Vanessa Grigoriadis for The New York Times Magazine profiles Madonna in this weekend's edition, focusing on what the idol, 60, has accomplished, is still accomplishing, and intends to accomplish in the future.
It's a remarkably perceptive read, and it is reassuring to read this kind of summary — written by a woman — that feels more like an assessment than a eulogy; famous women are supposed to go away after they age, right? Wrong.
I've always loved this kind of piece, ever since I salvaged an "Elizabeth Taylor at 50" Life issue as a teen from one of my neighbors, whose love of trash entertainment fed me. And I was an overeater.
In the Madonna piece, a very important point is made about how success in the music world is measured in 2019, and it explains why Madonna is still and always will be Madonna, even if hit singles are elusive:
Teenagers have always dominated pop, but now that most new music in the United States is streamed, how many times a song is listened to by one person counts much more than how many people listen to a song — and kids simply have more time to stream music than adults.
That's also why Janet Jackson, 53, can't get a hit, and a host of others.
It's quite ironic when Madonna tells her interviewer her early-'80s motivation:
“ ... All I wanted was a song to get played on the radio. That’s all I was praying for. One song.”
She's right back there again, trying to get her excellent new music (particularly “Crave,” which is now a bona fide AC hit at least) played on the radio.
I love this about Madonna, that she cares, that she still strives to be the best, to get played, to have hits, to be a part of the current conversation. Others hate her for it, want her to be like Cher — more easygoing, less of a try-hard, and embrace legacy status.
It all ties into aging, and Madonna has the final word on that, turning the tables when the interviewer respectfully broaches the topic. She says:
“I think you think about growing old too much. I think you think about age too much. I think you should just stop thinking about it. Stop thinking, just live your life and don’t be influenced by society trying to make you feel some type of way about your age or what it is you’re supposed to be doing ... We are a marginalized group, women. And just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you stop fighting against it or defying it or refusing to be pigeonholed or put in a box or labeled or told you can and can’t do things.”
Full NYT article about this '80s — and '90s, and '00s, and '10s, and soon to be '20s — icon here.