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“Baby I’m A Star” Prince, Madonna, and the Production of Celebrity.

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Presentation on theme: "“Baby I’m A Star” Prince, Madonna, and the Production of Celebrity."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Baby I’m A Star” Prince, Madonna, and the Production of Celebrity

2 The Production of Celebrity By the 1980s, the “star-making machinery behind the popular song” had grown to unprecedented proportions. By the 1980s, the “star-making machinery behind the popular song” had grown to unprecedented proportions. –Profitability was dependent on a limited number of multiplatinum recordings. –The coordination of publicity surrounding the release of such recordings was crucial. –The 1980s saw the rise of a new breed of music superstar, adept at manipulating the mass media and stimulating public fascination with their personal characteristics as well as with their music.

3 Madonna From the late 1980s through the 1990s, Madonna’s popularity was second only to Michael Jackson’s. From the late 1980s through the 1990s, Madonna’s popularity was second only to Michael Jackson’s. Between 1984 and 1994, Madonna scored twenty-eight Top 10 singles, eleven of which reached the top spot on the charts. Between 1984 and 1994, Madonna scored twenty-eight Top 10 singles, eleven of which reached the top spot on the charts.

4 Madonna Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was born into an Italian American family in Rochester, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was born into an Italian American family in Rochester, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. She moved to New York City in 1977, worked as a photographic model, studied dance, and became a presence at Manhattan discotheques such as Danceteria, where DJ Mark Kamins played her demo tapes. She moved to New York City in 1977, worked as a photographic model, studied dance, and became a presence at Manhattan discotheques such as Danceteria, where DJ Mark Kamins played her demo tapes.

5 Madonna In 1983, Madonna’s breakthrough single “Holiday” (Number Sixteen pop, Number Twenty-five R&B) established certain elements of a distinctive studio sound, rooted in the synth-pop dance music of the early 1980s. In 1983, Madonna’s breakthrough single “Holiday” (Number Sixteen pop, Number Twenty-five R&B) established certain elements of a distinctive studio sound, rooted in the synth-pop dance music of the early 1980s.

6 Madonna In 1984, her second album, Like a Virgin, shot to top of the album charts. In 1984, her second album, Like a Virgin, shot to top of the album charts. Produced by Nile Rodgers, who was involved with the writing and production of a number of disco-era hits, including Chic’s “Good Times” Produced by Nile Rodgers, who was involved with the writing and production of a number of disco-era hits, including Chic’s “Good Times” Eventually sold more than ten million copies Eventually sold more than ten million copies The album spawned a series of hit singles: The album spawned a series of hit singles: –“Like a Virgin” (Number One for six weeks in 1984 and early 1985) –“Material Girl” (Number Two in 1985) –“Angel” and “Dress You Up” (both Number Five in 1985)

7 Madonna Madonna began early in her career to exert an unusual degree of control over both her music and the creation and promulgation of her media image Madonna began early in her career to exert an unusual degree of control over both her music and the creation and promulgation of her media image –Wrote or co-wrote many of the songs on her early albums –Played an active role in the production process

8 Madonna During the second half of the 1980s, Madonna began to write and record songs with deeper—and more controversial—content: During the second half of the 1980s, Madonna began to write and record songs with deeper—and more controversial—content: –“Papa Don’t Preach” (1986) –“Open Your Heart” (1986) –“Express Yourself” (1989) –“Like a Prayer” (1989)

9 Madonna The controversy-and-commercialism ante was upped even further in 1992: The controversy-and-commercialism ante was upped even further in 1992: –The publication of Sex, a 128-page coffee table book featuring photographs of Madonna and other celebrities nude and in S&M outfits –The synchronized release of the album Erotica, which peaked at Number Two on the Billboard album chart and produced five major hit singles

10 Listening: “Like a Virgin” Written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly; performed by Madonna; recorded in 1984 Written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly; performed by Madonna; recorded in 1984 Number One pop and Number Nine R&B Number One pop and Number Nine R&B This is not a song about a virgin in any narrowly technical sense; rather, it is about the feeling that someone who has grown pessimistic about love gets from a new relationship. This is not a song about a virgin in any narrowly technical sense; rather, it is about the feeling that someone who has grown pessimistic about love gets from a new relationship.

