There was never a single moment. Yes, I was aware of her from the early days with Holiday, Like A Virgin and Material Girl, but those songs and videos didn’t really stand out for me.
From an early age I already knew I liked guitars and edgier bands; Siouxsie, The Cure, The Smiths, Kiss, Queen, Alice Cooper. So give me Burning Up and the rawness of the Virgin Tour and Who’s That Girl Tour!
With the Like A Prayer album, I liked that it sounded “real”. True Blue was way too pop and sweet for me, even as a kid, but hearing Like A Prayer with the bass parts by Guy Pratt was mind blowing. I used to crank up that part on my dad’s stereo. Similarly, I loved the intro guitars on Act of Contrition and was really happy when I heard Supernatural for the first time. The orchestration on Oh Father was also very pleasing to the ears. And I liked the sparseness of Promise To Try.
The Beast Within Mix of Justify My Love was a great addition to the single release. I thought it beefed up the song quite well. The original version lacks direction and crescendo. The remix delivers that in biblical proportions and revisits some of those elements on Erotica, however the rest of the tracks on the album returned to the pop/dance genre. Erotica is perhaps the only Shep Pettibone produced track I like. Thank goodness for Andre Betts with Waiting and Secret Garden and those bassy, bluesy rhythms.
I enjoyed the melancholy of Bedtime Stories, but like Erotica, it’s not one I usually go back to. Same with Something To Remember and Evita.
Just to give some context. I think Express Yourself was on the radio around the same time as Poison by Alice Cooper and The Last of the International Playboys by Morrissey and I was more interested in those. There was Guns N Roses, Van Halen, Def Leopard and Aerosmith as well.
Express Yourself, Vogue, Truth or Dare and Sex, I know they’re important hallmarks in people’s lives, but it just didn’t mean anything to me and I couldn’t relate to them, but I could relate to Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy and The Damned, and then later on, Depeche Mode, Nirvana, Hole, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Rob Zombie, Manics, Suede and shoegaze bands that emerged in the 90s.
I was the weird kid at Catholic school who wore eyeliner and crosses, DM boots, bleached my hair in white streaks, carried around horror magazines, refused to do team sports or work in groups, would truant frequently, smoke behind the bike sheds and draw pentagrams and upside down crosses in my school Holy Bible. The inner rage, despair and frustration I felt was represented in the music I was listening to and there were times I wished Madonna wasn’t always so “safe” and “mainstream” because hearing the early stuff before she got signed was way more interesting than the majority of what she released as a “pop artist”.
Being a fan of guitars, when Ray of Light came out I was happy. William Orbit was a good choice to produce as he knows how to work with vocals and real instruments. The title track is stunning in how incorporates electric guitars into a dance track that was just right for the time. I also liked how Frozen took classical elements and fused it with the sound of the new age scene.
Music was somewhat disappointing in how short it was and disjointed. Orbit is overshadowed by Mirwais and it seemed like Madonna didn’t really know what kind of an album to make. American Life continued with the guitars, but they’re far too processed sometimes. I don’t really have any interest in the albums that came after.
In short, I tend to take notice of Madonna when she has good musicians around her. Everything else is just salad dressing and I’m not keen on salad dressing.