MADONNA’S “BEDTIME STORIES” TURNS 22

madonna___bedtime_stories_by_srudy-d68ctbu.jpgOctober 25 1994,
Madonna’s Bedtime Stories (Album) was released, Grammy Nomination as Best Pop Album, It sold +7,000,000 copies

Below we can read two reviews of this great album

ROLLING STONE
After the drubbing she has taken in the last few years, Madonna deserves to be mighty mad. And wounded anger is shot through her new album, Bedtime Stories, as she works out survival strategies. While always a feminist more by example than by word or deed, Madonna seems genuinely shocked at the hypocritical prudishness of her former fans, leading one to expect a set of biting screeds. But instead of reveling in raised consciousness, Bedtime Stories demonstrates a desire to get unconscious. Madonna still wants to go to bed, but this time it’s to pull the covers over her head.
Still, in so doing, Madonna has come up with some awfully compelling sounds. In her retreat from sex to romance, she has enlisted four top R&B producers: Atlanta whiz kid Dallas Austin, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Dave “Jam” Hall and Britisher Nellee Hooper (Soul II Soul), who add lush soul and creamy balladry. With this awesome collection of talent, the record verily shimmers. Bass-heavy grooves push it along when more conventional sentiments threaten to bog it down. Both aspects put it on chart-smart terrain.

A number of songs — “Survival,” “Secret,” “I’d Rather Be Your Lover” (to which Me’Shell NdegéOcello brings a bumping bass line and a jazzy rap) — are infectiously funky. And Madonna does a drive-by on her critics, complete with a keening synth line straight outta Dre, on “Human Nature”: “Did I say something wrong?/Oops, I didn’t know I couldn’t talk about sex (I musta been crazy).”

But you don’t need her to tell you that she’s “drawn to sadness” or that “loneliness has never been a stranger,” as she sings on the sorrowful “Love Tried to Welcome Me.” The downbeat restraint in her vocals says it, from the tremulously tender “Inside of Me” to the sob in “Happiness lies in your own hand/It took me much too long to understand” from “Secret.”

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WHEN MADONNA WAS THE NEW ON THE BLOCK

madonna_1371041297_crop_550x620By 1983, disco had been officially declared dead. Pop hurriedly distanced itself from the genre’s glittery excess, and mainstream radio became segregated again. The Top 10 brimmed with slick corporate rock and cosmopolitan country hits, reflective of the conservatism sweeping the country’s sociopolitical scene.

But edgy dance music still thrived, especially in progressive nightclubs where marginalized people – blacks, Latinos, women, the LGBT community – were like blissful congregants in a funky secular sanctuary. Madonna Louise Ciccone, an aspiring dancer from Michigan who moved to New York City during disco’s peak in 1977, was a regular in the clubs. She was the proverbial sponge, soaking up the scene’s nuances and befriending or dating the movers and shakers there.

After performing in a few ill-fated disco groups, Madonna decided to fly solo, using just her first name professionally, and landed a recording contract with Sire Records in 1982. Her self-titled debut hit the streets in July of ’83. For the pop world, the album set a new precedent: It essentially repackaged disco for the masses, a funk-lite, pop-friendlier version of the kind of songs heard exclusively on black radio at the time. Innovative dance cuts by Evelyn “Champagne” King and Stephanie Mills, for instance, received regular spins on urban stations and in the New York City clubs Madonna frequented. But aggressive jams like “I’m in Love” by King or “Put Your Body in It” by Mills were seldom heard on pop radio.

On her debut album, Madonna gentrified that sound with the help of Reggie Lucas, who co-produced with James Mtume all of Mills’ big hits of the late ’70s and early ’80s, and Mark Kamins and Jellybean Benitez, respected New York City DJs and record producers. The album, which sold more than 10 million copies around the world, was a huge payoff for everyone involved.

It spawned several hits, all carrying an appealing effervescence. They included “Lucky Star,” “Holiday” and “Borderline,” songs with just enough palpable R&B in the sprightly, heavily synthesized pop mix to give Madonna an edge in the mainstream. Her sound wasn’t too “white” or too “black.” It was definitely urban, but her tinny yet charming vocals and suburban-girl-as-scrappy-fashion-plate image helped sell the music. With the concurrent rise of MTV, Madonna quickly became a darling of the channel with memorable videos that played up her dewy sex appeal.

