Time to continue my Madonna research and reach one of my favorite albums: Like a Prayer!
Madonna – Like A Prayer
I have already taken a look at “Like a Prayer” in a previous One on One…
However, I think it deserves a deeper look. The album was released in 1989. It was a personal intimate album in which she took on her mother´s death (when Madonna was just a child), growing up as a Catholic, female empowerment, geniusly done through pop music with pop, funk, gospel and soul influences. I personally love the track that titles the album and also “Express Yourself”, but there are more good songs in there also.
The video starts and we see Madonna running away from something…we don´t know what it is but we can hear sirens in the background, so I am guessing the police. The first important thing to notice is that she has changed the color of her hair! She is platinum blonde madonna no more,… all trace of Marilyn is gone, in the video she looks like this:
As if that were not enough of a shock for many, the scene that follows is the burning cross.
Now, this obviously caused a stir, and Madonna is no stranger to controversy (see more here) but let´s look at this image calmly, since there are other meanings to it.
Traditionally the cross burning has been used by the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate their “targets”. Also, the catholic church was offended (well, let´s face it, it´s always offended) but it is extra sensitive to crosses…but, there is also another cross on fire, the fiery cross, is “an English language term for a wooden object, such as a cross or baton, carried by a messenger and used by Northern Europeans, for example in Scotland and Scandinavia, to rally people for things (assemblies) and for defence or rebellion”.
I think this is what she intended, or her director. Or the illuminati running the show… whatever, but they were clearly sending a message. I personally think that is what artists must do, they must stir things in their respective creative outlets, they must leave things different than how they found them. I don’t think pop singers, and in this case Madonna, should make everything about a message, but it definitely makes a difference between a performer and an artist. I once saw an interview she did, and i thought it was very candid and spot on, she said something along the lines that she didn’t start singing because she thought she had the most beautiful voice, she said she starting singing because she had something to say.
Madonna – Like A Prayer – Live 8 – 2005
As I´ve said before, it´s funny how in life you end up becoming and doing everything you criticized, I don´t know if she intended it to be an “anthem” for hope, specially with that video, when she was rebelling and standing up for what she believed in by tearing down institutions and belief systems around her, but that is where it lives now, and I personally love it.