|Madonna Crossword Puzzle||The A to Z of Madonna: Biography|
The A to Z of Madonna
A is for... American Pie
Recorded for her latest movie "The Next Best Thing", in which she stars with Rupert Everett, American Pie is a fairly straight version of the song immortalised by Don McLean in the seventies. Song-writer McLean's version reached no 1 in the USA in January 1972. It peaked at no 2 in Britain a few weeks later. McLean has said that even he can't explain the lyrics but there is little doubt that the day the music died was February 3, 1959 when McLean's teenage idol Buddy Holly was killed.
B is for... Blonde Ambition
This aptly named tour of the early nineties showed Madonna at her most controversial: outlandish costumes, a widely-publicised affair with Warren Beatty, a documentary called "In Bed With Madonna". Madonna also appeared in the comic-strip style film "Dick Tracy", playing a femme fatale of course. Publicity was at an all-time-high during this period with the star's "conical breasts" costumes even turning up in daily news programmes.
C is for... Current Album
Don't Tell Me is the second single from Music released on November 27th in the UK and debuting at no 4 on its first week on the chart.
The previous Madonna single released in the UK on August 21st debuted at no 1, marking her 10th UK chart topper and her second in 2000. The single Music was succeeded in September by the new album also called Music. The problems with Napster where "stolen" versions of some songs from Music have been available for download from fans who at best don't realise they are killing music, had prompted Madonna to release early.
For a review on the album see the Discography.
French house producer Mirwais has worked on six songs including the title track. His favourite of the tracks he produced is "I Deserve It". Mirwais' style is described as "sparse, electronic funk" and he says people will be surprised by the simplicity of the Madonna tracks. His own album, Production, was released on May 15. Born in Afghanistan Mirwais was a member of French art school punk group Taxi Girl before becoming a full-time producer. Also involved on the album are William Orbit and Oasis producer Mark 'Spike' Stent, the man behind 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants'.
UK comic invention Ali G features in the Madonna video for "Music" as her driver. Ali G is the brainchild of Jewish funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen. The character is a white youth affecting the street slang of a black gangsta rapper. His speciality is embarrassing public figures by interviewing them in character and asking excruciatingly ignorant questions which they fail to understand. Looks like Madonna's been watching too much UK TV... For more on Ali G see Ali G's Real Audio Ghetto.
D is for... Dornoch, Scotland
After a month of speculation, the "banns" announcing the wedding of Guy Ritchie and Madonna Ciccone appeared in the small village of Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands at the beginning of December. The wedding itself was held on December 22nd in Skibo Castle, built by Andrew Carnegie, with the christening of Rocco in Dornoch Cathedral. The 400th most populated place in Scotland with around 1200 inhabitants at the 1991 census, Dornoch swelled with the world's media in the week before Christmas. Ritchie is rumoured to have ordered a wedding outfit in Hunting Macintosh Dress tartan, a tribute to his grandfather who served with the Seaforth Highlanders while Madonna's dress is reputed to have worn a dress designed by Stella McCartney, who attended the nuptials along with many other celebrities including Sting and Gwyneth Paltrow. The castle is no stranger to celebrity weddings: Full Monty star Robert Carlyle married there in 1997.
E is for... Evita
When Madonna was first cast as Evita many people, including religious groups and followers of Peron, believed she was the wrong choice. Eva Peron was a figurehead, a symbol, a national heroine, and Madonna was said to have neither the acting talent nor the proper image to fulfil the role. In fact Madonna was an inspired choice as the cult of Peron was all about personality and beauty, and Madonna has both in spades, as well as a voice capable of carrying the at times complex and sometimes dated musical narrative. Directed by Alan Parker and starring Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas, the film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice stage musical was well received, and remains easily Madonna's best film role. The role was also important for Madonna privately. At the time she was unhappy, felt unappreciated by the public, and playing a non-Madonna role allowed her to escape from those feelings.
