By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor
Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan, on August 16, 1958, to
parents Silvio "Tony" Ciccone and Madonna Fortin.
In 1964, her mother died of breast cancer. In 1977, she moved to
New York City. There, in 1979, she became part of the Patrick Hernandez
Revue. After performing in pop groups, she released her debut album
in 1983. She followed it with a series of albums in which she found
immense popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in
mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos. Her videos
became hugely popular on MTV.
Madonna reached the peak of her career in the 1980s (it's considered
her boom decade). She dominated the music charts with a succession
of multi-million-selling albums. And her musical and fashion
influence on young women was felt around the globe.
In 1983, Madonna's debut album "Madonna" was released, and the
first hit "Holiday" topped the charts around the world. Other hit
singles included "Borderline" (with the oft-repeated "bow duh line" in
the lyrics) and "Lucky Star." The album was a
smash hit, and it catapulted Madonna into instant stardom.
Millions of preteen girls flocked to buy Madonna tapes, emulating the
millions of teen Madonna fans. Crowing Madonna songs in their homes, some of
these girls drove their parents nuts. Boys also caught Madonna fever, entranced
by her looks in addition to her music. Parents, checking out what interested
their kids so much, took a break from their Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and
Rolling Stones tapes to listen to Madonna. Many of them also got hooked. The
mothers liked the new sound, though many didn't like it that their husbands
seemed overly interested in the videos.
Madonna’s second album, "Like a Virgin," was released at the end
of 1984. The title track hit number one in December, staying at the
top of the charts for six weeks; it was the start of a whirlwind
year for the singer. During 1985, Madonna became an international
celebrity, selling millions of records on the strength of her
stylish, sexy videos and her forceful personality. After “Material
Girl" became a number two hit in March, Madonna began her first
tour, supported by the Beastie Boys. "Crazy for You" became her
second number one single in May.
In 1992, Madonna released her erotic book Sex. It featured Madonna
as the centerpiece of photographs depicting various sexual fantasies
and acts (including lesbianism, anal sex, and sadomasochism). She
released her next album, Erotica, in the same year. The music videos
from Erotica were groundbreaking in a number of ways. Two different
treatments of the title video were released: an "uncut" European
version which featured graphic nudity and overt depiction of sexual
acts, and a censored American version. Though the song was a huge
hit, the video only aired a total of three times on MTV, always
after midnight, and always preceded by a warning.
In 1994 Madonna released Bedtime Stories. The album had her sultry
voice as she tackled a number of topics which extended far beyond
the subject matter of her early songs. "Take a Bow" topped the
Billboard Hot 100 for 7 consecutive weeks, breaking her previous
record of 6 weeks with "Like a Virgin." The album was nominated for
a Grammy in the same year.
Madonna released a second greatest hits album in 1996. She began
to wear fashionable designer dresses. This helped her to secure the
role of Eva Perón in the 1996 film Evita. The film marked the first
time Madonna starred in a leading role. She delivered a Golden Globe
winning performance and was critically praised.
In 1998, Madonna reinvented herself yet again as she began
studying mystical Judaism and The Kabbalah. She took Yoga lessons
and pursued a vigorous exercise regime that brought her body to a
peak of fitness and lean muscularity.
Editor's note: Unfortunately, she would later obsess over her
excellent vascularity as if it were somehow a negative and have
unnecessary surgery on her hands to "correct" the non-problem. Given
who she was, why didn't she just ignore the stupid comments and set yet another
In 1998 she released "Ray of Light," the album became her biggest
hit in nearly ten years, selling over 15 million copies. It spawned
the top ten singles "Frozen," "Ray of Light," "Drowned World /
Substitute For Love", "Nothing Really Matters," and "The Power of
In 2000, Madonna released the album "Music." In 2003, American
Life was released and it topped the charts as well.
On her 27th birthday (August 16, 1985) Madonna married actor Sean
Penn. They divorced, and in December 2000 Madonna married director
Guy Ritchie at Skibo Castle in Scotland. She released her second
Greatest Hits album, "GHV2," in 2001.
In June 2001, she appeared in "Star," a short film directed by
Guy Ritchie, and then began working on a remake of the classic film
"Swept Away." The film, released in 2002, was critically panned and
went on to become yet another in a string of acting flops.
In December 2007, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced
Madonna as one of the five inductees of 2008. That same year, the
album "Hard Candy" became one of Madonna's most critically acclaimed
albums of her career. It includes the top 5 smash single "4 Minutes"
featuring Justin Timberlake.
The Material Girl who never stops re-inventing herself, Madonna
has sold tens of millions of records and CDs to fans worldwide. Her
film career, however, is another story. Her performances have
consistently drawn scathing or laughable reviews from film critics,
and the films have usually had tepid, if any, success at the box
office. That said, there are some Madonna devotees who watch every film.
The number of albums compiled by Madonna consists of eleven
studio albums, six compilation albums, three soundtrack albums,
three live albums and three remix albums. According to the Guinness
Book of World Records, Madonna is the most successful female
recording artist of all time.
Throughout her career Madonna has repeatedly reinvented herself
through a series of visual and musical personas. The Times stated,
"Madonna, whether you like her or not, started a revolution amongst
women in music." From her first album she revolutionized dance music
and then time after time riveted the attention of the music world on
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