To celebrate her 62nd birthday, Madonna travelled to Jamaica. Boyfriend Ahlamalik joined her, as well as her children Lola, David, Mercy, Estere and Stella, some of her dancers Loic Mabanza, Marvin Gofin, Daniele Sibilli, Sasha Mallory, Mccall & Baylie Olsen, her photographer Ricardo Gomes, and her DJ friend Diplo.
On Instagram, Madonna shared videos and pictures of the celebrations, including lots of dancing. In some of the pictures, Madonna poses with a plate of marihuana and a joint between her lips.
Pop queen, disco diva, gyrating virgin, rhinestone cowgirl, sex siren - the music icon Madonna is all of these and so much more. The revered queen of pop turns 62 on August 16 and even in 2020, almost four decades since her debut, pop culture's biggest names are still taking notes from her.
Madonna is undeniably a living legend and a pioneer of reinvention, with her latest avatar being Madame X in her 14th studio album of the same name. "Madame X is a secret agent traveling around the world, changing identities, fighting for freedom, bringing light to dark places," she said in the teaser video. In fact, it is she who normalized it for other females artists to keep reinventing their sound, image and creative narrative.
Born Madonna Louise Ciccone on August 16, 1958, the young artist moved to New York City in the late '70s to become a dancer. She found her true calling when she started working as a backup dancer and knew she wanted to become a world-conquering solo singer and performer. Her eponymous debut album came out in 1983 and her sophomore release 'Like a Virgin' — which was pretty scandalous for its time — established the diva as a provocateur.
She basically wore a wedding dress while singing about the joys of sex, something unheard of for its time. The wedding dress made jaws drop again when Madonna rolled on the floor, moaning 'Like a Virgin', on the very first VMAs in 1984. And who can forget about those iconic Jean Paul Gaultier conical bras from her Blond Ambition tour back in 1990.
Madonna has flirted with controversy many times since then - from kissing Britney Spears at the 2003 VMAs to dangling from a disco ball crucifix during her 2006 Confessions Tour. Not to forget the one time when she featured burning crosses in her 'Like a Prayer' video, which was banned from MTV. Even the Vatican condemned it and Pope John Paul II urged a boycott, but Madonna was fearless even in the face of her numerous controversies.
Madonna is also an eternal inspiration to the LGBTQIA++ community. In 1991, during the peak of HIV infections and deaths, she reached out to the community with her activism and music. Madonna, who had earlier released a public-service announcement about safe sex, endorsed the HIV activist group Act-Up. Two of Madonna's good friends, artist Keith Haring and her ballet teacher and mentor Christopher Flynn, had died of AIDS in 1990.
She went a step further and introduced same-sex couples in her videos, something that was considered taboo back in the '90s. In 'Justify My Love', she had her first on-screen lesbian kiss. In the 1991 documentary 'Truth or Dare', two of her male dancers shared a kiss. Many gay men have said that this was the first time they ever saw their wishes being played out onscreen so naturally. And it's no coincidence that Lady Gaga's monster hit 'Born This Way' borrows heavily from Madonna's classic track 'Express Yourself'.
The Queen of pop has time and again changed up her sound and identity and this has left a lasting impression on generations of musicians. Artists who were inspired by Madonna's reinvention included stars like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Paulina Rubino, Miley Cyrus, and even Madonna's protégé Britney Spears, just to name a few. Katy Perry went from rebellious girl next door to princess of 'purposeful pop', Miley Cyrus graduated from Disney Channel to become a rebellious rockstar before returning to her country roots and Taylor Swift went from shedding teardrops on her guitar to ruling pop and then going folksy with 'Folklore'.
Madonna also helped change the way artists release their music. Thanks to MTV and a lot of focus on singles-driven music videos, rock-oriented concept albums saw a decline in the '80s. Madonna was instrumental in bringing back concept albums in mainstream pop with 'Erotica' and 'American Life'. Today, Lorde ('Melodrama'), Janelle Monáe ('The ArchAndroid') and Halsey ('Hopeless Fountain Kingdom') are among those who swear by concept albums.
With her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour, Madonna also changed the way pop concerts would be held thereafter. Donna Summer and Michael Jackson had both fused popular music and theater during live performances but what Madonna did was much bigger and bolder. She brought Broadway to her full-scale production concert tours with special effects, elaborate sets and lots of drama and this helped change the face of popular music culture.
