(Written January 12, 2023)
Almost any early Madonna song immediately takes me back to my early childhood, thanks to several older female cousins who adored her. I fell in love right along with them and every other girl on the planet. The Queen of Pop rightfully deserves several entries here, and it is only right that I start with Material Girl.
It is easy to dismiss Material Girl as an ode to greed, a quintessentially ‘80s throwaway pop song. Personally, I think that is a bit harsh, and frankly unfair, even if I believe Madonna’s music hasn’t aged particularly well.
Yet, I keep coming back to the video. Yes, there are diamonds and countless references to Marilyn Monroe. There is also something timeless that introduced an entire younger generation to the glamor of old school Hollywood. In the music video, there are even sequences at the beginning and end of the song that make the video just a bit less outrageously materialistic. As a young girl obsessed with Disney princesses and Barbie, Madonna seemed to have it all: style, grace, and she could sing too.
As I grew older, remaining a Madonna fan became harder and harder to defend. I distinctly remember being embarrassed for her when she was photographed everywhere in a cone bra and released the book Sex. I was all of 11.
As Madonna appears to be struggling with aging gracefully (that is another topic entirely), I can only hope that we as a society don’t write off her music entirely as time goes on. For me at least, her earliest work – what made her a star, the Queen of Pop – will always be a cherished part of my childhood. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the video!