She also, in a way, sonically extended what Michael Jackson had done the year before with “Thriller.” Madonna and her producers took shards of styles that had imploded by 1983 – punk and disco, specifically – and processed them into something sleek and contemporary. The music itself wasn’t threatening or too provocative, and neither was Madonna’s image at the time. But all of that would soon change as her larger-than-life, chameleonic personas would eventually overshadow the music but sell it by the truckloads nonetheless.

On the 1983 debut, however, the performer was still green but certainly ambitious, qualities captured in the album’s cover photo: a close-up shot of the 24-year-old Madonna, unsmiling with one hand holding the side of her face, the other clutching a chain around her neck. It’s a nervy pose, the look in her eyes focused and intense. But the music inside is pure irresistible ear candy that set the template for generations of envelope-pushing pop tarts, including Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé.

In January 1984, six months after the debut’s release, Madonna lip-synced “Holiday” on “American Bandstand.” It’s a spirited performance – the artist resplendent in ’80s club gear, black off-the-shoulder cropped top, studded belt and bangles. She dances and spins in her own universe, seemingly oblivious to the crowd around her but definitely aware of the camera. During the interview portion, legendary host Dick Clark asks her, “What are your dreams, what’s left?”

To rule the world,” Madonna says, her coquettish smile softening the cockiness of the answer.

She obviously knew something we didn’t. Madonna would soon become one of the biggest-selling artists of all time, an icon who for years successfully repackaged elements of underground club music for the masses, until the advent of the Internet made that world accessible to anyone. But pop in 1983 was a very different place, and Madonna’s debut felt like a revelation.

Madonna opens Weibo account in China for first time

madonna-weibo-account-china

Madonna surprised her Chinese fans today by becoming the latest in a growing number of Western celebrities to open an account on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter.

The legendary American pop star opened her first-ever official account just after midday Beijing time, making her debut with this message in English: “Hello weibo – yes it’s really me, i finally made it to China!”

Madonna has already amassed over 27,000 followers in just three hours.

HAPPY MASSEE: Diary of a Set Designer

happy-massee-diary-of-a-set-designer-1.gifDiary of a Set Designer is a book of Polaroids taken over 25 years by Happy Massee while traveling the world as a production designer. The photographic journal is a journey through time, with a collection of images taken with the now-defunct Polaroid camera–which, at the time, was essential to the art of designing for film.
One of the industry’s top production designers, Massee has enjoyed a career spanning the realms of theater, film, commercials and fashion. He has worked with established directors such as Wes Anderson, David Lynch, David Fincher, Michel Gondry and more, while in the world of fashion he has collaborated with the likes of Inez and Vinoodh, Peter Lindbergh and Craig McDean, and worked for brands such as Gucci, Valentino, Armani, Bulgari and Swarovski.

His film credits include, among others, Broken English, directed by Zoe Cassavetes, and Two Lovers, directed by James Gray, and he has designed sets for music videos such as Jay Z’s “99 Problems” and Madonna’s “Take a Bow.”
In this volume, “the images of personalities, sets, locations and encounters,” Massee explains, “all tell a story related to my work and travels, and the people I met while on them. The images, raw and unretouched, are candid, and capture my art as well as my life as I like to travel through it.”

After growing up in France, and receiving his MFA from the School of Applied Arts in Paris, American born Happy Massee moved to New York to establish himself as one of the top production designers. In the past 25 years his career has spanned theatre, films, Commercials, and fashion. He has worked with some of the world’s most established directors, including Wes Anderson, David Lynch, Nicolas Winding Refn, Rob Marshall, David Fincher, Michel Gondry, Michael Haussman, and Mark Romanek.

61QrLHsqtuL.jpgHis film credits include amongst others Broken English directed by Zoe Cassavetes, Welcome to the Rileys directed by Jake Scott, Two Lovers and The Immigrant Directed by James Gray. In the world of fashion, Happy has worked with the likes of acclaimed photographers Mert and Marcus, Inez and Vinoodh, Peter Lindbergh, and Craig McDean as well as for such brands as Gucci, Valentino, Armani, Bulgari, Swarovski. Recently, Happy marked his Broadway debut, by joining Fisher Stevens and John Leguizamo on his new one man show Ghetto Klown.