The many influences that made Madonna the Queen of Pop
Is there a more polarizing pop star than Madonna? People who love her, really love her, while there are also plenty of people out there who have just never understood the hype.
No matter how you feel about the Queen of Pop, though, there is no denying that she's one of the most legendary artists of the last few decades. However, Madonna certainly hasn't pulled all of her ideas from her imagination. Even the most influential of performers draw their influences from elsewhere.
While she may have inadvertently given birth to the breed of modern pop stars we know and love, here are some of Madonna's biggest influences.
Old Hollywood Glamour
While Madonna may be one of the first notable blonde bombshells in the music industry, she's certainly not the first in the limelight. A lot of Madonna's aesthetic has been borrowed from stars like Marilyn Monroe and Bette Davis. This shouldn't come as a surprise, though, as she name drops numerous names from the Golden Age of Hollywood, like James Dean, Greta Garbo and Ginger Rogers, in one of her most popular songs of all-time, "Vogue." Her music video for "Material Girl" mimics Monroe's performance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. While Madonna has certainly undergone a number of "reinventions" in the past four decades, each era still had a hint of Hollywood to it.
Image: 20th Century Fox
Rock 'n' Roll
Madonna has always had a little more edge than the other pop stars of her era. That's probably because she's also drawn inspiration from the rock 'n' roll and punk scenes. Not only did she get her start in the new-wave group Breakfast Club, but even when she broke into the mainstream pop scene, she still rocked her fishnets, teased hair and lace gloves. The Independent quoted Madonna as saying, "My role models were people like Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde. Strong, independent women who wrote their own music and evolved on their own. They gave me courage."
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Upon moving to New York in the early '80s, but before breaking into the mainstream, Madonna dated famed artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and was good friends with Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and other artists in the NYC scene. Art wasn't just part of her personal life, but her professional one too. She's used imagery from Marilyn Minter and Guy Bourdin as well in her stage sets and music videos. Art Net reported that Madonna is also quite the collector, with over $100 million in works by Fernand Leger, Tamara de Lempicka, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Madonna is very open about practicing and studying Kabbalah and having been raised Catholic. She's used Christian imagery in her stage performances — much to the dismay of many Christians who viewed some of her routines as sacreligious. However, Madonna's not one to stick with inspiration from just one religion or culture in her perfomances. Though she's been accused of cultural appropriation for doing so, she has used plenty of Eastern imagery in her stage shows, as well as her red carpet fashion. Some even argue that she adopted a slight British accent when she lived in London.