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Billboard lists the best American Music Awards performances, Madonna’s 1995’s Take A Bow at #8

In honor of the 2017 American Music Awards, Billboard is counting down the best performances from the awards show’s history. Here is no. No. 8.

Sometimes the hardest act to follow is yourself.

Throughout the early to mid-’90s, Madonna leaned into the concept that sex sells. But by the time she doled out the 1992 coffee table book Sex — complete with nude images of herself — her sexualized image had reached its peak. At the same time, the shock factor of the Erotica era had lost its impact.

Before rebranding became a thing, the chameleon-like “Material Girl” had a way of reinventing her image. This time, she chose to dial it down on her next album, 1994’s Bedtime Stories. The autobiographical elements of her poetic balladry exhibited a newfound vulnerability that felt more revealing than her sexual gimmickry. The album’s second single, “Take a Bow,” ended up becoming Madonna’s longest running No. 1 on the Hot 100 with a seven-week run at the top.

Two months after that song stormed the charts, Madonna and Babyface delivered their only live performance of the track at the American Music Awards on Jan. 30, 1995. The presence of a live orchestra added a lush texture to the song. Madonna’s distinctive vocal colors were given new life through the prism of Babyface’s R&B-style vocal runs.

Looking at Madonna’s sartorial decision from a 2017 perspective, the cultural appropriation of a white woman wearing a cheongsam (a Chinese dress) might not fly — but it was not entirely random, as the song’s pentatonic strings were intended to evoke Chinese opera. The stage production was relatively barren as Madonna and Babyface stood in place while elevated on their respective pillars.

Babyface previously spoke to Billboard about his appearance onstage with Madonna. “I was nervous as hell,” he said. “But you couldn’t actually see my legs shaking under the suit. When we finished, she told me she had never been that nervous before. That was crazy to me — I was thinking, ‘You’re Madonna, you’re on stage all the time!'”

But the stage fright never showed up on Madonna’s theatrical facial expressions, complementing lyrics like, “You deserve an award for the role that you played.”

Billboard

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Madonna Official 2018 Calendar out now!

Madonna’s official Calendar for 2018 is now available to order via Amazon.com.

Here’s a brief description from the published:

“A cultural icon so recognized that she only needs one name, Madonna has evolved from the princess of ’80s pop to an international superstar known for not only music, but also fashion, acting, and her counterculture persona.

This Official 16-Month calendar features iconic photographs of Madonna by Luigi & Iango and Steven Klein, as well as a mosaic made of fan creations!”

Dimensions: 12 x 12 inches (305 x 305 mm)
Weight: 325g

Madonna 2018 Official Calendar Preview more →

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Madonna dodges punishment in worn underwear lawsuit

Madonna ducked a legal sanction Thursday for refusing to have her deposition videotaped in her lawsuit over the auction of some of her memorabilia, including a pair of worn satin panties and a love letter from late rapper Tupac Shakur.

The Queen of Pop is suing former pal Darlene Lutz for consigning her “highly personal items” to the online auctioneer Gotta Have It! Collectibles last summer, claiming the ex-friend did not have permission to sell her property.

Madonna’s lawyers barred Lutz’s videographer from attending her deposition in the case in August.

On Thursday, Lutz’s lawyer asked the judge to punish the “Vogue” singer for the move.

“[Madonna’s] credibility was called into question a number of times” during the legal grilling, the lawyer, Judd Grossman, told Judge Gerald Lebovits in Manhattan Supreme Court.

For example, Grossman said, he asked Madonna during the deposition about a pair of panties she’d sent to a former lover over 20 years ago that were yanked from the auction block when she sued Lutz.

“Do you have any good-faith basis to allege that my client, Darlene Lutz, took these underwear from you?” as the singer has alleged, Grossman pressed.

“I do not,” Madonna admitted.

She also conceded that fan-club letters and snapshots from a Miami bachelorette party that are at issue in the suit had previously been published, according to Grossman. more →

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Tim Cooper: My night with Madonna (and Sean Hughes)

Back in the late 1990s I used to run into Sean Hughes all the time at parties. He was a Perrier Award-winning stand-up comedian and team captain on Never Mind The Buzzcocks who would go to the opening of an envelope, so long as it included a free drink. I was the Showbusiness Correspondent of the Evening Standard so I was often there too.