11 Listening: “Like a Virgin” The form of “Like a Virgin” is straightforward: The form of “Like a Virgin” is straightforward: –After a four-bar instrumental introduction that establishes the dance groove, there is an eight-bar verse, which we call A¹ (I made it through the wilderness...) –A ten-bar version of the verse with somewhat different harmonies, which we call A² (I was beat, incomplete...) –A chorus featuring the hook of the song, which we call B (Like a virgin...) –The only additional structural element is an eight- bar interlude near the middle of the arrangement.

12 Listening: “Like a Virgin” Outline of the form: Outline of the form: –A¹A²B –Eight-bar interlude –A²BBB (etc., with a gradual fade out) The timbre, texture, and rhythmic momentum of “Like a Virgin” are more important to the listener’s experience than the song’s structure. The timbre, texture, and rhythmic momentum of “Like a Virgin” are more important to the listener’s experience than the song’s structure.

13 Listening: “Like a Virgin” The studio mix—overseen by Madonna’s longtime collaborator Shep Pettibone—is clean, with clear stereo separation, heavy reliance on synthesized sound textures, and the singer’s voice strongly foregrounded over the instruments. The studio mix—overseen by Madonna’s longtime collaborator Shep Pettibone—is clean, with clear stereo separation, heavy reliance on synthesized sound textures, and the singer’s voice strongly foregrounded over the instruments. Synthesizers are indispensable to the overall effect of this recording Synthesizers are indispensable to the overall effect of this recording Her vocal style in “Like a Virgin” reflects her ironic manipulation of long-standing stereotypes about females: Her vocal style in “Like a Virgin” reflects her ironic manipulation of long-standing stereotypes about females: –Soft, intimate breathiness associated with Hollywood sex symbols like Marilyn Monroe –Throaty, tougher sound of 1960s singers like Ronnie Spector, the lead singer on the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”

14 Prince Over the course of his career, Prince has sold almost forty million recordings. Over the course of his career, Prince has sold almost forty million recordings. Between 1982 and 1992, Prince (a.k.a. the Artist) placed nine albums in the Top 10, reaching the top of the charts with three of them (Purple Rain in 1984, Around the World in a Day in 1985, and Batman in 1989). Between 1982 and 1992, Prince (a.k.a. the Artist) placed nine albums in the Top 10, reaching the top of the charts with three of them (Purple Rain in 1984, Around the World in a Day in 1985, and Batman in 1989). Prince is one of the most talented musicians ever to achieve mass commercial success in the field of popular music. Prince is one of the most talented musicians ever to achieve mass commercial success in the field of popular music.

15 Prince Rogers Nelson Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota His parents, who migrated from Louisiana to the North, identified themselves as African Americans while acknowledging a mixed-race heritage including Italian and Native American ancestry. His parents, who migrated from Louisiana to the North, identified themselves as African Americans while acknowledging a mixed-race heritage including Italian and Native American ancestry. Growing up in a middle-class Minneapolis neighborhood exposed him to a wide range of music Growing up in a middle-class Minneapolis neighborhood exposed him to a wide range of music –His early influences included everything from James Brown and Santana to Joni Mitchell. When he was seven, his parents separated. When he was seven, his parents separated.

16 Prince Remarkable productivity and astounding recent return to the charts Remarkable productivity and astounding recent return to the charts Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, when most superstars released an album every two or three years, Prince’s output averaged over an album a year. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, when most superstars released an album every two or three years, Prince’s output averaged over an album a year. During the 1980s, he composed, performed, and recorded more than seventy-five songs each year. During the 1980s, he composed, performed, and recorded more than seventy-five songs each year.

