Madonna vs Britney Spears
Can Britney Spears ever reach the profundity Madonna has created? Madonna and Britney Spears are two of numerous music sensations dominating the entertainment market, selling millions of albums. They are both superstars, but have different motives for going into their chosen profession. Madonna is a legend, not unlike role models she used as patterns to create her style and image. Madonna’s critics blasting her controversial messages, both religious and sexual, did not hinder her success. She sold over 200 million albums world wide. Her last worldwide tour, Confessions on the Dance Floor, made millions of dollars, completely selling out in every country or city. Her first concert ever in Russia was completely sold out. If Britney was to put on a world tour today, would she sell out? Even though their ages are about 20 years apart, Madonna is no older today than she was twenty five years ago. Madonna seems to be the ideal role model for any young girl to copy. Every artist continuously lives through peaks and valleys throughout their career and personal lives. Britney’s career is not quite as successful as Madonna’s. It can be. Her last Video Music Awards performance lacked quality, expression, Britney’s dance choreography was out of tune. Britney’s dancers gave a much better performance than she did. People will be reluctant to pay for concert tickets if their favorite entertainers are not up to expectations.
Britney can definitely live down that last performance. Britney Spears is going through personal issues, but so has Madonna. No personal issues ever interfered with Madonna’s performances. If Madonna was down, even if it was just for a day, or something traumatic, Madonna would do everything she is successful for. The uniqueness required to work in this field is within Madonna. This same uniqueness is separate from Britney’s personality. The factors contributing to Madonna’s success secrets are overlooked. Just because another blonde woman gets on stage singing and dancing portraying their sexuality does not guarantee singing success, even at the age of 16. Madonna’s sexuality is not what made her a huge success. Issues that are greatly over exaggerated regarding controversial Madonna have never influenced Madonna’s success one way or the other.
There is much more to Madonna’s success than music. Anyone studying Madonna’s life before she signed her first record contract, recognizes her stubbornness to keep her individuality, refusing to compromise for anyone. When Madonna went to New York with $35.00 seeking a dance career, she did not care if she had approval or not. She did not. She went on performing for herself, determined to be an individual. Being extraordinary came natural to Madonna. Many stars are criticized for their dress, speech, behavior, but they do not know they are doing anything worthy of anyone talking about. Looking at Madonna’s beginning career, performing was optional. She performed because of her expression of her individuality. Money was a sideline for Madonna. She gladly lived in poor conditions when she first moved into New York. Madonna settled for living conditions beneath her standards growing up. Perhaps following the same patterns as Ann Reinking who moved from a middle class home to live in a Y in downtown New York. Today, Madonna does lots of charity work for children in Africa. Her claim to success and fame lies with her unique style, sacrificing approval to play dress up in extraordinary clothing, or to act out Marilyn Monroe scenes in dance numbers much like a child fantasizing. One of Madonna’s famous quotes is “Getting peoples approval is not a goal to have in life.” Madonna’s non apologetic attitude about her creativity and freedom significantly positively influenced her success. Madonna’s lack of weakness for status or wealth is another factor making it next to impossible for many people to follow. If Madonna lost her fortunes today, she would purchase unique creative designs from second hand vintage shops.
Britney Spears is seeking acceptance and love. Feeling isolated from her fans is why she had kids before she was ready for them Madonna had no one pushing her, even discouraging her (according to sources, her father begged her to go back home) because the living conditions she had to put up with. Britney’s singing and dancing career was for money, approval, and love, all exterior motives. Madonna may be disappointed in the unlikely event her fans would reject her (like Amy Winehouse), but it would not send her into a depression. The reactions or in Madonna’s situation, assumed reactions, reveal the true performers potential for reaching stardom. Madonna would probably deal with it rejection of her fans by using her free time in a dance studio, but never losing her freedom of expression. She would reject her fans, before compromising her individuality. At one time, there was lots of hype about Britney displaying her provocative dress styles onstage, especially at her young age. Dressing sexily was not really an important issue at all. It made no difference in her career success or failure. Britney Spears dressed sexily to be loved by crowds. Madonna dressed because it was a part of her. Madonna’s choices were independent of the outside world. When she was living under her parents roof, who financially supported her, she stood true to her individuality through clothes, behavior, and choice of role models which were her Black girlfriends. As an adult, Madonna is not going to conform according to the demands of her audiences or paying customers.
