Archive for the ‘MADONNA’ Category

Review: MADONNA NYC 83 by Richard Corman

On the cover of a magazine (book)

On the cover of a magazine (book)

‘Early in May 1983, I got a call from my mother, Cis Corman. She was casting Scorsese’s new film, The Last Temptation of Christ and she’d just auditioned a woman I really had to photograph. “She’s an original! I’ve never met anyone like her!’ … The woman was Madonna, and the part she’d auditioned for was the Virgin Mary.’ American photographer Richard Corman‘s introduction to Madonna NYC 83, a new (and MDNA-approved) book cataloging his encounter/collaboration with the queen of pop which is published this week.

I will never get tired of looking at old Madonna pix and within a month of her madgesty launching her latest creative/hype/humanitarian project, Art for FreedomMNYC83 is a reminder of why and how she became famous in the first place – her moves, her face, her style and her attitude. Even after 30 years her flirtatious joy, brazen ambition, clutch of cultural references (give Boy George his hat back) and raw NYC nothing-to-lose-ness are still as fresh and as challenging as ever in Corman’s photgraphs. Here are some of my favourites… Read More…

Can everyone just shut up please?

madonna shhhh‘Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a centre. So we lost our centre and have to find it again’ Anaïs Nin

Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking (first published in January 2012) came out in paperback last month and went straight into the non-fiction top 10 – a fact which says something about the current zeitgeist – even if the book itself is gently saying shhhhhhh. Perhaps it’s time for the extrovert backlash?

I was put off self-help/discovery titles of any description by being accidentally and unwillingly immersed in them during my first job after university, and since then I have a long-held fear of anything that might sit in that section of the bookshop shouting helpful and impossible self-improvement headlines at me. The title of this one intrigued me though, because (I confess) I have always been a bit quiet myself… it was whispering to me ‘HEY, let me change your life’. I tucked it into my Kindle and brought it away on holiday with me.

Quiet is a manifesto for introverted souls, for anyone who doesn’t fit the curricula, the boxes, the workplace cultures that Susan argues have been popularised over the past hundred years. She argues that the ideal of being (or appearing to be) in western societies has become the extrovert way and contrasts the brash, charismatic stylist (say Madonna) with the studious, sensitive and thoughtful type (say JK Rowling).

Susan’s a New Yorker and not all of her arguments and case studies will be relevant to every reader, or indeed to a British audience (e.g. I don’t know much about how primary school-aged children are taught these days – you might), but she guides you through each chapter with reassurances that it’s not all about you, personally (there are many different kinds of introvert and she makes her definitions clear in the book). In fact, one of the most powerful things you can take away from it is the realisation that you shouldn’t try to be like anyone else at all. Which is perhaps the most obvious thing I’ve ever written, but then this book made everything seem a lot clearer. And also – it’s good to be reminded of what your angry teenage self knew all along: it’s not you that’s wrong, it’s everyone else.*

I’d recommend spending nineteen minutes watching Cain’s TED talk (whether you think you’re extro or intro) which sums it all up neatly – her motivations for writing the book, how our world became so extroverted and the case for her introvert manifesto. Here’s the video:

*haha, joking

Interview: Odette Toilette La Scentellectual Part Deux

[Above: the audience at Scratch+Sniff at The Book Club]

You can read Part Un of our Q&A with perfume-party hostess and scent-expert Odette Toilette here and Part Deux below:

You wear some incredible frocks at your Scratch+Sniff nights – is there a link between what you wear and your perfume choices when you’re putting your outfits together? By this slightly complicated question I mean do you match clothes and fragrances and does your passion for scent influence your style in any other ways?

Most definitely, and to that end I like to create tension between clothes and scent. As I write this I’m wearing a thick, wool, prairie-style skirt. I probably look a bit Amish or Laura Ingalls-Wilder. But rather than choose a prim perfume, todays’ perfume is Opium. Conversely if I were in a frock that is a bit outre, I’d probably choose something like Eau Sauvage or a vetiver fragrance which is really taut and restrained. Perhaps it’s the olfactory equivalent of avoiding the danger of matchy-matchy, or creating a sense of surprise.  Read More…

REVIEW! Not like the Movies: Part of Me

[above: me & my katy perry chapstick]

Part of Me: my first 3-D film and my first full-on encounter with Katy Perry, she of plastic skin, perfect hair (wigs) and ecstatic pop songs. A diary of her 2011-12 California Dreams tour interspersed with pre-fame Katy footage and interviews with her friends and staff, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a pop star’s tour video… Except that this is Katy Perry and this is in the cinema and in alarming, bubbles-popping-from-the-screen 3-D. And then there’s the massive dramatic irony in the fact that we know that by the end of the tour she and Russell Brand will have divorced.

