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Madonna (entertainer)
23.04.2010, 10:35

Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16, 1958), better known worldwide by only her first name Madonna, is an American pop singer, musician, record and film producer, dancer, actor, and children's author. Referred to as the "Queen of Pop", she is noted for her innovative music videos, elaborately mounted stage performances, and use of political, sexual, and religious themes and imagery in her work.

In 2000, The Guinness Book of Records credited Madonna as the most successful female recording artist of all time, with estimated worldwide sales of 120 million albums. Her record label, Warner Bros. Records.reported in 2005 that she had achieved international sales in excess of 200 million albums.

Madonna Ciccone was born in Bay City, Michigan. She is the third of six children born to Silvio "Tony" P. Ciccone, a Chrysler engineer of Italian American extraction, whose parents originated from Pacentro, in the region of Abruzzo, Italy, and Madonna Louise Fortin, a French Canadian. She was raised in a Catholic family in the Detroit suburbs of Pontiac and Rochester Hills. Madonna's mother died of breast cancer at age thirty on December 1, 1963, and Madonna has frequently discussed the impact her mother's death had on her life and career, calling it "one of the hardest things I've faced in my life." Her father later married the family housekeeper, Joan Gustafson, and they had two children.

Tony Ciccone required his children to take music lessons; however, after a few months of piano lessons, Madonna convinced him to allow her to take ballet classes instead. Madonna's ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn, mentored her in dance and provided Madonna with her first exposure to gay discotheques, a scene that would later have an impact on her music and style. She attended Rochester Adams High School, where she was a straight-A student, excelled at sports, and was a member of the cheerleading squad. After graduating high school in 1976, she received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. In 1977, with Flynn's encouragement, Madonna left college at the end of her second year and moved to New York City in July 1978 to pursue a dance career. Looking back at her arrival in New York, Madonna has said: "When I came to New York it was the first time I'd ever taken a plane, the first time I'd ever gotten a taxi-cab, the first time for everything. And I came here with 35 dollars in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I'd ever done.»

Madonna experienced financial difficulties, and for some time lived in squalor and worked a series of low-paying jobs, including a stint at Dunkin' Donuts. She also worked as a nude model on occasion. She studied with Martha Graham and Pearl Lang, and later performed with several modern dance companies, including Alvin Ailey and the Walter Nicks dancers. While performing as a dancer for the French disco artist, Patrick Hernandez, on his 1979 world tour, Madonna met and became romantically involved with the musician Dan Gilroy, with whom she later formed her first rock band, the Breakfast Club, in New York. In addition to providing vocals, she played drums and guitar, before forming the band Emmy in 1980 with drummer and former boyfriend Stephen Bray. She and Bray wrote and produced a number of solo disco and dance songs that brought her local attention in New York dance clubs. D.J. and record producer Mark Kamins was sufficiently impressed by her demo recordings to bring them to the attention of Sire Records founder Seymour Stein.

1980–1985: Beginning and rise to fame

Madonna in her first music video for "Everybody," a low-budget video that featured Madonna and her dancers in a rather dark New York club.

In 1980, Madonna signed a singles deal with Sire Records in the United States that paid her $5,000 per song. Her first release, "Everybody," a self-written song produced by Mark Kamins, became a dance hit in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Chart, but failed to make an impact on the Billboard Hot 100. It also gained airplay on U.S. R&B radio stations, leading many to assume that Madonna was a black artist. The double-sided 12" vinyl single featuring "Burning Up" and "Physical Attraction" followed in late 1982, and was a success on the U.S. dance charts. These results convinced Sire Records executives to finance a full-length album.

Her debut album Madonna (1983), a collection of dance songs, was primarily produced by Reggie Lucas, but early in the recording process both realized that they could not work well together. After initial production on the album was completed, Madonna took the finished but unsatisfactory album to her then-boyfriend, John "Jellybean" Benitez, who remixed and rearranged it. It reached number eight on the U.S. albums chart and contained five successful singles, including her first world-wide hit, "Holiday", and has since been certified 5x platinum with world sales in excess of twelve million copies. According to Australian music guru Ian "Molly" Meldrum, it was Australia who gave Madonna her first hit for the song "Holiday" on Meldrum's hugely popular show "Countdown." Madonna became popular with teenagers due to her sexy appearance, and it wasn't long before teenage girls, who were known as "wannabes", were dressing up as her.

