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Jonas Akerlund discusses Madonna’s Videos

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Director Jonas Akerlund has worked with Madonna on some of her most iconic music videos, bringing “Ray of Light,” “American Life” and “Music” to life. After he ​shared behind-the-scenes stories from her most recent video, “Bitch I’m Madonna,” Akerlund gave EW the inside scoop on what it was like to put together the rest of their greatest collaborations.

“Ray of Light”

This was the first music video Madonna and Akerlund worked on together nearly 20 years ago, and he says at that time, he still didn’t know how to behave around artists of her stature. “I decided to be myself and talk about the job as I see it and hopefully we hit it off,” he says. “It was a different attitude and we started to shoot it in Sweden. We shot a few days before I met her and that idea was so spread out. Both of us felt we had something special. We just worked together and I thought that was it. I went back to Sweden with a VHS tape showing them, ‘That’s cool!’ and then we moved on.”

“Music”

Madonna teamed up with then-unknown comic Sacha Baron Cohen for this glossy piece of eye-candy, which finds Madonna tooling around town in a limo with her girlfriends. “She was pregnant at the time,” Akerlund says. “She had a big fur on to cover her belly. We always had an idea to have an animated part and almost like cartoon-ish, with the colors. We wanted to have a comedian in there. I had met Sacha [Baron Cohen] in England right at the time, and he was just about to break out as Ali G. in the U.K. Nobody knew who he was in America.” Madonna, however, saw star power. “She instantly fell in love with him, like the rest of the world did. It took another year or two before the world knew who he was. Man, I wish we had those outtakes.”

“American Life”

The music video for “American Life” was due out around the same time the Iraq War broke out, and the track ended up sparking some controversy on American soil. “The timing was pretty amazing how we made that video,” he says. “I think the same week we were supposed to release the video the [Iraqi] War broke out. It was literally the same week. I was traveling between Europe and America at that time. I could really see the two different perspectives. In Sweden we were like, ‘This video has to be released, it’s very important.’ And in America, we thought we can’t release it. I connected with both perspectives. I could see how it was controversial, but for two completely different reasons. But [Madonna] did the right decision to not show it at the time. There was no discussion.”

“Jump”

Akerlund knew he wanted to use Madonna’s backup dancers, who were parkour experts, for this video. “I knew all about [parkour],” he says. “The reason why we did it was because she was touring and she had the best parkour kids on her tour. It was one of those videos we shot wen she was touring. We had to find time for it on her schedule and it ended up being in Tokyo. Visually, it’s awesome and I really wanted to use her parkour guys that she had on her tour. That itself is all I needed to get going. It was crazy shooting in Tokyo, but it worked really well with the music.”

“Celebration”

Akerlund says that they actually ended up with two different videos for “Celebration.” One focused on her biggest fans, and both were shot on tour. “We shot that part with her and her dancers and Milan, and then we shot the parts with the fans in Barcelona,” he says. “The way we did it was kind of cool actually. We had a section outside the arena where she was shooting and we made a line to the people there, and the music was going in a loop. We were just shooting. Some people came as dedicated fans and some dressed up, and my AV was like ‘Next, next!’ We ended up with way more. The fan version has all the crazy fans.”

“Ghosttown”

According to Akerlund, Madonna knew exactly what she wanted for the post-apocalyptic clip “Ghosttown,” which features actor Terrence Howard. “The good thing for me was that Madonna had a clear idea what the song was about,” Akerlund says.” The whole end of the world theme was perfect. Visually, we could make something out of it. We shot it over two nights. Also a night shoot actually. We were on location in Los Angeles. And we took all the people out to shoot in the desert in a closed down factory. It’s a big deal to do that. There was a lot of production design to it. That location was dirty. Dirty for real! But Madonna was going all the way.”

Entertainment Weekly

Cyndi Lauper explains why she signs autographs as Madonna

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Cyndi Lauper, the American singer, has revealed she has signed autographs as Madonna when fans have mistaken her for her pop rival.
The Girls Just Want To Have Fun singer makes the disclosure when she appears on Friday night’s Graham Norton Show.
Lauper, who has a very distinctive, high-pitched New York accent, said: “It happens to me once in a while. I just sign Madonna. I don’t care and as long as I don’t talk I get away with it.”
The Time After Time singer and Madonna were pitted against each other as pop rivals during the 1980s.

The Telegraph

Rick Nowels on working with Madonna

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Q: You worked with Madonna on her acclaimed Ray Of Light album. What was it like working with her?

