Who says you have to calm down with age? Madonna has pissed off someone or other for the entirety of her multidecade career.
The pop music icon made her name in the '80s as a controversial artist with infectious dance-pop hooks that couldn't be ignored. Everyone wanted to dress like the “Material Girl,” but she didn't fade with the fashions of the time in which she rose to fame. In more than 30 years, she has undergone nearly just as many metamorphoses, going from boy-toy bride to Hindi goddess, naked hitchhiker to hippie cowgirl. All the while, with her star-quality sass, she has offended, affronted, and confused the masses.
So what that she's built a children's hospital and ten schools in Malawi? Who cares that when she was named Billboard's Woman of the Year in 2016, she used her eloquent speech to draw attention to ageism and sexism in a male-dominated entertainment industry? Does it really matter that she has continued to be a forward-thinking artist and live performer ten years after most erstwhile sex symbols are relegated to grandma roles? Pfffffffft — we heard she's a diva.
Just because she's 61 doesn't mean she ain't still swingin'. Here are some of our favorite more modern and lesser celebrated Madonna miffs.
Her Dumb British Accent Confused Everyone
Lots of people change their voices to appear smarter or more cultured. It's a misguided shame thing, but it's always a head-scratcher, especially for an international pop icon whom the world had watched speak for a decade. Madonna's faux-British accent appeared around 1995 and was blamed on voice coaching while filming Evita, but like her 2002 James Bond tie-in, it chose to Die Another Day. Indeed, it hit peak preposterousness in the mid-2000s. Seriously, every time she spoke in 2005 and 2006, we were all, What game is she playing, and what's the prize? By 2012, the accent mysteriously vanished.
She Was Banned From MTV in 2001
Maybe we should blame the cheesy accent on her marriage to English film director Guy Ritchie (of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame). The two met in 1998 and married in 2000 one day after Madge gave birth to their son Rocco (for which, honestly, she might deserve a medal). The couple worked on the critically panned romantic remake Swept Away in 2002, but before that, Ritchie directed Madonna's music video for “What It Feels Like for a Girl.” The euphoric club track is set to a wild series of events wherein Madonna, along with her very aged grandma, goes on a violent joy ride in which she runs her "pussy" sports car into dudes, robs men at Taser-point, and generally acts like a gender-motivated badass. MTV wasn't with the violence — which is kind of cute by today's standards — so it axed the video. Silly cable television: Canceling Madonna only makes her more exciting.
Madonna Angered the EDM World and Parents Everywhere When She Asked Ultra 2012: Who Has "Seen Molly?"
Before she was the Queen of Pop, Madonna was a wild young woman finding her calling on a dance floor. In the '90s, she worked with some of the top house producers and DJs on club remixes of her biggest hits, and as the EDM explosion struck America's youth, Madonna was more than ready to capitalize on the influx of a new generation electronic-inclined youth and, in the process, worked with hitmakers Diplo, Avicii, Benny Benassi, and Martin Solveig. When Ultra came to downtown Miami in March 2012, she was busy promoting her dance-inspired album MDNA, and she surprised the audience with a cameo on the festival's main stage to help introduce headliner Avicii. “I can honestly say that a DJ saved my life,” she told audiences, her voice heavy with honesty, before referencing a then-popular Cedric Gervais song and asking, “How many people in this crowd have seen molly?” Clearly, Madonna's LP title, the Gervais song, and her public query were not-so-subtle references to MDMA, known popularly as Ecstasy, but when deadmau5 and other DJs grew angry at Madonna for her comment, she argued she was only promoting her new songs. That doesn't really make sense, because she didn't have anything to do with that Gervais song, but we digress. It was a hilarious moment and one that has since been scrubbed from all official Ultra recap videos. We're thankful the evidence remains on fan footage.
She Named Herself Madame X, but There Was Already a DJ Named Madam X
Madonna's announcement of her latest LP, Madame X, in April came with a really neat and fun spy concept that winked at all of the entertainer's previous fashion phases, attributing them to the various false identities this "Madame X" took on for various spy missions. It was a cute way for the chameleonic star to self-reference and move forward, except for the fact there's a house DJ with a very similar name. Bygones will be bygones, and no one filed any lawsuits, but Madam X (the DJ) got the best kind of revenge when she played the Do Lab stage at Coachella that weekend dressed as Madonna in the iconic "Express Yourself" cone bra while dropping tunes such as former Madonna collaborator Junior Vasquez's “If Madonna Calls (I'm Not Here)."
She Forgot to Credit the Dude From Fischerspooner
Madame X dropped in June, a 15-track collection of modern pop tunes with global influences and features from Maluma, Migos' Quavo, Rae Sremmurd's Swae Lee, and Anitta. It features production from Diplo, Mike Dean, Billboard, Mirwais, and others, but you won't find producer credit for former Fischerspooner producer Casey Spooner. That became an issue for the courts when Spooner claimed he had worked on the song in December 2017, back when he thought it was to be included on Mirwais' since-shelved solo album. Spooner claims to have been shocked when it appeared on Madame X and posted email screenshots of her team denying she had known of his involvement and offering $25,000 in compensation. The entire process left a bitter taste in his mouth, so he went off on social media anyway, as reported by Pitchfork.
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Her New Video Pissed Off Local Gun Violence Activist Emma González
The buck doesn't stop there for “God Control.” When it came to giving the politically charged single an accompanying music video, Madonna and director Jonas Åkerlund didn't shy away from the lyrics' heavy gun control-oriented message. The eight-minute-20-second clip depicts a deadly nightclub shooting interspersed with footage of activist marches, guns for sale, and, on a lighter note, disco dance sequences. The video was released soon after the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting that left 50 dead and 53 injured in the summer of 2016. The video — beginning and ending with messages to reform "gun control now" — is meant to raise awareness about gun violence in the United States. Parkland shooting survivor and gun control activist Emma González did not find the depiction appropriate. Actually, she jumped on Twitter and called the video “fucked up.”
“This is NOT the correct way to talk about gun violence, unlike how many fans have been exclaiming,” she wrote. “People who have been working in the GVP community know how to talk about gun violence, not most celebrities... Also if you tweet pictures or videos from the video of #GodControl, please tag it as Triggering for fucks sake."
Madonna. Saturday, December 14, through Sunday, December 22, at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; fillmoremb.com. Tickets cost $60 to $760 via livenation.com. No show will be held Friday, December 20.