As someone who’s more of an observer than a proper fan of KP phenomenon, liking a few songs, her carefree silliness and devotion to ridiculous costumes, POM to me is the about the hard work, misery, self-denial, make-up and Twitter-addiction (this must be the first film I’ve seen with Twitter in too. Web two dot nought!) involved in modern day pop stardom. It’s reality TV but with very little reality – the only time the poor (not at all literally) girl gets to hang out with her two best friends is when they come to see her on the Japanese leg of her tour and they visit a weird kitten cafe and take pictures of each other on their iphones. And then of course there’s the little matter of where the hell her husband is (which I won’t go into here).

Katy Perry likes to think she’s  following in the trailblazing tradition of Madonna, but come on, we all know that she’s far too nice for that. This is PG where Madonna’s iconic tour flick In Bed with…* was rated 18. Madonna is and was cold and prickly, her armour on and guard up, but Katy’s warm, bright-eyed and never takes herself too seriously. Madonna’s embarrassed by her fans, but Katy’s got to love hers because they’re tweeting in her face every second or she’s meeting them and politely answering their questions at pre-concert meet&greets. Awkward! What they do have in common though is all that hardcore stuff: ambition, focus and determination.

There are so many mega popstars in the world right now and, cleverly, Katy’s invited most of them to be in the film and say how amazing she is. How on Earth did she get away with that? There’s Adele, Jessie J and (pop BFF) Rihanna all doing talking head, we heart Katy bits. Even Lady Gaga reluctantly makes a cameo in a scene at the American Music Awards where KP is collecting a special award for being the second artist ever to score five number ones off the same album, ‘I’m smiling under this mask, I’m so happy for you, really.’

From beginning to end we’re in Katy’s rainbow-crazy, Willy Wonka world and we’re constantly told this is her vision, this is what Katy always dreamed of, even way back when she had dirty hair and was in her angsty Alanis Morisette phase. I believe her, I really do, but I was surprised to discover in the technicolour-live segments that Katy really can sing. If she’s never compromised her ‘artistic vision’, then why are so many of her studio tracks so overproduced that she could almost be mistaken any one of her contemporaries? Cheryl might need a bit (a lot) of programming, but does Katy Perry? It doesn’t sound like it. Maybe it’s all part of the kittie-cartoon sheen or maybe that’s just the standard popstar vocal polish these days, but whatever it is, it’s good to see that there’s someone real underneath it all.

* The making of this post involved quite a lot of watching In Bed with Madonna on Youtube as I haven’t seen the film for a while. Bloody hell, HOW many times has Lady Gaga seen it? I wondered…

‘There is only one queen: Madonna’


Being a Madonna fan is difficult. You give a lot, you get very little.

I’ve had a few weeks to get to get to know her new album and am thankful for one thing – it’s not as bad as 2008’s Hard Candy. Hard Candy only had one good song on it – ‘Devil Wouldn’t Recognise You’ which sounds like a Justin Timberlake outtake, not a Madonna song (he was co-writer and producer on the track). There was one other, ‘Miles Away’ at which I could sigh and say ‘OK I suppose this will do’ and was good for a sing-song live, but Hard Candy was a contract-filler album, her last studio LP for Warner Brothers before moving to Live Nation so our expectations should never have been particularly high for it.

That means that we her fans have been waiting since October 2005, when ‘Hung Up’ was released, for some decent material from our pop queen. Since then I know she’s been busy getting divorced, moving continents and making a so-so movie, but imagine someone you knew and liked didn’t text you back or ever send you a birthday card and essentially ignored you for SIX AND A HALF YEARS. You probably wouldn’t be their friend anymore. So that’s why many reviewers have concluded that, quite rightly, most Madonna fans are crazy – how else to explain our rabid loyalty and blind love.

The Madonna fan, aged at least 30 and legally adult is not going anywhere. She had her major pop phase 20 years ago and isn’t interested in what’s new on Youtube. What has Lady Gaga got to show her that she hasn’t seen before? Her pop needs are mature; she wants to be entertained, dazzled, go to the occasional concert. She’s not about to replace MDNA in her affections with Katy Perry. Don’t be daft.

Madonna fans are like her neglected pets. Maybe that’s why she’s used the word ‘bitch’ so many times on the new album. Gaga has her affectionately-named monsters but we are just bitches. We are such masochistic suckers. Madonna only grudgingly loves her fans because they’ve made her ridiculously bloody rich. Sigh.

On MDNA it’s clear that she’s not speaking with a British accent anymore. There are tacky treadmill beats, awkward collaborations, sub-Britney dubstep-breakdowns and silly lyrics, but it’s redeemed by tracks like ‘Falling Free’ and ‘I Don’t Give A’ because they sound like Madonna in spite of everything.

The reason that I think that MDNA actually might be a quite good pop album is that my Madonna fan friends each have different favourite tracks and have admired and criticised different bits to me. And so, using this reasoning I will for the moment conclude that it’s not that bad. And quietly wait for some Stuart Price remixes to filter through the internet.


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