On this day: Grammy (2006), Filming Evita (1996), Material Girl (1985) February 8

Grammy Awards

February 08, 2006

Madonna opens the Grammy Awards ceremony with The Gorillaz.

 

Evita

February 08, 1996

Filming of the Evita movie begins.
 

Evita is a 1996 musical drama film based on Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical of the same name about Eva Perón. It was directed by Alan Parker and written by Parker and Oliver Stone. It starred Madonna, Antonio Banderas, and Jonathan Pryce. The film was released on December 25, 1996 by Hollywood Pictures and Cinergi Pictures.

Plot
Evita portrays the life of Eva Duarte (later Eva Duarte de Perón) (Madonna) from a child of the lower classes to becoming the wife of Juan Perón and First Lady and spiritual leader of Argentina.
 
Eva's death is announced in a movie theater and a public funeral is held in Buenos Aires. Che (Antonio Banderas), an Everyman, narrates the story of Eva's rise to power and later illness and death. He appears in many different guises and serves as Eva's conscience and critic. As a young illegitimate child, Eva tries to attend her father's funeral in the town of Junín with her mother and siblings. Her father's wife and other family deny her family permission to enter, but Eva pays her last respects to her father.
 
Years later, Eva decides to leave Junín to seek a better life in Buenos Aires with a tango singer, Agustín Magaldi (Jimmy Nail), with whom she is having an affair. After Magaldi leaves her, she goes through several relationships with increasingly influential men, becoming a model, actress and radio personality. She meets with the older and handsome Colonel Juan Perón (Jonathan Pryce) at a fundraiser following the recent 1944 San Juan earthquake. Perón's connection with Eva adds to his populist image, since she is from the working class (as he is). Eva has a radio show during Perón's rise and uses all her skills to promote Perón, even when the controlling administration has him jailed in an attempt to stunt his political momentum. The groundswell of support Eva generates forces the government to release Perón, and he finds the people enamored of him and Eva. Perón wins election to the presidency and Eva promises the new government will serve the descamisados (literally, "those without shirts"—i.e., the poor).
 
At the start of the Perón government, Eva dresses glamorously, enjoying the privileges of being the first lady. Soon after, Eva embarks on what was called her "Rainbow Tour" to Europe. While there she had mixed receptions; the people of Spain adore her; the people of Italy call her whore and throw things (such as eggs) at her, while the Pope gives her a small, meager gift; and the French, while kind to her, were upset that she was forced to leave early. There are hints of the illness that eventually caused her death. Upon returning to Argentina, Eva establishes a foundation and distributes aid; the film suggests the Perónists otherwise plunder the public treasury. The military officer corps and social elites despise Eva's common roots and affinity for the poor.
 
Eva is hospitalized and learns she is terminally ill. She declines the position of Vice President because she is too weak, and makes one final broadcast to the people of Argentina. She understands that her life was short because she shone like the "brightest fire," and helps Perón prepare to go on without her. A large crowd surrounds the Casa Rosada in a candlelight vigil praying for her recovery when the light of her room goes out, signifying her death. Eva's funeral is shown again. Ché is seen at her coffin, marveling at the influence of her brief life. He walks up to her glass coffin, kisses it, and walks into the crowd of passing mourners.

Cast
Madonna as Evita Perón
Antonio Banderas as Ché
Jonathan Pryce as Juan Perón
Jimmy Nail as Agustín Magaldi
Victoria Sus as Dona Juana Ibarguren
Julian Littman as Juancito Duarte
Olga Merediz as Bianca Duarte
Laura Pallas as Elisa Duarte
Julia Worsley as Erminda Duarte
Peter Polycarpou as Domingo Mercante
Gary Brooker as Juan Atilio Bramuglia
Andrea Corr as Juan Perón's mistress

Theatrical release poster
 
Directed by Alan Parker
Produced by Alan Parker, Robert Stigwood,  Andrew G. Vajna
Screenplay by Alan Parker, Oliver Stone
Based on Evita by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice
Narrated by Antonio Banderas
Starring: Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce, Jimmy Nail
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Cinematography: Darius Khondji
Editing by Gerry Hambling
Studio: Cinergi Pictures, Dirty Hands Productions
Distributed by Hollywood Pictures (US) Entertainment Films (UK)
Release dates: December 25, 1996
Running time: 134 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $55 million
Box office: $141,047,179

Material Girl

Cover art for U.S. vinyl singles

February 08, 1985

"Material Girl" enters the Billboard singles chart.
 
