In Media Studies, we often need to consider the importance of the star. Stars often have clear, recognisable personas (or images) which change over time so as they maintain appeal. A star who does not change their persona often face typecasting and ultimately lose audience appeal. Madonna is an excellent example of a star who has changed her persona many times to remain popular and innovative.
Richard Dyer (1998) refers to the differences between ‘star images’ and ‘personae.’ He uses the phrase ‘parallel narratives,’ meaning the private life of the star alongside the screen persona/image.
Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16 , 1958 ) is an American pop singer , dancer , songwriter , producer , actress , and author . Noted for her innovative music videos , elaborately mounted stage performances, and often controversial use of sexual and religious themes and imagery in her work, Madonna has gained worldwide fame and notoriety throughout her career.(Wikipedia)
I have chosen 5 videos taken from 5 different albums performed by Madonna. Split into groups of 4 and analyse your track. The albums are on the underlined and the tracks on the right. Tracks are as follows:
A music video was made for the 1984 single release of the song and was directed by Arthur Pierson. The video showed Madonna dancing around with her backup dancers (her brother Christopher and friend Erica Bell), dressed in black on a white background. The video exploited her "Boy Toy" image and featured Madonna with a wild haircut and dressed in black punky clothes, that she would later describe as 'rags'. The video is also famous for showing off her much talked about belly button. An extended version of the video was released with the "Immaculate Collection" DVD (Wikipedia)
For many fans, this marked Madonna’s arrival into super-stardom!
The title and lyrics were enough to raise eyebrows in 1984. Madonna's performance at the 1984 MTV Video Music awards is considered by many to be her true "arrival". Wearing the white wedding dress from her music video (Boy-Toy belt buckle and all), Madonna rolled around onstage and simulated masturbation with the veil, making it one of the most famous performances of her career.
In 1990, Madonna again attracted attention for performing the song. Dressed in a gold bustier with the iconic cone-bra, Madonna again simulated masturbation, this time on a crimson bed, while singing a Middle Eastern-influenced version of the song. The performance was so risque that police in Toronto , Canada , threatened to arrest her and charge her with indecency. Madonna, of course, was unyielding, stating that she would much rather cancel the show than change it. The show went on unaltered, and the police backed off. (Wikipedia)
This is a very interesting video to consider for Media Studies and marks Madonna as one of the first post-feminists. Notice how the men are represented in this video (other than the boy) who are seen to look pathetic and powerless as Madonna taunts them with her sexual power.
She was making the statement that women can use their bodies for their own ends, a major departure from the feminist arguments of the 1970s.
We can apply Laura Mulvey’s famous Male Gaze theory to this track.
David Fincher directed what became one of Madonna's biggest video projects. With a price tag of $2 million it's also her most expensive. Based on Fritz Lang's movie Metropolis (1924), Madonna uses the distinction between lower working class (the slaves) and the upper high-society class (the director and Madonna herself) to symbolically turn around the classic stereotypes between men and women. Madonna is sexy, independent and in control, but on the other hand gives in to the advances of the slave (played by Cameron, the good-looking model of the Guess jeans ads). Dressed both in a stylish green dress and in a male suit (with sexy corset underneath), one moment in control and the other crawling on the floor on hands and knees, Madonna ridiculed stereotypes and pushed the boundaries.. Fact is that the video won awards for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Direction at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards, where Madonna performed the song as well.( http://www.mad-eyes.net/disco/lap/express-yourself.htm )
The video for "Express Yourself" placed a femme fatale character alongside an androgynous figure in male attire, that was compared to Marlene Dietrich
"Vogue", partly inspired by a dance performed by gay men in New York clubs , in which they used a series of complex hand gestures to imitate their favourite Hollywood stars (see the list of the names of the Hollywood stars below), as well as the models on the magazine Vogue .
Never one to ignore an underground movement, Madonna brought it overground when she named her song after it.
The video for "Vogue" recreated the style of Hollywood glamour photographers, in particular Horst P. Horst , and imitated the poses of Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Rita Hayworth , while the lyrics referenced many of the stars who had inspired her.  Among those mentioned was Bette Davis , described by Madonna in a Rolling Stone interview, as an idol, along with Louise Brooks and Dita Parlo .
The video, directed by David Fincher , is considered to be one of Madonna's best. In 1993, Rolling Stone magazine listed the video as the twenty-eighth best music video of all-time.
Filmed in black-and-white, it recalls the look of 1930s Hollywood films with the use of artwork by the Art Deco artist, Tamara de Lempicka , and an Art Deco set design. Many of the scenes are recreations of photographs taken by noted photographer Horst P. Horst. Some of the close-up poses recreate noted portraits of such stars as Veronica Lake and Marlene Dietrich . (Additionally several stars of this era are name-checked in the song's lyrics). There was some controversy surrounding the video because in one scene Madonna's breasts can be seen through her sheer blouse. MTV wanted this part cut out, but Madonna refused and the video aired with the shot intact. The video features all her dancers from the successful Blonde Ambition Tour and documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare . The back-up singers in the video are Nikki Harris and Donna Delory , who have done back up for Madonna on numerous occasions. Nikki Harris is featured in Madonna's " Music " video with her in the limo scene.
While the original video was widely seen, a second version of "Vogue" taken from the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards proved popular as well. This alternate video featured Madonna and her dancers dressed in an 18th-century France theme, with Madonna bearing a striking resemblance to executed French Queen Marie Antoinette . As usual, Madonna's performance was considered risqué, as Madonna and her dancers flashed their undergarments during their routine, and at one point Madonna pushed the faces of two male dancers into her breasts.
Madonna would later remake her famous VMA performance of "Vogue" for the opening number of her 2004 Re-Invention Tour
In 1992, Madonna released a book entitled Sex at the same time that her new album Erotica came out. This was her most controversial period and one which cost her a great deal of negative publicity…many critics believe the controversy was deliberately manufactured to help boost album sales.
After the success of the film Evita , Madonna followed up with The Next Best Thing which was panned by critics. Madonna has never really succeeded in film and this has been a huge disappointment to the star. Nevertheless, her eighth album, Ray of Light was a huge success with its use of techno in what was considered a mainstream album.
The album Music (2000) moved away from the Eastern spirituality hinted at in Ray of Hope and returned to a more traditional dance format.
The album's third single " What It Feels Like for a Girl " featured a controversial music video, directed by Madonna's husband Guy Ritchie and was banned by MTV and VH1 after just one airing due to its graphic violence.
Madonna's tenth studio album American Life (2003), in which her lyrics were themed on the aspects of the American dream, fame, fortune and society, polarized music critics with both extremely positive and extremely negative reviews. Arguably her most daring and musically extreme album, American Life presented a darker and more serious side of the singer
In June 2006 , it was announced that Madonna and her tour dancers, would be the new face of H&M fashion line. A specially-made "Madonna tracksuit" was also announced as being prepared for the retail chain.  Photos for the campaign were shot by photographer, Rankin, in Hollywood. Also expected is a "new" Madonna track to be sold exclusively in the stores as well. H&M have clothing chains all over the world
Madonna’s most recent incarnation is the 1970s dancing diva…the backing theme to the opening track is from an Abba track (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme). The band Abba were famous for dance tracks and therefore Madonna’s album is partly a celebration of this era. We call this post-modernism as there is an absence of new, original ideas.