For the past 36 years, there’s been one woman that has always demanded our attention. She has shaped a generation, has taken bits and pieces from her own life and other cultures and fused them into making them her own.
I’m talking about Madonna.
I grew up on Madonna. She was the first female idol I knew of and I knew she was cool because my very Catholic mother disliked her with a passion. I loved how Madonna broke the barriers with her music and reinvented herself with every new album. Girls dressed like her, she was confident in her own skin, she empowered girls to think for themselves and inspired them to just be who they are. As she turns 60 this week, she’s confident and existing above it all: an icon whose name and work has transcended pop culture, transforming her into an icon for so many people.
From the early days of ‘Like a Virgin’ through to her moderately successful latest record ‘Rebel Heart’, people have always paid attention to her, whether they engaged with the music or not.
In an age of throwaway pop products and women in the industry being offered an astonishingly short shelf life, her ability to stand on her own and make the music that she wants to – “age appropriate” or not – is a testimony to her resilience in a media landscape that’s been desperate to see her fall and fail.
If there’s anything that consuming pop music has taught me, it’s that Madonna is its queen, but she isn’t desperately holding on to her crown. She’s sitting comfortably on her throne, safe in knowing that no amount of tabloid trash or media backlash will tear her down. She’s dealt with controversy since the beginning, so much longer than today’s stars have. Her “no-fucks-given” attitude is only getting more golden with age.
Vogue official music video. Directed by David Fincher.
As we wish her a very happy 60th birthday today, let us not forget that she was the one who built America’s pop star template in the first place.