When it came to changing the cultural landscape during my formative years, no one comes close to Madonna. Her videos became a naughty escape for a young girl watching MTV late into the evenings. Her ever-changing and avant garde style kept many girls admiring her (and many boys fantasizing).
But she was more than shock-value. She made a whole generation of girls feel okay to want to get laid. While this seemed like a horrible message in the eyes of our parents (my mother called her Whore-onna), we understood it. She was the first female pop singer to address REAL desire, real lust, and real love at a time when her co-pop-singers like Tiffany, Paula Abdul, Debbie Gibson and Taylor Dayne’s songs all blended to some homogenous, boring landscape.
Her music is art; highly polished arrangements, catchy hooks, a strong dance-based idiom and her own vocal style has created so many Billboard hits I do not have space to name them all. Her strong standing on this list is also because, quite frankly, she’s grown with us for the past two decades. Throughout her career Madonna has repeatedly reinvented herself through visual and musical personas. In doing so, she has been able to stay in the forefront of pop stardom and if Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, Madonna is, undoubtedly and undisputedly, the Queen of Pop.
The best part about her, in this author’s view, is Madonna herself. She has topped the list as the most successful female artist in history; she launched Maverick Records, a huge commercial success. Her intimate understanding of the music industry, her ability to recognize her own performance limits (and thus bring in help), her relationships to artists, fashion designers and experimental musicians, and her attention to detail not only in her art but in her finances has helped her become the “smartest woman in business”.