Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column with William Price King – Madonna Part Four.


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 picks up the story in the late 1990s and the iconic music and Madonna’s performance in “Evita”.

“Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” was written and composed by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice while they were researching the life of Argentinian leader Eva Perón. It appeared at the opening and near the end of the show, initially as the spirit of the dead Eva exhorting the people of Argentina not to mourn her, and finally during Eva’s speech from the balcony of the Casa Rosada.

In 1996, Madonna starred in the film “Evita,” playing the title role. For a long time, Madonna had desired to play Eva and even wrote a letter to director Alan Parker, explaining how she would be perfect for the part. After securing the role, she underwent vocal training with coach Joan Lader since “Evita” required the actors to sing their own parts. Lader noted that the singer “had to use her voice in a way she’s never used it before. “Evita” is real musical theater. Madonna developed an upper register that she didn’t know she had.”

According to Madonna, she was very nervous during the first day of recording. She allegedly found herself “petrified” when it came to doing the song; “I had to sing ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber, I was a complete mess and was sobbing afterward. I thought I had done a terrible job“, she recalled.

Peter Travers from “Rolling Stone” wrote: “Madonna, to her credit, puts on quite a show. She sings, she tangos, she even belts out ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ to prove she’s just folks.”

“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #17 the week of 22 February 1997 and ultimately peaked at #8 the week of 1 March 1997. It reached #1 on the European Hot 100 Singles, the week of 8 February 1997.

In October 1996, Madonna welcomed the arrival of her daughter Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon. Her biographer Mary Cross writes that although Madonna was often ill during the filming of Evita and that being pregnant might harm the film, she had achieved some important personal goals. “Now 38 years old, Madonna had at last triumphed on screen and achieved her dream of having a child, both in the same year. She had reached another turning point in her career, reinventing herself and her image with the public.”

Madonna by Mary Cross

 

“Frozen,” from her seventh studio album “Ray of Light” (1998), is a mid-tempo *electronica ballad which talks about a cold and emotionless human being. “Frozen” received acclaim from music critics, some of whom deemed it an album standout. It was described as being a masterpiece, and its melodic beat and sound were defined as “cinematic.” The single was also a worldwide commercial success. It became Madonna’s sixth single to peak at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, making her the artist with the most number – two hits in the history of that chart. “Frozen” also became her first single to debut at the top of the UK Singles Chart, while reaching number one in Italy, Scotland, Spain and Finland, and the top five elsewhere.

The video for “Frozen” was directed by Chris Cunningham in a desert in California, portraying Madonna as an ethereal, witch-like, melancholy persona, who shape shifts into a flock of birds and a black dog. The video received a MTV Video Music Award for “Best Special Effects” in 1998.

Madonna co-wrote songs for the album “Ray of Light” with William Orbit, Patrick Leonard, Rick Nowels, and Babyface. The album reflects the singer’s changed perspectives about life. Author Carol Benson noted that it was a “deeply spiritual dance record“, with the crux of it based on Madonna’s career, her journey and the many identities she had assumed over the years. Motherhood had softened the singer emotionally, which was reflected in the songs. She started talking about ideas and used words which implied deep and personal thoughts, rather than the regular dance-floor anthemic tunes she had composed.

Madonna began introspecting herself with motherhood being a “big catalyst for me. It took me on a search for answers to questions I’d never asked myself before,” she said to “Q” magazine.

*electronica – An umbrella term used to describe the rise of electronic music styles intended not just for dancing but also concentrated listening.

“Music” was released on September 18, 2000, and is Madonna’s eighth studio album. “Music” has an overall dance-pop and electronica vibe, with influences from rock, country, and folk. “Music” was acclaimed by most critics and earned Madonna five Grammy Award nominations, ultimately winning one for “Best Recording Package.” In 2003, “Rolling Stone” ranked it number 452 on the magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” The record was also a commercial success, debuting at number one in over 23 countries across the world and selling four million copies in its first ten days of release. In the United States, “Music” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 420,000 units, making it her first album to top the chart in more than a decade since “Like a Prayer” (1989). It was certified triple platinum by the RIAA for three million units shipped in the United States and has sold over 11 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling albums during the 2000 century.

