Top Ten Madonna Songs, AKA Hard Decisions

Before I get to what the title of this post indicates, I want to say I tried out the new live streaming app, Meerkat, yesterday, and it was pretty fun. I have no idea if I’ll use it on a regular basis, but I streamed a short bit, chatting about Madonna and the songs I’ve picked for this list. I had five people watching at one point; one from Mexico and another from The Netherlands. It seems like a pretty cool “on the go” way to stream something and interact with other folks. If you’re reading this because you watched my goofy stream, thanks and hello!

Well, let’s get to it. Madonna has a new album out, Rebel Heart. As you probably know, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone has been the queen of pop music, fashion, reinvention, and provocation since the early 80s. It’s hard to remain relevant for such a long period of time, but, despite a few bumps along the way, Madge has managed to do it. Rebel Heart is a pretty decent pop album, more so than the previous two (Hard Candy and MDNA). When a legend releases a new album, however, we like to think back to the beginning. Us music lovers want to compare and contrast the new stuff to the old stuff. Instead of doing that, I began to think about the songs that have meant the most to me over the years. Should I make a top 20 list? Top 10? Ugh, THIS IS HARD! There are so many songs! Seriously, so many. I have a Spotify playlist of 44 favorites, for Pete’s sake!

I grabbed a pen and my trusty notepad, and made a damn list. Because I am an adult and I can do this! *deep breaths* I’ll probably change my mind in the future, or wish the order was different, but who cares. For the most part, these Madonna tunes give me the feels and/or the urge to dance around the room.

10. Don’t Tell Me

The standout track from 2000’s Music. I love the guitar sample at the beginning. I love the strings and the emotional, sweeping ending. The lyrics are great, as well. And who doesn’t think Madonna looks fab in a cowgirl outfit?

 

9. Hung Up

Does this make you want to bust out a leotard and get to grooving? If not, you might be a weirdo. Between the sample of ABBA’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) and the actual pounding beat, Hung Up is one of the greatest dance tracks ever. I dig the breakdown towards the end; just that beat and the ticking clocks. A strange thing I love about this song is the way Madonna enunciates “hesitating”. Alrighty then! Fun fact I learned about the video – it was shot only a few weeks after our queen had a horse riding accident and broke some bones. The woman has some determination.

 

8. Beautiful Stranger

Madonna. Austin Powers. Could that combo be wrong? Nope. This uptempo number has a great feel to it. It’s a total ear worm, too. The swingin’ 60s sound mixed with the late 90s production is a win. Let’s talk about the video for a second: How can Madonna make a pair of khakis sexy? I mean, they seriously look like something I sold when I worked at Lerner back in the day. But somehow she throws on a pair of heels and dances like she does, and those pants become HOT.

 

7. Causing A Commotion

This was one of my favorites as a kid in 1987, and has remained so. Back then, I don’t even think I knew exactly what a commotion was, other than it rhymed with motion and sounded fun. I recall memorizing the dance moves and wishing I had a conveyor belt in my living room. I recently learned this song was written about Madonna’s marriage to Sean Penn. Which makes sense.

 

6. The Power of Good-Bye

One of Madonna’s best ballads, for sure, from the Ray of Light record. Perhaps this is a companion to Causing A Commotion? I’ve read rumors that this one was about ol’ Spicoli as well. Regardless, it’s a lovely, sad, but hopeful tune about a breakup. The electronic bleeps and bloops blend well with the guitar. Since we also have to discuss the video as well as the song, how sexy is Goran Visnjic? Talk about hubba hubba. I adore the blue tint of everything, as well. Matthew Rolson always makes things and people look gorgeous in his videos.

 

5. Rain

Damn, this song is pretty, hiding among all the sexy songs on the Erotica album. That awesome crescendo, though! So good. I also love the homage to Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles. I could do without the spoken word part, however. As for the video, it’s beautiful. Madonna in short black hair and perfect eyebrows? Yes please.

 

4. Deeper And Deeper

Put this track on and you are guaranteed to see me start boogying. It’s super fun to sing, too. Deeper And Deeper also gets cool points for referencing Vogue. I have a soft spot for artists dropping their previous hit song lyrics into new songs. Why? Don’t ask me. I have to say that the video for this song is…. weird. I get the Andy Warhol references, but I thought he was weird too, so there you go. Udo Kier is a total creeper and watching Madonna fawn over him disturbs me. At least she looks badass in an afro wig.

