#Music

Rapper Tyler, The Creator Wants D Pics, Apparently

What’s wrong with asking your friends for d*ck pics? Hey, even Grammy-nominated rap star Tyler, the Creator does it, apparently.

While being interviewed for a new profile in Fantastic Man, the rapper took calls from friends and fellow musicians Jaden Smith and A$AP Rocky. He ended both calls by saying, “Send d*ck pics.” Naturally, the interviewer inquired about this. This was Tyler’s response:

“I always tell people to send dick-pics when I hang up, because it’s so awkward,’ he explained. ‘Like, what the f*ck did you say?’"

Tyler, the Creator officially came out as gay on his 2017 album Flower Boy, which was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 60th Grammy Awards.

 

 

However, the rapper had alluded to his sexuality before this.

Tyler was recently hurled into the headlines when Eminem dissed him with a homophobic slur on his surprise album Kamikaze. Slim Shady rapped:

“Tyler create nothing, I see why you called yourself a faggot, bitch/It’s not just ’cause you like attention.”

"It’s ’cause you worship D12’s balls, you’re sac-rilegious/If you’re gonna critique me, you better at least be as good or better.”

This isn’t 1999, and the track wasn’t even that clever to boot, so there was some serious backlash, prompting a rare apology from Marshall Mathers, and, maybe, to all LGBTQ+ people who took offense:

“I was angry when I said the shit about Tyler. The word that I called him on that song was one of the things where I felt like, ‘This might be too far.’ Because in my quest to hurt him, I realised that I was hurting a lot of other people by saying it.”

For the whole profile of Tyler, the Creator, head over to Fantastic Man.

h/t: Pink News

The Deeper Meaning behind Tom Aspaul's new single 'Going Down'

Do you like the following?

  • Bops
  • Iconic lyrics
  • Gay men

 

Of course you do! Which is why we at Instinct are super excited to have sat down with Tom Aspaul, in the midst of the single release for ‘Going Down’.

‘Going Down’ does a formidable job of working its way into your brain quickly, with a huge chorus, handclaps galore and smooth af vocals.

Tom, a songwriter in his own right with an impressive number of credits under his belt, including the creator of homosexuality, Kylie Minogue, sat down with us to talk his new single, his iconic London club nights, and what his favourite gif is.

 

Hi Tom, a pleasure to speak with you today! How are you doing?

 

Hiya Kevin! The pleasure is all mine! I’m good thank you. A little bit rushed off my feet, but all good. How’s you?

 

So, let’s start with your brand new single shall we! It’s been a while since you last made a foray into your own music, has this been a long time coming?

 

It really has! Feels like it’s been forever to be honest. I wanted to take a small break after the last EP. That whole episode was a bit of a bad experience and a massive learning curve for me as an artist. I decided to give it some time, do some features here and there. I’m writing for other people continuously, so I just focused on that and my podcast. Then, sometimes, something comes along and you’re like ‘shit, I want this for myself’ - and that’s what ‘Going Down’ was. I decided I was gonna do everything myself, which was always going to be a long and arduous process - but it’s been quick by music industry standards!

How has the reception been for the single so far?

 

Amazing! So relieved and happy!

 

What was the writing process like for this song?

 

I worked with three different producers on the track. It was very long winded, lots of back and forth to get it just right! The writing itself was very quick, maybe only took half an hour. I was sitting alone in my flat and I just had this sudden urge to create. I remember it was boiling hot that day and I was sat on the floor of my bedroom in my pants, writing lyrics. The song is actually incredibly sad, although melodically it’s super happy. I wrote about how I dealt with grief after losing a close friend to depression in 2011. Sometimes, even now, out of the blue, I can be overcome by the residual sadness of it all and I guess that’s the ‘going down’ part. Like, you think you have a handle on everything, but you could also collapse into tears at any moment. God it’s so depressing when I think about it! I’m fine now though, it’s the first time I could write about it and I think it might have really helped.

 

You’ve written for some massive names in the industry. Kylie, MKS and Saara Alto. Is it a different beast altogether writing for someone other than yourself?

 

In the case of Kylie and Mutya Keisha Siobhan, all the songs we did together were originally written by me, just for me and my artist project, which is a bit weird and unusual to be honest. Since then I’ve mostly been in the studio with different artists, trying to write a “hit" and yes, that is quite different! I’m starting to feel like I prefer writing a song with other writers and producers and then pitching it to an artist. That feels like it’s been a much more successful way of getting songs released!

 

You’re massive on the London club scene, and you’ve thrown some iconic club nights. Recently, you put together an ‘Artpop V Prism’ themed party. Who was the winner of the night?

 

I wouldn’t say I’m massive on the London club scene! Although I’m going to use that as a quote from now on. Put it on my CV! Maybe you could say I’m fairly well known amongst a very niche group of people on the East London dive bar scene?  A couple of friends and I do this night called ‘Synthia’, it’s been really successful this year! We LOVE a theme. We recently did a Madonna night for her 60th birthday, we’ve done Rihanna, Azealia Banks (controversially) and my personal fave ARTPOP v Prism this summer - in which ARTPOP obviously walked it!

You also produce your own podcast called Bottle Pop. Tell us a bit more about that!

