So, it’s June now. (In a few more days, anyway.) That’s insane, right? We were only just watching deliriously happy strangers exchange messy, frigid kisses in the middle of Times Square mere weeks ago, weren’t we? Time: It goes by!
The year-end retrospective list has become music journalism tradition come every December (or late November for some of the increasingly trigger-happy publications out there), but we thought we’d take a midyear breather to take a look back and appreciate all of the goods we’ve been given this year so far, from January to June.
From Madonna to Snoop Dogg to Marina And The Diamonds to Fall Out Boy, these are the albums that got us through the (seemingly endless) final throes of winter, cured our springtime blues and began heating up our summer playlists for the year.
2. Madonna, 'Rebel Heart' - Released March 6, 2015
Perhaps you saw her tonguing Drake down on stage at Coachella. Or, maybe you saw her straddle a table at the TIDAL livestream announcement. You might have even caught her take the lyrics of "Living For Love" to a horrifying literal sense as she flung backwards atop a staircase at the 2015 BRIT Awards. In any case, Madonna has made this year her bitch — in tumble and triumph.
Rebel Heart is Madonna's 13th studio album, which is appropriate, as it is undoubtedly her most unlucky record to date: The album hit the Internet months ahead of schedule in unfinished form. But Israeli leakers and controversial Instagram #RebelHeart promo be damned: Rebel Heart remains her best record in over a decade.
The album is an eclectic and euphoric mixture of earnest dance floor anthems ("Living For Love"), refreshing vulnerability ("Joan Of Arc") and noisy #UnapologeticBitch Diplo bangers best suited for the hashtag-happy Queen Of Pop who refuses to sit down. And for every potential grimace-inducing moment (watch out for that golden shower reference in "S.E.X."!), there's a pure and earnest melody ("Rebel Heart") that reminds us of her ability to deliver true pop greatness.
Amid sexist and agist backlash aplenty in the media, Madge continues to challenge the notion of "acting her age" and push the boundaries of what a woman, a mother and — not least of all! — the Queen Of Pop could and should be. We're lucky to have her... no matter how messy her Instagram account may be. — Bradley Stern
Madonna claims the No. 28 spot on our list of America's Richest Self-Made Women, which appeared in the June 15th, 2015 issue of FORBES magazine. She’s the wealthiest musician on the list.
Madonna Louise Ciccone
Estimated Net Worth:
Music, Clothing, Real Estate
One of the top pop divas of all time. Her tours have grossed an estimated $1.2 billion over the years, including $305 million from her 2012 MDNA tour. That helped her earn an estimated $125 million during the ensuing 12-month period during which FORBES calculated celebrity earnings, more than any other musician. Look for another bump when she goes on the road with her latest album, Rebel Heart, in August.
Have you been wishing on a 'lucky star'? Well, like a prayer, you've been heard and answered!
The Queen of Pop herself -- Madonna -- is coming to San Diego! We know, we know -- to paraphrase Madge herself from "Borderline": It feels like we're going to lose our minds!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, on Oct. 29, 2015, the Material Girl is returning to America's Finest City on her worldwide Rebel Heart Tour with a show at Valley View Casino Center. The last time the pop megastar performed in San Diego, it was nearly eight years ago at our downtown stadium, Petco Park. And even though we love our ballpark, being able to see Madonna at a slightly more intimate venue is definitely a plus.
For those who can cease expressing themselves long enough to get on the Internet, tickets go on sale to the general public on June 1 at 10 a.m. Prepare to "open your heart" and open your wallets: Tickets will range between $35 and $350. Be early, be patient and be steadfast -- they're guaranteed to sell quickly.
Feel like you're "burning up"? Don't worry, we feel you. We've been fans of Madonna before papa started preaching. If for some reason you've been living in Superman's Fortress of Solitude or perhaps manning the International Space Ttation your whole life, Madonna is kind of a big deal. She's truly a one-of-a-kind singer/ songwriter/ dancer/ entertainer who somehow reinvents herself and her sound for nearly every record (and there's 13 of 'em).
She got her start between 1982-83 with the single "Everybody," and it's been spotlights, awards, movies and platinum records ever since. Some of her biggest hits include "Papa Don't Preach," "Express Yourself," "Like a Virgin," "Vogue," "Frozen," "Justify My Love" and "Take a Bow," among many others. She's the best-selling female recording artist of all time, with more than 300 million records sold worldwide, and the top touring female artist of all time to boot. In other words, people love what she does and they want to see her do it live.
So all the more reason to be stoked she's coming back to San Diego -- we've been jonesing for her to return and when we got the news about her Oct. 29 show, it was music to our ears. Bottom line? Madonna, we're "crazy for you."
- Icon presales start tomorrow May 27th at 10am PT.
Suzanne Harrington takes a fan’s approach to hunting out the the elephant in the room. Madonna, she says has highlighted the fact that women after 50 are regarded as cultural castrati and should leave the sexual arena quietly — and to the young and beautiful.
RECENTLY on stage at Coachella, during the performance of a track titled ‘Bitch I'm Madonna', there was an Ageist Kissing Incident. The pop queen of the same name (age 56, album sales 300 million) gave Canadian rapper Drake (age 28, album sales five million) an unscripted kiss — not a peck on the cheek, but an actual snog.
The rapper's reaction was viscerally ungracious; it was as though he had been licked by ebola, his face curling in disgust as he wiped his hand across his mouth. Afterwards, having realised his epic faux pas, he backtracked on Twitter: "Don't misinterpret my shock!! I got to make out with the queen Madonna and I feel 100 about that forever." (100? What? Years old?)
But it was not so much the initial cloddish, uncouth reaction of the rapper as the wider response afterwards which howled of ageism and misogyny. Screams of ‘ugh' echoed around the internet. An older woman had kissed a younger man — not like Mrs Robinson, or anything Oedipal, but just straightforward, age-irrelevant sexual intent — at least, for on-stage purposes anyway.
Piers Morgan waded straight in: "So Drake proves that kissing Madonna is about as ghastly as I always thought it would be." (To which another tweeter crisply replied, "Stop crying. Nobody wants to kiss you.")
Madonna was unimpressed, swiftly telling one fan, "Don't kiss Drake. No matter how many times he begs you to". Marilyn Manson added some ghoulish gallantry in i-D magazine by suggesting that Madonna "looks hotter than ever. I'd also like to let it be known that I still have a crush on Madonna and I would definitely fornicate with her." Madonna's response? "Um, thanks."
This might all sound like a snog in a teacup, were it not representative of wider social attitudes. Madonna is a menopausal woman (or at least we presume she is, as she is biologically the right age), and menopausal women are cultural castrati. Display overt sexuality at your peril, ladies, and prepare to be tarred and feathered both online and off, with calls of put it away, Grandma go home, stop embarrassing your children, act your age, that's disgusting, ewwww.
Here's the thing. We allow a certain kind of middle aged female sexuality. Discreet, implied, covered up — but even by our forties our sexual selves become labelled as ‘cougar', with all the predatory baggage that word entails.
This does not happen to men. So when Madonna, at a calendar age regarded as clinically dead when it comes to raunch, prances her sexuality the same as she has always done, she incurs that special kind of wrath reserved for women who refuse to yield to what is expected of them.
Interestingly, it's not just the Piers Morgans or the twitchfork mobs shouting at Madonna to put it away. Some of her most vociferous critics have been feminists. When she got her nipples out — yes, aged 56 — for Interview magazine, Camille Paglia wrote in The Times how Madonna was "putting herself on the front line of an increasingly toxic war between young and middle-aged women. It is a fight she cannot win and she should learn to age well."
