Long time, no type! I’ve missed you all and hope that you have not missed your Monday fix of weirdness from me too much. I’ve been super busy and also super tired – in the days before I flew up to Edinburgh for Foodies Festival I picked up an eye infection which knocked me for six. I’m not sure whether I was tired because of the infection or if the infection came from being tired but, either way, I’ve been a little lower on energy than usual.
I wasn’t about to miss Edinburgh though! So I did Edinburgh, with all of the extra-curricular shows that the festival requires… and then flew home to two weeks of wedding cakes. I’m sure that I do not need to tell you guys that a wedding cake takes around a full week to produce with shopping, baking, decoration, construction, etc.
Now I find myself with a couple of days to think and breathe (and write!) ahead of our last Foodies Festival of the summer in Oxford over the coming Bank Holiday weekend. I fully plan to skive off a little in amongst the prep baking and recipe testing that I need to do this week!
I wanted to start the week off in traditional style with a fantasy bake. The subject of this week’s post has probably had her fill of cake over the past week – as she has just enjoyed a big Birthday – but I am going to bake her another one anyway. This week, I would love to bake a cake for Madonna.
The Queen of Pop turned 60 last week – this seems at the same time incredible as incredibly plausible. I was born in 1982 so Madonna has always been there; her music, her image has been present throughout the entirety of my living memory. The lyrics to Like a Virgin have been omnipresent from the days before I knew what a virgin was, through the days when I first learned and thought the song was incredibly rude, to understanding the lyrics, to understanding how cheesy they are, to singing along and dancing like your embarrassing auntie forevermore when the song plays.
Madonna has always been there.
There have been the times when I’ve had to skip Crazy For You because, from the opening drumbeats, my broken heart has hurt too much to hear it. Then this has been my most convincing car-karaoke track, a number that I can belt out with the best of them from behind the comfort of my own steering wheel.
When I saw Madonna on the big screen as Evita (Alan Parker, 1996) at the age of fourteen, I wanted to play that part so much and learnt all of the words. This show went on to become probably my favourite musical (this is a tricky post to assign, as I like an awful lot of musicals for varying reasons!) and though I’ve seen and heard the role performed better, I’ve yet to see it performed with such style. That hair, the clothes, the jewellery? Yes, Madonna made dictatorship look good.*
*This is one of the reasons why I love Evita; the lyrics are cleverly constructed to smack you in the chops every time you start feeling too sympathetic towards our heroine/anti-heroine, the beautiful face of an oppressive regime. Madonna’s Evita had several lines removed or altered with a whole new song inserted all to add to the sympathetic portrayal of a character who was originally written to be far more ambiguous.
I got into trouble for writing a line from Evita into my school’s book of remembrance for Princess Diana! I really did. I wrote ‘You let down your people, Diana. You were supposed to have been immortal.’ I still think that was clever, if a little insensitive for a fourteen year old. I was a smartarse child.
As Madonna’s style has evolved before my eyes, I’ve been there. We all went a little bit ‘new hippy’ in the late 90s and I would still love the opportunity to have my hands decorated with henna tattoos – we all bought into the floaty tops with eastern prints, the long skirts, and we ALL had a pack of stick-on bindis. I’ve only ever really drawn the line at the cowboy hats (too ‘hen party’ for me) and leotards (for obvious reasons). Like David Bowie before her, Madonna has existed as a looking glass through which different cultures and movements have been reflected and refracted into the mainstream.
I’m not sure this would wash in an age of awareness of cultural appropriation but I have always loved that Madonna has taken inspiration from around her and put this into her music and her style. Madonna put you right into the heart of New York’s gay and drag scenes when you danced to Vogue at your cousin’s wedding with your granddad.
I can’t Vogue to save my life. In my head, I’m really good at it.
As I have grown older, the thing that most impresses me about Madonna is her work ethic. I have nothing but time and respect for people who work their asses off to make the most of every opportunity that comes their way. I think we can all agree that Madonna is perhaps not the greatest vocal artist ever to have lived, when she started out she was not even the best dancer. I cannot help but wonder how Madonna would have fared as a contestant on Pop Idol or The X Factor. Would a panel of judges have seen her potential to become an icon and inspire so many? I guess someone saw it. I thank them.
I would love to bake a cake for Madonna for all of the amazing songs that have existed as a soundtrack to my life. I would like to thank Madonna for always giving female sexuality a voice, and a strong one at that. I have never seen a copy of the infamous Sex book… but I remember seeing certain edited pictures decried for their obscenity in The Daily Fail when it was released! I thought it must be something very shocking but I liked knowing that it was out there in the world. Whenever Madonna caused a fuss in the press, I always threw her a mini parade in my head and wished that I could give as few fucks as she seemed to.
For all of the tunes, the outfit inspiration, and the haircuts, I raise a glass to the Queen of Pop and wish her many happy returns of the day.
I would have loved to deliver a cake to Madonna’s 60th Birthday party atop a luxury hotel in Morocco last week, but I would needed to have requested at least ONE Madonna song for the dancefloor. Apparently there were no Madonna tracks played at her own party. Now is not the time for modesty, Queen. Let’s all Vogue.