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Madonna’s mixed messages

For 20 years, Madonna has lived on the hype that she could effortlessly shape-shift into the latest and greatest pop-culture trendsetter. After all, she made crucifixes a hot fashion item, turned underground house music into the beat of a thousand high school proms and helped refashion the obscure tenets of the kabbala into a fetish as fashionable as Scientology.
“She’s at the forefront of every new cultural psyche,” says Marian Salzman, chief strategy officer for marketers Euro RSCG. “First she was talking about sex, then she was talking about respect. She reemerged in 2000 with yoga and by 2003, she was into electronica and hip-hop.”
But as Madonna launched a six-night run at Madison Square Garden, there’s something about her latest incarnation that’s not quite in sync.
The writhing musical dominatrix in fishnets is selling children’s books. She now expresses herself as a wife, mother, political activist, moral spokesmodel and yoga fanatic.
She has dubbed her new tour “Re-Invention” and packed it full of images that reflect her newfound identity. For Madonna’s 2004 model, it could easily be the “Mixed-Message” tour. Many of her recent public moves have fallen as flat as her high notes.
Think about her highly touted tonsil hockey with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
It was meant to be outrageous and link the aging icon to the pop tarts of a new generation. But to many, it was one of the most cloying moves she ever made.
“It looked a little desperate,” says Rachel Weingarten, president of youth-oriented GTK Marketing. “If she’s trying to create the image of a comfortable, complacent mom, it sent another message to kiss a girl. It said, wait, you’re not interesting enough anymore if you still have to create that kind of controversy.”
What’s shakiest about Madonna’s current tour, however, is the fundamental lack of something she’s always had ” a hit.
The title track of “American Life” was the album’s only big single, and that barely cracked Billboard’s Top 40, peaking at No. 37.
The album itself is the singer’s least successful to date, reaching platinum status in three months but stalling soon after. Even 2000’s “Music” went double-platinum and sold nearly three times as many copies worldwide.
That’s largely because young people are the most avid record buyers and, Weingarten says, they see her as a “doyenne” who is “far from the epitome of hip.”
The singer has tried to stay connected, but it’s been something of an awkward fit. Can anybody really imagine Madonna heading to the mall to try on a pair of jeans?
“She wanted to stay relevant,” says Morris Reid, managing director of the marketing agency Blue Fusion. “So she appeared in a GAP ad with Missy Elliott.”
Perhaps that’s why “Re-Invention,” unlike previous tours, features so many of Madonna’s classic hits, giving older fans what they’ve long clamored for. Except that they’ll have to swallow the nostalgia with hefty doses of politics and religion.
“Madonna’s dogmatic kabbala babble, political propaganda and “Riverdance”moves are an utter bore to her hard-core fans,” says Mary Spio, pop culture editor of One2One magazine.
“Going to a Madonna concert riddled with cryptic Hebrew texts and images of war is like going to a strip joint only to find the strippers reading from the Book of Psalms,” she adds.
The $305 price of the top tour tickets is another sign that spirituality hasn’t altered Madonna’s penchant for profit.
These days when she sings “I am a material girl,” she likes to deflect her old image by saying “not anymore.”
But the concert merchandise tables are filled with kabbala trinkets and her Web site hawks discounted copies of the kids’ book ‘Mr. Peabody’s Apples.” Her new identity conveniently comes complete with a fully accessorized product line.
“She’s always at the center of things changing,” Salzman says. “And then she will make a business of it.”
source : thestate.com

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Madonna on the cover of VOGUE Paris

Madonna is back on the cover of a magazine, and this time she does it at her best.
The French edition of Vogue features a full page cover with a stunning outtake from the Steven Klein photo session as well as an exclusive article:
“Madonna dans les yeux” (Madonna in the eyes).
The last time Madonna was on the cover of Vogue Paris was in October 1993 with previously unreleased portfolio by Photographer Ellen von Unwerth.

Madonna on the cover of VOGUE Paris

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Madonna now sings in Yiddish!