Paglia continued that older women using Photoshop were a disservice to feminism: "The ultimate issue here is the media-fuelled nuclear arms race being waged between middle-aged women and the young women whose dewy nubility they vampirically covet. This is a war that ageing women can never win: cruel time conquers all."
Or as an online commentator at Billboard magazine said of Madonna's Interview shoot: "Those who find these ridiculous photos 'hot' are necrophiliac."
Necrophiliac? Yikes. Madonna, as her job requires, looks better than most 36-year-olds, never mind 56-year-olds. Hers is not a typical 56-year-old face and body, thanks to mountains of work, internal and otherwise.
Yet Paglia urges her to follow convention, to "learn to age well". That she is ‘competing' with younger women over the prize of youth. What old-school nonsense. Why should you ever retire your sexuality because a calendar says so? Has anyone told similarly aged George Clooney, Lenny Kravitz, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas and all the other men we regard as sexy without making vomiting noises because they are over 50?
Or as Madonna herself asked Jonathan Ross in 1992, when she was 34, "Is there a rule? Are people just supposed to die when they're 40?", crossly adding, "That's just stupid."
Obviously, no matter how hot someone is, age and generation has some influence. Madonna is not on my teenage daughter's pop radar. BBC Radio 1, which appeals to a pop audience aged 15-30, caused a fuss in February when it refused to play tracks from her new album, based on her age and "relevance" to that age group (she's not alone — they don't play Kylie or Robbie Williams either). Her fans are older, and have grown up with her since her 1982 debut.
But this is not about pop, it's about female sexuality and its built-in obsolescence. We have long decided that once a woman is no longer biologically fertile, she is no longer sexually desirable.
Check out how Hollywood casts female actors the same age as male actors to play their mothers. Older woman sexuality is almost regarded as a perversion (see the "necrophiliac" comment above). And Madonna, putting her best nipples forward, is challenging this clapped-out perception as only she can.
As someone who has long confronted dominant perceptions head on, initially helping to change our view of ‘feminist' from bra-burner to bra-flaunter, she has always been subversive, operating from inside the corporate poptocracy.
She didn't just prance about singing pop tunes — she has always been vocal about equality for women and gay men, her greatest fanbase. And now that she is older, she shows no signs of toning herself down until she is ready, rather than acquiescing to society's wishes.
Could this pushing against the conservative boundaries of supposed end-stage, public, female sexuality (fellow performers Cher and Tina Turner never quite thrust like Madonna), make her a pioneer of the as-yet unknown cultural phenomenon, the hot menopausal minx?
We are all living far longer these days — do women really have to spend the second half of their lives pretending they are not still hot to trot?
"Of course women in their 50s are still sexual, but their sexualities, one would hope, have advanced beyond that professed by 20-year-olds," writes Meghan Murphy in her Feminist Current blog. "And I wish, in her efforts to (supposedly) push boundaries, that Madonna would push past the conventional, inauthentic, superficial performance of sexuality presented by objectified 20-year-old girls. She knows better, I'm sure."
Again, the should-know-better argument. We remain conditioned to categorise and pigeonhole anything connected with women, age and sexuality.
"Women are still the most marginalised group," Madonna told Out magazine. "They're still the group that people won't let change."
Perhaps her most authentic menopausal admission was during a recent interview — again with Jonathan Ross — when she spoke about her feelings of loss when her own teenage daughter moved out. A deeper loss than anything romantic, she said.
She may be world's most successful female pop star, a cultural phenomenon, who, three decades into her career continues to challenge our ideas of female sexuality (her music is secondary, frankly), but she still acknowledges the ordinary everyday loss of children growing up and leaving.
Of all the incarnations of Madonna, perhaps Menopausal Madonna will help smash the last barriers for women — sex, ageing, and our real place in the world.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Madonna's "Vogue" reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, we reached out to the song's co-producer and co-writer, dance legend Shep Pettibone, for -- amazingly -- his first interview in 20 years.
We talked to Pettibone, of course, about the genesis and making of "Vogue," but also his later work with the diva on The Immaculate Collection and Erotica, the sampling lawsuit against him and Madonna over "Vogue," and why he stepped away from the music business nearly 20 years ago.
The producer/writer/remixer and DJ, now 55 years old, rose to prominence as a go-to remixer in the 1980s for such acts as Janet Jackson, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, George Michael, Whitney Houston and, most spectacularly, Madonna. His reworkings would often earn official promotion to radio, be used in an artist's music videos, and be heard on tour. (A search for the phrase "Shep Pettibone" on YouTube turns up a treasure trove of sterling remixes.)
For Madonna, Pettibone reworked such classics as "Into the Groove" (his version is heard during Madonna's Who's That Girl Tour and on her You Can Dance album) and "Causing a Commotion," in addition to crafting the popular single versions of "Like a Prayer" and "Express Yourself."
His frequent work with Madonna led to her then-label, Warner Bros. Records, asking Pettibone if he would like to collaborate with her on an original song. The label's then-head of dance music, Craig Kostich, "had this idea to see how we would work together, and he asked me to come up with a track for her," says Pettibone. Assigned a budget of $5,000, he sent the diva the track's "Philly Salsoul"-inspired music and within two weeks, she flew to New York to record her vocals to the track in a vocal booth in a "basement on West 56th Street."
"They had converted a closet that had bi-fold doors on it and they had put a sliding glass door on it and that was the vocal booth," Pettibone says.
They wasted little time in the studio ("She was always a first-take artist. She was pretty amazing that way"), and about a week later, he sent the finished song to Warner Bros.
"I think at that point they were going to [make it a] b-side" for "Keep It Together," but once executives heard the track, "The attitude was like, ‘This isn't gonna be a b-side. How can we get this out there?'" It found a home on Madonna's Dick Tracy-inspired I'm Breathless album, and became the set's lead single -- and her eighth Hot 100 No. 1.
Pettibone and Madonna would collaborate again on another No. 1 single (1992's "This Used to Be My Playground," from the movie A League of Their Own) and for the bulk of that same year's Erotica album.
While Pettibone's work with Madonna is likely his most successful and well-known productions, he also stayed very busy crafting mixes for the likes of Mariah Carey, Cathy Dennis, New Order, Duran Duran and so many more. His 7-inch remix of Carey's "Someday" is the version many radio listeners are familiar from its heavy airplay, while his reworking of Dennis' "Touch Me (All Night Long)" became the official single version, and her highest charting Hot 100 hit (climbing to No. 2).
Amazingly, Pettibone stepped away from the music business in the late 1990s. "I'd kind of had enough of music at that point," he says. "I'd been doing it for 15 years." He currently owns The Empress Hotel and Paradise Night Club in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
So, how are you doing?
Are you not normally good? [Laughs.]
[Laughs.] No, I'm just getting over something, so I'm a little bit under the weather. But I'm doing good.
You know I am amazed that it's been 25 years since "Vogue" hit No. 1 [on the Billboard Hot 100]. I don't know if you sort of contemplate that sort of stuff very often. Does it even register that it's been that long since the song has been out?
It doesn't, really. First of all, it seems like the song that never ends. I mean, you're forever hearing it. It's always on a radio somewhere, or being played somewhere, you know, in a club. It's still a dance floor filler after all these years too, which is amazing.
It continues to live on, through covers and interpolations, and so forth. Certainly that must be very nice to know that something you've made continues to have a long life.
Yeah, exactly. But no, it doesn't feel like 25 years. It's wild.
You obviously have the club now, and the hotel [in New Jersey] -- do people spin it there still today? Is it weird to hear songs that you made played in the club that you own?
It does get played all the time, you do hear it. And there's so many remixes of it and interpretations of it. It fits it with so many different things. It's been sampled to death, so you hear "ladies with an attitude" all over the place.