Rick Nowels: I always wanted to work with Madonna. I loved her voice, her songwriting, and the great records she made with Pat Leonard, Stephen Bray and Nile Rodgers. In 1997 I was in New York for the Grammys. I was up for Album of the Year (as one of the producers) for Celine Dion’s Falling Into You. I was in Barney’s (store) getting a tie for the Grammys and I saw Madonna there. I introduced myself, and I told her that she didn’t get the credit she deserved as a songwriter. Which is true, but it’s also an awkward thing to tell a huge superstar! She was very cool and gracious. I ended up getting a meeting with her in L.A. a few weeks later.
We wrote nine songs together—three made the Ray of Light album: “The Power of Goodbye”, “Little Star” and “To Have and Not To Hold”. “The Power of Goodbye” was a number one song in U.K. and Europe. It was a career-changing experience for me. Before that I had always done my co-writing with friends. But working with Madonna…it was the first time I had ever written one-on-one with a great artist/writer. After that I changed gears a little, and now I mostly collaborate directly with artists.

Songwriter Universe

Madonna at the American Dance Festival in 1978

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Her name is Madonna Ciccone, and her face matches her name.

Round eyes, arched eyebrows, finely drawn mouth – Da Vinci would have loved it. It is a theatrical face, a dancer’s face. And she has a dancer’s body – thin as a blade, lithe and agile. Doll-like, she looks as if she’d snap in a strong wind.

She wouldn’t. …

Countless times over the years, critics, pundits and reporters have written some variation on that to describe Madonna, the iconic pop starlet. But the story containing this passage is different, because it dates back to a time when nobody knew who Madonna was.

Madonna with Perl lang in 1978

It’s the beginning of a Charlotte Observer story from July 1978, about the American Dance Festival’s first year at Duke University in Durham. And it might be the first notice from the press that Madonna received.

Observer staff writer Richard Maschal quoted Madonna, then 19 years old, describing the rigors of ADF as “pretty draining and demanding.” And he called her “what the American Dance Festival is about.”

Seven years later, after 1984’s “Like a Virgin” and 1985’s “Desperately Seeking Susan” established Madonna as a huge star and the it-girl of that moment, Maschal wrote a followup column about his earlier impressions of her. He noted her beauty, aura and precocious self-assurance – and also that she resembled a literal Renaissance madonna.

“I really did think she looked like a madonna and so was amazed when I asked her name and she gave it,” Maschal said recently via email. “I also found her one of the most self-absorbed persons I had ever met.”

That self-absorption also manifested as confidence, which would stand Madonna in good stead as she pursued her career. One of her 1978 ADF classmates was Eric Tyrone Smith, who later shared a West Village apartment with Madonna in New York City. In a 2007 email, he recounted a salient memory of Madonna’s evolution from dancer to singer:

She came back to the apartment one day bragging that she had just been out in Washington Sq. park singing with some black guys and that they had told her she could sing. I told her she couldn’t believe everything she was told and of course the rest is history!

Little else remains of Madonna’s long-ago time as a dance student in Durham. Her primary teachers there, Pearl Lang and Pauline Koner, are both deceased. And while ADF still has her application and school records on file, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) means they will remain private unless Madonna herself chooses to release them.

That’s doubtful, so mostly we have Maschal’s witness-bearing account. He admits he did not come away impressed, with little inkling of just how big a star she would become. Maschal’s 1985 story about Madonna concluded by asking about the 26-year-old singer, “Can you picture Madonna at 40?”

Now 56, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and still topping charts and touring arenas, Madonna seems to have done all right for herself.

Charlotte Observer

Avicii is not happy with Madonna’s “Rebel Heart”

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“At the beginning we were all on the same page and then…I wasn’t….happy with the final product.”

He also commented on the leaked Demo Version of “Rebel Heart”: “I thought it was better. It was more me.”

Madonna with Avicii

Daily Star

*UPDATE* Avicci responded to this Interview via Instagram:

“Or maybe your sh*tty interviewers ruined what could have been a good interview :) @dailystar”

Avicii on Madonna controversy

*2nd UPDATE* Daily Star have changed the title of their original article and uploaded the audio of conversation with Avicii:

Disclosure on Madonna collaboration: ‘We didn’t get our hopes up’

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Rumours began last year that the British dance duo were working with the pop star after Madonna posted a picture of herself with the pair backstage at the Governors Ball festival in New York during June 2014. While Disclosure denied that they were producing Madonna’s next album (‘Rebel Heart’, which was released in March), they didn’t at the time rule out a potential collaboration with the singer in the future.

Now, speaking to NME in this week’s issue, the electronic duo explained that they “did discuss maybe working together” but “[we] never really got our hopes up”.

“We never really had any indication that we were going to be working together,” Howard Lawrence said. “We met her and hung out and she’s a lovely person and she’s a fan – and I mean, who’s not a fan of Madonna? We did discuss maybe working together one day but we never tried to put dates in or anything like that. But I wouldn’t say we were disappointed because we never really got our hopes up.”

Madonna with Disclosure

NME

Madonna is 28th on Forbes’ America’s Richest Self-Made Women List

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Madonna claims the No. 28 spot on our list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, which appeared in the June 15th, 2015 issue of Forbes magazine. She’s the wealthiest musician on the list.