 

3. Ray Of Light

Ray of Light is Madonna’s best album, in my humble opinion. The title track blew me away the first time I heard it. It was like she rose like a phoenix from the ashes of a naughty pop princess and became an electronic Mother Earth. The beat is so fast paced, I don’t know if I want to dance or start a mosh pit. The video has that same crazy frantic feel. Brilliant!

 

2. Oh Father

Madonna at her most vulnerable can be incredibly outstanding, and this song is an example. It tells a story about loss and coping with that loss, breaking free, and coming to terms. We all know this is autobiographical. Madonna lost her mom at a young age, and had difficulty with her father as well. The odd sounding violin arrangement complements the melody extremely well; it’s my favorite part of the song. As for the video, there really isn’t much to say, since it’s a perfect representation of the song.

 

1. Live To Tell

This will always be my favorite Madonna song. Period. It was the first song I heard of hers that hit me in the gut. I was 12 years old and had no idea why a man would tell a thousand lies, but I knew that holding a secret until the death was some powerful grownup stuff. I remember being impressed that Madonna could release a serious ballad – she wasn’t just a sexy minx for us girls to admire and the boys to drool over! Now that I’m an adult, the song still packs an emotional punch. I love her soft and simple look in the video, as well. I never did see At Close Range, so I’ve no idea what the hell is going on with the movie scenes. Christopher Walken’s mustache is scary to this day.

 

What did you think? Could you list your favorite Madonna songs? Feel free to leave your list in the comments. I’m curious! I’m glad Madonna has graced us with so many tunes, and I’m proud that she continues to do so.

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Shadowfax, Lord Of All Horses

This scene is guaranteed to give me goosie-bumps and/or tears every time I see it.

Why is this? I’m not a big horse lover. I mean, I love all animals but I’ve only ridden a horse twice in my life. The first time, the big black stallion had an itch in a sensitive place, and insisted on scratching it while my terrified 10 year old self sat on top of him, waiting to be thrown off and stomped on. The second time was only a few years ago. She was a lovely mare named Cinder, and I chatted her up the entire trail, because it seemed like the right thing to do. Anyway, that’s it. So what is it about Shadowfax, appearing out of nowhere, running in slow motion in response to his friend Gandalf’s special whistle?

Perhaps one reason is his pedigree. Legolas seemed pretty damn impressed, didn’t he? Well, he’s right to feel that way. There aren’t many horses in Middle-earth who come from the most majestic and swift Mearas. They’re said to have been tamed by the first King of Rohan, and they can understand human speech. Shadowfax was the current Lord of the Mearas, and was “given” to Gandalf by King Theoden. Apparently Shadowfax wasn’t going to be tamed by any Rohan royalty. He was bigger than that.

Which brings me to the special bond shared by Shadowfax and Mithrandir. They trust each other. They’re both super brave and have the confidence of good over evil to spur them on their quest. It’s like Shadowfax knows how important it is to defeat Sauron and will do whatever it takes. He speeds Gandalf all over the place, gathering the Rohan army to help at Helm’s Deep. He takes Gandalf and Pippin to Gondor so Denethor will get his shit together and fight Mordor (so that doesn’t work well, but you can’t cure crazy). And look at this friendship!

He isn’t going to run away and leave his wizard and hobbit bros to suffer at the hands of pure evil. Oh no, he will STAND STRONG. That is one amazing horse.

How could such an amazing fictional horse be portrayed on the screen? It should be quite the talented actor, right? Also, he’d have to be ridiculously good looking. I don’t know much about horses, but what I do know, in relation to their participation in the LOTR trilogy, is from the most excellent DVD extra feature called Home of the Horse Lords. If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest you correct that. You’ll learn how the amazing equines were acclimated to movie sets, the friendships they made with their human costars, and the lasting effect their fellowship had on everyone involved. Shadowfax was played by two stallions: Domero, who was used in mostly stationary shots, and Blanco, who is the one you see galloping around Minas Tirith and Rohan with Ian McKellan or his stunt double. Both of those beautiful horses are no longer with us, sadly. They are immortalized in these films, however, and for that I’m grateful.

I suppose it’s a combo of my immense love of all creatures, my adoration of Tolkien’s stories, and Peter Jackson’s movies that give me the special feels for the 54 second sequence, in which The White Wizard calls for his friend. It sums up the sentiment of the LOTR trilogy, in a way. When your friends need you, they’ll be there to help fight for good. Thanks, Lord Of All Horses!

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Funeral Songs. My Demand.

