in the past 28 years. Many of us, Madonna fans, will love the new songs, if only because it's her voice that makes a pop song stand out for us, either because we will find the melody or the production match our tastes. Some of us won't like them, because the aforementioned aspects wouldn't be our cup of tea. It's still gonna be just another piece in her discography and there won't be a need for over-analyzing why it doesn't match one's expectations.

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