Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column with William Price King – Madonna – Part Two – The 1980s

Madonna is a multi-faceted artist and social activist, no stranger to controversy, but who has always been true to the image that she created as a teenager and young performer.

As a singer, songwriter, actress and astute businesswoman, Madonna has been referred to as the “Queen of Pop” since her debut as an artist in the 1980s. She has pushed boundaries both in her lyrics, music and visual performances and has no problem with changing directions whilst maintaining her dominance in the music industry. She has delighted and frustrated music critics, but has often been credited by other artists as an influential force in their own music.

The songs that Madonna has written and produced, are evidence of that influence and popularity with her fans. Many have topped the charts such as “Like a Virgin”, “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Frozen”.  Her music career was just one area where she excelled, taking on lead roles in critically acclaimed films such as Desperately Seeking Susan and Evita. For her role as Eva Peron, Madonna was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Actress.

As a business woman, she founded her own entertainment company Maverick including a record label in 1992. She has also ventured into fashion design, health clubs and film-making. Madonna is also the author of a series of children’s books, including the latest released in December. The English Roses.

William Price King now picks up the story with Madonna’s in what was to be a highly successful rise to fame in both the music and film industry in the 1980s.

In 1981, Madonna decided to go solo and hired manager Camille Barbone of Gotham Records to help her get her singing career on track. Camille showed Madonna how to navigate the male-dominated world of the music business, and helped put together a studio band that accentuated the budding star’s hip style.

“Everybody” was released on October 6, 1982, by the Sire label as her debut single. By incorporating R&B infused beats in the music and not including her image on the cover artwork, marketing for the song, gave the impression of Madonna as a black artist. That impression did not last long as Madonna would later convince Sire executives to shoot a music video for the song. The low-budget video, directed by Ed Steinberg, showed Madonna and her friends in a club singing and dancing to the song. The video helped to further promote the song and Madonna as an artist.

Critically, “Everybody” did not receive any acclaim and failed to enter the official Billboard Hot 100 chart. It did, however, appear on the dance charts. The song helped Madonna achieve her first appearance in a dance magazine.

“Like a Virgin” was written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, and produced by Nile Rodgers, and was chosen for Madonna by Michael Ostin of Warner Bros. Records after listening to a demo sung by Kelly. Musically, “Like a Virgin” is a dance-oriented song, composed of two *hooks. Madonna’s voice is heard in a high register while a continuous arrangement of drums are heard along the bass line. The lyrics of the song are ambiguous and consist of hidden innuendo, interpreted in different ways. “Like a Virgin” received positive reviews from contemporary as well as past critics, who frequently called it as one of the defining songs for Madonna. It topped the charts worldwide.

The song’s music video portrayed Madonna sailing down the canals of Venice in a gondola, as well as roaming around a palace wearing a white wedding dress. With the video, scholars noted Madonna’s portrayal of a sexually independent woman, similarity of a man wearing lion’s mask to that of Saint Mark, and the link between the eroticism in the video and the vitality of Venice. Family groups sought to ban it as they believed the song promoted sex without marriage. On the other hand, Madonna’s public persona of an indomitable, sexually unashamed, supremely confident woman was widely accepted by the younger generation who emulated her style and fashion. Scholars have credited “Like a Virgin” as the song which cemented her position as a pop culture icon.

*hook – A hook is a musical idea, often a short riff, passage, or phrase, that is used in popular music to make a song appealing and to “catch the ear of the listener.” The term generally applies to popular music, especially rock, R&B, hip hop, dance, and pop.

“Material Girl” is from Madonna’s second studio album “Like a Virgin” (1984). It was released on January 23, 1985, as the second single from the album. The song was written by Peter Brown and Robert Rans, and produced by Nile Rodgers. Madonna explained that the concept of the song was indicative of her life at that time. She felt that “Material Girl” was provocative in its content and was attracted to it. The lyrics are very materialistic, with Madonna asking for a rich and affluent life, rather than romance and relationships. She said, “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.”