Let's take it back, so we can explain to people how the song came about. So we're going to take a historical journey backwards in time. I don't think most people understand how the song actually came together. My understanding -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- my understanding is that, I think it was Craig Kostich [the then-head of dance music at Warner Bros. Records, Madonna's then-label, in 1989] asked you to create a song for Madonna. And then it was going to be a b-side for "Keep It Together" [the fifth single from Madonna's Like a Prayer album, and ironically, its official single remix was created by Pettibone] …I'm not sure exactly how the song originally came about, so tell me exactly what happened.
I was kind of, I guess at that point, Madonna's favorite remixer, so I was remixing all of her songs. I did the You Can Dance album with her [Pettibone remixed the album's "Into the Groove" and "Where's the Party"], and I was doing a lot of additional production on the songs as well. For instance, "Like a Prayer," she chose my single version after I had done what I did on that.
And the most popular versions of "Express Yourself" [including the 7-inch single remix version] are your remixes of the song.
[The "Express Yourself" remix] was a total reproduction and I totally rewrote the music. And I really started from scratch with "Express Yourself." And I think she was really impressed with that and she really… liked it. And, you know, the label liked it… She actually did the video to the album version, and then they synced my version to the video. So if you watch the video of "Express Yourself," you see the horn players on the carousel, but there's no horns playing, because I took those out.
I remember seeing the original video [at the time of its release] and then a couple weeks later, the new version started playing. So at one point there were two different versions of the video [one synced to the album version of the song, and another to the Pettibone remix] that you could see on VH1 and MTV. I was like, "Wow, what happened? I love this other new version." Your version. Anyway! So, she liked you a lot, clearly.
Yeah, and we'd been friends from my days when I was working at [radio stations] WBLS and KISS-FM [WRKS] in New York, also. So, we had known each other for quite a while. She went on and became Madonna, and I was doing records and production and stuff. So Craig, he had this idea to see how we would work together, and he asked me to come up with a track for her. I did. She liked it. And she came into the studio and said, "I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to call it 'Vogue.'" And vogueing was almost kind of over at that point. At least in the underground dance scene. Not over, but it had been done, let's put it that way…
When they reached out to you -- the powers that be -- was it sold to you as "We're doing this song that is going to be a b-side"? Or "We would just like you to give us something for Madonna"? Was there any sort of ... end goal in mind at the beginning?
I don't really remember. I think it was the b-side thing, but I'm not 100 percent sure.
It would have made sense at the time, because "Oh Father" -- [Like a Prayer's] previous single -- hadn't done incredibly well on the [Hot 100] chart [it peaked at No. 20, her first single to miss the top 10 since 1984]. And it was kind of standard that sometimes you would enhance a single by putting on a really hot b-side to help sales. Did you have something already kind of done, or was the "Vogue" music something that you created specifically for the Madonna offer?
Like I said, I sent her a track, and that was the basic music for "Vogue." Which she wrote her lyrics to and after she sang them, then I changed certain things about the music to fit what she sang better.
Was there something that you can recall changing that [readers] would recognize?
Um… the piano was added, for instance, after she sang the song. The bass lines in the verses were changed to make them go with the verse better. Before that I think it'd just been like a two-bar loop of the bass line throughout the entire song -- which she liked. She didn't want me to change it. But I was like, "I'm gonna change it anyways." So… [Laughs.] She wanted to keep it very underground, and I was like, "Just trust me. Let me do what I do." Which she did. She went back to L.A. after she sang the song and I got to finish it off in New York.
How long from start to finish -- from the initial reaching out to you, from that point until you've actually finished recording the song?
Hmm. I would say I sent her the track [and] within possibly like two weeks she came to New York to sing it. I think right after that she was on to something else, and I think it was within a week or so that I finished up the production and the mix and sent it off to Warners.
That was a pretty quick turnaround.
I think at that point they were going to put it for the b-side, and "Keep It Together" was coming out, so there was a bit of a rush thing there. But then after they heard it, the attitude was like, "This isn't gonna be a b-side." You know, what avenue… how can we [Warner Bros.] get this out there? She had just done Dick Tracy. So that's why it was part of the Dick Tracy soundtrack [I'm Breathless]. That was the album avenue to get it out on.
Did she or Warner ever ask you to contribute anything else to the I'm Breathless album? Because that's the only song of yours that's on that album.
No, because in general the album was done. She had done that album with [Stephen] Sondheim and whoever…
Patrick Leonard and some other folks, yeah…
…So it was done. So they just kind of like tacked ["Vogue"] on, so to speak.
It's funny how such an iconic song came from a one-off. Something that wasn't part of a larger project, but just sort of a "Let's try this and see what happens." And then it turns into one of the most memorable dance songs ever.
It was Craig that came to me, and he's like, "You have a budget of $5,000." Which, you know, really isn't a lot because you have to pay the studios, you have to pay engineers, musicians, et cetera, et cetera. So, the whole thing was really done on a shoestring budget. Where we recorded it, and where she actually sang the vocals was in somebody's basement on West 56th Street, I think. [Laughs.]
So for the song, you had a budget of $5,000?
And she recorded the vocals in a basement?
Yes. Somebody had made a home recording studio, and I remember they had converted a closet that had bi-fold doors on it. They had put a sliding glass door on it, and that was the vocal booth.
Keeping it really underground there.
[Laughs.] Totally! Totally. It was underground.
That's kind of hilarious that it only cost $5,000.
I remember the multitrack [recording machine]… it was a 24-track multitrack, but I think only a few of the cards were working right. Because it was a secondhand machine. So, to record a track you'd have to pull out, slide out a card, and then move it to the next track to be able to record the next track. And so on, and so on. It was that low-budget.
I think people today maybe don't appreciate the amount of technology that we have now that can enable us to record things so quickly, and the kind of stuff that we have at our disposal, as opposed to 25 years ago, when it was a very different time. Certainly, the remixes that you did, and the production that you did, sounds still very contemporary today, because of the kinds of advances that you had made on your own. Like, you made things sound so advanced even though, you were in a way, limited by the technology that we had at the time.
I was. Time-wise, budget-wise… For instance, you mentioned "Express Yourself." I did both the, let's call it a remix of the album version, and then I did my whole other production and everything. The mixes of both of those productions, or versions, were done within like, you know, a 15-hour time span. So a lot was fit into a small amount of time.
I was really the innovator of doing that [reproducing a song entirely for its remix]. Because before that, people would remix or you know, add some percussion or something onto a track, and then that would be called a remix. Here I was re-recording all the music and everything.
The kind of remixing that we know today certainly can be traced back to what you did in the '80s. It's informed the kind of remixing and the kind promotion that happened with dance records and pop records. Certainly the reinvention of songs where a remix could be [promoted] to pop radio and they would [play] that version instead of the original album version. It wasn't just a slight tweak here and there, it was sometimes a complete reinvention of a song, which you did a lot. Back to "Vogue," did you have any input in the lyrics at all? Or were they all Madonna's working lyrics?
She had the choruses together, and the verses together. And she sang those in place, one by one. And I gotta also add: first take. Especially the verses. She was always a first-take artist. You didn't have to go back in and punch a word. No tonal problems. She was pretty amazing that way… For the middle part, I was like, "How about if we do like a rap or something in here?" Because we didn't have anything for that, really. And she's like, "What do you mean?" I'm like, "Oh, how about like you know bringing in movie stars and stuff?" So, we just wrote down a whole bunch of names of movie stars and that's how the rap came up.
Wow. OK, so, the bridge that we know with the rap ["Greta Garbo and Monroe…"] that came from you guys just brainstorming: "Let's put in a rap with a bunch of Hollywood movie stars."
Yeah. In the studio.
