Madonna turns 50 today. Enjoy Like a Prayer.
Madonna is the paragon a kind of pop music that I enjoy (only semi-ironically) far more, I imagine, than my fellow writers on the blog. But despite the many (younger and younger*) girls who have come after with aspirations to the crown, I think nobody has, like, a prayer of coming close. Why? My thoughts after the jump.
In itself this is a great video, featuring racial politics, weird associative montage, meta-theatricality, and statue toe shrimping. But I also think it marks the moment that Madonna came into her own as a free artist of herself in her chosen medium, the popular culture itself.
She is a kind of curator, a bricoleur who metabolizes an astounding range of culture reference and synthesizes it into a satisfying and marketable form. I mean that as a compliment.
But you also get the felling that she’s being sincere on some level, and that there is someone in there who is actually living the memes she attaches herself to (some of the major ones being, in chronological order, Catholicism, nondescript Indian spirituality, and Kabbalah). This material girl knew the meaning of meme before Richard Dawkins even coined the term (in 1976, when Madonna was 18).
Which only reminds me how old she is. So happy birthday, Madoona. Oft imitated (even by you yourself), never duplicated (especially by you yourself). Here’s to another 50. No doubt you’ll still look hot then.
* I think the phrase “Get ready to rock it out on Disney Channel!” caused the most cognitive dissonance of anything I’ve heard this week.