The revolutionary in her also changed the rules that were previously followed by other artists, especially women. Taking creative control of her projects, Madonna made talent scouting an essential part of her art - be it fashion designers, stylists, video directors, or producers. Her relationship with her collaborators is a major theme in the blockbuster 1991 tour documentary 'Truth or Dare'.
She was also one of the first major pop stars to leave a record deal. She released her first album in 1983 under a division of Warner Bros Records. But in 2007, 24 years and 200 million albums later, the diva left the label and signed up with concert promoter Live Nation, who offered a 10-year partnership worth $100M. The deal proved that Madonna as an artist was still a touring powerhouse. It also helped cement the future of musicians in a digital age where it is proving rather difficult to sell physical albums, nowadays downloads and streams are the new norm.
She also made the hiring of stylists a standard procedure. She started working with fashion designer Maripol in the '80s and since then she decided to have her own stylists. Generations of singers followed her and now everyone has a stylist of their own.
Even today, Madonna is pushing the boundaries of what the ageist music industry and society, in general, expects of older women. Just ahead of her 62nd birthday, Madonna released a banger collaboration with Dua Lipa and Missy Elliot called the 'Levitating' remix, which came out on August 14 - yet again proving that age is just a number after all.
Madonna's music, artistry, and boldness passed on that revolutionary spark that we still see today in the modern age of feminism. Thanks to her talent, charisma, reinvention and chutzpah, she paved the path for an entire generation of stars, be it men, women and everyone else on the gender spectrum. Here's wishing the ageless queen of pop a happy birthday. Long may she reign supreme!
The influence that Madonna has had in the entertainment industry, in the media and on society as a whole has remained strong over the course of her career.
Despite her numerous accolades and record-breaking music sales – she's ranked as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by the Guinness World Records – the "Queen of Pop" has had to face persistent sexism and ageism throughout the years.
But Madonna has redefined the widespread stereotypes often attributed to older women time and time again, challenging hackneyed notions that people have about older women by being open with their sexuality, dating younger men and continuing to succeed in her career.
When receiving her Woman of the Year award at Billboard Women in Music 2016, the Like a Virgin singer spoke about the rules that she had learnt that she was expected to abide by as a female performer.
"Do not age, because to age is a sin," she said. "You will be criticised, you will be vilified, and you will definitely not be played on the radio."
In 2018, Madonna told The Cut that she would never stop calling the supposed social norms that older women are frequently expected to adhere to into question.
"I mean, who made those rules? Who says? I'm going to keep fighting it," she said.
"10 to 20 years from now, it's going to be normal. People are going to shut up."
From her approach to sexuality, her body image and the immeasurable impact of her career, here's how Madonna continues to redefine stereotypes concerning older women:
Since the release of her debut single "Everybody" in 1982, Madonna quickly became a global phenomenon.
The singer is showing no signs of slowing down in her sixties, having appeared at the 2018 Met Gala as part of a surprise performance.
As she said in her Billboard speech, "People say that I'm so controversial, but I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around."
One would think that Madonna's extraordinary success would ensure that any new music that she puts out immediately makes its way onto the radio.
However, as she told Harper's Bazaar in 2017, this isn't always the case, which is why she relishes in performing live.
"Whenever I do my live shows, I feel artistically inspired and excited because I get to do and say a lot of things that I can't if I just make a record," she stated.
"A lot of times, it's the only way people are going to hear my music because you don't get to have your music played on Top 40 if you're above the age of 35."
Madonna's openness with her sexuality has been well-documented, with some praising her for her demonstrations of sexual freedom and others condemning her as a "sexual provocateur".
The Times once stated that Madonna's "attitudes and opinions on sex, nudity, style and sexuality forced the public to sit up and take notice."
She's commonly perceived as a sex icon, as emphasised by author Chuck Klosterman in his book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.
"Whenever I hear intellectuals talk about sexual icons of the present day, the name mentioned most is Madonna," he wrote.
In Madonna's opinion, there's no reason why the older generation should stop embracing their sexuality simply because they've reached a certain age, especially when it comes to women.
"It's an outdated, patriarchal idea that a woman has to stop being fun, curious, adventurous, beautiful, or sexy past the age of 40. It's ridiculous," she told The Cut.
"Why should only men be allowed to be adventurous, sexual, curious, and get to have all the fun until the day they leave this earth?"
