Speaking her mind ... Madonna opens up to Gordon Smart in Day Two of her exclusive interview
By GORDON SMART, Showbiz Editor
IN her three-decade reign as the undisputed queen of pop, Madonna has never shied away from controversy.
Madonna on her family life
SHE tells Sun she feels her ‘head is going to explode’ from the stress of being single mum
Madonna is singing the bruiseGirl Gone Wild is pure Mad-gicMadonna rolls back the yearsMadonna may be set to wed
And she has lost none of her appetite for a good verbal scrap — as she demonstrated when she sprang to the defence of Brit star Adele after Karl Lagerfeld called her "too fat".
In Day Two of an exclusive interview with The Sun, Madonna branded the legendary fashion designer's comments "horrible" and "ridiculous".
Last month, the eccentric Chanel designer claimed Tottenham-born Adele was "a little too fat" when he guest-edited a French magazine.
But Madonna, 53, stuck up for the Grammy-winner, hitting back: "That's horrible. That's ridiculous, that's just the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.
"I don't like it when anybody says anything bad about anyone — I don't like it. Adele's a great talent and how much she weighs has nothing to do with it."
Madonna, who has won seven Grammys and two Brit awards, explained how she has sustained a career in music spanning more than a quarter of a century — and said it is decent advice for Adele, 23, to stay on the right track.
No weigh ... Adele was labelled 'fat' by Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld
She said: "The thing for Adele to remember is at the end of the day, whether you rise or fall, it has so much to do with how you sustain yourself and keep your integrity and your inner strength.
"It is all about who you surround yourself with — friends and people who really do care about you, and care about your well-being beyond being a superstar. That's the most important thing."
Over the past six months, two of the brightest female solo stars have passed away in tragic circumstances.
Last July Amy Winehouse died aged just 27 after suffering a public battle with drugs and alcohol.
Then last month Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel bath in the Beverly Hilton in LA. She was 48.
'Horrible' ... Madonna has hit out at Karl for his comments about Adele
Like all music fans, Madonna was shocked by the deaths before their time.
She said: "I, probably like everybody else, was hit by this shocking sense of disbelief – especially with Whitney Houston.
"It had not been a secret, the struggles Amy had been through — both brilliant, brilliant artists and obviously both huge losses.
"But when these things happen, I'm always shocked by the first thing you say — 'It's such a loss' — which doesn't quite cover it.
"Then you reflect and you think, 'How did it happen? How did the people around them allow it to happen?'
"We've lost so many great artists that way when you think about it. So history just kind of repeats itself over and over.
Star files ... how Madonna and Adele compare
"One thing I was struck by with Whitney Houston is I remember she sort of came out as a singer around the same time I did.
"I remember looking at her singing and hearing people talk about her, and just thinking, 'Oh my God. She's such a beautiful woman and my God, what an incredible voice. I wish I could sing like that.'
"I just remember being extremely envious of her and also touched by her innocence.
"I was watching a documentary about Serge Gainsbourg, the French songwriter, and there's a famous talk show he did that happened a while back when Whitney was just starting.
"It was funny, because I'd just watched it the week before she died, where he was making a kind of play for her on national television and he was basically saying in French that he wanted to 'f' her — and the look of shock on her face...
Gone too soon ... Amy Winehouse
"I mean, she was so innocent and so young, and so cute, and really she blushed.
"And I was thinking, 'We are all innocent at one stage in our life. It's just interesting, the paths our lives take.'
"I was struck by that — how well she started and where she ended up and the tragedy of it."
Madonna is about to release her twelfth studio album, MDNA, and kicked off the promo cycle for the release with a high-profile gig during half-time of the Super Bowl last month.
The gig, with Brit M.I.A and New York rapper Nicki Minaj, sparked huge controversy in the US when M.I.A flicked a middle finger at the camera.
If you blinked, you would have missed it. But it didn't stop a conservative audience complaining in their thousands — with a very different finger of blame pointing at Madonna.
'We've lost so many great artists' ... Whitney Houston died in February
But the mum-of-four has mixed views about the uproar. She said: "Well, you know, the thing is we were in NFL territory.
"We were in the sacred ground of football and I think that it's a very important and well-viewed event.
"It was accepted and understood by everyone performing that we would be — what's the word I'm looking for — politically correct.
"I think the NFL were more worried about me than anything else, thinking that I was going to do something crazy or provocative. And I really had no intention of doing something shocking.
"I was working too hard in putting the show together to think about how I was going to do something to p*ss people off.
"They fought hard for me to get me more rehearsal time, and to give me what I wanted creatively for the show.
Flipping out ... M.I.A caused outrage after she swore during the Super Bowl
"I felt like I owed them to give them back what they wanted.
"So on that level, I was upset because I knew that I got some people into trouble that really went forward for me.
"And I don't wanna do that — I don't want anybody to get in trouble at my expense because they worked so hard to give me what I wanted, so there's that side of it.
"On the other hand, I didn't know M.I.A did it, and everybody was outraged about it so I viewed the footage and I kind of almost missed it.
"And I was like, 'Oh, okay'. It didn't seem like that big a deal at the end of the day, so there's two sides to the story.
"You know, that's her thing, it's pretty punk rock and actually, in the bigger picture of things, much crazier things have happened."
Fans around the UK and Ireland have already bought tickets to see Madonna perform this summer in London, Edinburgh and Dublin.
And she hopes the shows will cause as much of a stir with her own fans in the stadium.
On stage ... Madonna performing with M.I.A right, and Nicki Minaj, left
She said: "Oh God, I hope somebody is going to give the middle finger at my show. It probably won't be me because I've done it too many times.
"I hope I have some ideas. The creative well is dry but I just started rehearsals last week and mostly I have been focusing on music.
"I do have ideas and I have a lot of work ahead of me. I'm incredibly anxiety-ridden about it."
There is no sign of Madonna packing up her fishnets and leotard either — even though she has passed the half century.
And fans will be pleased to hear she is as motivated as ever to carry on her illustrious career.
She said: "I guess I love doing what I do. I have a voice, I have opinions, I have things I wanna say.
"I love music, I love telling stories. So I guess as long as I feel that way I'll keep doing what I'm doing."
MDNA is out on March 26.