What's up with Madonna?

By Strawberry Saroyan and Michelle Goldberg

By Salon Staff

Published October 16, 2000 7:49PM (EDT)

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What an insightful debate by two writers who obviously respect Madonna enough not be blind loyalists. However, it is worth pointing out that "Music" (the terrific album, not the awful single) is her first No. 1 single since "Like a Prayer," the one that made me a true believer in 1989. Her relevance in Europe has apparently not withered one bit -- they're obsessed with her more than ever. At least every record she puts out there is an almost guaranteed smash.

And if "cool" does not include the guy (no pun intended) who directed "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch" then we're all hopeless squares!

-- Ziad Al-Duaij

Your dueling writers seem to miss their own point entirely. Despite all that we think we know about Madonna as a celebrity, an artist and a person, there's still some mysterious attraction that continually draws us to her. She confounds us and we want to know why. Your writers illustrate this perfectly: Neither seems to be able to nail down how they feel or interpret Madonna's persona, her work, her life and more. They're almost in conflict over their feelings about her, let alone her work and legacy. She's like the pop star equivalent of Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" -- utter brilliance, but no matter how many times you read it, you never completely understand it.

That said, I want to add that I think Madonna is amazing and brilliant. She was the first real multimedia star, running her art like a business, not just merging the two as your writers suggest. And any suggestion that she is without talent is ludicrous. The woman can sing. She may not have a technically amazing or powerful voice à la the Banshee Mariah or Chest-Thumper Celine, but she has a "voice," distinctive and instant recognizable. When she squeals "Music makes the people come together," all banality of the lyric falls aside and you just have to jump off your duff and shake it 'til you can't.

-- B. Kline

Salon Staff

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