Smorgasbord Blog Magazine- The Music Column with William Price King – Madonna – Part Three

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 as Madonna enters the 1990s following the release of her critically acclaimed single “Like a Prayer“.

“Like a Prayer,” released on March 3, 1989, is from Madonna’s fourth studio album of the same name. Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, the track denoted a more artistic and personal approach to songwriting for Madonna, who believed that she needed to cater more to her adult audience. “Like a Prayer” incorporates gospel music and features background vocals from a choir as well as a rock guitar. The lyrics contain liturgical words which have dual meanings of sexual innuendo and religion. However, “Like a Prayer” received widespread acclaim from critics, journalists and academics, and was also a commercial success. It was Madonna’s seventh number-one single on the United States’ Billboard Hot 100, and topped the singles charts worldwide.

The video, directed by Mary Lambert, portrays Madonna as a witness to the murder of a girl by white supremacists. A black man is arrested for the murder, as Madonna hides in a church for safety seeking strength to go forth as a witness. The clip depicts a church and Catholic symbols such as stigmata. It also features a KKK- style cross burning, and a dream about kissing a black saint. The Vatican condemned the video, while family and religious groups protested its broadcast. This song was considered a turning point in Madonna’s career, with critics starting to acknowledge her as an artist rather than a mere pop star.

Madonna starred as “Breathless Mahoney” in the film “Dick Tracy” (1990), with Warren Beatty playing the title role. The film went to #1 in the U.S. box office for two weeks and Madonna received a “Saturn Award” nomination for Best Actress. To accompany the film, she released the soundtrack album, “I’m Breathless,”

“Vogue” is the second soundtrack from the album “I’m Breathless” (1990) and was released as the first single from the album on March 27, 1990. Madonna was inspired by *vogue dancers and choreographers Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza and Luis Xtravaganza from the Harlem “House Ball” community. “Vogue” is an upbeat dance-pop and **house song and set the trends of dance music in the 1990s.

“Vogue” has been met with appreciation ever since its release; reviewers have praised its anthemic nature and listed it as one of the singer’s career highlights. Commercially, the song remains one of Madonna’s biggest international hits, topping the charts in over 30 countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

It became the world’s best-selling single of 1990, selling over six million copies. The music video for “Vogue”, directed by David Fincher, was shot in black and white and takes stylistic inspiration from the 1920s and 1930s. Madonna and her dancers can be seen voguing to different choreographed moves. The video has been ranked as one of the greatest of all time in different critic lists and polls and won three awards at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards out of a total of nine nominations.

“Vogue” has been lauded by critics since its release. AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine claimed that the song was “Madonna’s finest single moment” and that it had an “instantly memorable melody.”

*vogue – Vogue or voguing, is a highly stylized, modern house dance originating in the late 1980s that evolved out of the Harlem ballroom scene of the 1960s

**house – House music is a genre of electronic music created by club DJs and music producers in Chicago in the early 1980s. Early house music was generally characterized by repetitive 4/4 beats, rhythms mainly provided by drum machines, off-beat hi-hat cymbals, and synthesized bass lines.

“Justify My Love” is from Madonna’s first greatest hits compilation album “The Immaculate Collection” (1990), released on October 30, 1990, as the first single from the album. The song was written by Lenny Kravitz and Ingrid Chavez, with additional lyrics by Madonna. Chavez was not credited on the song, which led to a lawsuit against Kravitz.

“Justify My Love” is a *trip hop inspired song, with mid-tempo settings and instrumentation. The lyrics of the song are primarily about sex and romance. “Justify My Love” received mixed reviews from older critics, but was critically appreciated by many contemporary critics, noting it as one of Madonna’s best songs to date. The song became Madonna’s ninth number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, while reaching the Top 10 in several countries including Australia, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The music video portrayed Madonna as a woman walking in a hotel hallway, looking distressed and tired from work, until being seduced into having sex with a mysterious man and woman. It caused controversy worldwide, due to its explicit sexual images, and was subsequently banned from MTV and other TV networks. The video, which contained imagery of sadomasochism, voyeurism, and bisexuality, made its US television debut December 3, 1990 on ABC during its late-night news program “Nightline.”

*Trip hop is a musical genre that originated in the early 1990s in the UK, especially Bristol. It has been described as “a fusion of hip hop and electronica until neither genre is recognizable,” and may incorporate a variety of styles.

Her first documentary film “Truth or Dare” (known as In Bed with Madonna outside North America) was released in May 1991. Chronicled her Blond Ambition World Tour, it became the highest-grossing documentary of all time (surpassed eleven years later by Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine).

In 1992, Madonna starred in “A League of Their Own” as Mae Mordabito, a baseball player on an all-women’s team. It reached #1 on the box office and became the tenth highest-grossing film of the year in the U.S. She recorded the film’s theme song, “This Used to Be My Playground,” which became her tenth Hot 100 number-one hit, the most by any female artist at the time. The same year, she founded her own entertainment company, “Maverick,” consisting of a record company (Maverick Records), a film production company (Maverick Films), and associated music publishing, television broadcasting, book publishing and merchandising divisions.

“Take a Bow” was written and produced by Madonna and Babyface, and is a mid tempo pop ballad with Japanese musical influences, like that of Kyu Sakamoto’s 1961 song, “Sukiyaki.” It begins with sounds of oriental *pentonic strings, giving the impression of Chinese or Japanese opera. This piece is from Madonna’s sixth studio album “Bedtime Stories” (1994) and was released as the album’s second single on November 29, 1994. “Take a Bow” was recorded at “The Hit Factory” Studios in New York, and was backed by a full orchestra.

“Take a Bow” received general acclaim. Taraborrelli called it a “melancholy and beautifully executed ballad.” Author Chris Wade wrote in his book “The Music of Madonna” that “Take a Bow” was a standout from the album. He complimented Madonna and Babyface’s vocals, while calling the music “stunning”. He declared it as one of the singer’s “purest songs, totally free of any gimmicks, self consciousness or knowing sexual references; a graceful end to the album.”

Madonna replaced Carole King as the female who had written the most number-one songs. “Take A Bow” was present on the chart for a total of 30 weeks, tying up with “Borderline”as Madonna’s longest running song on the Hot 100. With this song reaching number one on the Hot 100, Madonna was among the top five artists with the most number-one singles on the chart: The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and The Supremes.

*pentatonic – a scale of five notes, especially one without semitones equivalent to an ordinary major scale with the fourth and seventh omitted.

Read the reviews and buy the music of Madonna:


All Madonna’s books can be bought here:

More information and sources: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.

21 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine- The Music Column with William Price King – Madonna – Part Three

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Magazine- The Music Column. – The Militant Negro™

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine- The Music Column with William Price King – Madonna – Part Three | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  3. I had forgotten the order of when she released each album/CD… I also had forgotten about the law suit regarding “Justify My Love.” Apparently it was passed along to Madonna without Ingrid Chavez’s (co-writer’s) permission (she was a protege of/collaborator with Prince; so I hope/trust she eventually was given her share of the money from this hit…) And I also hope/trust madonna keeps receiving royalties for this extraordinary body of pop music. Thank you for this blog post!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for another terrific episode on Madonna, William. I think the best thing she did was starring in A League of Their Own. That put her into the mainstream for everyone, not just music lovers or Madonna lovers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Classic music from this talented and often controversial artist. What a career! Thank you Sal and William for a blast from the past and deeper insights into the behind the scenes of Madonna’s music. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Madonna, Hot Cross Buns, Chicken Poop and Houston 1985 | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  7. 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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