The singer’s best preparation for the demands of directing a movie may have been her ambitious, visually driven live shows, and she’ll spend the latter half of 2012 on a global tour on behalf of “MDNA.”
“When you’re putting a show together, you’re dealing with so many elements,” she said. “You’re creating a stage and working with lights and costumes and dancers, who you could say are the actors. You’re paying attention to the minutiae and you’re also stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. I always like to tell stories in my show and have some kind of an arc. I have a crew that I rely on desperately and … I’m working with creative people, so I need to be judicious with the way that I speak with them. I’ve always been intricately involved in every aspect of my show. I know where all the nails are on the stage.”
At the Super Bowl in Indianapolis on Feb. 5, Madonna will have the unusual experience of surrendering much of the control she treasures, if not creatively, at least logistically, to the National Football League and NBC. That means staging a memorable performance within the rigid timing and space constraints of a football game and without any Federal Communications Commission-inciting offenses like the infamous wardrobe malfunction that accompanied Janet Jackson’s 2004 show.
“I have 12 minutes and 40 seconds to do something extravagant and exciting in the middle of something that’s quite sacred to all of America,” she said. “No one’s asked me to tone down my moves. They were curious about my costumes and the costumes of the dancers…. They were very clear with us up front that they don’t want nipples or anything like that, and I didn’t have any intention of doing that, so I was like, ‘OK, we’re cool.’ I’m more nervous about this than most things I’ve done, simply because … it’s not how I’m used to working. I’m a perfectionist. I like everything to be done just so, and I like to run things and run things and run things until people can do it with their eyes closed.”
Her high-stakes Indianapolis performance will serve as the launch for “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” the first single off “MDNA.” She’s brought back two of her favorite collaborators for the album, producers William Orbit and Martin Solveig, and is working with new faces — the female rappers M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj.
One song on the album, “Beautiful Killer,” is a tribute to French film star Alain Delon. “I’ve seen every movie Alain Delon’s ever made,” Madonna said. “He’s so charismatic.”
The album will be the first in a $40-million, three-record deal she signed with Interscope Records in December.
Though she is years past the typical pop star’s peak age, Madonna hasn’t shown signs of slowing creatively — the long wait for this album is due to the time she spent shooting the movie. “Hard Candy,” her last album in a 25-year relationship with Warner Bros., debuted at No. 1 in 37 countries in 2008, including the U.S. Romantically, she keeps it young as well — she’s dating a 24-year-old French dancer.
Lady Gaga’s 2011 No. 1 single “Born This Way” sounds to many ears an awful lot like Madonna’s 1989 anthem of sexual self-acceptance, “Express Yourself.” In a recent “Nightline” interview that has since become a viral video sensation, Madonna dismissed the song as “reductive.”
“I feel like all the records on the radio right now have a homogenized quality to them,” she said in The Times interview. “I’ve made a huge effort to try and not sound like everybody else. The music that I’ve done with William is quite introspective, whereas Martin’s is more ironic and funny and upbeat. There’s a really up aspect to it and a really fun aspect to it.”
Besides directing, which she said she’d like to do again, her list of interests is varied — she and business partner Guy Oseary are working on a dance channel for YouTube and have backed a chain of gyms. Madonna, who is the mother of four, also has launched a clothing line for teenagers called Material Girl with her now-15-year-old daughter, Lourdes.
“Sometimes, [Lourdes] will do certain things or say certain things and I’ll feel like I’m looking in a mirror,” Madonna said. “I’ll get really irritated with her and then I’ll stop and think, ‘But that’s what I used to do. Or that’s what I do.’ If I complain to my friends and say, ‘Oh, she’s so strong willed’ or ‘She’s so opinionated,’ they look at me and go, ‘Well what did you expect?'”
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