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Madonna Biography

The story of Madonna's music career is really the tale of a savvy artist who invented a singular space for herself--a space that ultimately allowed for wholesale creative freedom. With her music comes Madonna's ability to reinvent her image, constantly testing the public's perception of the lyrical diva.

Madonna's knack for setting fashion trends while reinventing herself has kept her in the public eye and transformed her into an international superstar. Here is a brief retrospective of Madonna's career:

Material girl

DJ Mark Kamins of the trendy New York club Danceteria jumpstarted Madonna's career when he took her demos--which he had played in his club to rave reviews--to Sire Records. Her self-titled debut, Madonna, comprised of hits such as "Everybody" and " Holiday," reached number 16 on the pop charts in 1984.

Madonna set her first fashion trend in 1984. From lace ribbon in hair to see through tank tops, from ruffled skirts to beaded necklaces, not to mention the "boy toy"-engraved belt, all became clothing necessities, as girls across the nation tried to emulate Madonna's look from the Like A Virgin video. Madonna look-alike contests were popular in shopping malls and clubs nationwide.

This was only the beginning of her provocative sexual style. Months later, she flirted her way to No.1 with Material Girl, in which she lovingly mimicked famed blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe, a tribute which she would repeat later.

True Blue was released in 1986, accompanied by a new, more wholesome look. Despite the girl-next-door style, Madonna received much criticism for the song "Papa Don't Preach," whose lyrics promoted unwed mothers keeping their babies. Though the song has stood the test of time, Madonna's marriage to Sean Penn that same year wouldn't. The couple broke up two years later.

Creating taboos

Madonna took on the church and Christians worldwide with the release of her album Like a Prayer in 1989. Sporting a more natural brunette hairdo, the title track's video featured burning crosses and Madonna cavorting with a black Jesus. This led to its condemnation by The Vatican, and resulted in Pepsi's cancellation of a sponsorship deal with Madonna.

Madonna wasn't thrown from her megastar stride, and in 1990 released the Dick Tracy soundtrack disc "I'm Breathless." Madonna starred in the film with then-beau Warren Beatty, and sported a striking resemblance--both physically and vocally--to Marilyn Monroe once again.

She didn't stay with that look for long, as later that year, Madonna embarked on the Blonde Ambition tour, debuting both the song, "Vogue," and the now infamous cone bra at the same time.

Madonna was not content to let that image of herself remain. The video to her No.1 hit "Justify My Love" is a black and white homage to orgies, which was quite naturally banned from MTV and VH1 because of its strong sexual content.

The release of the self-referential photo book, Sex, in 1992, dovetailed nicely with the release of the album, Erotica, the same year. Sex boldly revealed photographs of Madonna posing nude on a city street and wearing S&M gear. Erotica's title track video attempted to bring those images to life, as Madonna was seen dancing sensually with a whip and locking lips with supermodel Naomi Campbell. The video was only shown late at night on MTV.

Seeing the light

Having given birth to daughter, Lourdes, fathered by her former trainer, Carlos Leon, Madonna began looking for yet another image renovation. When her new album, Ray of Light, was released in 1998, audiences saw a high-spirited, henna-tattooed Madonna.

Of course, it is not surprising that, with the new millennium, came a slightly different Madonna. She married Snatch director, Guy Ritchie, gave birth to son Rocco, and released the album Music. Mixing folk sounds with electronica, the singer brought a new style of music to forefront of the pop stage.

The 43-year-old did not fail to entertain her fans as she performed the single, "Music," at this year's Grammy awards. Dancing on top of a car, wearing a sparkly tank top with the words "material girl" on it, the singer proved that nothing can stop her from giving an exhilarating performance. The single would later become Madonna's 12th chart-topper in the U.S.

Madonna's happy home life doesn't mean the end of pushing limits. "What It Feels Like for a Girl,"--her latest video, directed by her husband, Guy Ritchie--was rejected for airplay by MTV and VH1 due to a depiction of a (perhaps) fatal car crash involving Madonna. MTV aired the video just once--on its premiere date at 11:30 p.m.

Madonna's 18-city World Drowned Tour in the United States, her first tour in eight years, was a huge success. SFX, her promotions company, told Pollstar that the shows were "the most extravagant stage spectacle of her career... a celebration of artistry and technology." We expect nothing less from Madonna.

Madonna last appeared in Swept Away, directed by her husband, Guy Ritchie.

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"A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want."
"If you take everything I do at face value, you're going to be horrified. Or intimidated. Or insulted. Or bored."

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