Madonna and Fashion:
Asking any successful performer, they will tell you their biggest success secret is selecting the right wardrobe and willing to change at a moments notice. Madonna kept the crowds guessing, what is she coming up with next? Madonna convinced the record labels her individuality would sell her music, portrayed through her fashion selections. Madonna was born with her stubborn confident attitude to unapologetically express herself through her fashion statements. Even uniforms did not stop Madonna’s creativity. Her fashion creativity became very clear, at a very young age, when she shortened her conservative catholic school uniforms skirts, displaying her fishnet stockings. Unfashionable strict dress codes were followed within her home, all forgotten once she left her house. This inborn stubborn streak displaying her individuality sets Madonna apart from other superstars, blending in as another blonde clone. Music Television Videos gave Madonna options to display her fashion individuality. When it comes to fashion, Madonna could be considered a historian with a vivid imagination. “She copied fashions from thirties, forties and fifties” (Voller 1999).
One of the reasons Madonna is a music icon is the past reflected in her music videos. She appeals to wider ranges of audiences. Some audiences, loving her or hating her, take her fashion statements literally, or sexually. A totally different class or age range of audiences recognizes the glamorizing of culture in her pop music videos, displayed through her choice of clothes. Britney chose styles that appealed to the masses, literal audiences, for shock value. There is no question Madonna has shocked at least one or two people in her audiences maybe once or twice throughout her career. Regardless of how controversial Madonna was, she brought culture to life. Many times, Britney’s performing uniforms consumed everyone’s total attention, leaving her singing and music unnoticed. When the song was over, everyone could describe in detail what she wore (or did not wear) but could not remember a single note. Britney limited her audience range through her fashion choices, having no meaning behind it, other than she looked good in the outfit.
The Masses Recognizes the Negative Influences:
Madonna prepared for audiences to recognize all negative aspects of her performances. She expected the audience, critics to totally overlook the positive. She used people’s love for negative impacts to her advantage. When Vogue made its debut, Madonna knew everyone was going to be rivaled. Wearing her brazier outside her clothes were going to dominate the headlines for the next year. Madonna could have saved someone’s life, raised money for lots of charities, but wearing the bra is what was going to be publicized. The bra worn on the outside of clothes is a signature trademark from a very famous Italian fashion designer from the 1800’s. The song, Vogue, including the hairstyle was a reinstatement of past legends. In her song, she mentions Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Greta Garble, Marilyn Monroe, all famous legends she is honoring through her music videos, as well as her Italian heritage. When people were complaining about her bra, they were identifying her with famous fashion designers.
Another video made gigantic waves is “Material Girl.” The lyrics in the video implied she only loved men who had money. Everyone narrow mindedly focused on the lyrics of the song. Everyone talking continuously about the controversial lyrics to Material Girl while discussing her dress, her hairstyle, her acting in the music video soon realizes, at some point, they are describing the hit classic movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” starring Marilyn Monroe in the act, “Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend.”
Probably the video ruffling up the most feathers was “Like a Prayer,” peaking when it aired one time advertising Pepsi Cola. Phone calls flooded the Pepsi Cola corporate office, the commercial was immediately cancelled. Madonna collected five million dollars for it. Madonna knew the outcome of this commercial; she knew people were going to show outraged emotions about it. The Pepsi Cola/Madonna story ended up on the front page of every news paper in America the following day. Months later, Coca Cola, or any other soda brand was never mentioned. The underlying message in the music video is Jesus was jailed or crucified because of misunderstandings. Madonna prepared for negative feedback from audiences, she demanded it. She provoked unfavorable negative emotions from the audience at the same time copying her image after classic movies, baroque musical eras, and famous musicals.
