Madonna: Biography of the World's Greatest Pop Singer

by Karen Lac

What's in the book?

Learn about the life and adventures of Madonna

    • Background and Basics
    • Madonna the Artist
    • Public and Private Persona
    • Extras

Description

ABOUT THE BOOK

In 1984, a young pop musician with a few hits under her belt gave an energetic performance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. After the performance, Dick Clark asked of the young woman: "What do you hope will happen, not only in 1984 but for the rest of your professional life? What are your dreams? What's left?” Without missing a beat, Madonna replied that she wanted "to rule the world." Twenty-eight years after her bold response, Madonna’s accomplishments and popularity demonstrate that, in a way, this proclamation proved prophetic.

Madonna is undoubtedly an international celebrity. Thanks to the spread of MTV and the Internet, Madonna’s music has become a fixture in the lives of people as far away as Zimbabwe. She has achieved a level of fame that causes her to be known by people across the world, regardless of culture, age, or sex. Even those who don’t listen to music know who Madonna is.

Right from the start, Madonna seemed to have a plan on how to dominate the world. She wasn’t just satisfied with having a successful music career. Right after her first two albums, both of which were blockbuster albums that produced numerous hit singles such as “Like a Virgin,”  “Holiday,” and “Material Girl,” she dabbled in movies and became a movie star. With her messy chic style that was mimicked by girls everywhere, she also became a fashion icon. Her presence and influence was so great in the 1980s that her style and music has come to characterise the decade.

As time went on, the world saw that Madonna wasn’t just some entertainer who loved to shock people. Of course, she did a great job of that over the years, by doing things such as wearing scanty clothing while draped in crucifix necklaces, kissing other women, and releasing a soft porn coffee table book. But perhaps the real reason why she hasn’t disappeared yet is because Madonna is extremely smart and shrewd.

Her accomplishments in the music industry alone include selling more than 300 million records worldwide, ranking as the world’s top-selling female recording artist and top solo artist, several sold-out tours, and multiple Grammy awards. This hardly scratches the surface of what she’s done with her life.

By reinventing herself over and over again and diversifying her talents, she had managed to keep herself relevant and exciting. Not only is she a singer and actress, she’s also a movie producer, songwriter, author, philanthropist, and business entrepreneur. She is one of those rare people who have become a part of American culture itself.

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

So after struggling for several years in New York City, Madonna finally hit it big in the early ‘80s. Her first album, the self-titled Madonna, featured several Billboard top hits, including “Holiday,” “Borderline,” and “Lucky Star.”

At MTV’s very first Video Music Awards, she performed her new song “Like a Virgin” to promote her upcoming album of the same name. Performing on top of a giant wedding cake and writhing around on the floor while dressed in a wedding dress fitted with a bustier, she became a national sensation. She also caused parental and religious outrage, who thought her blatant displays of sexuality rather offensive.

Like a Virgin demonstrated that Madonna wasn’t just a one album wonder. It took the number one spot on the album charts for three weeks straight. Seven million copies of the album were sold worldwide by May 1985. Her music video for “Material Girl,” inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” song routine from the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, showed that Madonna could do the glamorous look as well just as good as any other celebrity.

Madonna made sure to capitalize on her fame by becoming a movie star as well. In 1985, she starred in Desperately Seeking Susan with Rosanna Arquette. While critics deemed her acting a bit lacking, no one could deny her charisma. The movie helped popularize her style. Millions of girls everywhere mimicked her messy-chic style comprised of lots of lace, gloves, layers, leggings, overlapping jewelry, bows, and over-hair sprayed hair.  

Through the 1980s and early 1990s, Madonna continued to dominate the entertainment world with her hit songs and albums, her music tours, and her multiple movie roles. Her albums, True Blue (1986), Who’s that Girl? (1987), You Can Dance (1987), and Like a Prayer (1989) were all hit albums. Her music tours The Virgin Tour (1985), Who’s That Girl World Tour (1987) and Blond Ambition Tour (1990) caused frenzy amongst her fans and cemented her position as one of the world’s most entertaining live performers. She even had a statute of her erected in her grandfather’s Italian home village of Pacentro.

In October 1990, Forbes, noting that Madonna had amassed a fortune of $125 million in the five years between 1985 and 1990, named her "America's Smartest Business Woman," Madonna’s smart business tactic involved providing a heavy dose of scandal. Her controversial music videos for “Like a Prayer” and “Justify My Love” ensured that her name was on the lips of everyone.

She found box office success with 1992’s A League of Their Own, in which she played a sweet member of baseball’s first professional female team. Just when it looked like Madonna was softening her image, she released Sex, an erotic and soft porn photographic book that was meant as a companion to her fifth studio album Erotica. Sex sold 1.5 million copies in four days after its release. Besides shocking everyone, 1992 also saw Madonna starting the record label Maverick Records.  

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