Madonna is an artist that most Americans are very familiar with. From rudeness to charity, she is always in the public eye. Madonna took women and sex through a quantum leap and her unique style and flair has been imprinted on pop culture forever. Besides creating major trends in music she was responsible for many fashion statements throughout the eighties and nineties (Gandee 307). Up until 1982, female sexuality was largely a suggestion of cleavage and tight-fitting jeans, then Madonna showed up in 1983 wearing her Victoria’s Secrets on the outside, and all hell broke loose.
Throughout her career as one of America’s superstars, Madonna maintained much of her creative control while signed to a major record label, a feat few musicians can boast about. She was and is very involved with the business aspect of her career (Udovitch 300), and even started her own sub-label, Maverick Records. Not surprisingly, Madonna has set many of the standards for music videos, and has had over 10 number one singles. At the time Madonna first arrived on the scene there hadn’t been a strong female icon in music since Billie Holiday.
Like Holiday, Madonna turned heads with her sexy attitude and approach to life, love, and sex. Think what you might about her musical talent, she pushed the power of female sexuality to the forefront of the public eye, taking it so far as to present her sexual manifesto in a self-published soft core pornography book, entitled “Sex”. Although Brittany Spears and Madonna made very different career choices, aspects of their lives and influence are very similar. Both artists moved to New York at a very young age and performed at small clubs and bars.
Another thing the two women share is their compassion and opinions. They both are very politically active and vocal, taking action in ways most don’t. Madonna frequently takes stands in her videos and concerts, shocking some folks with her views. In 1990, she told the world to stop living their personal lives according to other peoples rules when she sang, “Poor is the man/whose pleasure depends/on the permission of another. ” The song and video, “Justify my Love,” was banned from MTV for explicity, sending it to the top of the charts in a matter of days.
Madonna and Ani did just that; they did what they wanted, and to hell with those who got in their way, even though they went about their music in two entirely different ways. The major differences between them came at the point in their careers when they were faced with a decision: whether or not to sign on the dotted line. Madonna signed, but had enough business sense to retain her creative rights, making sure that no one else would be running her show.
Ani DiFranco did the opposite, opposing the music industry completely. In her song, “Make Them Apologize”, Ani somewhat explains her actions when she sent this wake up call to women everywhere: “The music business is still run by men/ like every business and everything/ but we can sing like a son of a bitch/ make them twitch around their eyes/ make them apologize” Despite their opposing paths, they both accomplished very similar goals, for instance they both have maintained most if not all of their creative control.
Presently, they both own very successful record labels and both tour often. In essence, these two women have made the music industry seem obtainable to everyone. Their accomplishments represent many of the recent victories won by women in the music industry; Accomplishments like Lilith Faire and Rock for Choice.