After writing a book, attending all night meetings and changing her name to ‘Esther’, pop icon Madonna has finally taken to singing in Yiddish in order to pay tribute to her newly adopted Jewish religion, Kabblah.
According to The Sun , the 46-year old singer recently sang two songs in Yiddish at a party thrown by Kabbalah guru Phillip Berg, which was attended by about 50 other kabalaists.
Following her performance, rumors are rife that the Material Girl singer is also planning to release an album in Yiddish.
source : ANI

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Madonna pays her dancers a pittance

Pop diva Madonna’s dancers are paid less than a 1000 dollars per show as compared to the two million dollars that the singer earns per show. At bigger arenas, a single concert can rake in as much as 12 million dollars.
“I know they’re not getting paid that much, considering how much they’re working,” a friend of one of the dancers was quoted as saying.
According to The New York Daily News, the dancers trained for 12 hours a day, six days a week for two months to prepare for the current “Re-invention” tour.
The 12 dancers are not unionised and were forced to perform at a venue without air conditioning to preserve the ‘Material Girl’s’ voice.
“Sometimes it’s insanely hot. It’s very hard to breathe, and they have oxygen in our dressing rooms.” a dancer was quoted as saying.
However, the dancers are still thrilled to be on tour with the pop icon.
“She treats us like royalty. She even had us to her house for a cookout,” Seth Stewart, one of the dancers, was quoted as saying.
“The dancers seem very happy. I haven’t heard otherwise,” Madonna spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg was quoted as saying.
source : ANI

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Like A Virgin – Hollywood Medley on DVD

According to TRL US, the performance involving Madonna, Christina, Britney and Missy at last year MTV VMAs, could be included on new Britney Spears’ DVD due for release in November 2004.
source : drownedmadonna

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Tickets on sale

The tickets for the Lisbon date on Sept. 13 at Pavhilao Atlantico will be going on sale Friday, July 30th – 10 am local (5am EST/2am PST) .
The fan club pre-sale will be Tues. July 27 – 3pm local (10am EST) through Thursday, July 29th 5pm local (noon EST).
source : madonna.com

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Madonna + Sire Records ???

Guess who’s signed back to Sire Records? That’s right ladies and gents, it’s Madonna. After Sire broke ties in 1994, with Madonna and her distributor Warner Bros. to pursue the London music scene with London Records, they are back! Of course with Madonna and Mandy Moore under their belt. I guess London underground music wasn’t as profitable as they’d hope.
Under the new contract with Sire Records, Madonna must record 2 new albums and release a compilation CD. Expect word on the new contract, reportedly worth over 25 million, to be released on Billboard next month. Only in New York kids, Only in New York!
source : nypost.com

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Madonna visits Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital

Toronto radio station Mix 99.9 has reported that yesterday July 20, Madonna spent the majority of the day at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital reading and visiting with the children and their families.
Mix 99.9 also reported that she had read her three released childrens books ‘The English Roses’, ‘Mr. Peabody’s Apples’ and her latest book ‘Yakov and The Seven Thieves’.
source : madonnalicious.com

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Madonna & Einstein

As the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s publication of the theory of relativity next year, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to which the genius bequeathed his intellectual property rights, expects to net a whopping royalty worth millions of dollars.
The university has already netted some $10m over the last eight years, since it started to exercise its rights, from royalties charged for the commercial use of Albert Einstein’s name and image. However, it has not been driven by purely profit motives and has been very selective in allowing the use of the genius’ name and.
Singing sensation Madonna was refused to use Einstein’s image in a concert performance, as the university thought it was not in keeping with the preservation of his legacy, despite the potential royalties of thousands of dollars.
However, a request by director Steven Spielberg to use Einstein’s image for a few seconds in AI: Artificial Intelligence was permitted for $600,000 in royalties.
In another case, Pepsi was allowed to use the most famous Jew’s image in its commercials, but a liquor company that wished to launch a vodka named “Einstein”? was refused permission to use the name.
Last month, the university signed a 10-year royalty deal with a toy company of the Disney Group for a series of children’s toys under the name “~Baby Einstein’. Hebrew University VP and director-general Moshe Vigdor said that the annual royalties have ranged from $1-1.5m, but are expected to make substantial gains in ’05. Germany, Einstein’s native country, will be issuing commemorative stamps and coins, and talks are on to determine the royalties.
Before his death in 1955, Einstein, realised the commercial potential of his name and image, and decided to leave the commercial rights to the university behind which he was a driving force.
source : reuters.com