The music video was reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from the 1953 film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” The mimicked scenes are interspersed with scenes of a Hollywood director trying to win the heart of an actress, played by Madonna herself. Discovering that, contrary to her song, the young woman was not impressed by money and expensive gifts, he pretended to be penniless and succeeded in taking her out on a date. During a 2009 interview with “Rolling Stone,” Madonna was asked to speak about her first feelings after listening to the demos of “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl.” Madonna responded by saying, “I liked them both because they were ironic and provocative at the same time but also unlike me. I am not a materialistic person, and I certainly wasn’t a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be ‘like a virgin?’ I liked the play on words, I thought they were clever. They’re so geeky, they’re cool.”

Madonna also starred in her first mainstream feature film,“Desperately Seeking Susan,” (1985), and performed the soundtrack’s single, “Into the Groove,” which hit No. 1 on the U.S. dance charts. Her next single “Crazy for You“, which she performed for the 1985 film “Vision Quest,” also became a No. 1 hit. She then started her first music tour, The Virgin Tour.

“Papa Don’t Preach” from Madonna’s third studio album “True Blue“ (1986), was written by Brian Elliot with additional lyrics by Madonna. The song’s musical style combines pop and classical styling, with lyrics which deal with teenage pregnancy and abortion.

Released as the album’s second single in mid-1986, the song was a commercial success. It became Madonna’s fourth number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and performed well internationally, reaching the top position in the United Kingdom and Australia. It was well received by music critics and was frequently cited as a highlight in the album. The music video, directed by James Foley, shows Madonna with a more toned and muscular body, and cropped platinum blond hair trying to tell her father about her pregnancy. Shortly after its release, the song caused heated discussions about its lyrical content. Women’s organizations and others in the family planning field criticized Madonna for encouraging teenage pregnancy, while groups opposed to abortion saw the song as having a positive pro-life message.

As the song’s popularity increased in the United States, so did the criticism and support it received from groups concerned with pregnancy and abortion. In July 1986, shortly after the release of the video for “Papa Don’t Preach,” Madonna commented on the controversy surrounding the song, to music critic Stephen Holden from the “New York Times”:

“Papa Don’t Preach” is a message song that everyone is going to take the wrong way. Immediately they’re going to say I am advising every young girl to go out and get pregnant. When I first heard the song, I thought it was silly. But then I thought, wait a minute, this song is really about a girl who is making a decision in her life. She has a very close relationship with her father and wants to maintain that closeness. To me it’s a celebration of life. It says, ‘I love you, father, and I love this man and this child that is growing inside me’. Of course, who knows how it will end? But at least it starts off positive.”

Read the reviews and buy the music of Madonna:


All Madonna’s books can be bought here:

More information and source:Wikipedia Madonna

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo called “Clear Cut,” and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.

In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.

William Price King on Tumblr – IMPROVISATION

Connect with William

Website –
Facebook –
Twitter –
Regular Venue –

You can find previous artists featured in these two links

Jazz, Classical and Contemporary:

And the Music Column:

Thanks to William for his wonderful contributions and to you for dropping in today. See you next week for the next chapter in Madonna’s life.

25 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column with William Price King – Madonna – Part Two – The 1980s

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column with William Price King – Madonna – Part Two – The 1980s | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. William, brilliant continuation of this series. It is the period when I first heard of Madonna and little realised what a phenomena she would become. It is very interesting to have the major steps analysed so adroitly in sequence, as living through the launch of her career so much seemed to fly by unrecognised. Looking forward to the next part. Best Paul

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Snowed in with Madonna, Muses, Snake Fruit and special guests. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  4. Although I am a big fan of her music, I have not read much about Madonna’s life. I found it interesting that some of her first hits were written by other people and in some cases chosen for her by the one of the bosses at her record company (““Like a Virgin” was written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, produced by Nile Rodgers, and was chosen for Madonna by Michael Ostin of Warner Bros.”) I did read Nile Rodgers’ memoir a couple of years ago because I have always loved his songwriting and production work. Maybe you can profile him in a future blog post… Thank you for this chapter of Madonna’s creative life!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting post to get to know Madonna better. She is quite a talent and an enigma. She is not afraid to take chances in her career as displayed by all that she does from singing, to acting to writing children’s books. Good for her! Thanks for sharing, Sally and William. Hugs xx


  6. Pingback: William Price King #Music Column – The artists so far – Bono and U2, Madonna, Johnny Mathis and Aretha Franklin | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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