THE IRON DIVA
Written by Nelson Branco
In troubled times, there’s something reassuring about the perennial resurrection of Madonna
Is Madonna still relevant? More than ever.
Since Madonna Louise Ciccone last toured with her outrageously successful Sticky and Sweet extravaganza ($400 million, thank you), the world lost two of music’s most indelible influences, fallen ’80s super icons Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. And music’s next great hope, Amy Winehouse. All to drugs.
Luckily, we don’t have to worry about the Eternal Girl. Knowing Queen Madge and her stubborn spirit, she’ll outlast us all.
After all, her drug of choice isn’t dangerous or life-threatening. “Life and love inspire me,” says Madonna. “I think reinventing yourself is vital to your survival as an artist and a human being. I know it’s cliché to say about me at this point, but it’s true. My curiosity definitely is the driving force in my life and career. When you stop learning, engaging and growing, you’re dead.”
For mourning pop fans, Madonna’s perennial resurrections have been soothing and reassuring in these tumultuous, complex times.
She’s still kissing girls (this time, the lucky whippersnapper is Nicki Minaj), selling-out stadiums, producing infectious hit singles (“Give Me All Your Luvin’”), thumbing her nose at movie critics, reshaping her age-defying body, cussing out hydrangeas and inspiring us all by raising a modern family as a single mom. Whew.
“I love Canada. You guys get it.”
Somewhere in between all that managed chaos and fun, Madonna scored her second Golden Globe Award for “Masterpiece.” She even beat her longtime rival Elton John in the category. In a rare act of diplomacy, Madonna didn’t take Elton’s bait when the surly musician — and his Toronto-born partner David Furnish — attacked her mercilessly in the press afterward.
When I bring up John’s snarky, pointed attacks, Madonna smiles knowingly. “Yes, it appears he’s always mad at me about something, isn’t he? I’m honest when I say I have nothing against him. I’m a fan of his music. He’s a brilliant artist. And I will always adore and respect him. And he has the right to gripe as much as he wants. I like knowing he’s thinking about me a lot.”
Her recently released movie WE tackles Madonna’s two favourite subjects, fame and love, through the storied romance of King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. While the movie received mixed reviews, Madonna managed to escape the personal attacks she’s faced in the past for her films.
Would she, like Edward, give up her throne for love? “Yes,” she answers. “But then again, I’m of the mind: Why can’t I have both? I don’t think we need to compromise. Of course, these are different times and I am not a royal.”
She is royalty of a kind, reminding everyone she’s still the greatest performer of ’em all by single-handedly stealing the Super Bowl earlier this year with a lively, record-breaking half-time performance which people are still talking about. Her Egyptian-cheerleading-gospel-choir-inspired spectacle was the most-watched halftime show on record, and actually edged out the game’s averages in both ratings and total viewers.
Not bad for a 53-year-old star, especially in this youth-obsessed market of ours.
Moving forward, it’s her latest album MDNA and upcoming tours fans are most excited about. “While my new passion is making movies, touring and recording will always be my first love,” she says. “My music career pays the mortgage — and keeps me in shape. Plus, it’s fun. I think the fans are going to love it. I didn’t want to do anything too serious because the film was so taxing for me on an artistic level. I can’t wait to get up there and dance and sing. Some of my little ones have yet to see that side of my life.
“I wanted to make an album that was unapologetically happy. I think we all need to dance a bit more these days. The world needs a breather, and [DJ/producer] Martin [Solveig] knows how to put a smile on people’s faces. And, of course, I have my partner-in-crime, William Orbit, helping me out with the substance. MDNA is a good hybrid of the introspective and fun.”
She’s looking forward to visiting Canada, where’s she performing in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa late summer and early fall. “I love Canada. You guys get it,” she says. When asked if she still thinks Toronto is a “fascist state,” an infamous moniker from her Truth or Dare documentary, fallout from her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990 and a visit from Toronto’s morality squad. “No, of course not,” she says, shaking her head. “My how times have changed, huh?
“My country could learn a lot from you guys.”