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Unapologetic Bitches
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Live To Tell

Live To Tell (14/89)



  1. Don’t Stop feels like it’s going somewhere lush and grandiose, but it never quite gets there. It defies genre, but not in a good way. Comprised of a decent but half-baked and stiflingly compressed sonic arrangement that deserved more experimental attention, and lyrics that are perfunctory at best, the song always seemed out of place on Bedtime Stories. I understand that in those days a Madonna album required a dance song…it felt like this one was a reluctant compromise to satisfy WB execs, and it subsequently felt soulless and tacked on. It’s also too mid-tempo to match the essence of the song, thus giving a languid vibe, which may make it Madonna’s first stoner jam. 😂 That M had to splatter West Coast hip hop clichés into the mix is what really makes it a cynical exercise in commerce. It’s never really been a Madonna song to me. Something about it sounds off. I felt the same way about Beautiful Scars (not the demo) on Rebel Heart. It feels dissociative, like when amateur remixers come up with a groove to lay the original Madonna vocals on top of, but there’s a a lack of cohesion on some level.
  2. It’s also ironic that the one decent AI cover is a song she actually did a live cover of! I also heard some early AI Madonna versions of Red Hot Chili Peppers songs that were at the very least quite interesting!
  3. All these AI versions are completely betrayed by enunciation and pronunciation. The way a singer uses their mouth, tongue and voice projection is so unique. AI just takes some algorithm of sound from a vocalist and transposes the amalgam into another singer’s vocal stylings. Unless a singer has similar stylings it will sound inauthentic. Sometimes it’s a surprise to discover vocalists’ similarities that you’d never expect, for example, Madonna and Freddie Mercury. Most of the AI renderings of Madonna doing other people’s songs make her sound flat, unemotional and out of her normal vocal range, which to me emphasizes how important the emotionality of Madonna’s singing style is.
  4. Listening to the subsequent questions you can totally understand why she hated the British press culture for so long. They were truly awful.
  5. I paraphrase, but the Netflix documentary stipulates that the A+R people behind it all were split…one of them wanted Madonna, and the other wanted Cyndi and thought she had more staying power. That’s all there is to it, and going back to January 1985 it isn’t that much of a stretch to see why. Nobody knew Madonna would be around forty years later nor that she would become the type of cultural juggernaut she did. She was hot at that moment because Like A Virgin had been number one, but prior to that she hadn’t had massive commercial success. Cyndi Lauper was huge with She’s So Unusual. It’s ridiculous not to be able to see the logic behind the choice. Hindsight is always 20/20.
  6. What a fantastic surprise! She looks great. The video does its job, and it cements this as a Madonna single with her full endorsement and participation. Just goes to show that she may have quite a few things up her sleeve that we have no idea she has already recorded/shot/produced.
  7. I think she’s just tired at that point in the show. The Like A Virgin late interlude gives her a break to regain some energy for the finale…Maybe it would benefit her to sing Rain/Frozen/Take A Bow after the Jackson tribute, even if it doesn’t flow. It’s somewhat obvious that part of the show is missing something, and they’ve done their best to bridge the gap so to speak. She’s literally amazing for being the consummate pro that she has proven herself to be by forging ahead with this tour after all that she has been through. No, her voice isn’t able to sustain itself as easily for two hours as she managed forty or thirty years ago, and we will never know if it is a respiratory issue, fitness, fatigue, age or just usage, wear and tear. It can be very taxing on the vocal cords to bellow in an arena several nights a week for six months. When she performs acoustic she sounds much more confident and comfortable. We all know that when she is singing softly she sounds absolutely glorious…her performing Between The Bars and Can’t Help Falling In Love are great examples of this. In fact, I bet she could sing most of her back catalog pretty comfortably close mic-ed in a studio booth. Did I already say Madonna is amazing? 🤩
  8. I imagine she spent the time with her father.
  9. Oh no! I’m gonna have to spew another Cher rant! 😂 Preface: I love Cher too, but…cough, cough: Cher is the Queen of Revisionism. Unfortunately with the current regime of music journalists there isn’t much basis in fact or critical thinking, and so she has been elevated to this fantasy reality that she was the original Madonna over whom she has cultural dominance for sheer longevity. Nobody seems to remember the following: -Cher never had a solo top ten album in the US until Heart of Stone in 1989. She didn’t have another until Believe a decade later. -From 1973 until 1987, aside from Take Me Home, she didn’t have a single song that made the top 20. Also, aside from Believe, she has not had another since Just Like Jesse James in 1989. -Cher was hawking Bally’s Total Fitness and playing the Mirage in Vegas dressed by Frederick’s of Hollywood in the 1980s even when her film career was at its peak, and by 1993 she was pedaling Lori Davis hair products in informercials. Everyone saw her as a joke. -Let’s also be honest. With the minor exception of Tea With Mussolini in 1999, even her film career was over after Mermaids in 1990. And before anyone leaps to contradict this, Burlesque and Mamma Mia 2 are complete jokes and will be seen as such with time, if not already! -Cher’s touring legacy began with her Farewell Tour, which was essentially a continuation of her Believe Tour in 1999 and has essentially evolved into her subsequent tours ever since. Nobody thought of Cher as a master of the arena tour ever until she was posited as such by Liz Rosenberg. While I admire her tenacity as a performer, I have seen her twice in concert and it’s schmaltzy, camp and tacky. These are all adjectives that lend themselves well to Cher as a public figure. She used to own it, and was renowned for her “I don’t give a shit” attitude, but eventually it all just became a charade. It’s clear she takes herself far more seriously than she pretends, and the result is releasing diabolical albums of ABBA covers and Christmas unclassics for a lark that no one cares about aside from a tiny gay minority. I used to love Cher and her faux hair metal rock albums from 1986-1991, but there’s no creativity there. That’s why it’s so cruel that she gets elevated while Madonna gets dragged over the coals. They are absolutely entirely different species as entertainers and artists, and the (living) proof is in the pudding! You’d have to be blind to see anything Madonna has done and not find it vastly superior to Cher’s work.