One of the most recurrent themes of the judgemental remarks made against Madonna touch upon her body image.
In 2009, TMZ published an article in which it described Madonna's arms as "her grotesquely sexy 50-year-old appendages".
The author then continued, writing: "Nothing says ageing gracefully like an overly worked out pair of monstrously sculpted and bloodcurdling veiny corpse arms."
In 2015, Madonna appeared on the red carpet at the Grammys wearing a bodysuit designed by Givenchy.
She repeatedly lifted the back of the outfit to show her bare bottom, which she claims she did in order to take a stand against the ageist naysayers.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Madonna explained that at the Grammys she had wanted to make the point that: "This is what a 56-year-old looks like."
When then asked for her thoughts on the claim that her physique "isn't exactly average," she then stated: "You know what? It could be the average some day! That's the thing."
In 2014, Madonna spoke to Entertainment Tonight about the insecurities that she sometimes feels about her body, describing it as a "love/hate relationship."
There's an evident double standard when it comes to age gaps in heterosexual relationships.
When older men date younger woman, very few people usually bat an eyelid, let alone criticise it publicly.
There's a 17-year age difference between 42-year-old Amal Clooney and her husband, 59-year-old George Clooney.
Furthermore, in the 2015 James Bond film Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig was paired with Léa Seydoux as his romantic interest, who is 17 years his junior.
However, when the tables are turned and an older woman dates a younger man, the woman is often ridiculed for doing so, as Madonna has experienced on multiple occasions.
"What I am going through now is ageism, with people putting me down or giving me a hard time because I date younger men or do things that are considered to be only the domain of younger women," she told The Cut.
However, as Madonna told The New York Daily News, she often finds herself more romantically suited to younger men.
"Most men my age are married with children," she said in 2015. "They're not dateable."
"I'm a single mother. I have four children. I mean, you have to be pretty open-minded and adventurous to want to step into my world."
"People who are older and more set in their ways, are probably not as adventurous as someone younger."
The shame associated with an older woman dating a younger man highlights the extent to which sexism and ageism is still rife in today's day and age, as eharmony relationship expert Verity Hogan explains.
"The stigma is really a symptom of society's misogyny," Hogan tells The Independent.
"Why else would older women be nicknamed predatory 'cougars' while older men are deemed desirable 'silver foxes'?"
Take a look back at the singer's most iconic songs and her best music videos from across the decades.
Dua Lipa has released the Blessed Madonna Remix of her song 'Levitating', which features Madonna and Missy Elliott. The track is part of her upcoming album Club Future Nostalgia: The Remix Album.
The song, which was remixed by The Blessed Madonna, is now available on digital platforms: Spotify - Apple Music - Deezer - Youtube
A video will premiere tomorrow at 1pm London time / 8am New York / 5am Los Angeles.
Earlier this month, Dua Lipa raved that the collaboration was 'unbelievable':
"It's always been a massive dream of mine to get to work with both Madonna and Missy Elliott, and to have been able to put both of them together in a song, and for them both to really be into a song, and for them both to want to jump on a track, is so crazy. Even as I say it, knowing full well that it's gonna come out soon, it still feels unbelievable to me. Like, unbelievable."
Madonna continued work on a fully-authorized screenplay about her extraordinary life and four-decade career with Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody at her lavish home on Wednesday.
The two-time Golden Globe winner - turning 62 this Sunday - Instastoried naps of herself reading what appeared to be a full script on her lap.
Madonna shared pictures of rows and rows of handwritten journals filled with song lyrics from her archive as well as two books by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Anne Sexton.
The self-made superstar (last name Ciccone) famously moved to Manhattan from Michigan in 1978 with 'just $35 dollars and a dream.'
Madge - who relies on stylist Arianne Phillips - also wanted to show off her eccentric attire consisting of a colorful multi-pattern silk jacket (by Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck) over black tights and Gucci boots.
The seven-time Grammy winner then took a catty swipe at the 'Little House on the Prairie' dress that the 42-year-old writer chose to wear in her presence.
'Here's to being noticed in traffic, cheers! And cheers to not fearing death. So here's to life,' Madonna said lifting her wine glass.
When the Batuka singer realized Diablo (born Brook Maurio) was beaming at the camera, she scolded her: 'Look at my eyes. That's what you do when you do a toast.'