Sean usually had a fag in one hand and a drink in the other. He was often drunk, which seems to be what did for him in the end, the poor sod. Only 51 too, when he died this week, an event he foresaw in a rather wonderful poem:

“I want to be cremated

I know how boring funerals can be I want people to gather meet new people have a laugh, a dance, meet a loved one. I want people to have free drink all night.

I want people to patch together, half truths. I want people to contradict each other I want them to say ‘I didn’t know him but cheers’ I want my parents there, adding more pain to their life. I want The Guardian to mis-sprint three lines about me or to be mentioned on the news Just before the ‘parrot who loves Brookside’ story.

Madonna

I want to have my ashes scattered in a bar, on the floor, mingle with sawdust, a bar where beautiful trendy people

Will trample over me … again” more →

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Madonna’s ‘Erotica’ Turns 25: An Oral History of the Most Controversial ’90s Pop Album

Twenty-five years ago, Madonna changed. Sure, Madonna was always changing, but with the release of Erotica on Oct. 20, 1992, she fully shed her ebullient ’80s pop skin, donned a leather cat mask, and kicked open a rusty back alley door that previous chart-toppers only dared to scratch at.

You didn’t need to pick up a copy of her celebrity nude-filled coffee table book, Sex, to realize it. You didn’t even need to see Madonna Veronica Louise Ciccone, whip in hand, mugging for the camera in the video for the title track. All you needed to do was press play on the album and let the impossibly thick, libidinous bass line of “Erotica” start vibrating throughout your body. Forty seconds in, the sampled horns of Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” flare up, but instead of sounding reassuring and familiar, they seem disembodied and eerie. Then, Madonna’s latest alter ego addresses you, low and firm: “My name is Dita / I’ll be your mistress tonight.”

If her earlier work was an invitation to celebrate sexuality without shame, Erotica was a challenge from Dita Parlo – Madonna’s unashamed, unflinching dominatrix persona – to witness and perhaps even indulge in society’s sexual taboos. Madonna may have addressed the male gaze before, but on Erotica, she wasn’t just staring back – she was making the world her sub.

Madonna's Erotica Album

Erotica occupies a watershed place in the pop pantheon, setting the blueprint for singers to get raw while eschewing exploitation for decades to come. For its 25th anniversary, Billboard spoke to the players involved in Madonna’s most creatively daring release. Here’s what producer-writer Andre Betts, backup singer Donna De Lory, producer-writer Shep Pettibone, co-writer Tony Shimkin and Living Colour bassist Doug Wimbish recall of the writing and recording of Erotica, the insane release party for the LP and book, and the collective societal pearl-clutching that followed. more →

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Madonna’s ‘Erotica,’ ‘Sex’: Why Musical Masterpiece, Defiant Book Still Matter

How the icon’s 1992 projects (her own ‘Lemonade’) tackled homophobia, AIDS hysteria and female, queer desire, and set the blueprint for modern pop

In 1990, Madonna was as astronomically popular as a boundary-bulldozing, unapologetically bacchanalian performance artist could get. Drawing from Harlem drag balls, “Vogue” went Number One nearly worldwide. The tour showcasing it, Blond Ambition, mixed spectacle with social commentary so sharply that it reinvented the pop concert and yielded the smash documentary Truth or Dare. And that year’s The Immaculate Collection, her first greatest-hits set, would eventually rank among the world’s biggest-ever albums, despite MTV banning its gender-blurring and cinematically exquisite “Justify My Love” video.

Some loathed this classically trained dancer/DIY provocateur – a megastar peer of Prince and Michael Jackson since her 1984 blockbuster Like a Virgin – with a venom reserved for successful women forging their own path. But for her vast audience, she was nothing less than liberating, and her uninterrupted string of hits defined pop for a decade. What some considered violations of taste made her more commanding: Even the way she toyed with ordinarily unflappable talk show hosts like David Letterman was more rock & roll than actual rock stars.

Nearly everything changed two years later with Erotica and Sex. Released respectively on October 20th and 21st, 1992, the first fruits of her multimedia Maverick entertainment company weren’t flops; her fifth studio album, Erotica racked up six million sales worldwide and yielded several hits, while Sex – an elaborate coffee table book created with fashion photographer Steven Meisel and Fabien Baron of Harper’s Bazaar – sold out its limited 1.5 million printing in a few days, an unparalleled success for a $50 photography folio bound in metal and sealed in a Mylar bag to evoke condoms. It remains one of the most in-demand out-of-print publications of all time. more →

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