“Music” was released as the lead single from the album on August 21, 2000 and was praised by contemporary critics. Some compared it with her older songs, like “Into the Groove” (1985) and “Holiday” (1983) and it became Madonna’s 12th number-one single on the US Billboard Hot 100, making Madonna the second artist to achieve number one hits in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s on the Hot 100. In the United Kingdom, “Music” peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart. “Music” was voted the 16th best record of 2001 in The Village Voice’s ‘Paz & Jop,’ an annual poll of American critics published by “The Village Voice.” In 2001, the single “Music” was nominated for “Record of the Year” and “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.”

“Die Another Day” is the theme song from the James Bond film of the same name. It was released commercially as a single and was later included on Madonna’s ninth studio album, “American Life” (2003). “Die Another Day” received mixed responses from music critics; one group of reviewers favored its departure from traditional Bond soundtracks, while others panned its production and called it uninteresting. It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song (but lost to U2’s “The Hands That Built America” from “Gangs of New York”) and two Grammy Awards for Best Dance Recording and Best Short Form Music Video. The song was a commercial success, peaking at number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was the top selling dance song in the US for both 2002 and 2003. “Die Another Day” reached the top of the charts in Canada, Italy, Romania and Spain and top-ten in a number of countries worldwide.

Rock music critic Neil McCormick from “The Daily Telegraph” named it the fifth best James Bond theme song, describing “Die Another Day” as an electro R&B workout which was “expressively weird, brutally modern, satisfyingly original and evocative of the dark heart of Bond. Plus, Madonna actually looks as if she might be a match for Bond in either bed or battlefield.” Or both.” “Rolling Stone” listed it as the seventh best Bond song in the magazine’s list of “The top 10 James Bond Theme Songs”

The video was directed by Traktor, and was developed as an independent video from the film but contained Bond influences. It depicts Madonna as a prisoner in a torture chamber, alternating with scenes of a fencing duel between good (clad in white) and evil (clad in black) personas of the singer. The usage of Jewish religious texts and objects in the music video led to controversy, with scholars of Judaism deeming it sacrilegious.

“Hung Up” is from the diva’s tenth studio album “Confessions on a Dance Floor” (2005). It was written and produced by Madonna in collaboration with Stuart Price, and released as the lead single from the album. “Hung Up” features a sample from the instrumental introduction to ABBA’s hit single “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” for which Madonna personally sought permission from ABBA’s songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Musically the song was influenced by 1980s pop, with a chugging groove and chorus and a background element of a ticking clock that suggests the fear of wasting time. Lyrically the song was written as a traditional dance number about a strong, independent woman who has relationship troubles.

“Hung Up” received critical praise from reviewers, who believed that the track would restore the singer’s popularity, which had diminished following the release of her 2003 album “American Life.” Critics suggested it was her best dance track to date and have compared it favorably to other Madonna tracks in the same genre. They also complimented the effective synchronization of the ABBA sample with the actual song.

“Hung Up” became a worldwide commercial success, peaking at the top of the charts in 41 countries and earning a place in the “Guinness Book of World Records.” It was Madonna’s 36th top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100. It also became the most successful dance song of the decade in the United States. “Hung Up” remains one of the best-selling singles of all time, with sales of over eight million copies worldwide.

The video is a tribute to John Travolta, his movies, and to dancing in general. Directed by Johan Renck, the clip starts with Madonna clad in a pink leotard dancing alone in a ballet studio and concludes at a gaming parlor where she dances with her backup troupe. Interspersed are scenes of people displaying their dancing skills in a variety of settings, including a Los Angeles residential neighborhood, a small restaurant and the London Underground. It also features the physical discipline *Parkour.

*Parkour is a training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training. Practitioners aim to get from one point to another in a complex environment, without assistive equipment and in the fastest and most efficient way possible.

Read the reviews and buy the music of Madonna: https://www.amazon.com/Madonna/e/B000APIQE2

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All Madonna’s books can be bought here: https://www.amazon.com/Madonna/e/B018GACIKA

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 https://williampriceking.tumblr.com

Connect with William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – https://twitter.com/wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You can find previous artists featured in these two links

Jazz, Classical and Contemporary: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-contemporary-classical-and-legends/

And the Music Column: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-music-column/

Thanks to William for his wonderful contributions and to you for dropping in today. See you next week to bring us up to date on Madonna’s life.

 

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