First of all, when I die, and there people around who feel I deserve some kind of send-off, I have one demand. If it’s not met, I’ll become a mean force ghost and haunt everyone. That demand is, THESE SONGS BETTER BE PLAYED:

1. Into The West by Annie Lennox

I may be crying right now, by the way. It is impossible for me to hear that song and not do a bit of ugly sobbing. Speaking of sobbing, back to the matter at hand. I’d like to get all the tears out of the way at my funeral, and this lovely piece will do it. Everyone will imagine me in my hobbit cloak, boarding a ship with Gandalf and the other ring-bearers, giving that final smile to everyone. But don’t be too sad, folks. Once I get to the Undying Lands, me and the Valar are going be FULL ON PARTYING.

 

2. White And Nerdy by Weird Al Yankovic

It’s as good a theme song as any, amirite? I mean, it’s by Al, my comedy music hero. It defines me. I’ll ace any trivia quiz you bring on, I memorized Holy Grail really well, I can recite it right now and have you R-O-T-F-L-O-L, even made a homepage for my dog, yo. So at this point you all can talk about my nerdy accomplishments in life. I’m sure there will be many of them. Maybe do a slide show of all the photo ops I managed to get at comic conventions. There better be one of me and Tom Hiddleston, or I will have lived for nothing. Just kidding. Sort of.

 

3. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, by Eric Idle

This will be the grand finale, people. And everyone will have to sing along. My force ghost powers will increase and I will torture every attendee of my service if they aren’t belting this out at the top of their lungs. And after it’s finished, and everyone has wiped their tears of joy and laughter, go to a bar and get shit faced. Then move on with your life. Because remember that the last laugh is on you.

 

 

 

That Time I Met The Doctor And A Hobbit.

The ultimate birthday achievement was unlocked a couple of days ago: I went to a fun pop culture convention and got to meet two awesome dudes. One starred in a series of films that means the absolute world to me, and the other is one of the most ridiculously good looking men on the planet. Sean Astin and David Tennant. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is beyond perfect to me. Sean’s portrayal of Samwise Gamgee moves me to tears every time I watch it. David is not only a super Hottie Mchottieson, he’s also a super Actor McActorson. But dear to my heart are his roles as Barty Crouch, Jr. In Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire and The 10th Doctor. A few weeks ago, I found out these guys were appearing at the Raleigh Wizard World Convention the day before my birthday. And lucky me, I have the sweetest boyfriend ever – he got me photo op tickets. ROAD TRIP!!!!!

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Raleigh is only three hours away from my house, so we hopped in the car first thing in the morning and despite the constant drizzling, got there with no problems. Everything about the con was efficient, friendly, and smooth. Which is great for someone like me, who can get a tad overwhelmed in crowded situations. Big ups to Wizard World!

We started our experience, just wandering around the main floor. There were tons of vendors, of course. I was surrounded by so much geeky goodness, I got overwhelmed and didn’t buy anything. HUH? Yeah, I know. Weird. Wait, this isn’t entirely true. I did buy myself a brew to calm my nerves before meeting the famous dudes. Speaking of famous dudes, when Tennant walked onto the floor for his autograph session, the place ERUPTED. That got me amped up for sure. However, since that wasn’t happening for a few hours, we continued to meander around. Not only were there vendors on the floor, there were some educational booths set up. I made a friend at the Sugar Bears booth! It was so precious!

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I also grabbed some info on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I plan on doing something for them soon.

Finally, we enjoyed watching all the cosplayers (and dorks like me, just showing off our nerd pride with t-shirts). Especially this DINOSAUR! He went right up and tried to bite my dude – what nerve!

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After wolfing down some french fries, we were ready to stand in line for the Sean Astin photo op. It went very quickly. Before I could even mentally prepare, there was Frodo Baggins’ gardener/bodyguard/protector/hero right in front of me. And boy, was he dressed nice! This caused me to forget to thank him for being a part of my all time favorite movie series. Instead I just complimented his clothes. Me = lame. However, he was extremely gracious. Squee #1!

