What Makes CONTROVERSY Matter - And Why Dancing is ESSENTIAL for LIFE
MUSIC is not a GENRE - Season 2 Episode #22




Madonna - "Into the Groove"

REC - "You Make Me Wanna" (from Syncopy for the Weird


When you think of Madonna, what comes to mind first? Is it her early NYC post-punk-dance period? Her movie career? Her many relationships? One or more of her mega hits? Her near constant reinvention? Odds are it’s at least two of those things (okay, maybe not her movie career). But one thing that runs through ALL of them is CONTROVERSY.


From the beginning, Madonna has been a shit stirrer. She’s made bold choices, bold statements, bold stage shows, and sometimes even bold music. She’s never stopped pushing the envelope, whether that’s worked for her or not. Over and over, she’s found what gets under people’s skin, and used that to extreme advantage. Sex. Social issues. Politics. Female empowerment. 


And to all that I say: so what? Why does any of it matter? There are a ton of people stirring shit all the time, famous and not. What makes what she does matter more than anyone else? Why is she an icon? Why has she been a role model for so many? Why is she not just looked on as a contrarian poking fingers in eyes? Why has she endured, both because of AND regardless of her controversy? 


If you’ve been following along these 40+ podcasts, you already know the answer. It’s her music. Her art. The work she was put on this earth for. She’s one of so many examples of artists who have never lost sight of their strengths and true purpose. Who has used that to give her voice more volume, to make what she does & says matter more to more people than … than who? Than anyone else who’s lost their thread of inspiration, who’s allowed the volume to drown out the quality, who stops paying attention to the reason why anyone knows who they are, and/or who contributes absolutely nothing of value to society.


Do I agree with everything she’s said & done? Hell no! Do I even like all of her music? I’ll let you know when I’ve heard more than 20% of it. None of that matters. What matters, and what makes her controversy matter, is the diligent generosity she performs every time she creates music and gives it to the world. Would we care what Tom Hanks has to say if he sucked at acting? Would we care about Frida Kahlo’s politics if her art was shit? Would we care about Prince’s social & sexual & own-your-own envelope pushing if he wasn’t a hands down genius? No. If these people’s only purpose was giving voice to causes, that’s cool. Like an orator or writer or philosopher or journalist or politician with a conscience, it would be why their main gig. But since these artists’ MAIN GIG is the arts, it’s also the reason their controversy matters at all.


And what is Madonna’s main contribution to … not politics or sex or any other conversation … but to MUSIC? She was one of the pioneers who made dance music into something more than just a beat you can move to. Like so many of the LGBTQ+ performers who practically invented disco & dance music as its own thing, or so many post punks who saw techno/EDM as a way to move people with big beats & big ideas, she saw the freedom in not just putting lyrics of substance into dance songs, but also that dancing itself IS SUBSTANCE. We spend too much our lives conforming to society’s strictures, or worse, to arbitrary rules we impose on ourselves. We need to break free of that. And sometimes that road to freedom can start with something as simple and visceral as DANCING. So go get it.


As I’ve mentioned in other podcasts, I started out in many ways as a DJ, so dance music has been in my blood from the very beginning. Here’s the most recent example of that, a demo version of a song that will be on my band REC’s Syncopy for the Weird:


“You Make Me Wanna” – https://recarea.bandcamp.com/track/you-make-me-wanna-2


Are you a Madonna fan? Do you remember how controversial she was, especially in the ‘80s & ‘90s? Do you pay more attention to artists’ non-music voices when you like their art? Can you hear & feel how important dance music has been and still is? Discuss dammit!