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The Mother of Re-Invention

THE MOTHER of Re-Invention has re-invented herself yet again. And this time, Madonna’s finally admitting it. When The Material Girl, Madge, Esther — take your pick — brings her aptly titled Re-Invention Tour to the Air Canada Centre tonight (for the first of three sold-out shows), concert-goers will be getting a decidedly less raunchy, more preachy evening of music than they’re used to.
Can you say less sex, more politics and religion?
Given it’s been 11 years since Madonna played in T.O.with her much more lascivious Girlie Show Tour at SkyDome, clearly a lot has happened over the past decade to lead to such a dramatic, more mature transformation.
Especially since the 45-year-old singer-dancer has succeeded in shocking us over the past twenty years with her various naughty and rebellious looks, actions, videos and books like Sex, etc.
In a sentence, she’s grown up. Or seems to have.
Two children (seven-year-old daughter Lourdes, a.k.a. Lola, and three-year-old son Rocco), a happy second marriage to British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, who’s ten years her junior (who would have thunk it?) and her study of the Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah will do that to you.
She’s most recently stated that she chose the Hebrew name Esther for herself as a follower of the religion, prompting huge laughs amongst her critics.
“I’m a little bit irritated that people think that it’s like some celebrity bandwagon that I’ve jumped on, or say somebody like Demi (Moore) has jumped on,” Madge told 20/20’s Cynthia McFadden in the only interview she’s granted thus far while on tour.
“We take it very seriously.”
But when McFadden asked her if there was a reigning philosophy in her household, Madonna replied: “Clean up your s–t.”
A great answer but didn’t we all expect a little bit more in the way of sage wisdom from this female powerhouse?
Especially one that’s rumoured to be visiting fertility clinics in L.A. in an effort to have a third child?
“She’s a pop force to be reckoned with, or certainly was,” Canadian singer K.D. Lang told the Toronto Sun. “And has tremendously placed the bar way above where it was for women in music before (her). She’s been an immense help to women in music.”
That may be so, but there’s been some serious career mis-steps in the past couple of years including Madonna’s obvious manoeuvres to re-capture the youth market.
She hooked up with the far inferior Britney Spears for her Me Against The Music video having earlier famously kissed her at the MTV Awards, appeared in a Gap ad alongside Missy Elliott who remixed Get Into The Groove, and became the author of children’s books that have received mixed reviews. (She just released the third installment in a five-book series.)
And what about those seriously bad movies — 2002s’ Swept Away, directed by Ritchie, and 2000’s The Next Best Thing, — and two of her less-than-stellar albums — 2003’s American Life and 2000’s Music?
Still, to come this year, is production on a Martin Scorsese-produced musical called Hello Sucker!, which doesn’t exactly sound like a winner.
Does great art come from personal suffering? In Madonna’s case, it would appear so.
At the L.A. launch of her Re-Invention trek back on May 24, I kind of missed the gender-bending, provocative artist of old.
Even her 2001 Drowned World Tour, while having fewer chestnuts from the Madonna catalogue, was a way more visually stunning show.
And despite those breathless British tabloid reports of simulated lesbian sex and getting electrocuted on stage during the Re-Invention production — neither materialized. (The supposed electrocution saw Madonna strapped into an electric chair but that was about as exciting as it got.)
Not that she entirely disappointed. On the contrary.
If Madonna really excels at one thing in this world, it’s her live performances. Why else would her three dates in Toronto — she also plays tomorrow night and Wednesday night — sell-out in a record-setting 80 minutes?
She’s an incredible dancer, if not an incredible singer, and she does possess clarity of vision, designer style and a healthy sense of humour.
For example at the Los Angeles tour opener, the reworking of Get Into The Groove, was a hilarious bit of staging which featured Madonna in a kilt — in a shout-out to her husband’s ancestry — accompanied by bagpipers and drummers.
And all those years of serious yoga practice seemed to have really paid off as she emerged from beneath the stage on a platform for the show opener Vogue and immediately went into a stand where she placed her entire body weight on her forearms.
Still, Madonna was hurting for all her physical efforts with a nude bandage on her right forearm and a black tensor bandage around her left knee visible on opening night.
Hey, if the healthy specimen that is Madge is vulnerable, what hope is there for the rest of us?
While Lang, an L.A. resident for the past couple of years, didn’t attend any of Madonna’s shows on the West Coast — “I wouldn’t really be that engaged in Madonna’s tour at this point. I’ve seen here like three times already!” she commented — another prominent, if younger Canadian female artist had plans to catch Madonna in Toronto.
Napanee, Ont., pop-rock teen sensation Avril Lavigne, said she’s more of a fan of the pop icon than the musical artist.
“I have a lot of respect for her because she has longevity and she’s been around for so long and she’s always changed her style and been evolving and I think she’s a really strong woman and she’s always surprising people,” Lavigne told the Sun.
“And I think she’s smart, a very smart business woman. I really like her. I’m not saying I’m a fan. I’m saying her, Madonna, what she has done, what she has accomplished, I look at that and I have a lot of respect for her. I’m curious to see what her show’s like.”
So what can fans expect tonight, tomorrow night and Wednesday night?
An hour-and-50-minute show that’s big on production and costume changes and heavy on the hits — with such ’80s gems as Papa Don’t Preach, Crazy For You and Holiday featured prominently — and plenty of Bush-bashing during the title track from American Life.
Yes, after wimping out earlier and pulling the original video for American Life from music video channels — apparently out of sensitivity to the troops in Iraq — she’s finally showing those controversial visuals in concert as Bush and Saddam Hussein share a cigar.
Madonna is also being followed by a documentary crew, a la Truth Or Dare, and they were highly visible on launch night as they filmed a proud Ritchie beaming near the front of the stage.
Next up for The Material Girl is a planned tour of Israel’s holy places in October with a group of more than 100 students studying Kabbalah.
Apparently, she’ll be staying in an out-of-the-way guest house, avoiding fans and TV cameras. (Now that better make it into the documentary.)
Otherwise, she most recently got bought out of her share of Maverick Records by parent company Warner Music Group and won the right to exclude hikers from her $23-million English country estate saying they would have destroyed her right to a private family life.
Maybe Madonna will concentrate on being a gardener next. Pregnant, barefoot and in her English garden.
Seems like a good place for Esther.
source : toronto sun

