Although I knew almost nothing – prior to Tone Deaf - about current pop music certain poppers are inescapable. Madonna for instance. I even knew of Material Girl which I vaguely applauded since that meaning of material is not an everyday word to be found in pop lyrics.
I knew she’d chosen to live in Britain which seemed vaguely commendable. Also that her professional longevity, her unsuitable marriages, her adoption of African children, her attempts at charity in Africa and her investment in poorish movies had caused the press to treat her as something of a joke. I felt inclined to like her. But what of her music?
Here’s the faintest of impressions. Especially the evolution of her voice. Since the imitation Betty Boop adopted for Material Girl is intended as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe the childish tone is understandable; less so for Like A Virgin (“touched for the very first time”) where M writhes on a gondola as it glides through the canals of Venice. Given the provocative title, which returns as a refrain, nobody can have been surprised by the repetition. Drumming still uninspired.
A lower, more melodious, more attractive voice emerges in Papa Don’t Preach where a working-class girl (details well substantiated in the video) announces she intends to keep her baby. There’s a story, a decent tune and a moral here. Anti-abortion activists were angered – I don’t know why.
But it’s easy to see why the RC church didn’t care for Like A Prayer where the toes of a weeping black icon are kissed and M suffers accidental stigmata. The mid-range voice is genuinely lovely and merges with excellent gospel singing at the end.
Erotica (“A certain satisfaction/In a little bit of pain”) opts for Sprechstimme and I for one was disappointed. Much lesbianism.