But I mean that's how she writes. You know, she's fast. It's just like, give her an idea or a direction to go… The end of the song, also, she was just singing "C'mon vogue, let your body move to the music" over and over. I'm like, "We gotta take this to the next level?" And she's like, "What do you mean?" And that's when I sang her the "Ooooh, you've got to, let your body move to the music." So the ending part, I changed up also, because she had never really done an ending like that, and that just really was a great finale to the song.
Wow. Everyone knows the story, obviously, about the success of the song. The music video is so iconic, and it's become a regular occurrence on her tours. And undoubtedly she'll probably be singing it on the next tour. Did you ever think, at the time -- I mean, obviously you guys knew had made a cool song -- but did you ever think, "Wow, this could be a No. 1 hit!"
No. Absolutely not. I did my best, and I was like, "This is really good." That's about as far as it went. Until [DJ] Frankie Crocker at WBLS -- who was the first person to premiere the song during his radio show -- played it and he was like, "Well, you've never heard anything like that before here on WBLS." That was a pretty defining moment to hear it on the radio like that. And then within a week or so it was on every radio station everywhere. [Editor's note: in the April 7, 1990-dated issue of Billboard magazine, it was reported that WQHT (Hot 97) was the first radio station to play "Vogue," on March 27 -- two days ahead of its scheduled release.]
Did your career change at that point? Were you suddenly getting a million phone calls from everyone saying "We need to work with you. Can you produce my record?" Was it sort of an overnight thing for you?
No. I was really, really busy up until that point anyway…
I didn't mean to insinuate that you weren't. [Laughs.]
No, no, no… the only thing that did change … was everybody, of course, was like, "Can you make it sound like 'Vogue?'" [Laughs.] And I wasn't in the habit of repeating myself. I mean there's a certain groove to it that I carried into some of the Janet Jackson remixes and a couple others. But never recreated it. I'm sure you're aware of how record companies want everything to sound like your best last thing.
Right. And you, in a way, this sort of dovetails into it, you actually revisited "Vogue" itself in "Deeper and Deeper" on Madonna's Erotica album, where she re-sings the lyric "let your body move to the music." That had to be a conscious decision…
Oh yeah, definitely. We got to that point and we're like, "What the hell. Let's have fun with it." We had a lot of fun doing that album.
You continued to work with Madonna after "Vogue" -- you [co-produced and co-wrote] on "Rescue Me" for The Immaculate Collection. You remixed the songs on The Immaculate Collection in Q Sound, which, at the time, I think people were -- I don't know if upset is the right word -- but certainly it was kind of a big deal that an entire greatest-hits album sounded different than the hits that people were used to. [Q Sound was a technology used to create an effect where the music would surround the listener.] Was that kind of an unusual thing for you to be offered at the time?
Well, actually some of the songs we changed up a bit, but most of the songs we kept in their original form. Like "Holiday," "Lucky Star," et cetera, et cetera, those were all the original productions. The remix was just really to create the Q Sound, and make the song kind of envelop you when you listened to it in a certain sweet spot in front of the speakers.
Which I still contend it's pretty cool, because when you listen to something like "Lucky Star," you hear the [swirling opening synth] "whrrrrrrr" [sound] actually circle your head.
Yeah! It was actually a lot of work, I gotta say. That wasn't easy to do. But then again, that was one of those -- you know, "Hurry up, this has to be out last week." That was a rush rush job.
There always seems to be very little time with Madonna when she works on albums. It's [very much] like "We're not gonna waste time, we have only a few hours…" I've read a lot of information about you working with her and it was very "Alright, we don't have time to waste. I'm getting bored. We have to move on."
Oh, she was always like that. It was almost to the point of intolerable. If a piece of equipment would break, she'd make you feel like it was your fault because the multitrack broke for instance. [Laughs.] I don't miss those days.
Obviously you had a great working relationship, and a very fruitful one with her, after "Vogue." Not just The Immaculate Collection and "Rescue Me." You had another No. 1 hit with "This Used to Be My Playground," and then the whole Erotica album, effectively, was co-written and co-produced with you. Is there any particular reason why you did not continue to work with her after [Erotica]?
I actually did. We wrote some songs for what became Bedtime Stories. But, halfway through, she changed her direction and wanted to go more hip-hop. And that's what happened.
It wasn't any sort of negative thing? It was just a "I'm going to go in this direction now and I'm going to go work with these other people." It wasn't like a bitter thing, right?
No. I mean, that's just how… she's like that 'til today. She's always moving on. That's why she's always been able to change herself because she always works with somebody else. They all inspire her to do something else and different.
You must have stuff stashed away somewhere. Are there unreleased remixes that you did for her, or unreleased songs that were never completed that you have sitting around in vault?
Yes there are. Some of them have gotten out there. I don't know how they got out there, but some of them have kind of found their way out. But there's also some that nobody has ever heard.
And that's how it was supposed to be.
Right. Obviously, if it was meant to be released, it would have been released.
I look forward to the night where I can come to your club and I'll hear an unreleased remix that you did…
That wouldn't be in the vault! [Laughs.]
Darn it! On a more serious note, it must have been a gratifying moment -- I don't know what the right word is -- back a couple years ago when you and Madonna won that lawsuit over allegations of sampling in "Vogue." [VMG Salsoul contended that "Vogue" sampled a horn heard in the Salsoul Orchestra song called "Love Break," which was remixed and released in 1983 by Pettibone, on Salsoul Records, as "Ooh I Love It (Love Break)."] You must have been very happy with that decision when it was made, I would assume.
Very happy. It was a very expensive lawsuit and the whole thing was frivolous. Just lies. It's just amazing that somebody could come up with a concoction of "we found a new technology that proves that you sampled and stole this sound and put it in your song," when they were using something called waveform technology. Which had been around since the '80s. So all that stuff came out, we went to musicologists. Oh my gosh, so much stuff to prove that the sound had been re-created, not taken from the record.
Right. Because the suit was never about where the inspiration of "Vogue" came from, it was more about the assertion that it was actually a direct lift of the horn stab from "Love Break." I think most people would agree that when you listen to "Vogue" and "Love Break," there's certainly an inspiration there… [In 2013, a U.S. District Court judge in California found "that any sampling of the Horn Hit was de minimis or trivial."]
If you listen to one, you go, "OK, it sounds like that." And you listen to the other, "Boy, they do sound similar." But when you play them right next to each other, that's when you're like, "Oh, it does sound different."
Yeah. And I don't mean to belabor this, but was "Vogue" inspired by that whole sound -- that late '70s/early '80s Salsoul sound? To me, it sounds like it was inspired by that material.
Oh, it totally was. I always enjoyed that groove. If you listen to my Cathy Dennis remixes and stuff, they all had a similar kind of bounce to them, if you will. From the whole Philly Salsoul era of music, which I always loved.
At some point you kind of moved away from production, remixing and the music business, and segued over to running your own hotel and club. At what point did you make that transition?
It was like mid-'90s. Because everything really at that point… dance music was really pretty much taboo. Everything had gone hip-hop. And I really… I don't know. I'm not a hip-hop person. I didn't have it in me to write it or produce it, and I'd kind of had enough of music at that point. I'd been doing it for 15 years. It was like, "There's gotta be something else." [Laughs.]
And you found it in running your business, from what I've heard, it's a wonderful place to go to and hang out. You guys are doing quite well, right?
Very well. This is actually year number 16. Which is really wild it's been going this long. … Asbury Park had really become so desolate, that nobody even went [there]. So this old hotel came up for sale that had been abandoned for eight years. And I bought that, and there was an area in it for a club, and I put together a club with the idea that if you build it with a great sound system -- they will come. And that's what I did. And they did. And then six years later, the town said, "We're gonna take the building by imminent domain if you don't have all the hotel rooms built and finished in the next six months." So that was my next beeline. I went to Amazon.com and got every book there was on hotel management and front desk management, housekeeping. I really self-taught myself about hotels and put the hotel together.