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Madonna least favoured babysiter

Pop star Madonna’s maternal skills have failed to impress America’s female population – she’s last on a list of celebrity parents mothers would most like to babysit their children.
The Like A Prayer singer landed just five per cent of votes in a poll by a US magazine, reports Britain’s Daily Sport newspaper.
American TV host Kelly Ripa was crowned the most sought-after babysitter, ahead of actress Reese Witherspoon, Jada Pinkett Smith and Sex and the City star Sarah Jessika Parker.
Madonna has been criticised in the past for dressing her seven-year-old daughter Lourders in raunchy clothing.
source : contactmusic

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With the Exception of

Is it the high ticket prices? Or the rocky personal lives of music superstars?
Whatever the reason, this year’s blockbuster summer concert season is turning out to be a bust.
Major acts like Britney Spears, Marc Anthony and Christina Aguilera have all pulled the plug on their big tours before they even started.
Large-scale festivals like Lollapalooza have also been canceled.
In some cases, personal problems are to blame, like Britney Spears’ knee injury.
But many industry insiders point to the increasingly “crazy” ticket prices — and how fans just won’t pay the price. One analysis shows the average ticket price has nearly doubled since 1995 — to about 50 dollars a ticket.
But not all tours are doing poorly. Madonna — asking a top ticket price of 300 dollars — is selling out nearly every show.
source : associated press

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