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Squee #2 came not long after. We made one more round of checking out the stuff on the main floor (and purchasing another beer for my nerves), and caught a bit of David Tennant’s Q&A panel on the big screen, before queuing up for his photo op. THERE WERE SO MANY PEOPLE! It was not surprising, but astounding all the same. I’m sure his face ached afterwards. We were given three rules before we entered the photo area: No hugging, no posing, and only fist bumps. I was a tad distressed since I planned on asking to do the back-to-back Rose/Ten pose. Oh well. I would behave and do the typical stand and smile pose. Who cares, really, because I’m sharing oxygen with the guy. AND THERE HE WAS. Jeans, cool t-shirt, and blazer. And scruff. I did my best not to hyperventilate. I gave my best cheesy grin and said “HIIIIIII!!!!!” and he returned my greeting with that amazing high Scottish accented voice. Our arms went around each other and click. Done. I said “THANK YOU!!!” and he once again returned my words as enthusiastically. Amazing. My hand lingered for an extra second on his back and then I was out of there. Two Slytherins, being awesome! Squee times infinity!!!

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It was late afternoon by the time the photo session was over, but we wanted to experience one more thing in Raleigh before heading home. We decided to walk around the corner to a vegan restaurant suggested by our magic iPhone, The Fiction Kitchen. I have to say, that was the most delicious vegan food I’ve ever put in my mouth-hole. I had the mushroom farro risotto, with added seared tempeh. AMAZING.

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My dude had the crispy fried “chicken” and waffles – I tried a bite and WOW. All of the taste, without hurting a bird!

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After being filled with yummy goodness, we hopped in the car and headed home. What a fantastic day. I love being a geek. I love my boyfriend. I love my fellow geeks. I love Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who and Harry Potter. I love food. I love beer. I love you.

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Have I Got A Story For You….

Happy Saturday, little darlin’s. Hope the long, cold, and lonely winter is winding down for you. I wanted to post an update here to let you know something: I grabbed a notebook this week, stuck a pen in the spiral, and jotted down thoughts and ideas every day. That hasn’t happened in a long while. It’s a good sign, though. It means I’ll be posting more content here. Working my writing juices into a tasty smoothie of fun. Ewwww, that sounds gross, doesn’t it? Maybe not the best metaphor, but I’ll go with it. I have to thank my buddy Kris for the motivation. He recently asked me to cohost the second season of his podcast, The Peaceful Pirate, and we started recording last weekend. Do yourself a favor and catch up on the first season now. You’ll learn that if you have a passion, you can do something with it. You’ll learn tips on how to do it too. I’m attempting to take his advice. Hence me and the notebook. This update is based on the first thing I scribbled in there….

Stories. Everyone has them. Lately, they’ve surrounded me, coming from friends and strangers. When chatting about podcasting and podcasts in general, several folks suggested The Moth, so I subscribed. It’s been a perfect accompaniment to my work commute. A collection of stories told by people from all walks of life. Some funny, some scary, they’re all over the place. But the coolest part is they’re all true. I’ve been in my car laughing, crying, and enraptured. I imagine I’m sitting in front of whoever is spinning their tale, in a cozy room with a fireplace. My favorite Moth story so far was from the late Taylor Negron. It’s a doozy. Check it out for yourself:

Not long after I became a fan of The Moth, my friend and fellow Mouthy Broad, Deb, founded a monthly storytelling showcase here in the Hampton Roads area. It’s called Tell Me More. It takes place at the wonderful Push Comedy Theater, and it’s super exciting to see how it’s taking off. The first event sold out! My friends and aquaintances have fantastic stories to tell. Check out Laura’s story about shitting herself.. Trust me, it’s awesome. Look around at the rest of the Tell Me More website to learn more about the events.

Finally, I had one more encounter with the telling of stories recently. I met Vee through another great friend. We hit it off immediately. She’s unique, lovely, talented, and strong. She recently competed in a story slam for the organization For Kids, and WON! It’s inspiring as hell – watch:

Pretty amazing, huh? Listening to all of these experiences has restored my faith in humanity. It helps to remind me that we’re all going through something, 24/7, 365 days a year.

 

 

 

Let The Wookie Meet Meri?

Holy crap, folks – in a few weeks, I will hopefully meet the man who portrays one of the most iconic, tall, furry, badass characters in the Star Wars universe. I’m talking about Peter Mayhew who plays Chewbacca!

Not only is this an amazing possibility (by the way, the event he’s attending is here – ROFCON in Virginia Beach), but we have a brief history. He named a freaking goat after me!!!!

Is that awesome or what? I don’t know what’s going on with Merideth the goat, but I hope she’s happy and being chill, making cool goat noises.

Back to the man himself. What should I say when I meet him? What should I wear? Should I bring a stuffed goat? Where does one get a stuffed goat (I mean like a plush toy, not a taxidermic thing)? I’m legit nervous and excited.

 

UPDATE: I just purchased tickets to the Con’s Star Wars themed dinner, and Peter will be a guest. RIP ME.

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