Her follow up album, Like a Virgin (1984), was an international success, and became her first number one album on the U.S. albums chart. Buoyed by the success of its title track, which reached number one across the world, including a six week stay at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart, the album has sold nineteen million copies worldwide. and produced four top-five singles in the U.S. and the UK. Her performance of the song at the first MTV Video Music Awards, during which she writhed on the stage (on top of a wedding cake) wearing a combination bustier/wedding gown, lacy stockings and garters and her then-trademark "Boy Toy" belt, was the first of several public displays that boosted Madonna's fan base as much as they incensed some critics, who felt that her provocative style attempted to disguise an absence of talent.

"Like a Virgin" (1984), directed by Mary Lambert, was shot in Venice, Italy and featured Madonna dancing on a gondola and in a wedding dress.

In 1985, Madonna entered mainstream films, beginning with a brief appearance as a club singer in the film Vision Quest. The soundtrack to the film contained her second number one pop hit, the Grammy-nominated ballad "Crazy for You." Later that year she appeared in the commercially and critically successful film Desperately Seeking Susan, with her comedic performance winning her positive reviews. The film introduced the dance song "Into the Groove", which was released as a B-side to her single "Angel", peaking at number five in the U.S. In Europe, "Into the Groove" became a major hit and her first U.K. number one.

She embarked on her first concert tour in the U.S. titled The Virgin Tour supported by The Beastie Boys.

In July 1985, Penthouse and Playboy magazines published a number of black and white nude photos of Madonna taken in the late 1970s. The publications caused a swell of publicity and public discussion of Madonna, who remained unapologetic and defiant. Speaking to a global audience at the Live Aid charity concert at the height of the controversy, Madonna made a critical reference to the media and vowed that, for her performance, she would not give her critics the satisfaction of taking off her jacket, despite the sweltering heat.

1986–1991: Artistic development

The music video for "True Blue" (1986), directed by James Foley, featured a 1950s theme.

Madonna's 1986 album True Blue presented a more musically and thematically mature album than its predecessors, prompting Rolling Stone to declare, 'singing better than ever, Madonna stakes her claim as the pop poet of lower-middle-class America.' The album included the soulful ballad "Live To Tell", which she wrote for the film At Close Range, starring then-husband Sean Penn. The album was also the first to credit her as producer. She collaborated with composer Patrick Leonard, who would become a long-time collaborator and friend. True Blue reached #1 in thirty-eight countries, and sold over 40 million copies worldwide, becoming her most successful studio album internationally,  and produced five successful singles, including three #1 entries in the United States.

The music videos for the album True Blue displayed Madonna's continued interest in pushing the boundaries of the video medium to a cinematic level, including elaborate art direction, cinematography and film devices such as character and plot. Though Madonna had already made videos expressing her sexuality, she added religious iconography, gender archetypes and social issues to her oeuvre, and these concepts would carry through her work for years to come. One notable example was the "Open Your Heart" video, her first collaboration with French photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

In 1987, Madonna starred in the modestly successful film Who's That Girl?, and contributed four songs to its soundtrack, including the film's title track, which became an international hit and Madonna's sixth #1 single in the US.

In 1987, the star embarked on the successful Who's That Girl World Tour, beginning her long association with backing vocalists and dancers Donna DeLory and Niki Haris, and moving closer to the more elaborately staged theater-inspired concert tour. It also marked her first run-in with the Vatican, with the Pope urging fans not to attend her performances in Italy. The Vatican later expressed outrage at the unveiling of a racy 13-foot tall statue of Madonna, in the Italian town of Pacentro.

Later that year, Madonna released a remix album, You Can Dance, which included one new track, "Spotlight". Although the album did not reach the Top 10, it was certified platinum in the US.

"Like a Prayer" (1989) caused controversy as it was condemned by the Vatican for its 'blasphemous' mixture of Catholic symbolism and eroticism.