Last Friday, Cody asked Madonna in a video about her 'iconic' Jean Paul Gaultier double-breasted pantsuit and cone bra bustier worn during the Express Yourself number of her 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour.
The former Minneapolis stripper has created two shows - Amazon's One Mississippi and Showtime's United States of Tara - as well as penning films like Young Adult, Jennifer's Body, and Juno.
American singer and songwriter Madonna announced on Monday that she and her two children, David Banda and Mercy James, are hosting an art sale to support victims of the massive explosion that ripped through Beirut on Aug. 4, killing over 200 and injuring thousands.
The proceeds from the sales will go to the non-profit organization Impact Lebanon, which has been helping the hundreds of thousands left homeless after the deadly blast.
In a video posted to the 61-year-old star's Instagram account, Madonna can be seen sitting on the ground painting a sign that read "Proceeds go to Impact Lebanon."
Other celebrities such as Bella Hadid, Kylie Jenner, DJ Khaled and Dua Lipa, have been taking to social media to show solidarity for the victims, and online influencers around the world have been urging their followers to make donations towards rescue and recovery work.
American actor George Clooney and his wife, Lebanese-British human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, also revealed earlier this week they are donating $100,000 to Lebanese charities.
Madonna and Sting were both huge in the 1980s and 1990s, but they were worlds apart musically — or were they? One of Madonna's many hits was inspired by a Sting concert. In addition, Madonna and Sting's families are connected in a major way.
Madonna influenced more musicians than just about any other female singer from her era. In 2000, she made a move that felt right — she released a musical tribute to music itself. The song in question — "Music" — is both forward-thinking and pleasantly nostalgic. One one level, it uses futuristic vocoder effects. On another level, it has a bouncy baseline reminiscent of Madonna's early singles.
The retro sensibilities of "Music" make sense given that it was inspired by the popular 1980s band the Police — indirectly. Madonna went to a Sting concert and was moved as Sting began to play his band's old songs.
"I went to see [Sting] in New York at the Beacon Theater," Madonna told Rolling Stone. "… I'm obsessed with checking out the audience and seeing how they react. And people were pretty well-behaved and enthusiastically polite for stuff that he was doing off of his new album.
"But then, when he did the old Police songs — and it was just him and a guitar, and the lights came down — somehow the energy in the room changed," the Queen of Pop continued. "It ignited the room, and it brought everybody closer to the stage. And suddenly, people lost their inhibition and their politeness, and everyone was singing the songs and practically holding hands — you know what I mean? I mean, it really moved me."
After that concert, Madonna wrote the hook of the song: "Music makes people come together, and music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel." Madonna considered the Sting concert to be her most unexpected source of inspiration for a song. Subsequently, the combination of the Queen of Pop and Sting worked commercially, as Billboard reports the song reached the summit of the Billboard Hot 100.
Interestingly, "Music" is not the only connective tissue between Madonna and Sting. The book 'Life with My Sister Madonna' reports Sting introduced Madonna to film director Guy Ritchie during a party at his home. Madonna and Ritchie would later become a major power couple. Ritchie would also direct one of the Queen of Pop's many star vehicles: Swept Away.
According to the book 'Madonna: An Intimate Biography', Sting's wife, Trudie Styler, became the godmother of Madonna's son Rocco. Styler performed the hymn "Lorica" at Rocco's baptism. In addition, Sting sang the hymn "Ave Maria' at the same ceremony. Rocco was certainly very lucky if he had a world-class rock star perform at his baptism. Music certainly brings people together — whether it's at a rock concert or a world-class baptism.
Dua Lipa says working with Madonna and Missy Elliott was "unbelievable".
The 24-year-old pop star recently confirmed she managed to get the Queen of Pop and the 'Get Ur Freak On' hitmaker to feature on a remix of her track 'Levitate' – which originally featured on her second album, 'Future Nostalgia' – and has now said she still can't believe the collaboration actually happened.
She said: "It's always been a massive dream of mine to get to work with both Madonna and Missy Elliott, and to have been able to put both of them together in a song, and for them both to really be into a song, and for them both to want to jump on a track, is so crazy. Even as I say it, knowing full well that it's gonna come out soon, it still feels unbelievable to me. Like, unbelievable."
The remix – which is set to be released on August 14 – was put together by DJ and producer The Blessed Madonna, and Dua confessed she wasn't expecting to get either of the iconic musicians to feature on the track, but sent them an email on the off chance.
