Oh, Madonna. What happened?
She just isn’t pushing our buttons like she once did.
So she dedicated a song to “Popey-wopey” when she and the pontiff were visiting Philadelphia on the same weekend last month. No big whoop.
So she invoked the b-word on songs on her new album — “Bitch, I’m Madonna” and “Unapologetic Bitch.” Geez, Britney Spears used it in a song title two years ago.
So she surprised Drake with a long kiss onstage at Coachella this year. Wasn’t “Cougar Town” canceled?
In 2015, what causes controversy in the pop world is Rihanna posing nude on Instagram, Ariana Grande licking doughnuts in a bakery and professing “I hate America,” and Miley Cyrus flashing her breasts and lighting a joint while hosting the MTV Music Video Awards.
But ladies, Madge was here first. She’d tell you as much herself. As the 57-year-old pop icon heads to Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday for her Rebel Heart Tour, let’s look back at Madonna’s most provocative moves during her 30-plus years in the spotlight.
1. “Like a Virgin” performance, MTV Music Video Awards, 1984. She appeared atop a giant wedding cake in a lacy wedding dress and then proceeded to roll around on the ground and make all kinds of humping motions. Her performance burst the bubble of this bubble-gum ditty, which was her first No. 1 hit.
2. “Papa Don’t Preach,” 1985. In her fourth No. 1 single, Madonna takes the role of an unwed pregnant teen who wants to keep her baby. The lyrics created a controversy with both factions of the abortion debate — and with the Vatican because Madonna dedicated the song to Pope John Paul II.
3. “Like a Prayer” video, 1989. Mixing issues of racism and religion, this clip is about the murder of a white girl by a group of white men. While a black man is arrested for the crime, Madonna hides in a church for safety so she can testify as a witness. There are Catholic symbols, a cross burning and a black saint. The Vatican condemned the video, and Pepsi, which used the pre-video song for an ad, dropped Madonna as its endorsee.
4. “Justify My Love” video, 1990. Whether it was perceived as fantasy or reality, the sexually charged black-and-white video with its images of bisexuality, sadomasochism and voyeurism was banned by MTV. ABC’s “Nightline” showed it and then presented a program about censorship, with Madonna as guest.
5. Blond Ambition Tour, 1990. During “Like a Virgin,” two male dancers embraced Madonna and she simulated masturbation. This and other erotic moves — the conical bra, the underwear as outerwear, etc. — almost got Madonna arrested in Toronto and prompted the pope to encourage Catholics not to attend her concerts.
6. “Sex” book, 1992. The coffee-table book with an aluminum cover featured Madonna in what she might term postfeminist art photos taken by fashion shutterbug Steven Meisel. Others might call it soft-core porn, with its photos of simulated sex, bestiality and a nude Madonna hitchhiking. Even though it was priced at a steep $50, “Sex” sold 150,000 copies in its first day. (The video for the ’92 single “Erotica” served as a companion piece to the book.)
7. Interview on “Late Show With David Letterman,” 1994. She was foul-mouthed (14 f-bombs), combative, evasive and downright rude, smoking a cigar and handing her panties to Letterman and asking him to smell them.
8. “American Life” video, 2003. The clip features a military-themed fashion show, juxtaposing the camouflage-flaunting runway with images of war. Dressed in fatigues, Madonna tosses a hand grenade to a man who resembles President George W. Bush and he uses the weapon to light a cigar. After the invasion of Iraq, Madonna pulled this version of the video and replaced it with a tamer incarnation of her, dressed in a stylized military outfit, singing in front of a series of flags from various countries.
9. “Live to Tell,” Confessions Tour, 2006. Madge performed this number while hanging on a giant cross, wearing a crown of thorns. That use of religious imagery brought condemnation from Catholic, Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Protestant and Jewish leaders, among others, and an Italian cardinal called for her excommunication. Madonna said she was using the symbol of Jesus on the cross to call attention to African children dying of AIDS and starvation.
10. MDNA Tour, 2012. Madonna’s last tour was dark and violent, filled with guns, blood and S&M. During the song “Gang Bang” alone, Madonna mock-murdered more men than typically get bumped off in an entire Quentin Tarantino movie.