Material Girl
Single by Madonna
From the album Like a Virgin
 
B-side: "Pretender"
Released: November 30, 1984
Format: 7", 12" maxi single, CD single
Recorded: April—May 1984
Genre: Dance-pop
Length: 4:01
Label: Sire · Warner Bros.
Writer(s): Peter Brown · Robert Rans
Producer(s): Nile Rodgers
 

"Material Girl" is a song performed by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It was released on November 30, 1984, by Sire Records, as the second single from her second album Like a Virgin. It also appears slightly remixed on the 1990 greatest hits compilation, The Immaculate Collection, and in its original form on the 2009 greatest hits compilation, Celebration. The song was written by Peter Brown and Robert Rans, while Nile Rodgers produced the track. Madonna explained that the concept of the song was similar to her life's situation at that time. According to her, the song was provocative, hence she was attracted to it.
 
"Material Girl" consists of synth arrangements with a robotic voice repeating the hook. The lyrics identify with materialism, with Madonna asking for a rich and affluent life, rather than romance and relationships. Contemporary critics have frequently identified "Material Girl" along with "Like a Virgin" as the songs that established Madonna as an icon. "Material Girl" was a commercial success, reaching the top-five in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Japan and United Kingdom. It reached the number two position on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, becoming her third top-five single there.
 
The music video was a mimicry of Marilyn Monroe's performance of the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" from the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The mimicked scenes are interspersed with scenes of a Hollywood director trying to win the heart of an actress, played by Madonna herself. Discovering that, contrary to her song, the young woman was not impressed by money and expensive gifts, he pretended to be penniless and succeeded in taking her out on a date. She has performed the song in four of her world tours, most of them being mimicry of the song and the video.
 
"Material Girl" has been covered by a number of artists, including Britney Spears, The Chipettes and Hilary and Haylie Duff. It has appeared in films like Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004). Madonna has often remarked that she regrets recording "Material Girl" as the name became a pseudonym for her in mainstream media. The song has been labeled an empowering influence for women, and was the subject of debates.

Background
"Material Girl" was written by Peter Brown and Robert Rans, while Nile Rodgers produced the track. In 1986, Madonna told Company magazine, that although she did not write or create the song, the lyrical meaning and concept did apply to her situation at that point of time. She elaborated, "I'm very career-oriented. You are attracted to people who are ambitious that way, too, like in the song 'Material Girl'. You are attracted to men who have material things because that's what pays the rents and buys you furs. That's the security. That lasts longer than emotions." During a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, Madonna was asked by interviewer Austin Scaggs, regarding her first feelings, after listening to the demos of "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl". Madonna responded by saying, "I liked them both because they were ironic and provocative at the same time but also unlike me. I am not a materialistic person, and I certainly wasn't a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be like a virgin? I liked the play on words, I thought they were clever. They're so geeky, they're cool."

Composition

"Material Girl" consists of synth arrangements, with a strong backbeat supporting it. A robotic male voice repeats the hook "Living in a material world". According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Alfred Publishing, the song is set in the time signature of common time, with a tempo of 120 beats per minute. It is set in the key of C major, with Madonna's voice spanning from the tonal nodes of C4 to C5. The song has a basic chord progression of F–G–Em–Am-F-G-C in the chorus, while the verses are based on the C mixolydian mode, giving a hip, swing-like mood.[6] The bassline in the song with the post-disco origins is reminiscent of The Jacksons' "Can You Feel It", which appeared on their 1980 album Triumph. Furthermore, the strophes remind of the refrain from Melissa Manchester's hit "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" (1982).
 
The lyrics explain that what Madonna wants is money, good clothes, the perfect life and men who are able to supply those materialistic things. A cross-reference to the 1960 song "Shop Around" by The Miracles is also present. The lyrics also portray relationships in terms of capitalism as commodities, and romance becomes synonymous to trading stocks and shares. The title was a polysemy like the lyrics. It deduced Madonna as the desired and most respected woman.