Name:
Madonna Louise Ciccone

Age:
56

Estimated Net Worth:
$520 million

Source:
Music, Clothing, Real Estate

Summary:
One of the top pop divas of all time. Her tours have grossed an estimated $1.2 billion over the years, including $305 million from her 2012 MDNA tour. That helped her earn an estimated $125 million during the ensuing 12-month period during which FORBES calculated celebrity earnings, more than any other musician. Look for another bump when she goes on the road with her latest album, Rebel Heart, in August. …continue reading »

Drake Throws Shade at Madonna in Houston

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Drake isn’t going to let anyone bring him down—even Madonna.

During Drizzy’s Jungle Tour concert, which kicked off in Houston tonight, he performed a medley of old and new cuts, including “6 Man” for the first time, his verse on Fetty Wap’s “My Way,” and much more. When he was running through “Madonna,” he slyly changed the words of the song to shout-out another bad girl in music: Rihanna. Of course, those in attendance at the Toyota Center caught it immediately.

Madonna kissing Drake

Complex

Shep Pettibone talks about “Vogue”, working with Madonna

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The producer/writer/remixer and DJ, now 55 years old, rose to prominence as a go-to remixer in the 1980s for such acts as Janet Jackson, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, George Michael, Whitney Houston and, most spectacularly, Madonna. His reworkings would often earn official promotion to radio, be used in an artist’s music videos, and be heard on tour. (A search for the phrase “Shep Pettibone” on YouTube turns up a treasure trove of sterling remixes.)

For Madonna, Pettibone reworked such classics as “Into the Groove” (his version is heard during Madonna’s Who’s That Girl Tour and on her You Can Dance album) and “Causing a Commotion,” in addition to crafting the popular single versions of “Like a Prayer” and “Express Yourself.”

His frequent work with Madonna led to her then-label, Warner Bros. Records, asking Pettibone if he would like to collaborate with her on an original song. The label’s then-head of dance music, Craig Kostich, “had this idea to see how we would work together, and he asked me to come up with a track for her,” says Pettibone. Assigned a budget of $5,000, he sent the diva the track’s “Philly Salsoul”-inspired music and within two weeks, she flew to New York to record her vocals to the track in a vocal booth in a “basement on West 56th Street.”

“They had converted a closet that had bi-fold doors on it and they had put a sliding glass door on it and that was the vocal booth,” Pettibone says.

They wasted little time in the studio (“She was always a first-take artist. She was pretty amazing that way”), and about a week later, he sent the finished song to Warner Bros.

“I think at that point they were going to [make it a] b-side” for “Keep It Together,” but once executives heard the track, “The attitude was like, ‘This isn’t gonna be a b-side. How can we get this out there?’” It found a home on Madonna’s Dick Tracy-inspired I’m Breathless album, and became the set’s lead single — and her eighth Hot 100 No. 1. …continue reading »

Marilyn Manson Wants to Have Sex With Madonna

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Madonna has received quite the indecent proposal from a fellow musician who, like her, enjoys pushing the envelope: Marilyn Manson.
“I’m kind of interested in this Madonna record,” the 46-year-old shock rocker told fashion magazine i-D in an interview posted this week, referring to Madonna’s new album, Rebel Heart. “She looks hotter than ever. I’d also like to let it be known that I still have a crush on Madonna and I would definitely fornicate with her.”
The 56-year-old pop queen responded to his comments on Friday on her Instagram page, alongside a photo of him and his quote.
“Um………thanks! @marilynmanson,” she wrote. “<3#rebelheart”

Madonna on Marilyn Manson

E Online / Madonna via Instagram

Madonna’s Met Ball Dress Had a Special Meaning

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In the 1991 documentary Truth or Dare, Madonna dedicated a concert to her longtime friend Keith Haring, who died of AIDS the year before. Tonight—on what would have been his 57th birthday—the queen of pop culture remembered the visionary artist again.

“Part of why she was wearing our graffiti dress was to honor Keith,” said Jeremy Scott, the Moschino creative director who collaborated with the superstar for the Met Gala. “We custom-made her gown to say Rebel Heart”—also the name of Madonna’s glorious new album—“and it’s definitely fitting to wear it while celebrating him.“

Yahoo Style

Tori Amos on Madonna

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There seems to be a vilification of older women – Madonna took a lot of flak when she fell at the Brits.

Let me ask you: was there a lot of meanness about her?

There were a lot of unpleasant comments on Twitter.

Madonna is an entertainer. There are very few people who could’ve gotten up off that floor. It wasn’t because of her that she fell, but it was because of her that the performance carried on. Some of the vilification comes from women as much as men. She’s making choices and she’s able to do things physically that a lot of people 25 years younger can’t; she got up and refused to allow that to shame her. I think people want her to be shamed into a role that they find acceptable for her age. It makes me sad that we can’t embrace Madonna and say, Wow, this is an artist who’s expressing herself in a certain way.

The Guardian

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