Wow. Good grief. So in six months you had to turn it around, or did you find a way to counter the city's assertions?
No, I did it. I found out after they had to approve me that I was kind of the running joke in town. It's like, "He'll never get that done." But I did. I like a challenge. [Laughs.] And that was a big challenge to get 100 hotel rooms together.
My god. How often, if at all, do you actually play the club? How often can we find you spinning on the dance floor?
At this point, I just in general do special occasions, like New Year's or Halloween. Or in the summer we do tea dances by the pool. I'll do several of those also.
What would it take to lure you into doing a remix for someone? If you were commissioned by a label? Is that something you would entertain? If the promoters of Madonna's new album, that are working it to clubs, if they called you up and said, "Hey, can you remix Madonna's next single?" Would you consider it?
I don't know that I really have the time. Let me tell you, running a hotel, a restaurant, a nightclub and a bar is pretty much a full-time thing. I'm very hands-on. So, it takes a lot of work. I've kept up with the new ways of producing and stuff. I use Logic on my laptop, but I'm not full-blown at it. The way you make music now is night and day as to how you did it 25 years ago. So maybe the answer is: I don't think so, but you never know what can happen.
I like the non-committal vague answer. That's a good one. [Laughs.] I hope you realize that there are so many people that would just absolutely lose their mind if a new remix or a new production by you were to be released today. There would be a collective "Oh my god!" around the world. I'm not just saying that because we're on the phone. I think people would lose their minds.
It better be good, too! [Laughs.]
True, but it would be! Because you know, it's you!
Yes. Yeah. Thanks, Keith.
Is there anything else that you would like to tell me about "Vogue" or Madonna that I'm missing? Actually, I'm kind of curious, when was the last time you spoke to her or had contact with her directly? I'm assuming it's probably been a little bit?
Oh, it's been a long time. Maybe 20 years?
At least it was before I built the club. And that was 16 years ago. So, yeah, it's been at least… about 17 years. 17 to 20 years.
Maybe we can lure her into your club. [Laughs.] The next time she's coming through.
My crowd would love it. They would definitely, definitely love it.
… Well, thank you sir, so much. It's been a great pleasure speaking to you. I could talk to you for a very long time and pick your brain about a million different remixes and so much stuff. But I know that you probably have a lot of other stuff to do right now. But thank you so much.
You're so welcome. It was a pleasure talking to you.
Conchita Wurst has said other countries should participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, following Australia’s entry in this year’s competition.
The reigning champion is thrilled at Australia’s involvement this year for the contest’s 60th anniversary, with the grand final airing on BBC One on May 23.
"I think that's great. I'm so excited. I would love to have the whole world involved in this beautiful concept of the Eurovision Song Contest," she said.
"I love Eurovision because once a year, it's the biggest music event on the planet. It's over the top, it's ridiculously colourful. Most important to me, you can come as you are, you can do whatever you want on stage.
"If you want to come as a bearded lady, there's no one in the entire Eurovision family who will say you're not allowed to do so. I think that's just so beautiful."
But Conchita joked that Queen of Pop Madonna should be banned from representing the US – because she would have an unfair advantage.
"I would like the whole world to join Eurovision because that would be fun, but maybe not (let) Madonna do it because nobody would have a chance," she said.
The bearded lady Austria has become a role model for the LGBT community after winning the show with her rousing performance of Rise Like A Phoenix.
Madonna has finally moved into her new-construction Bridgehampton mansion on Mitchells Lane, which is beside the horse farm she bought from Kelly Klein.
The pop songstress will be ensconced there for the summer. The estate comes with a pool and spa.
"Madonna has already been out here on weekends, riding her horses on her 58 acres," a spy says. But don't expect to see her hanging out at Candy Kitchen or any of the fancier joints in town. "She never goes out. She's so happy in her house that she never leaves," the spy said.
A day after Madonna has rescheduled the first 5 tour dates, comes the news that the European tour schedule gets a small change as well.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the tour date at the Jyske Bank Boxen in Henning, Denmark has moved up one day, from November 17th to 16th.
Tickets purchased for the 17th will be valid for the new date on the 16th.
Madonna has rescheduled the first five nights of her Rebel Heart Tour, delaying the international trek's launch more than a week.
Her planned concerts in Miami on Aug. 29 and 30, Atlanta on Sept. 2 and San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 5 and 6 have now been moved to January 2016. Tickets for those previously announced dates will be honored for the newly scheduled shows.
The tour's new opening night is Sept. 9 in Montreal, Quebec.
"As my fans already know, the show has to be perfect," said Madonna in a statement. "Assembling all the elements will require more time than we realized. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause my fans. I can promise you this show will be worth the wait. Can't wait to share it with all my Rebel Hearts out there."
Jan. 20 - Atlanta, GA @ Philips Arena
Jan. 23 - Miami, FL @ American Airlines Arena
Jan. 24 - Miami, FL @ American Airlines Arena
Jan. 27 - San Juan, PR @ Coliseo de Puerto Rico
Jan. 28 - San Juan, PR @ Coliseo de Puerto Rico
See the full tour schedule here.
Even though Madonna has received ugly (and sometimes violent) ageist and misogynistic remarks this year, one shouldn't expect her to back down. When she is told to stop doing something, she comes back and does it even more. Judging from Instagram posts and fan sites, Madonna is preparing an ironic music video that will make her fans laugh and her critics furious.
Madonna's fan forums have shown pictures from the video, where Madonna has pink hair and is wearing grills. Many said it would be similar to her performance of the song on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. A reddit user named ShowbizGal (whose post has now been deleted) claims to have worked on the video. You have to take her post with a grain of salt, but her description, which was up on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, certainly fits the one that has been on Madonna fan forums.
"I worked on Madonna's new video last week for 'Bitch I'm Madonna' and you fans are in for a special treat. The video is hilarious and more like a Madonna parody. If you hate her grills, you are going to hate them even more. Not only does Madonna wear those ugly things on her teeth, but there is a sock puppet that also wears grills. The dancing in the video is crazy. It's like the performance she did on Jimmy Fallon, but taken to new heights."
Madonna's new single has divided both her fans and critics. Some think "Bitch I'm Madonna" is the most desperate single she has ever released, while others believe the song is supposed to be over the top and ridiculous. Madonna, herself, has claimed in several interviews that the song is supposed to be irreverent.
Whether or not likes the song, it is a smart choice for a single. "Bitch I'm Madonna" has far outsold the other tracks on Rebel Heart, even though it hasn't been officially promoted as a single. Madonna's last two singles, "Living for Love" and "Ghosttown," haven't even charted, but many blame this on the fact these songs were illegally leaked last December and didn't have a chance to be released as standalone singles apart from an album package.
The Madonna video should be released very soon, possibly during the first week of June. You can bet that, as usual, Madonna will stir a debate on feminism, ageism, and other "isms." Madonna has become a walking target for social criticism, but one has to give her credit for keeping her chin up.
In 1990, with the help of a video directed by David Fincher, the pop star's No. 1 single propelled a dance craze.
ONE OF MADONNA'S BIGGEST hits – the 1990 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 dance anthem "Vogue" – had surprisingly humble beginnings. "The whole thing was done on a shoestring budget," says Shep Pettibone, the track's co-writer and producer. Allotted just $5,000 by Warner Bros. Records to create what was initially slated as a B-side, he finished the song in three weeks, recording the then-31-year-old pop star's vocals in a "basement on West 56th Street" in New York, where, he says, a closet had been converted into a vocal booth.