Madonna’s Individuality; Age is on Her Side:
Madonna’s dance training lead the path to a lucrative musical career. When she was fourteen years of age, she began classical ballet classes. The ballet classes were the start of her musical career, playing the biggest factor in her musical success. “She was an exceptional dancer, Pearl Lang recalled. Many dancers can kick and exhibit acrobatic control, but that is just run of the mill, taken for granted. Madonna had the power, the intensity to go beyond mere physical performance and into something more exciting” (Taraborrelli, 2002) She executes expressionistic acrobatic and contortionists moves, causing her Confessions on the Dance Floor tour to be memorable. The concert made millions of dollars. Madonna applied her dance training to her yoga choreography created outstanding music videos resulting in a sold out concert worldwide tour. Over twenty years ago when she went to New York, seeking a dance profession, her route was altered when she had trouble with her dance instructors. They insisted there was no place for her in any dance company, but she worked with Ailey Modern Dance Company. Madonna’s efforts to keep with current dance trends, makes her successful videos a hard act to follow or duplicate. Madonna’s love for many dance styles, is undeniable. Ballet, yoga, and pilates, are very different from popular dance crazes. However, the multitalented entertainer arranged tunes and popularized dance crazes appealing to popular dance crowds throughout her musical career.
Britney Spears grew up in a time where hip-hop dance was the major point of dance studios. Technical dance moves, and contortionists training were on its way out of dance studios. High flexibility, and super fast speed dance moves enhances creations of extraordinary music videos. The success behind Madonna’s music videos, relied on her ability to create unrealistic videos appealing to emotions. Comparing Madonna’s dance training to the dance training Britney Spears had, the two styles are very contrasting. Age is on Madonna’s side when it comes to the ability to choreograph music videos and concert tours. The audiences are moved by watching entertaining choreography incorporated into music videos with dance moves of which they are incapable in their everyday life. Many of Britney’s dance sequences used in her music videos leaves the audiences thinking “anyone can do that.” Hip-hop dance can be fascinating, creative imaginative. But without technical dance training, including highly flexible, high speed moves, there is nothing special to the videos. Britney did have technical dance training, but dance elements she learned are more easily duplicated than Madonna’s.
Appealing to all Audiences:
“Her controversial TV appearances, her newest look, her latest lover, and her outrageous statements fascinated newspapers, magazines, and TV channels around the globe. Harvard and Princeton Universities held a Madonna day where they academically studied her video, and viewed her influences on the portrayal of women in modern day society, discussing her dedication to breaking down hierarchies of race, class and gender. She had become a powerful figure and role model” (Meme, 2004). Madonna stages her videos and concerts, and does charitable public acts reaching all audiences of all races and economic classes. Her music videos portrays entertainers of all races and cultures. She films some of her videos is ghetto areas of town, in allies the public is manipulated into believing such places are dangerous. (Following the behavior of Jesus Christ who had friends of all races). In Madonna’s public life, she hangs out with Blacks, Hispanics and openly admits it. Her interests in diverse cultures identifies her individuality making her a superstar. Some critics complain she has no Caucasians in her Sorry Video. Madonna was able to be individual, build her success on her individuality because she was financially self reliant. Madonna would live in Black or lower income neighborhoods for her creative freedom.
Conclusion; Can Britney Reach Madonna’s Status:
No! She cannot. Even Britney will say this. “Madonna has this thing about her that you cannot explain, the thing that makes somebody a star” (Spears, 2004). Britney does not need to reach somebody else’s status. Her performance in current music video, Gimme More, is amazing. The lighting, the music arrangements and the acting is individually Britney. She sung the same song live at VMA, delivering an expressionless, robotic performance, forgetting her dance moves. Every entertainer learns to improvise. But Britney was copying someone else’s image, which is why she could not cover up when she forgot her moves. Madonna created her images by copying successful icons dating centuries ago. Madonna used such role models as a pattern, a guide. The major personality trait making Madonna successful is her stubbornness to stick to her individualness, no matter what the circumstances. Look at it this way. If the roles were reversed, Britney was the old timer in music industry, Madonna was the new comer, would Madonna reach the levels Britney achieved. Madonna would not try to totally copy Britney. Madonna is too unique, individual. She would incorporate ideas from Britney, but refuse to be another Britney. Britney Spears assumed Madonna broke down all barriers and objections to what is socially acceptable. Britney Spears is a singer and dancer because she is reaching for stardom, fame and fortune. Madonna is a superstar because she refuses to be ordinary.
Meme Mehmet, ;Madonna in Art Pop Art Books; London
Spears, Britney; Madonna; http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5940017/36_madonna
Taraborrelli, Randy; Madonna: An Intimate Biography New York New York; Simon and Schuster
Voller, Debbi, The Style Book, OmniBus Press
Gimmie More; Live Performance