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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Jukebox - Material Girl by Madonna

I never actually planned for this to happen, but as it turns out, this weekend seemed to have a common theme to it.

My Friday entry was on Blair and Jo from The Facts Of Life, and yesterday's entry was about the short-lived cartoon series Camp Candy.

Unbeknownst to me, it almost played out like one of those 'Six Degrees Of Separation' games.  You know, the fad where everyone in the world could be connected to Kevin Bacon in as little as six moves?

Hmmm...I wonder if I can attempt to connect myself to Kevin Bacon in six moves...let's figure this out here.

1.  I once saw the Barenaked Ladies in concert about 15 years ago.
2.  BNL released the song 'The Old Apartment' around that time, and it was directed by Jason Priestley.
3.  Jason Priestley starred in Beverly Hills 90210 with Jennie Garth.
4.  Jennie Garth helped launch the show Melrose Place, which at some point had Kristin Davis in it.
5.  Kristin Davis worked on Sex And The City with Sarah Jessica Parker...and...
6.  Sarah Jessica Parker was in Footloose with KEVIN BACON!!!

You see?  I managed to connect myself to Kevin Bacon...albeit very loosely.

That's just how this weekend ended up.  Because all the entries featured in this weekend have dealt with spoiled princesses.

You had Blair Warner, who as you know was the quintessential rich snob at Eastland.
At Camp Candy, you had Vanessa, who was essentially so up herself, it's a wonder she even went to an outdoor camp in the first place.

Today's entry is no exception, even if the artist meant for the song and video to be done in irony.

Want to watch the video?  I'm sure you do!  (Sorry it's backwards...LOL)

ARTIST: Madonna
SONG:  Material Girl
ALBUM:  Like A Virgin
RELEASED: January 30, 1985

Madonna.  The biggest chameleon in all of pop music.  She changes her image more often than people change their underpants. 

She's arguably considered to be one of the most influential artists in the world of music.  She's influenced current musical artists with her sense of style and her art of performance during concerts.  Britney Spears, Hilary Duff, Lady Gaga...there's a little bit of Madonna in each of 'em, whether you argue for or against it.

By early 1985, Madonna was well on her way to achieving global success and making a household name for herself.  Her self-titled debut album released in 1982 had garnered moderate success, and with hits like 'Holiday' and 'Borderline' making a decent effort on the charts, she was well on her way to success.

Then in 1984, Madonna released the song 'Like A Virgin', which became her very first number one hit, and that song seemed to cement her status on music charts all over the world.  When Madonna's second album of the same name was released on November 12, 1984, it immediately became a huge success, and was considered to be one of the best selling albums of her career. 

Part of that was the success of the title track.  However, that was just the first of the releases from that album.  What song could possibly follow the success of Like A Virgin?

Madonna thought that the song Material Girl would be the perfect song.  In a sense, it was.  Recorded in late 1984, Material Girl came out during a time where yuppies and power brokers were hitting the scene, and where material possessions were sought out for happiness and pleasure.  Even Madonna herself talked about the message behind the song in interviews.  Although she didn't write the song herself, she felt that at the time of its creation, the lyrics seemed to click with her.  In 1986, she said this about Material Girl.  "I'm very career-oriented. You are attracted to people who are ambitious that way, too, like in the song 'Material Girl'. You are attracted to men who have material things because that's what pays the rents and buys you furs. That's the security. That lasts longer than emotions."

At the same time, she thought that the song was quite ironic in comparison to her.  Madonna never saw herself as much of a materialistic person at the time, which certainly contrasted with the song's message, which basically stated that 'poor men need not apply'.

Even the music video for Material Girl was heavily influenced by another blonde bombshell in the past.  If anyone is old enough to remember this movie, or who may have seen it on late-night television, there was a film called 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes', which first came out in 1953.  The starlet of the movie was a 27-year-old Marilyn Monroe.  One of the classic moments of this movie was when Marilyn did a stage performance of the song 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend'.  Watch it below, and see if you can spot any similarities to Madonna's video.

The similarities are endless, wouldn't you think?  There's even a resemblance between Marilyn and Madonna, even though the clips were shot thirty-two years apart.

The video is another interesting study in itself.  At the beginning you'll see two movie executives (played by Robert Wuhl and Keith Carradine), and the one played by Carradine has an obvious crush on Madonna, and wants to impress her.  Thinking that because she's a famous performer who is used to the very best in life, he attempts to buy her expensive presents that cost a fortune.

But, wait!  As he approaches her dressing room, he overhears Madonna on the phone with Sandra Bernhard or Rosie O'Donnell, or whoever her friend was back in January 1985, talking about a necklace she just got, and how much she HATES it!  Apparently, unlike Marilyn Monroe, diamonds weren't Madonna's best friend.  She so wanted to have normal things, and was not impressed with suitors who were literally throwing their money away to sweep her off her feet.

It is at that point that Carradine takes his expensive present and THROWS IT IN THE GARBAGE!  Seriously, are you kidding me?  You couldn't have just pawned it off and paid your mortgage?  Sheesh.  Talk about throwing your money away for a girl who isn't interested.

We then cut to the musical performance, which basically goes against what Madonna was telling gal pal du jour.  Decked out in Marilyn Monroe garb, and dancing with guys offering her presents, she warbles on about how 'boys who save their pennies make her rainy day', and how all the 'boys with the cold hard cash are always Mr. Right'.

Because in Madonna's performing world, she was living in a material world, and she was the material girl.

Of course, she wasn't really...she was only pretending.  She did have a contract with Arli$$, after all.

So, after the video was all wrapped up, Madonna was changing back into her street clothes (which look like they were borrowed from the 'Lucky Star' video shoot), and Carradine surprises her with a bouquet of...daisies that looked like they were bought at a dollar store. 

Be still Madonna's heart, for the dollar store flowers have made you go all googly-eyed.

So, the two head into the parking lot of the studio and they pile into what looks like a pickup truck where they make out like two sixteen year olds on Lover's Lane.

But, WAIT!  Did you happen to catch the scene where Carradine hands over a fistful of money to the owner of the pickup truck?  You have to wonder...did he fish the expensive present out of the trash and sell it so he could rent out the love nest for himself and Madonna?

I guess no matter what his intentions are, Carradine proved that we really must live in a material world...well, in some fashion.  And that economical measures can cost a great deal to pull off.

Has much changed in the 26 years since Material Girl was released?  Well, aside from the fact that the economy tanked a few years ago, not a whole lot, really.  I still see people who are obsessed with getting the latest gadgets, or having nice cars and houses, and even so much as paying thousands for a prime parking space.  Certainly more people are pinching pennies in this tough economy, but there are some who seem to be the perfect visualization of material girls (or guys).  See Paris Hilton, the Kardashians, etc...

The song still has some staying power.  Although it's a song that Madonna herself has admitted to cringing at performing, she has performed the song at four of her world tours.

And Madonna teamed up with her fourteen year old daughter, Lourdes to create a clothing line named after the song that this blog happens to be about.

Still though, personally speaking, I guess I'm one of those guys who doesn't see how having money makes someone irresistible.  I'm far from being a material guy, and I just can't see myself getting involved with someone who wants to be a material girl.  Possessions come and go, or can be replaced, or can be dwarfed by the newest, sleekest version.  But, if I'm Keith Carradine's character, I would love to have someone like Madonna in that video...someone who isn't impressed by flashy diamonds or expensive gold, but who is impressed by the emotional feelings that one can give.

To me, that's worth more than anything bought at Tiffany's, Cartier, or even Kay Jewellers.

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