Madonna-Free Zone; Malcolm did it first

I’ve had a couple of recent revelations that I would like to share.

The other day it was pointed out to me that the fruit I had believed to be a pomegramate for the twenty-four years of my existence, is actually called a pomegranate. How this passed me by for almost a quarter of a century I do not know, however until yesterday a good (and slightly older) friend of mine thought Sherlock Holmes was a historically accurate figure, which makes me feel way better. Another thing that I have discovered is that contrary to popular belief, Madonna did not invent the vogue, Malcolm McLaren did it first.

In fact neither Madonna nor Malcolm can be credited for the actual invention of the Vogue, which was born from the U.S inner city gay club scene in the late 1980s. However in 1989 Mclaren, whose previous accomplishments included shacking up with Vivienne Westwood to provide the world with Punk, released Deep in Vogue, a song that reached no.1 on the Billboard Dance Chart and whose masterfully crafted, highly stylized but understated video introduced the underground Voguing culture to the mainstream.

Madonna’s Vogue, which was released in, and reached no.1 A YEAR LATER, features an uncannily similar montage of hand gestures, body poses and movements to Deep in Vogue. Beat, baseline and general groove; it’s all a rip off. Whereas McLaren provides an uncomplicated insight into underground culture by maintaining and expressing the raw identity of the Vogue,  Madonna’s version by comparison stands as the self indulgent romp of a manufactured pop icon.

Contrary to what history has evolved to suggest,  the triangle titted Queen of pop should neither be credited for creating, nor masterminding the mainstream emergence of  the Vogue. Pop star she may be, but revolutionary, trend setting legend she is not. Well done Malcolm.

It appears that I am not the only one who Madonna has agitated with her glory stealing. On his album Midtown 120 Blues (voted no.1 dance album of 2009 by Resident Advisor) DJ Sprinkles reveals his own distain for Madonna’s underhand Voguing tactics. In his aptly titled track Ball’r (Madonna Free Zone,) Sprinkles says:

“When Madonna came out with her hit Vogue you knew it was over. She had taken a very specifically queer, transgendered, Latino and African-American phenomenon and totally erased that context with her lyrics, “It makes no difference if you’re black or white, if you’re a boy or girl.” Madonna was taking in tons of money, while the Queen who actually taught her how to Vogue sat before me in the club, strung out, depressed and broke. So if anybody requested Vogue or any other Madonna track, I told them, “No, this is a Madonna free zone! And as long as I’m DJ-ing you will not be allowed to Vogue to the decontextualized, reified, corporatlized, liberalized, neutralized, asexualized, re-genderized, pop reflection of this dancefloor’s reality!”

2 responses to “Madonna-Free Zone; Malcolm did it first

  1. McClaren’s innovative ideas were genius.I mean..he created the Sex Pistols.Not bad for a Jewish boy from Stamford Hill.


  2. Malcolm McLaren is one of the unsung purveyors of British culture whose influence is sadly overlooked. Not only did he form the Sex Pistols and the superbly unorthodox Bow Wow Wow, he also gave Adam &The Ants their image AND brought scratching and breakdancing to the UK. So without him, there would have been no Diversity and no grafitti art here, another one of his many imports and innovations. The guy’s a genius, full stop. Great article!

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