17 Prince In stylistic terms, Prince’s recorded output has encompassed a wide range of musical inspirations: In stylistic terms, Prince’s recorded output has encompassed a wide range of musical inspirations: –Funk –Guitar-based rock ’n’ roll –Urban folk music –New wave –Psychedelic rock

18 Purple Rain (1984) Perhaps the best example of Prince’s skill at manipulating the boundary between the public and the private are the film and soundtrack album Purple Rain (1984). Perhaps the best example of Prince’s skill at manipulating the boundary between the public and the private are the film and soundtrack album Purple Rain (1984). –Established him as a pop superstar Purple Rain was the bestselling album of 1984, bumping Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. out of the top position on Billboard’s pop album chart Purple Rain was the bestselling album of 1984, bumping Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. out of the top position on Billboard’s pop album chart –Number One position for twenty-four weeks –Produced five hit singles, including “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “Purple Rain”

19 Purple Rain The film did reasonably well at the box office, although it did not succeed in establishing Prince as a matinee idol. The film did reasonably well at the box office, although it did not succeed in establishing Prince as a matinee idol. The film and the album were cross-promoted by Warner Entertainment. The film and the album were cross-promoted by Warner Entertainment. The single of “When Doves Cry” was released a few weeks before Purple Rain appeared in theaters and helped boost the film’s popularity, which in turn helped several other songs on the soundtrack reach the Top 40. The single of “When Doves Cry” was released a few weeks before Purple Rain appeared in theaters and helped boost the film’s popularity, which in turn helped several other songs on the soundtrack reach the Top 40.

20 Purple Rain The plot and characters of Purple Rain draw heavily on the details of Prince’s life, both personal and professional. The plot and characters of Purple Rain draw heavily on the details of Prince’s life, both personal and professional. It is not easy to draw boundaries between the fictional character (the Kid), the celebrity persona (Prince), and the private individual (Prince Rogers Nelson). It is not easy to draw boundaries between the fictional character (the Kid), the celebrity persona (Prince), and the private individual (Prince Rogers Nelson). The character of the Kid seems consonant with the accounts offered by Prince’s family and professional associates. The character of the Kid seems consonant with the accounts offered by Prince’s family and professional associates.

21 Listening: “When Doves Cry” An unusual pop recording in a number of regards An unusual pop recording in a number of regards –The album track runs almost six minutes. –Prince wrote the song, produced the recording, sang all of the vocal parts, and played all of the instruments. –The lyrics of “When Doves Cry” do not conform to the usual formulas of romantic pop song. Crosses the boundaries of established pop genres Crosses the boundaries of established pop genres –Fusing a funk rhythm with the lead guitar sound of heavy metal, the digitally synthesized and sampled textures of postdisco dance music, and the aesthetic focus and control of progressive rock and the singer-songwriter tradition.

22 Listening: “When Doves Cry” Prince’s composition avoids the tendency to establish a clear distinction between a verse and a chorus. Prince’s composition avoids the tendency to establish a clear distinction between a verse and a chorus. –The song does use the verse-and-chorus form, but the melody and supporting harmonies are almost identical in the two sections, making the distinction between them much less fixed. –The musical intensity of “When Doves Cry” rises and falls continuously, creating a complex succession of peaks and valleys.

23 Listening: “When Doves Cry” The arrangement of “When Doves Cry” can be divided into two major sections: The arrangement of “When Doves Cry” can be divided into two major sections: Section One Section One –About three and a half minutes in length –A presentation of the song –Alternation of verse (A) and chorus (B) Section Two Section Two –Consists of a series of eight-bar phrases –The background texture is subtly varied, while instrumental solos, sung phrases, and other vocal effects are sometimes juxtaposed or layered on top of one another, and sometimes alternated one after the other.

24 Listening: “When Doves Cry” The overall effect of this recording The overall effect of this recording –A weaving, made up of patches of subtly shifting textural effects and tone colors –Held together by the strong threads of a funk-derived dance groove –Strung on a formal loom made up of eight-bar sections This is a recording that rewards repeated listening, not least because one musician has created every sound you hear throughout. This is a recording that rewards repeated listening, not least because one musician has created every sound you hear throughout. In its rich layering of instrumental textures and vocal personalities, “When Doves Cry” imparted to the public image of Prince a complexity and psychological depth not typical of mass-media celebrities. In its rich layering of instrumental textures and vocal personalities, “When Doves Cry” imparted to the public image of Prince a complexity and psychological depth not typical of mass-media celebrities. It established his reputation as one of the most creative and influential musicians of the 1980s. It established his reputation as one of the most creative and influential musicians of the 1980s.


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