Leotards, Lace Gloves & Pointy Bras



Our Glorious Leader

OGL turned 55 yesterday. In case you don’t know, OGL stands for Our Glorious Leader. And no, that’s not David Cameron. He’s more of a KBL – Kinda Beige Leader. OGL does, of course, refer to Madonna. And, despite her pillow cheeks, crow-like hands and continued dabblings with Kabollocks, she’s still the undisputed Queen of Pop. Last year alone, for example, she scored the biggest-selling tour, her MDNA album went to No.1 in 50-odd countries and her performance at the Superbowl halftime show went on to be the most-watched show in the history of American TV. This level of continued success is no mean feat given the increasingly disposable culture we live in. ‘Sticking’ in today’s fickle material world is easier said than done. But if anyone can pull it off, I guess it’s the self-proclaimed Material Girl.

Soundtrack To My Life

Like so many people, I’ve grown up with Madonna. In fact, it’s fair to say she provided the soundtrack to my childhood, teens and even my early adult life. And now, as a 30-somethinger, she’s still figures heavily on my playlists. Not bad when you consider she and I started out together on vinyl over 3 decades ago. What’s more, M has managed to survive in the ever-changing landscape of music while most of her contemporaries have all fallen by the wayside. The triumvirate of pop that was Prince, Michael Jackson and Madonna is no more: Prince disappeared up his own backside while poor old Michael went from genius to grotesque before finally popping his clogs. These days, Madonna stands alone as the last of the true mega-stars.

Genre Shifting

So what’s the secret to her success? Well, there’s that oft-quoted phrase, ‘she constantly reinvents herself’. While it’s a total cliche, it also happens to be true. Madonna realised early on in her career that in order to remain relevant you have to embrace change – or go one better and lead it. As such, she became a master of transformation, rooting out happening producers, keeping a close eye on club culture and continually updating her sound. Leaf through her back catalogue and you’ll see she’s ticked off just about every genre going: pop, dance, electronica, techno, folk, country, gospel, R’n’B, funk, power ballads, acid rock… hell, she’s even had a crack at Sondheim and Lloyd Webber. Admittedly, some of her musical outings have been more successful than others but one thing she cannot be accused of is being ‘safe’. While she’s always got into the groove, she’s never got stuck in one.

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Each aural escapade has also been accompanied by a different look. The woman’s like a chameleon, having morphed from a lace glove-wearing punk in the Eighties to a high-kicking granny in a leotard in the Noughties by way of a conical bra-ed superwoman in the Nineties. And that’s before we’ve even thought about her stints as a geisha, a cowgirl, a gangster’s moll, a flamenco dancer, a freedom fighter, a bride-to-be and, oh yes, a hitchhiker in the buff. My personal fave was when she performed Vogue at the MTV Music Awards back in 1990 as Marie Antoinette, complete with powdered wig and bustled gown. Again, no-one can say that the girl doesn’t try to shake things up.

Long Live The Queen

For me, it’s this fusion of new sounds and styles that has ensured La Ciccone‘s longevity. Each time she’s released an album it’s as if she’s reborn as a totally different pop star. It’s a clever strategy – reincarnate yourself so people never have enough time to get bored of you – and certainly one that pretenders to her throne, like Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, have all tried to emulate. One thing’s for sure, I still love Madonna as much as I did all those years ago when I first listened to True Blue with my Sony Walkman clipped onto my belt. So happy birthday Madge – long may you reign.