something to remember

Madonna seriously. Everything what's epic, iconic and what you must remember.

 

THE IDOL’S IDOLS

Let’s have a closer look at other successful females who have influenced the career of the queen of pop.

She’s an unusual artist who has been inspiring generations of fans and countless other entertainers. To find a musician who’s not influenced by her in at least a small measure would be a difficult task – if a possible one at all. She’s cited as an inspiration by living legends and emerging acts alike, and by artists representing many different genres.

Kylie Minogue once said: “Madonna’s the queen of pop. I’m the princess.” The queue of possible heiresses to the crown is much longer though, with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga somewhere at the very front. Rihanna was very straightforward: “I want to be the black Madonna.” Even alternative artists, who have very little to do with the pop scene, such as Björk, Tori Amos and Sinéad O’Connor, accordingly applaud Madonna and admit finding inspiration in her work. Some even speculate that it was her female mini-revolution it the 1980s that prompted such heroines as Tina Turner and Cher to revive their careers.

And who was the source of inspiration for Madonna herself? Who was she looking up to, who were her role models? Let’s have a closer look at other successful females who have influenced the career of the queen of pop.

DEBBIE HARRY

The legendary Blondie leader undoubtedly was the biggest influence on Madonna in the early days of her career, when rock music was the closest to her heart. One look at the pictures of Emmy, the band Madonna fronted at the beginning of the 1980s, shows how big an inspiration Harry was (and still is!). It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Emmy was Madonna’s answer to Blondie.


The Blonde (left, 1977) and the Brunette (right, early 1980s)

There would be no Madonna without Debbie Harry. Or at least not the Madonna as we know her today. Harry was the “Madonna” of her times, inventing the image of a dominating and sensual woman, skilfully managing her own brand. She was the initiator of the watchword Girl Power which in the 80s Madonna took to a different level, and which in the following decade was picked up by Spice Girls. “How can one be a woman and not be a feminist?” she said.

“In the very beginning, when I was just starting to write music, I was inspired by Debbie Harry, because she seemed very in charge of what she was doing. She was a role model.”

MARILYN MONROE

“Very in charge” might not be the first phrase you’d use to describe Marilyn Monroe, nonetheless, for some reason, Monroe was chosen by Madonna as one of her role models. She manifested her admiration already in the early years of her career when she adapted Monroe’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friends” in her own music video “Material Girl” (1985). In the same year, she impersonated Monroe in a comedy sketch for “Saturday Night Live”, and in 1993, in the same show, sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”, referencing the movie icon’s legendary performance. Remember Madonna in the white gown in the final scene of “Who’s That Girl”? Yep, that’s another Monroe inspiration.


Spot the difference! ;-) Madonna in 1987, left, and Monroe in 1952, right

Madonna in 1985, left, and Monroe in 1953, right

The way Madonna looked circa her late 80s/early 90s Blond Ambition era was nearly identical to Monroe’s most iconic blond sex bomb image. The highlight of that era was the breathtaking performance of “Sooner or Later” at the 1991 Oscars. The show, which many called the ultimate tribute to Marilyn Monroe, featured Madonna doing an impression as closely resembling Monroe as one can only imagine. Most recently, Monroe came back as the reference in some of Madonna’s promotional photos for her “Rebel Heart” album – at least according to some.

MARLENA DIETRICH

Monroe wasn’t the only Hollywood actress who has impacted Madonna’s artistic development. German-born movie icon Marlene Dietrich was equally influential. Already as a teenager, young miss Ciccone was called the “new Dietrich” by her friend, dancer Christopher Flynn. Photographer Francesco Scavullo gave her the pet name “Baby Dietrich”. According to a gossip circulating in the 80s, she was to play the great German actress in a new biopic.

Dietrich’s name is mentioned just next to Monroe’s in “Vogue”. But the biggest tribute to the movie icon Madonna paid during the 1993 Girlie Show Tour. The big blond wig that she’s wearing during “Express Yourself”, is an exact copy of the one that graced Dietrich’s head when performing “Hot Voodoo” in the film “Blonde Venus” 60 years earlier. But that’s only a prelude to what takes place during “Like a Virgin”: here, Marlene nearly reincarnates in Madonna’s body, complete in her “Morocco” tuxedo and the remarkable German accent.


Mirror reflection: Madonna in 2013, left, and Dietrich in 1930, right

Just like Monroe, Dietrich is a recurring inspiration. In 2002 photos for “Vanity Fair”, Madonna appeared made up as no else but the German diva. Then just over a decade later, she reprised the “Morocco” look at the premiere of her MDNA Tour concert film.

“Marlene Dietrich is still sexy. I wish I had slept with her. She's gorgeous. She had a very masculine thing about her, but I think she maintained a sexual allure.”

Both gender-bending, both exploring various shades of human sexuality. Fighting conventions, shocking and provoking scandals has been a significant part of both divas’ long careers. And that’s another thing they have in common: longevity. Marlene has been active as a performer, be it films or the stage, for about 60 years, including four decades of being at the absolute top. An achievement like that had already been something unusual in the entertainment industry.

EVA PERÓN

Often referred to as the role of her life, “Evita” captures Madonna at the peak of her acting abilities. “I see this role as being my destiny” she confessed. Reading their respective biographies, one cannot miss the similarities between the lives of the two women. Those parallels certainly contributed to the fact that Madonna came out as the winner of the 10-year fight for the role.

They both come from Catholic families. Evita, though, didn’t seem to live her life according to strict guidelines imposed by the Church – and certainly not Madonna. Eva as well as Madonna has chosen a similar bath to the top, full of hard work and tenacity, fighting many obstacles and becoming a triumphant woman holding power. Perón was a controversial figure and such she remains to date in Argentina, where she is either referred to as “a saint” or “a whore”. Could this polarized view be any closer to public perception of Madonna?


Madonna, left, channelling Eva Perón, right

“What drew me to the role was the story of this remarkable woman. Where she came from, how she came up in the world, the incredible amount of influence she had over an entire country.”

Acting career was Madonna’s as well as young miss Duarte’s dream. Eva gave up her efforts at quite an early stage and Madonna’s list of roles, although not short, probably wouldn’t be the goal she originally had in mind. She had hoped “Evita” would be the vehicle to turn her fortunes all around. And it did, if only partially: the film earned her a Golden Globe and gave her image another dimension. 

M. Zaremba

. comments