Music video

The music video was inspired by Madonna's admiration of Marilyn Monroe and mimicked the latter's performance of the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" from the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It also featured actor Keith Carradine, who played Madonna's love interest. The video was the first to showcase Madonna's acting ability, as it combined the dance routines of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" with the storyline of a man who impresses Madonna with daisies, rather than diamonds. In a 1987 interview with New York Daily News, Madonna said:
 

"Well, my favorite scene in all of Monroe's movies is when she does that dance sequence for 'Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend'. And when it came time to do the video for the song [Material Girl], I said, I can just redo that whole scene and it will be perfect.  Marilyn was made into something not human in a way, and I can relate to that. Her sexuality was something everyone was obsessed with and that I can relate to. And there were certain things about her vulnerability that I'm curious about and attracted to."
 
The music video was shot January 10 and 11, 1985, at Ren-Mar Studios in Hollywood, California, and was directed by Mary Lambert, who worked with Madonna in the videos for "Like a Virgin" and "Borderline". It was produced by Simon Fields with principal photography by Peter Sinclair, editing by Glenn Morgan and choreography by Kenny Ortega. Actor Robert Wuhl appeared in the video's opening. Much of the jewelry is sourced from the collection of Connie Parente, a popular Hollywood jewelry collector. The music video was at the same time an exegesis and a critique of the lyrics and Madonna herself. It was on the set of the video that Madonna met her first husband, actor Sean Penn.
 
The video opens with two men watching a rush in the screening rooms of a Hollywood studio. On the screen, an actress played by Madonna sings and dances to "Material Girl", dressed like Monroe from "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend". One of the men, played by Carradine, is a director or a producer and is immensely rich. He falls in love with the actress and wants to express his passion for her.[8] He tells his employee, played by Wuhl: "She's [Madonna] fantastic. She could become a star." The employee answered: "She could be. She could be great. She could be a major star." The former then concludes by saying: "She is a star, George." Madonna is in a pink sleeveless gown and has her hair in blond locks ala Monroe. The background is a reconstruction of the Monroe video, complete with staircase, chandeliers and a number of tuxedo clad chorus boys. Madonna dances and sings the song, while she is showered with cash, expensive jewellery, furs and is carried by the men over the stairs. At one time, she alludes herself from the men, by dismissing them with her fan. As the producer tries to impress Madonna, he comes to know that she does not like material things, but rather prefers simple romance. He pretends to be penniless, and brings her hand-cut flowers while paying a poor man a large amount to borrow (or possibly buy) his dirty truck to take her on a date. His plan seems to work, because the final scene shows him and Madonna kissing in the truck in an intimate position.
 
It was in the video of "Material Girl" that Madonna began to accept and utilize herself being compared to Monroe. However, she established a safe distance from those comparisons and developed inside the same pastiche. Details like the usage of different gloves or different fans in the video brought forth the connections between these women, but Madonna alluded to herself in subtle ways. The fan in Monroe's hand for the original video was an iconography of the Sudarshana Chakra (wheel) held by the Indian God Vishnu. Scholar Georges-Claude Guilbert, who wrote Madonna as postmodern myth: how one star's self-construction rewrites sex, said that the fan symbolized fiery desire aroused by Monroe as well as ritual sacrifice, eerily foreshadowing her untimely death in 1962. Madonna's fan, which appeared at the end of the video, signified that Madonna – while paying her tribute to Monroe – was signaling that she had no intention of being a victim like her, and that she was on the path of becoming a feminist post-modern myth. Author Nicholas Cook commented that the video promoted Madonna's identity as the song suggested, with the purpose of shifting "Madonna's image from that of a disco-bimbo to authentic star." Lisa A. Lewis, author of Gender, Politics and MTV said that with the video, Madonna achieved the rare distinction of being accepted as a literature medium by the music authors. "Material Girl" was nominated for best female video at the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards but lost to Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do with It". The video was ranked at position 54 on VH1's 100 Greatest Videos.(Wiki)

 

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