The song starts with suspense-building synths before kicking into "Philly Salsoul"-style house music, and its lyrics and sumptuous black-and-white video, directed by future Academy Award nominee David Fincher (Gone Girl, The Social Network), celebrate voguing, a style of dance popularized in New York's mostly gay ballroom club scene in the 1980s that mimicks fashion-shoot poses.
Released as an A-side, "Vogue" topped the Hot 100 on May 19, 1990. Madonna and Pettibone also collaborated on the singer's 1992 No. 1 ballad, "This Used to Be My Playground," but Pettibone left the music business in the late '90s and now owns The Empress Hotel and Paradise Nightclub in Asbury Park, N.J.
Madonna released her latest album, Rebel Heart, in March, and "Vogue" continues to be a staple of her live shows.
Daniel Kellison is a big-time producer now, running Jackhole with Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla. But in the 1990s, he landed his first job on the David Letterman show, doing a little of everything — researching, producing, booking guests.
In an amazing new Grantland piece, he spills the behind the scenes secrets from some of the biggest names he worked with.
In 1994, if Julia Roberts was the biggest female movie star in the world, Madonna was arguably the biggest female star. At the same time, due to her pioneering promiscuity and her seemingly insatiable interest in surly actors, athletes, and rappers, she was also endless fodder for the tabloids — and late-night hosts. Dave loved her; she was the gift that kept giving. (As he was fond to repeat back then, "I have a theory about Madonna. I think she likes to shock us.")
So we were very surprised when she agreed to come on the show. I spoke with her longtime rep, Liz Rosenberg, and she said Madonna was interested in coming on and basically giving it back to Dave — a little reciprocal ball-breaking, as it were.
This was, hypothetically, a problematic plan. Not that he couldn't handle her, but Dave was a professional comedian. Madonna was a professional singer. This could go south quickly if un-reined. (Maybe you saw Madonna's painful recent attempt at stand-up on Jimmy Fallon?)
After discussing it with Dave, I proposed a plan I thought was pretty bulletproof, that would make her look good, be "funny," and satisfy her larger goal of making Dave squirm. I got on the phone with Madonna, who was surprisingly and truly lovely, and pitched my idea: How about you go on and complain that he's been taking shots? He will say it's exaggerated, he loves you, etc. — and then you say, "Oh yeah? I actually brought some tape from the show." And then you show, in succession, three of the most horrible jokes he has told — and ask him to explain each one. That ensured his awkwardness — and the laugh. She signed off on the plan without hesitation. I then went and told Letterman I'd had a great talk with her and that she was super-engaged and receptive to the idea — and unless something went terribly wrong, I thought we were in good shape.
The day of the show, she arrived to much fanfare and press anticipation, but with no entourage. Her only accompaniment was her makeup person, Kevyn Aucoin. I walked up to her dressing room, knocked on the door, put out my hand, and said, "Hi, I'm Daniel." She didn't get up or offer her hand. Instead she said, "Suckmadick." I took a beat. "Sorry?" She looked at Kevyn, smiled, and said it again, slower, like a petulant 8-year-old child challenging a parent: "Suck–ma–dick." She and Kevyn began laughing hysterically. Immediately, I thought: We're screwed. I smiled wanly and powered on: "Ha … OK, so this will pretty much go as we discussed. We've loaded up three pieces of video, each one worse than the other, and after each one …" She stopped me. "That's too much to remember."
Hmmm. I paused, now more annoyed than anything. "Uh, not really. It's actually pretty simple — you show a tape. Get his reaction. Show another. Get his reaction. There are three …" "Yeah, I'm not going to remember all that." Me, trying not to let my voice break and betray my now very urgent concerns: "Why not?" She started giggling again. "We smoked a little endo before we came here …" Fuccccckkkkkkk!!!!
I went down to Dave's dressing room, which I tried not to do before the show. "We're in trouble." Very graciously, he didn't tell me "I told you so," instead, knotting his tie with a slight grimace, seemingly bracing himself for the storm.
The intro I wrote probably didn't help matters: "Our first guest tonight is one of the biggest stars in the world, and in the past 10 years she has sold over 80 million albums, starred in countless films, and slept with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry." But there was no way we could have anticipated what followed. It was the most censored late-night broadcast in television history, with Madonna saying "fuck" 14 times. She took off her underpants and complained when Letterman wouldn't smell them. And if you think Letterman was happy about all the subsequent attention and newspaper coverage the interview brought, you'd have guessed wrong. He always understood the privilege that came with the ability to broadcast, and the responsibility that accompanied it. Ratings and press were less a consideration.
Compounding matters was the fact that Madonna would not leave the stage. We bumped the next guest (a grocery bagger — an annual human interest competition winner that Dave, a former bagger himself, genuinely always enjoyed). Dave tried to say goodbye again. She wouldn't leave. Counting Crows was just about to make its network television debut — and we were going to have to bump the band if Madonna didn't budge. Sheila Rogers, the talent executive who has possibly given more bands their first breaks than anyone in the history of TV, went to Morty to ask what was happening. Morty then turned to me and said, "Get rid of her." I said, "How am I supposed to get rid of her?" But the implication was clear: This was a problem I'd created, and now it was up to me to salvage the rest of the show. As Paul and the band blasted their mid-break song, I walked onstage and said loudly, "Say hi to the audience." Madonna waved. As she waved, I took her hand, as if I was helping her up — and I did, in fact, lightly pull her up. And over the band I said loudly again, "Say goodbye …" Confused, she waved. Still holding her hand I led her offstage.
Ghosttown is available as a 10-track EP from iTunes, including remixes by Offer Nissim, Armand Van Helden, Roger Sanchez and many more!
Download your copy now: http://smarturl.it/ GhosttownRemixes
Madonna is an expert at causing controversy while igniting conversations that are uncomfortable. The Independent describes Madonna's latest Instagram picture controversy.
"The picture shows a Jewish man kissing a Muslim man, captioned with a heart emoji and the hashtag #rebelhearts. Debate raged between people who believed the photograph was incompatible with their faith, and those who argued it was a positive message of love."
The Telegraph noted that one commenter under the post said that Islam doesn't support homosexuality and if someone doesn't like that, they don't have to be a Muslim. However, others supported the picture as one that shows a positive message. Most commenters on the article seemed to support Madonna's stance.
"It's a beautiful image and one that speaks to the heart where accords and agreements about peace fail," wrote Rayoliteuk.
"Not necessarily a pic MSM would condone. So Madonna gets a big thumbs up from me," wrote Gibble.
However, at the site Gigwise, commenter Scott Smith is furious with Madonna.
"Wow, Madonna used to be ahead of the curve, but now she is just following the trend by supporting gay people, hoping to make herself relevant. It's all cultural appropriation. Doesn't she realize that Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and others have done the gay thing already? Stupid old lady!"
Mr. Smith, perhaps, is a gay millennial who doesn't acknowledge that Madonna was a vocal gay rights activist in the 1980s and early 1990s at a time when being one could have killed your career. It was a time when gay people were treated like terrorists and a lot of that had to do with the AIDS virus. In 1990, Madonna caused controversy by speaking about censorship and homosexuality on Nightline.
"If we're going to have censorship, let's not be hypocrites about it. Why is it okay for 10-year-olds to see someone's body being ripped to shreds and why do parents have a problem with 2 consenting adults displaying affection with each other regardless of their sex?"
In 2012, Madonna was condemned by Russian officials for supporting homosexuality, and despite the threats of violence, she performed a huge concert and gave a rousing speech about gay rights. She was later fined for her support and chose not to play Russia on her upcoming Rebel Heart World Tour.
Madonna's Instagram has caused all sorts of controversy, with pictures that have been accused of racial insensitivity and, at times, even insensitivity towards the gay community. However, Madonna's latest Instagram post, perhaps, has found the right balance between controversy and making a statement about love.