Speaking during an appearance on the 'Ash London LIVE' podcast, she said: "It's mind blowing. It was mainly ... it began as a collaboration with me and The Blessed Madonna, who is a DJ and a producer, and we thought we'd create a fun club remix of the track, and it was really a conversation with my manager and I was like 'You know, if I don't say it, I don't get it, so I feel I just need to go and put it out there.' I'm a firm believer in that. I just say things, and I hope that they manifest."
Dua recently said working with Madonna and Missy Elliott was a "dream come true".
Announcing the track on social media last week, she wrote:
Madonna and Prince rarely worked with big-name pop stars — but they collaborated with each other. Somehow, their collaboration languishes in obscurity. Madonna opened up about the song she made with Prince, which had its origins in an unproduced musical.
In 1989, Bill Zehme of Rolling Stone interviewed Madonna. Zehme asked Madonna about vocalists she admired. Madonna expressed her love of Prince's singing. She then discussed her Prince collaboration: Love Song.
"[W]e've been friends for years and admirers of each other's work," Madonna said. "So we'd always talked about getting together to write. And, in fact, there was a moment last year when we were possibly going to write a musical together. I went to his studio in Minnesota and worked on some stuff, just to get the feel of what it would be like to collaborate."
Madonna said writing songs with others is an intimate process for her. She recalled how she'd tried to write songs with a number of other people and sometimes was not able to do so. Madonna's first attempts to work with Prince did not result in any completed songs. After working with Prince a few days, she left his studio. She was no longer interested in writing a musical with him.
Later, Madonna played a role in the Broadway play Speed-the-Plow. Prince came to see her perform. Then, he brought her a demo of one of their collaborations. Madonna liked the song and wanted to complete it for her album Like a Prayer. The two worked on "Love Song" when they were far apart because Madonna didn't want to go to Minneapolis to work with the Purple One.
"We ended up writing it long-distance, because I had to be in L.A. and he couldn't leave Minneapolis, and quite frankly I couldn't stand Minneapolis," Madonna told Yahoo! News. "When I went there, it was like 20 degrees below zero, and it was really desolate. I was miserable and I couldn't write or work under those circumstances."
Madonna and Prince were two of the biggest stars of the 1980s, so a duet between them could certainly have been a big hit. However, Billboard reports "Love Song" did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. It's amazing to think a video vanguard like the Queen of Pop never made a video with Prince after creating a song with him. Regardless, Madonna had some fond memories of working with the Purple One.
"He's very private, you know, and very shy," she told Rolling Stone. "He's great when you get to know him. Charming and funny, in his own way. More than anything, he really comes alive when he's working."
Earlier today, Madonna posted a video of herself and the Academy Award winning writer and producer Diablo Cody, as they are working on a new project together. Madonna adds the cryptic comment:
"When you're stuck in a house with multiple injuries, what do you do? Write a Screenplay with Diablo about..."
Of course, she doesn't add who the screenplay is about. One fan theory is that she is working on her own biopic. A while back she reacted angry when others wanted to make a biopic about her, saying that the only person capable of telling her story was herself. This could also explain her move back to Warner, who own most of her catalog.
Another possibility is Dusty Springfield, the name she hashtagged in another post earlier this week.
You can read more in this article by Deadline.
Rumours had been circulating in the past few days: Warner had updated their Twitter header, which now includes Madonna as featured artist. Warner also started following her on Instagram while Interscope stopped following her. Now The Sun seems to confirm that Madonna is going to her old record company Warner Music.
Madonna had left Warner after the release of Hard Candy and Celebration. In 2011, she signed a 3-album deal with Interscope Records (a sub-label of Universal Music), which lead to the distribution of MDNA, Rebel Heart and Madame X. With that deal now finished, Madonna seems to be going back to her roots at Warner.
The Sun quotes a music insider:
"Madonna is still a force to be reckoned with. The fact is, she sells records, people around the world adore her and every label would love to have her on their books.
Now that her deal with Interscope has come to an end, she is a free agent and can choose where to go next — and Warner feels like the best place given their history.
But Madonna comes at a hefty price. She can command big money and wants to make sure whatever deal she signs is the best thing for her and her music."
For now, we'll have to wait for an official confirmation of the deal, and details on what the new collaboration will bring.↑ Back to top of page