Madonna's fourth album, 1989's Like a Prayer, presented more reflective and personal lyrics and a more mature vocal style. Co-written and co-produced with Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray, it settled her as a serious pop artist. Most of the songs were recorded with all the musicians playing in the same room, which gave the album the straightforwardness and sincerity of a live recording. She teamed up with Prince on a duet, who also lent his talent as a guitarist on two songs. Like a Prayer garnered Madonna the strongest reviews of her career and attracted a more mature audience. All Music Guide described the album as 'her best and most consistent', while Rolling Stone stated that the album is 'proof not only that Madonna should be taken seriously as an artist but that hers is one of the most compelling voices of the Eighties'. Like a Prayer produced five singles, including the #1 "title track" and "So much screwing."

In early 1989, Madonna signed an endorsement deal with soft drink manufacturer Pepsi, which would debut her new song "Like a Prayer" in a Pepsi commercial that Madonna herself would also appear in. The commercial used a child's birthday party as a plot device, and was not controversial in itself; however, the following day, the music video for the song premiered on MTV. It featured many Catholic symbols, including stigmata, and was condemned by the Vatican for its "blasphemous" mixture of Catholic symbolism and eroticism. It depicted a black man, who comes to the aid of woman being murdered, arrested for the crime and jailed, until Madonna, who has witnessed the crime, secures his release. Although the video denounced racism, Madonna was criticized for her use of symbols such as burning crosses. The public linked the commercial with the music video, and although they were different, Pepsi was subsequently bombarded with complaints and threats of boycotts; Pepsi withdrew the commercial from broadcasting, but Madonna was allowed to keep her five million dollar fee, as Pepsi had voided their contract. Sales for the album increased during the ensuing publicity, and it reached #1 on the US albums chart, ultimately being certified 4x platinum.

In 1990, Madonna starred as Breathless Mahoney in a film adaptation of the popular comic book series Dick Tracy. To accompany the launching of the film, as well as to provide more material for her upcoming Blonde Ambition Tour, she released I'm Breathless, a novelty album, with songs inspired by the film's 1930s setting. It featured the #1 dance-floor anthem "Vogue" (which was a hommage to the Hollywood stars), the Gershwin-esque "Something To Remember", and three songs by Stephen Sondheim (among them, "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)", which won an Academy Award for 'Best Original Song'. I'm Breathless was a success in Europe, Australia and the United States, where it was certified 2x platinum.

1992–1997: Sex controversy and Evita

The controversial music video for "Erotica" (1992) was aired only three times on MTV due to its highly charged sexual content.

In 1992, Madonna released the erotic book Sex, photographed by long time collaborator Steven Meisel. Adult in nature, it featured strong sexual content and graphic photographs featuring Madonna depicting simulations of sexual acts and BDSM. The book caused huge publicity at the time of its release, primarily leading to bad press and negative attitudes towards Madonna. Many critics considered it another calculated controversy timed to boost sales of her new album, which the public linked together because of their generally close release dates and overt sexual content.

Erotica (1992), produced primarily with Shep Pettibone, was disregarded as simply being a 'porn' album, with most people believing that all the album tracks were about sex, but in truth the album only featured 3 (out of 14) overtly sexual songs: 'Erotica', 'Where Life Begins' and 'Did You Do It?'. The album peaked at number two in the U.S. and produced six singles, with its most successful being its title track "Erotica," which became the highest-debuting (number two) single in the history of the U.S. Hot 100 Airplay chart. The controversial music video that accompanied the song only aired three times on MTV due to its highly charged sexual content.

Her 1993 The Girlie Show Tour was her most explicit and controversial concert tour to date and featured Madonna dressed as a whip-cracking dominatrix, surrounded by topless dancers including Luca Tomassini and Carrie Ann Inaba. The controversy caused by the tour followed Madonna when she caused uproar in Puerto Rico by rubbing the island's flag between her legs on stage, while Orthodox Jews protested against her first-ever show in Israel. Madonna would later comment that this period of her life was designed to give the world every single morsel of what they seemed to be demanding in their invasion of her private life. She hoped that once it was all out in the open, people could settle down and focus on her work.