Madonna's Hard Candy Fitness, a boutique gym with locations in eight cities across the globe, is expanding. On Monday (May 18), Madonna, her manager Guy Oseary and New Evolution Ventures, announced a partnership with merchandising and licensing company Epic Rights to expand the Hard Candy Fitness brand into retail products. Epic Rights will reveal more details to potential partners at the 2015 Licensing Expo in Las Vegas June 9 to 11.
"We wanted to bring the brand to the public so if they never have a chance to join a Hard Candy Fitness club, they can still experience the Hard Candy Fitness workout wherever they are, and have the best-in-class tools," says Dan Levin, head of Epic Rights' Celebrity & Lifestyle division. "As Madonna is to music, pop culture and fashion, we believe Hard Candy Fitness will be the preeminent symbol for a fit, healthy and luxury-infused lifestyle."
Founded in 2009 and inspired by Madonna's 2008 album Hard Candy, Hard Candy Fitness currently has locations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Santiago, Sydney, Mexico City, Rome, Berlin, and Toronto. The company plans to expand in Asia in 2016, followed by the United States. Levin says Madonna and Oseary have been "very involved" in all aspects of the Hard Candy Fitness brand, "from the creation of the clubs to the design and implementation of all the categories and products."
Epic Rights' other music clients include KISS, John Lennon, Woodstock, CBGB, Billy Joel, Whitesnake, Billy Idol and AC/DC.
Below article in The Inquirer implies that the Rebel Heart Tour will stop by Manila, The Philippines early next year. It would be the first time Madonna would perform in The Philippines.
So far Japan has been the only Asian country to ever have a Madonna tour (she visited Japan with her Confessions Tour, Girlie Show, Blond Ambition Tour and Who's That Girl Tour).
The official press release of March 2nd mentioned that tour dates for Asia and Australia would be "announced soon", but there has been no news about these shows since.
Promoters are said to be deciding soon whether SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena or the Philippine Arena would be the best venue for the impending concert of pop goddess Madonna early next year, at least two sources told the Inquirer.
If it's MOA Arena—whose capacity for concerts is about 12,000—the concert might be held for two successive nights, just like the Lady Gaga gigs in 2012.
The Philippine Arena could be a better choice, considering its 55,000 capacity. But traffic going in and out of the venue is a serious matter that needs immediate fixing.
In any case, either MOA or Philippine Arena would be no problem for longtime fans of the "Queen of Pop," who is revered for her constant reinvention of her music and image.
While she may be known as the Queen of Pop, it's actually on the dance charts where Madonna has seen the most love for her work. With her latest single "Ghosttown", the singer claims her 45th number one on the Dance/Club Songs ranking. That number is an unmatched accomplishment, and it gives her the distinction of having more number one songs on a single chart than any other artist in history. With its rise to the top, Madonna passes by country star George Strait, who previously held that record, thanks to his 44 leaders on the Hot Country Songs chart.
"Ghosttown" is the second official single from Madonna's thirteenth album, Rebel Heart, which debuted at number two earlier this year. The song hasn't charted on the Hot 100 (the tally that measures songs of all genres, combining sales and radio play), but it only took a few weeks to reach the summit of the dance chart. Madonna has such a massive following by many club-going audiences and dance lovers that almost every single she releases makes its way to the top, even if it doesn't become well known by the general public.
Her number ones span four decades, and her road to this accomplishment began in 1983 with the two-sided "Holiday"/"Lucky Star". That release ruled for five weeks, her longest time spent at the top. Years later, her song "Music" would match the time spent at the summit. Singles often work their way up and down the dance charts faster than on the Hot 100, so five weeks is actually a long time for any track to run the show.
The past two days, Madonna has been recording the video of her new single Bitch I'm Madonna. On Instagram she teased a picture where she has her hair tips dyed in an ombré pink (or has pink hair extensions). With the comment "Rise and Shine NY!!! #bitchimmadonna" she gave away the location of the video shoot.
While the hair was done by her hair dresser Andy Lecompte, the video is rumoured to be directed by Jonas Akerlund.
Apart from Diplo, Nicky Minaj is said to be featuring in the video, as well as Rita Ora.
American musician Wayne Coyne was hanging out in Diplo's hotel room as the video was being shot:
The Queen of Pop is now unequaled chart royalty. Madonna makes momentous Billboard chart history, as she now has the most No. 1s ever, 45, by an act on a singular Billboard chart. She earns her 45th No. 1 on Dance Club Songs, where "Ghosttown" lifts 3-1.
(The chart, dated May 30, will refresh on Billboard.com Thursday, May 21.)
With the coronation, Madonna passes another icon, George Strait, who's logged 44 No. 1s on Hot Country Songs.
"Thanks to all my fans on and off the dancefloor," Madonna said in an exclusive statement to Billboard. "I'll (always) be your partner."
With her 45th leader on Dance Club Songs, which measures reports submitted by a national sample of club DJs, Madonna pulls further ahead of runners-up Beyonce and Rihanna. In fact, Madonna has tallied more No. 1s as they have combined: 22 each. (The chart launched as a national survey in the Billboard issue dated Aug. 28, 1976.)
Madonna bests Strait (still, and always, the King of Country), who's sent 44 singles to No. 1 on Hot Country Songs between 1982 and 2009. He first reigned with "Fool Hearted Memory" (Aug. 28, 1982) and most recently ruled with "River of Love" (April 18, 2009).
"Ghosttown" was released, in its original ballad form, on Madonna's 13th studio album, Rebel Heart, which launched at No. 1 on the March 28 Top Album Sales chart with 116,000 first-week copies sold, according to Nielsen Music. Remixes from Don Diablo, Mindskap and Armand Van Helden, among others, helped the track top Dance Club Songs. (The original version, meanwhile, ranks at No. 20 on Adult Contemporary and debuts at No. 38 on Adult Pop Songs.) First Rebel Heart single "Living for Love" became Madonna's 44th Dance Club Songs topper on the March 7 chart.
Madonna wrote "Ghosttown" with Evan Bogart, Sean Douglas and Jason Evigan. "When I write with people, we always try to come up with a theme," she told Billboard's Keith Caulfield in December. "So, this one is about the city after Armageddon. The burnt-out city, the crumbling buildings, the smoke that's still lingering after the fire. There's only a few people left. How do we pick up the pieces and go on from here?
"Kind of dramatic," she added with a laugh.
In honor of Madonna's milestone achievement, here is an updated look at Madonna's 45 historic Dance Club Songs No. 1s, beginning with the double-sided single "Holiday"/"Lucky Star," which reached the top the week of Sept. 24, 1983. You'll notice that one of her No. 1s is an entire album: You Can Dance (1988), a collection of mostly remixes of previously-released songs (and one new cut, "Spotlight"). Prior to Feb. 23, 1991, the chart wasn't always song-specific and full albums were, at some points, allowed to chart.
(For titles that spent multiple weeks at No. 1, total frames in the lead are noted in parentheses.)
