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Madonna Began Her Ruthless Quest for World Domination 33 Years Ago Today


Make July 27 a "Holiday."

Let's go back, shall we? To a more innocent time. A time when Reagan was president, thus basically ruining America for the next four decades. A time when disco was dead, New Wave ruled, and Times Square was still dangerous. A time when a 24-year-old brunette from Michigan became the epitome of blond ambition. Out of this abyss ascended Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, who after 1983, would be known only by her first name, the name of her debut album: Madonna, which was released July 27, 1983.

Pop culture would never be the same.

What she lacked in talent, she made up for, abundantly, in style, charm, and yes, ambition. She had the sheer will to succeed, which at one point, was what the American dream was all about. A dancer with an unimpressive voice but impressive designs for her own career, Madonna attached herself to any and everyone who could help launch her "Lucky Star." The most important person, at least for a short while, in Madonna's quest for superstardom was John "Jellybean" Benitez, a DJ friend who added the pop sheen by which the album Madonna and the popstar Madonna would be fondly remembered.

Benitez recalled the young Ms. Ciccone:

"[S]he was unhappy with the whole [album], so I went in and sweetened up a lot of music for her, adding some guitars to 'Lucky Star', some voices, some magic... I just wanted to do the best job I could do for her. When we would playback 'Holiday' or 'Lucky Star', you could see that she was overwhelmed by how great it all sounded. You wanted to help her, you know? As much as she could be a bitch, when you were in groove with her, it was very cool, very creative."

Back in 1983, Madonna was cool without all the embarrassing effort, and more importantly, she defied expectations. Many labeled her a featherweight product of MTV, a channel she would come to define in the coming years. Critics dismissed the album upon its initial release, but it would go on to sell 10 million copies worldwide, and spawn the hit singles "Holiday," Lucky Star" and "Borderline."

Those who thought Madonna a flash in the pan were in for a rude awakening. From day one, Madonna was always in control--of her sound, of her image, of her career. Take for instance, when Dick Clark interviewed the up-and-coming singer on American Bandstand--before anyone even knew or cared who she was, Madonna knew damn well.

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Mission accomplished, as Madonna ultimately had the last laugh.

"The ones that said I was talentless, that I was chubby, that I couldn't sing, that I was a one-hit wonder," she said at her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. "They pushed me to be better, and I am grateful for their resistance." *sips tea*

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