F is for... Frozen
In the mid-nineties Madonna's musical career began to look Frozen. She had been trading under the blonde sex goddess image for a while and the old magic seemed to be fading. The backlash following the Justify My Love, Sex and Erotica period had hurt Madonna with every day, critics and journalists criticising her art. The album Bedtime Stories was an especially unhappy period with a lack of direction and four different producers working on the tracks. However with the video for the single Frozen, the first track from the revitalising Ray of Light, we saw a startling new Madonna - black hair and clothes, crows and runes on the hands. The image change worked and in Britain she returned to the top of the charts for the first time since Vogue in 1990.
G is for... Growing Up
Although she was brought up in Pontiac, Michigan, Madonna Louise Ciccone was born on August 16th, 1958 in Bay City where her grandmother lived. Tragically her French Canadian mother, also named Madonna, died five years later of breast-cancer. Madonna has said that the death of her mother was one of the defining days of her life: since then she's had an unfulfilled need and has been on a mad search for love. Her father was left to bring up Madonna and her sisters and brothers. He banned TV and every day they were forced to attend catholic services. In 1978 she ran away to New York with only 37 dollars in her pocket. She worked with various bands as a drummer and singer and also did some acting. Although Madonna missed her family she felt she couldn't go back home until she had made something of herself. From time to time she would do nude modelling if money was tight, not because she enjoyed it but because it was "good money" and "flexible hours". Of course when she was successful, these photographs re-surfaced, but rather than be shame-faced, Madonna retorted with perhaps the only possible comment, "So What?"
H is for... Holiday
It's hard to imagine that the rather chubby and vocally immature young singer that belted out this eighties gauche dance-number is the same woman we see today. However without "Holiday" it's debatable whether the Madonna phenomenon would have flourished at all. Although "Lucky Star" was a bigger hit in the US, "Holiday" hit the big-time all over Europe, including Britain where it charted three times, reaching no 6 in January 1984, no 2 in August 1985 (while Into the Groove was no 1) and no 5 in June 1991. Personally Holiday is not for me and it was only songs like "Material Girl" and "Live To Tell" which converted me later.
I is for... Immaculate Collection
Never one to miss a religious pun or reference, Madonna named her 1991 greatest hits the Immaculate Collection. All her previous hits were included as well as two bonus singles, Rescue Me and the notorious Justify My Love. By the way, according to the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles, Madonna is the third most successful chart act of all-time, beaten only by Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard. From Like A Virgin in November 1984 to Secret in October 1994, she amassed an amazing run of 32 consecutive top ten hits. Chart success seemed to be faltering in the mid nineties until the advent of Ray of Light took her back to the top. For a list of Madonna albums, see the Discography.
J is for... Justify My Love
Madonna admits that she was half-hoping this video would air on MTV in the US but with scenes of every kind of sexual act imaginable it was of course banned. Some news programmes carried excerpts and with clever pre-publicity received their biggest audience figures ever. It was shown on British TV (at appropriate times) and reached no 2, but in the states it was released as a video single and scored another no 1 for La Ciccone. The song was co-written by Lenny Kravitz (although an out of court settlement was made to Ingrid Chavez after she filed a suit against Kravitz for co-credit).
K is for... Keeping Fit
In the late-eighties the Madonna figure began to change. Despite being trained as a dancer the old Madonna had a few extra pounds. The new look was leaner, more muscular, and as videos such as American Pie and Beautiful Stranger prove, much more supple. Working out in parks accompanied by giant bouncers became the norm, and more notoriety was gained when numerous scuffles between the heavies with photographers and the general public were reported. Despite the birth of her daughter, the Madonna shape hasn't changed, and if anything, she looks more naturally fit than ever these days.
L is for... Like A Virgin
Believed by many to be her first hit single, it certainly was the first to feature a theme and video pregnant with what was to come. Surprisingly the song was written about a man's experience of new love, the experience of lyricist Billy Steinberg. The video shot in Venice featured Madonna writhing in boats, on beds and in various costumes, from short modern clothes adorned with crucifixes to a pure white wedding dress. The album of the same name sold millions and spawned a brood of winning singles. Much as I love the video I'm also a fan of Weird Al Yankovic's "homage", Like A Surgeon. This video features the mad comic in operating clothes, writhing about in identical choreography to Madonna's performance. Appallingly funny!
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|© 2000, Compiled by Alan J Stuart|