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Madonna at 60 - how she made us sit up and take note

PUBLISHED: 18:43 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:39 22 August 2018

Madonna performing to a crowd of 74,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, in London in 1990 The pop superstar will celebrate her 60th birthday on Thursday, following a long career of reinvention and controversy.

Madonna performing to a crowd of 74,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, in London in 1990 The pop superstar will celebrate her 60th birthday on Thursday, following a long career of reinvention and controversy.

The Queen of Pop is 60 - we celebrate our love for Madonna

I was at Wembley in 1986, dressed in lace to worship my idol - by Liz Nice

August 20th, 1986.

I was supposed to be worrying about my O level results. But I wasn’t.

I was at Wembley stadium, dressed in lace, getting ready to see my idol, Madonna. I had loved her ever since seeing the film Desperately Seeking Susan at what is now the Abbeygate Cinema in Bury St Edmunds. Her ‘couldn’t care less attitude’ lit up the screen.

I’d spent years caring what people thought of me. Madonna said, ‘Do what you want’. There was probably a swear word in there too.

I’ve listened to her ever since. Madonna has been through numerous incarnations.

I was never too sure about the conical bras and by the time she made that Sex book, I was going off her slightly.

It seemed like she became the little girl who would do anything to shock and if it meant pulling your pants down, well, whatever.

That was a step too far for me. But time has been kind to her.

I don’t mean in terms of her looks, which are remarkably well preserved.

But that’s not what’s important.

What she did for my generation of women was to say, ‘It’s alright to be who you are, it’s alright to have sex if you want to and it’s certainly alright to enjoy it.’ Growing up in the 70s and 80s that certainly wasn’t the message we were getting in school, where you were practically told that a man would breathe on you and you would get pregnant and that would be the ultimate shame. But Madonna didn’t care about shame, in fact she embraced it. She stood for liberation and attitude, freedom and being downright irrepressible.

She challenged conventions of not just sex but religion as well, and then she became a mother, and showed that you could do that on your own as well.Sometimes I imagine she might be quite lonely.

But no doubt her beautiful children, and her pots of money ease the pain.

To think that, at 60, she is still by far the most interesting woman in music, is quite the achievement.

But for me, she will always be the woman who taught me not to care about my O level results, which turned out pretty well anyway, but to just turn up and dance.

It was all about those killer dance moves – by Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

There are two things that come to mind when I think of Madonna – and no, I’m not making reference to the contents of her pointy bra!

Firstly the dancing. Back in the day when she was vogueing all over the place, Queen Madge ruled the dancefloor with her slinky snake hips. Dancing was, of course, her first love, with singing following on later down the line. I can’t help thinking though, when she takes to the stage these days she looks ridiculous. Hip thrusting is not, I repeat NOT, attractive at any age. Come on Madonna, mix it up a bit. Let’s see you dabbing or trying out the ‘floss’. Get down with the kids! I felt sorry for her when she fell over at the Brits, but when you fling your hips that much, accidents will happen people.

My second, overriding memory of Mads is having to listen to the song Beautiful Stranger (from the Austin Powers film) on repeat during a long and tedious school coach trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. A friend of mine was, and probably still is, one of the biggest Austin Powers fans of all time and between listening to that song and impressions of Dr Evil I had been driven slightly mad by the time we got to the youth hostel.

My favourite songs? I love Oh Father for its haunting melody, and Frozen too – but not the remixed version!

Prince influence made me finally buy one of her albums

I always thought Madonna was a bit gimmicky, especially growing up at school in the 1980s when all the girls wanted to be her but the boys thought she was just a flash in the pan.

The first five years of her career passed me by – I was far more interested in the big male American stars of the time – Prince and Michael Jackson.

But in 1989 while I was diversifying my teenage music tastes to the likes of Guns N ‘Roses, Neneh Cherry and De La Soul, Madonna unleashed a brilliant pop nugget that still stands up for me as her finest album to date.

Like a Prayer’s lyrics and controversial video made me sit up and take note for the first time – I rushed out and bought the album and was as taken aback by the fact it had a leaflet about AIDS and safe sex in it as much as great pop songs like Express Yourself and Cherish. It seemed she had finally grown up from the gum-chewing scruff into a star with a social conscience and even her voice sounded far more mature. I think it helped that Prince was all over that record too, playing guitar on the three tracks including Like a Prayer and adding his brilliant vocal to Love Song. It’s now nearly 30 years old but I say it’s the best thing she’s ever done.

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