1998–2002: Return to commercial prominence

"Ray of Light" (1998), directed by Jonas Akerlund, featured a high-speed video, showing ordinary people performing their daily routines.

Madonna's seventh album, Ray of Light (1998), blended her personal and introspective lyrics with Eastern sounds, down-tempo, electronic instrumentation, strings by Craig Armstrong and a strong rave flavor. The album reached number two on the U.S. albums chart and since its release has been certified 4x platinum. It earned Madonna the strongest reviews of her career since Like a Prayer and has been widely considered by critics to be one of her greatest artistic achievements. Amazon.com described the album as "her richest, most accomplished record yet", while Rolling Stone credited Madonna and her co-producer William Orbit for "creating the first mainstream pop album that successfully embraces techno," stating that musically Ray of Light is her "most adventurous record" yet. Ray of Light produced five singles, including the European number one "Frozen". The album won four awards at the 1999 Grammy Awards and has been ranked #363 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Madonna followed the success of Ray of Light with the top-ten single "Beautiful Stranger," a late 60's psyche-pop song she wrote with William Orbit and recorded for the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack (1999).

2003–2006: Commercial ups and downs

The original video for American Life (2003) was widely seen as controversial and was revoked on the day of its release due to its graphic images and antiwar message.

Madonna's ninth studio album, American Life (2003), in which her lyrics were themed on the aspects of the American dream, fame, fortune and society, polarized music critics with both extremely positive and extremely negative reviews. Arguably her most daring and musically extreme album, American Life presented a darker and more serious side of the singer. Once again, she teamed up with Mirwais with string arrangement contributed by French musician, Michel Colombier, who had already collaborated on Music, a gospel choir, and prominent acoustic guitars. The music video for the first single, "American Life" caused controversy in the US, as it contained visceral scenes depicting war, explosions, and blood. The day before the video was to air on European television, Madonna pulled it and released instead an edited and much tamer version, which showed her singing in front of flags from around the world. The song failed to perform well on the U.S. singles charts, peaking at thirty-seven. Having sold just 4 million copies, American Life is the lowest selling album of her career. However, the album did peak at number one on the U.S. albums chart and became her second consecutive album to do so. American Life produced three more singles, which all failed to chart in the U.S., although they became modest hits around the world.

Later that year, Madonna performed a re-mixed version of her song "Hollywood", which was arranged by Stuart Price aka "Thin White Duke" (whom she later would work with again for her Confessions album) with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Missy Elliot at the MTV Video Music Awards. The performance caused controversy as Madonna kissed both Spears and Aguilera during the performance, and resulted in tabloid press frenzy. That fall, Madonna provided guest vocals on Spears' single "Me Against the Music", which became a dance hit in the U.S. In an effort to boost sales of American Life, Madonna released Remixed & Revisited, a remix EP that included remixes and some interesting rock versions of songs from American Life as well as "Your Honesty", a previously unreleased song from the Bedtime Stories era. The EP did not perform well on the charts and peaked outside the top 100 on the US albums chart. A lesser-known aspect of the American Life era is that Madonna worked with fashion photographer Steven Klein in what was to become a photo and video installation entitled X-static Process that would tour in major art galleries around the world. These images were to be used for her Re-Invention Tour.

In 2004, Madonna embarked on The Re-Invention Tour, which featured fifty-six dates in the US, Canada, and Europe and became the highest-grossing tour of 2004, earning $125 million. Also in 2004, Madonna was involved in a brief legal battle with Warner Music Group, with whom she co-owned record label Maverick. The legal dispute ended with Warner Music Group buying Madonna's shares in the record label. In January 2005, Madonna performed a cover version of the John Lennon song Imagine on the televised U.S. aid concert "Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope", which raised money for the tsunami victims in Asia.

On August 16, 2005, her 47th birthday, Madonna was seriously injured after falling off a horse at Ashcombe House, her Wiltshire home. She suffered three cracked ribs, a broken collarbone, and a broken hand from her fall. Following her accident she filmed the video to her first single, "Hung Up," from her upcoming album "Confessions on a Dance Floor." At the time of filming the high-energy dance video, none of the broken bones had fully healed yet, and she relied heavily on painkillers to complete the video shoot.

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