Very artistic, I’m sure. Since then, Madonna’s gone a little more upmarket. Say goodbye to downtown, darling. Currently she’s studying acting, already signed to William Morris, who feed her scripts all the time.
Behind all the canny strategy, though, is a gamine Marilyn Monroe with a voice like Taana Gardner and an unscratchable itch to dance. Her Sire album ‘Madonna’ has a couple of goodies in ‘Everybody’ and ‘Lucky Star’, but is otherwise a formula platter. Reggie Lucas (ex-Miles Davies, Mtume crony, producer of Phyllis Hyman and of Stephanie Mills’ superb Pendergrass duet ‘Two Hearts’) has only given her what any new maiden of motion needs: safety first.
“My inspiration is simply that I love to dance. All I wanted to do was make a record that I would want to dance to, and I did. Then I wanted to go one step further and make a record that people would listen to on the radio.”
What about James Truman’s point in his interesting Face piece, that the selling of black / black music takes place largely on white / black terms? There must be problems in crossing from Dance to Pop chart, especially if you’re a white girl with a black voice.
“It’s strange because I think there are a lot of records that are similar to mine, records which are in the pop charts here, and they come over to the States and they’re considered pop songs just because they’re big in England. Whereas with the same kind of stuff coming from America, you’re stuck in the dance/R&B charts and you can’t cross over coz it’s considered black music.
“It’s so silly, coz if you listen to the formats and the chord progressions, everything about it is exactly the same. It’s the problem in America that you have everything categorized, whereas in England it’s all one chart.”
Madonna is not over-enthralled with ‘Madonna’ herself. She knows the songs could be stronger. What she wants is a producer who can push her vocally.
“I wanted Mark Kamins to direct me, but ‘Everybody’ was the first record he’d ever done. I have this friend called Steve who’s doing a version of that song, and it’s really full and lush-sounding, which is how it should have been. Reggie I thought might be able to push me, having worked with Phyllis Hyman and Roberta Flack. The only problem was that he wanted to make me sound like them.”
“I now know what I want on my next record. The producer won’t be so slick, because where Reggie and Mtume come from is whole different school. I want a sound that’s mine. There will be a more crossover approach to it this time. Maybe I should work with a British producer.”
Enough said! So people aren’t “offended” that you turned out to be white?
“It’s changing now, just because people are more aware of what I’m about and what I can do. It didn’t offend white people, but I think it offended radio programmers in the south. I think that’s just reverse racism.”
“In America, Warners don’t know how to push me, whether to push me as a disco artist or as new wave because of the way I look. I’d rather just start another category.”
“You just have to be patient. I’m not.”