  10. To me, nothing beats Blond Ambition for the sheer symbolism of the choreography and the energy of the performance. I loved the MDNA version with its organ before the finale. I wanted to love S + S, but frankly I’ve forgotten what it sounded like live as I’ve grown too accustomed to the studio dubbed version. The Stuart Price versions were pretty anemic in my opinion, which was in such contrast to everything else he did with her. Celebration is visually stunning. I can’t really comment on the music because it’s a studio remix we’ve all known for 35 years, but I do love the outro with Prince’s Act Of Contrition guitar.
  11. Tina was amazingly vibrant and she gave it her all. That said, her agility was somewhat diminished by the time of her final tour, and, as with Madonna, the choreography was adapted to suit her while her younger backup dancers were clearly more active. It didn’t matter because her heart was in it, and Tina remains one of the greatest icons of the 20th century and an absolute powerhouse of a performer. Where I would say there is a significant difference between Tina and Madonna as performers - and I’m not talking style, obviously - is that Tina went on record saying she didn’t want to continue touring as she no longer enjoyed performing. We know with hindsight that she had health issues, which may have contributed to that desire to retire. Perhaps Madonna will come to the same conclusion between now and her 70th birthday, but for now she seems to thrive when on stage. I really don’t want to think about a time when Madonna might retire from performing. 🙈
  12. Maybe the certifications are strategic. When they do the reissues I think the certifications will be updated for the press releases.
  13. I believe the tour was always meant to reignite interest in her back catalog. From a business perspective I’d speculate that it was a necessary choice in order to rebuild her mostly shattered reputation as a cultural icon. Part of the reason why America and Europe are always the focus of tour itineraries is because they are also traditionally the biggest markets for music in general. It makes sense to me that in order to get casual fans interested in potential legacy releases, she needed to remind her audience of what she is actually famous for. Many people I’ve encountered in recent years see her as a crazy old lady who does nothing but gratuitously seek attention. It’s a horrifying realization, but in all fairness that is what she portrayed herself to be to the masses who have probably only been exposed to a retweet, an IG post or a TikTok of her acting like a troll with no eyebrows, giant lips and a filter that made her look like an alien, and that’s what they think she is. For most people Madonna ruled the 80s. Despite all her significant subsequent success, it is that version of her and her music that still sells. All that to say that I think the legacy releases will come after the tour to further capitalize on the nostalgia, and if she promotes them, she might have a chance of getting decent exposure with new music down the line…if that’s even something she is interested in. I also really don’t think the film is a road she needs to go down after the tour. She simply doesn’t have that type of appeal as a public figure, and I’m afraid it would be panned as totally self-indulgent. Maybe she doesn’t care and feels it’s necessary to set the record straight, but if that’s the case, a book would do her far more justice.
  14. It’s also about having something to say. When we’re younger we have a sense of freshness to our learning. We feel passionate about conveying these things, and we often think we are discovering something that no one else knows! It’s normal, if delusional. As we mature, we recognize that while we can put the unique ingredients of our personality and experience into anything we create, it becomes more difficult to ignore the sense that it might not have the significance we once thought. Life veers toward overcoming the drive of the ego in favor of something less tangible and more enlightened. When Madonna put this into her work in the form of musings on spirituality, death, existentialism, or anti-materialism, the public became somewhat intolerant annd accused her of preaching, hypocrisy and inauthenticity. When she reembraced being Madonna the public persona , there was a rejection of her output because she was deemed too old to be exploring sexuality and intimacy, and her introspective and political expressions were characterized as naive, gauche, out of step, elitist, calculated…the list goes on. I think Madonna has enough self-awareness to know that it is difficult to convey her personal feelings into popular music at this stage of life because she exists in a world where she is a white woman of extreme privilege who is expected to stay in her lane, and would be canceled for pretty much anything that veered off course at this point. Therefore introspection and nostalgia about her life and career path and legacy are the logical roads forth of choice. The tour and biographical film seem to underline this awareness, and so I’m not sure what that translates to in terms of new music at this juncture. Would Madonna be accepted making pure dance or pop music now without it becoming camp and frothy like Cher or Kylie? Would modern Madonna ever want to be seen in that light? She really doesn’t seem to be interested in popularity at any cost. I don’t think she’s ever truly pandered, and when she tried being a brand a decade ago, she failed because she simply doesn’t have that type of broad appeal. It will certainly be interesting to discover what Madonna is interested in doing musically in 2024 or 2025, if anything!
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