I'm attempting to start a new feature on my blog. One Monday a month, I will feature a Madonna video. This may prove to be limited, as many of her music videos on YouTube are not able to be imported elsewhere. I hate it when they disable the embedding feature. I'm guessing that it has to do with copyright protection. Whatever. Originally, I was going to start with the first Madonna song that I liked: "Borderline" (her second or third single). I remember riding to church camp from Omaha, Nebraska to Guthrie Grove, Iowa and this song playing on the radio, which caused my nemesis (a heavy-metal obsessed guy named John Charles Yazowski) to make fun of it. When I was in Germany, for one of my journal entries, I drew a cartoon picture of Madonna singing this song on the borderline between West and East Germany (from 1985 to 1988, I lived on an Army base less than 10 miles from the East German border).
The next video in my series is available to be embedded on blogs, so I'm going with that, even though its just the instrumental version of "Into the Groove." This song was HUGE in the summer of 1985. I remember the song playing at the final dance of my seventh grade year and it moved kids onto the dancefloor, like nothing else. Of course, at that time, I had a huge crush on a Madonna-wannabe (Kristin). Even now, as I watch Madonna's early videos, I'm transported back to my junior high school years. What was it about frizzy hair with ribbons, cut-off tops, fingerless gloves, ripped jeans or coveralls, and lots of neon that made girls who wore that style so attractive? Madonna wasn't the only one who had that style. The British ladies of Bananarama had a similar style, as well. As my friends know...the Madonna-wannabe I wanted in seventh grade only ended up humiliating me at the final dance of the year, while I learned too late that another girl had a crush on me (and she resembled an actress I'd go ga-ga over in 1987: Maryam d'Abo).
Last year, Madonna released a two-DVD set of her music videos. I had wanted to get it, but each time I was in Borders, I thought $30 was too much to pay for it. Even a 30% discount coupon wasn't enough for me to buy it. I already had "The Immaculate Collection" on DVD. I had wanted the second set of her later videos, but I didn't want to pay full price for it either. I'm glad that I listened to my intuition not to buy, because I was stunned one day near Christmas when there was a used copy of Madonna's "Celebration" DVD (the two-DVD set of nearly all her videos)...available for $12! Of course I bought it. It features most of her videos. You're never going to get a full collection, I've come to realize, because they want to sell the other collections as well. Its interesting to watch her trajectory, with her diverse videos over the years. Some are classics, while others are kind of dull. However, as I watch her videos, it made me curious to see some of her movies that I never seen before, such as Vision Quest and Desperately Seeking Susan. I've recently watched both and posted my review of the former.
Desperately Seeking Susan was surprisingly better than I thought it would be. This film started shooting before Madonna became a huge star. From what I had heard about it, actress Rosanna Arquette saw this as her big break-through and was stunned when attention shifted to her co-star when the film was released. It became "the Madonna movie" and seemed to be a clever wink to all the Madonna "wannabes", as Rosanna Arquette plays a bored housewife who is obsessed with Susan and "becomes" her in the movie. "Into the Groove" was featured in the film and became a huge hit (it still ranks in the top five of my all-time favourite Madonna songs). Madonna has never been a great or even good actress. She's best in smaller roles (as well as in Evita). However, in her first major film role, she was actually adequately good (how is it possible that she only got worse? See Swept Away to see why it was her last acting role).
I wonder how many "wannabes" are still buying and listening to Madonna's music. Though Michael Jackson is considered more successful than Madonna, at least Madonna knew how to change her image and create fresh new sounds to remain relevant, even if the music industry has changed so much that radio stations stop playing songs by artists over a certain age group. The interest might shift from Britney Spears to Gwen Stefani to Fergie to Lady Gaga...but there will never be anyone with the longevity, endurance, and cultural impact as Madonna. She's not perfect by any means (divorcing cool Guy Ritchie for a fling with a married athlete--A-Rod--to robbing the cradle with her latest beau, born after she became famous) but she is fascinating. I really hope an album that incorporates Bollywood, Rai, and Arabic rhythms is next on her agenda. If I worked for her as a personal assistant, I would definitely lobby hard for her take on those music styles. After all, if Sting could do it for "Desert Rose", Madonna could surpass even that awesome song.