Madonna takes us into a new era
’80s and ’90s, and she’s certainly deserving of being honored.”
Henke points to Madonna‘s music, her incorporation of dance elements and her mixing of styles that influenced lots of performers that came after her.
Her biggest contribution, though, was her music videos.
“Madonna takes us into a new era,” says Rick Krim, VH1’s executive vice president for music and talent programming. “As the years go on, the new eligibles from the MTV era will be different from those who came before them. They will be different from the Ventures or the Dave Clark Five. And Madonna emerged as one of the icons of the video era.”
When Madonna made her debut in 1982 with the dance single “Everybody,” she seemed like just another dance-pop singer, like the countless ones who would follow, from Regina and Martika to Stacey Q and Pebbles.
Once she figured out how to use music videos to sell her image as well as her songs, Madonna, with the help of MTV, was soon in a league of her own.
Established performers who adapted well to music videos improved their careers, but Madonna was the first superstar to be launched on MTV.
“Other acts, like Michael Jackson or Prince, saw their careers taken to another level by videos on MTV,” says Krim, who worked at MTV in its early days. “Madonna was born there. She always pushed the limits. Her videos never looked like something somebody else did. We always took everything she did really seriously and we still do.”
Starting with “Borderline” in 1984, Madonna turned her videos into events. Teenage girls – dubbed Madonna “wannabes” – quickly copied her various styles, from the crucifixes to the rubber bracelets to the mesh shirts and the underwear as outerwear trends.
Madonna videos became just as important as the songs they represented, sometimes becoming more attention-getting than the songs, either with the controversial “Like a Prayer” and “What It Feels Like for a Girl” clips or the artistic, culture-shaping videos for “Express Yourself” and “Ray of Light,” which influenced video and filmmaking styles.
“She is still a musical and cultural icon,” Krim says. “She’s always finding a way to impact culture and changing with the times, someone who, despite having plenty of exposure, still has a mystique about her. She’s a smart woman and done an amazing job managing that career and still having people wanting to see more and hear more. She’s not settling back and relying on what she’s done in the past. She’s always looking ahead.”
While induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is seen by many as the culmination of a career, Madonna is still moving forward with hers.
Her new album, “Hard Candy” (Warner Bros.), due next month, includes a rumored duet with Justin Timberlake, who will induct her into the Rock Hall. And Krim says it continues the Madonna tradition of pushing the envelope.
“It sounds great – it’s very 2008,” he says. “But it’s still very Madonna. She’s growing with the times. She’s not an oldies act. There’s still a lot of anticipation for her new album. Every time she releases a new video, it will be an event and we’re going to treat it that way. I believe MTV will, too. She still has a place on MTV and not many 49-year-old artists can say, that even though a lot of them would like to.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction takes place Monday at 8 p.m. in New York. VH1 Classic will air a live simulcast of the event beginning at 8:30 p.m.
thanks to Vincy