Madonna's 45 Dance Club Songs No. 1s
1983, "Holiday"/"Lucky Star" (five weeks at No. 1)
1984, "Like a Virgin" (four)
1985, "Material Girl"
1985, "Angel"/"Into the Groove"
1987, "Open Your Heart"
1987, "Causing a Commotion (Remix)"
1988, "You Can Dance (LP Cuts)"
1989, "Like a Prayer" (two)
1989, "Express Yourself" (three)
1990, "Keep It Together"
1990, "Vogue" (two)
1991, "Justify My Love" (two)
1993, "Deeper and Deeper"
1994, "Secret" (two)
1995, "Bedtime Story"
1997, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"
1998, "Frozen" (two)
1998, "Ray of Light" (four)
1999, "Nothing Really Matters" (two)
1999, "Beautiful Stranger" (two)
2000, "American Pie"
2000, "Music" (five)
2001, "Don't Tell Me"
2001, "What It Feels Like for a Girl"
2001, "Impressive Instant" (two)
2002, "Die Another Day" (two)
2003, "American Life"
2003, "Me Against the Music," Britney Spears featuring Madonna (two)
2004, "Nothing Fails"
2004, "Love Profusion"
2005, "Hung Up" (four)
2006, "Sorry" (two)
2006, "Get Together"
2006, "Jump" (two)
2008, "4 Minutes," Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland (two)
2008, "Give It 2 Me"
2012, "Give Me All Your Luvin'," Madonna featuring Nicki Minaj & M.I.A.
2012, "Girl Gone Wild"
2012, "Turn Up the Radio"
2015, "Living for Love"
Madonna's last two singles, "Living for Love" and "Ghosttown," barely made an impact in terms of pop music, even if she is about to break a record for having 45 No. 1 hits on the Dance Club Songs chart. She is hoping to change that by releasing the polarizing track "Bitch I'm Madonna" as the third single from Rebel Heart.
Whether or not people think the song is ridiculous (and Madonna has repeatedly indicated the song is supposed to be irreverent), releasing "Bitch I'm Madonna" as a single is seen as a good choice from chart experts. Not only is the song the most consistently selling track from Rebel Heart on the iTunes chart, but a performance of the song recently helped revive the album, although the increase in sales only lasted a short period of time.
According to Madonna's most popular fan site, MadonnaTribe, a video is being filmed this week.
"Madonna will shoot her new music video this week, MadonnaTribe has learnt. A casting notice has been sent out for dancers to join the Queen of Pop in her latest clip, and the crew shoots are planned for Thursday, May 14. The production team is looking for super hip, edgy performers aged 15-30 year, men and women. They are calling for a variety of different types, from street kids to club folks, with unique, interesting faces, all willing to hand."
MadonnaTribe also notes that shooting will take place in New York City and will include a pool party as well as a club scene. It sounds like a lot of fun, and many fans suspect the video will either be a self-parody or another middle finger to her ageist and misogynistic critics.
Another artist who is facing ageism is Mariah Carey, whose fans celebrated the fact that her new single "Infinity" debuted at No. 82 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 last week. Even though the number is disappointing, fans say that it beat the chart positions of Madonna's "Living for Love" and "Ghosttown."
Madonna fans and chart experts have argued back that in the case with "Living for Love," the song was never given a traditional standalone release. The song was released last December in a package with six other songs to combat the leak of demos from the Rebel Heart recording sessions. Even though "Living for Love" was No. 1 on the iTunes chart for two days, the sales that fans downloaded as part of the package didn't count. If released as a stand-alone single, "Living for Love" would have never been a huge hit, but it would have at least charted.
A lot has changed in ten years: In 2005, Mariah Carey and Madonna fans argued who was the most successful. In 2015, fans are arguing who is the most unsuccessful. Let's hope both Madonna and Mariah Carey could get back on track and rule the world of pop music once again.
After an evening filled with dazzling guests, amazing decor, and a performance by Rihanna, where is an A-lister to head next? Thanks to Michael Kors, not too far. The man who currently dresses Hollywood—and also, made the chic mint or cobalt pajamas sported by the Vogue crew including Grace Coddington—hosted an intimate soiree at the Mark Hotel with iTunes.
Inside, it was like an old Sunset Boulevard cantina with Kate Hudson holding court in one corner, Wendi Murdoch in another, and Zac Posen with Katie Holmes gliding by; but it was the performance from Miguel that had everyone in the room jumping. And what was the party host's favorite part of the night? "The exhibit," said Kors immediately, "but the cherry on the cake of Rihanna was too perfect." As the ebullient designer was whisked away into the crowds, FKA twigs,still in her Christopher Kane dress from the gala, was joined by Robert Pattinson,who no doubt danced till dawn.
Meanwhile, downtown was just getting going at the Boom Boom Room. This year's soiree was cohosted by Yahoo! Style's Joe Zee, Marissa Mayer, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Katy Perry, but those names were just a few of those that migrated below Fourteenth Street. Leonardo DiCaprio sat at the bar chatting with many red carpet dress-clad actresses, while Andy Cohen and Parker opted for a window view overlooking the new Whitney. Joining them were Riccardo Tisci, who said his favorite part of the night was "the arrival of Beyoncé completely naked," before he was interrupted by friend Madonna. Taking her seat in his section, the designer and pop star gabbed the night away.
Tucked away on the other side were Sean Combs, Reese Witherspoon joined by her Hot Pursuit costar Sofia Vergara, along with elegant young things including Bee Shaffer, Laura Love, and Alexa Chung. "Rihanna's performance was amazing," said Chung in an Erdem tea-length frock, adding, "She did a really interesting version of ‘Pour It Up' with a live orchestra." Any other highlights from the evening? "It was fun watching everyone struggle with chopsticks!" exclaimed Chung. Close by was her date, designer Erdem Moralioglu, who during said performance ran backstage to ensure he wouldn't miss it. "I was sitting next to a trustee at my table, and we went to the loo and Rihanna started to perform," explained the British designer, "so we broke into the American furniture section of the Met behind the stage and were running behind Rihanna."
And speaking of the lady who caused so much chatter—and exercise—night owls who really wanted to get down headed over to the singer's now legendary after-after-party at Up & Down, while others flocked to the Diamond Horseshoe to Lady Gaga and Alexander Wang's playful bash. Spotted in the crowd there? Jennifer Lawrence, Taraji P. Henson, Miley Cyrus, and Ansel Elgort to name a few, but overall it was a truly sparkling close to this year's Met Gala.
This Met Gala trio though!!
Katy Perry, Madonna, and Lady GaGa all posed for the fantastical photo (above) once inside the event — and we simply can't get enough.
Her Madgesty uploaded the shot to Instagram with the caption:
"Girls night out………. Kissing the Ring……..Finally! #metball"
We can only assume Madge is referring to Lady G's engagement ring, though we have no real confirmation.
Glad to see these three divas uniting in the name of fashion!
Katy Perry and Madonna both attended the 2015 Met Gala on Monday, May 4. The singers took to the event that's held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Tonight's theme is "China: Through the Looking Glass," but it looks like both Katy and Madonna didn't follow through with their chosen looks.
Perry, 30, attended the Met Gala in a black strapless ball gown designed by Moschino. Her gown featured splatters of colors of on it, as if a graffiti artist spray painted it. The "Dark Horse" singer accessorized her look with elbow sleeve gloves and a paint can evening bag. Perry also brought along fashion designer Jeremy Scott, the man behind her ball gown. She wasn't the only pop star dressed in his designs though.
Madonna also attended the Met Gala in a black Moschino evening gown. The pop star's dress had the words "Rebel Heart" scribbled on it, which is also the name of her new album. Madonna accessorized her look with a black cape, black leather gloves, and a rose gold crossbody evening bag. The performer brought along DJ and producer Diplo as her date. Don't think Katy is jealous. In fact, she's good friends with the Queen of Pop.
The entertainers gathered together for a group photo. Katy Perry, Madonna, Diplo, and Jeremy Scott posed for a quick photo as they stood out in their outlandish looks. This will make the dating rumors between Perry and Diplo spark again. The two were rumored to be dating earlier this year until Perry was spotted with on-again, off-again boyfriend John Mayer.
Madonna sat down to answer fan questions at Interactive Chat w/ Romeo Saturday Night Online.
Watch below to know her reaction to kissing Drake, details on the Rebel Heart recording process, some of her favourite career moments, and lots more. She was in a very good mood and played around a lot.