 

I do! I mean, who doesn’t do their own podcast these days? Bottle Pop has been so much fun to put together though. It’s such a basic premise, but it’s really worked - every week I invite someone who works in or around music to my flat, we pop a bottle of prosecco, get drunk, chat shit about pop music and then they go home pissed! I’ve had some amazing guests over two seasons. MNEK was fab, Siobhan Donaghy was lovely, and Peter from Popjustice gave me enough material to do a 4 hour episode! I get so many amazing opportunities come through because of it, just last month Annie Mac asked me to join her on BBC Radio 1 to take part in the Years & Years album listening party, which was incredible and surreal. I’m actually so proud because I don’t have any help or any budget and Bottle Pop is consistently hovering around the top of the iTunes music podcast chart. I’ve got to say though, I listen to a lot of podcasts and it’s one of the better ones, I think it’s just a really fun listen and it’s really well edited! I’ll be back soon with some special one-off editions!

 

You must be constantly on the go with all of these projects. How do you manage?

 

Planning! I have a lovely manager who organises my calendar - tells me which studio I need to be at and who I’m working with. He works with my publishers to organise all of that - that’s the signwriting side of things. I just look at the gaps and try to fill them with different projects! At the start of this year I was actually so bored, so it’s not always this busy, but as soon as the release of this single got closer and closer it’s all got a bit hectic. 

 

So, being part of the LGBT community yourself, does your sexuality shape how you write your music?

 

I love being gay, it’s a massive part of my life - and like most writers and artists, I write about my life and what I see around me. When writing for other artists (predominantly straight females) I like to be as universal as possible - although there’s a sort of shared understanding, we’ve all been wronged by men at some point! As for my artist project, yes I've written about bottoming (on ‘Pioneer’) and hook-ups (on 'Messy') and the rest of it, it just comes naturally I suppose - I think it’s just as important to write about the kind of shared experiences that come with the territory of being part of a wider LGBT community. Going back to my new song, I lost a friend, who was gay and struggling with depression and substance abuse. That whole situation feels like it was centred uniquely on his sexuality - and these kind of stories are quite common. The after effects are so traumatic and I finally felt able to write about it. A large part of my sexuality was always tied to going out, dancing to loud music, drinking, having fun and meeting boys that way. I guess there is no such thing as ‘gay music’, but there’s a certain taste level we all have and an appreciation for female popstars that kind of comes with it all - I guess that influences what I listen to and in turn, how I write my music.

You’re quite the icon on Twitter dot com. What is your favourite gif?

 

It’s quite basic but I love the gif of Amanda Seyfried/Karen in Mean Girls laughing when the (hot) head teacher is reading lines from the 'burn book’. He says something like ‘fugly slut’ and the way she giggles is so reminiscent of me at school. I was always in trouble and normally I’d just laugh at the teachers. I love using it if anything is vaguely funny. Gosh that’s quite boring isn’t it? 

(v iconic gif)

Not at all! Iconic gif. Let’s do some quick-fire questions! Favourite song?

 

Lovefool - The Cardigans

 

Favourite concert you’ve ben to and why?

 

Can I have three please? Just because three incredible gigs come to mind and they all happened at the Hammersmith Apollo, maybe it’s that venue? This year, Alanis Morissette was literally so amazing there. She finished with Thank U and I cried. I also saw Kate Bush there, which was the closest I’ll ever get to a religious experience. Lastly I went to this Julie Andrews evening where she spoke about her career and sang Edelweiss (despite the dodgy larynx) and I was on the front row and once again, I cried.

Favourite Spice Girl?

 

I met Emma Bunton at a BRIT Awards after party this year. I was so drunk, I showed her my Spice Girls tattoo (which involved taking off my shirt) and she was so lovely and seemingly so happy after all these years, just to look at my awful tattoo and have a picture with me. So Emma all the way. Also ‘Maybe' is a massive fucking bop.

 

Jennifer Lopez or Mariah Carey?

 

Sophie’s choice! When the chips are down, it's Jennifer Lopez. But I’m getting a Mariah tattoo very soon and I worship her too.

 

Dream collaboration?

 

I’ve been rediscovering Röyksopp recently and I’d forgotten how amazing their production and songwriting was. Also I’d love to go to Norway, so Röyksopp!

 

ABBA or Steps?

 

ABBA obviously.

 

Finally, what’s next for Tom Aspaul?

 

So I’ve got a couple of exciting co-writes coming out soon - some big artists! You’ll have to listen out for them! I’m gonna do some one-off episodes of Bottle Pop, maybe one a month through to Xmas. Probably a few more ridiculously themed club-nights, I really wanna do a night called ‘Synthia: Nixon’ and just play amazing lesbian rock music. As for my artist project, hopefully this is just the beginning (or some kind of reset) I’m gonna release the video for ‘Going Down’ very soon! Some exciting remixes are coming, then it’s time for the follow up, which is, and I'm not just saying this, it is my most favourite song I've ever written! Hopefully I can squeeze in a third song before the end of the year, but if not the start of 2019! Phew!

 

Thank you! Have a great day!

 

Thank ewe!

Stream Tom's new single 'Going Down' on Spotify now!

 

 

All photos courtesy of Tom Aspaul and Alice Rainis.

There’s New Music from George Michael Just Waiting to be Released

Millions of George Michael fans could be rejoicing soon, as his longtime creative partner revealed that he has a bunch of unreleased songs that were made prior to his passing.

Singer and songwriter David Austin, who worked with George on songs like “Turn to Gold” and “You Have Been Loved”, recently spoke about the secret tracks and his desire to get them out for the public to hear.

“There are a few recordings that are extraordinary pieces of writing. They are finished, mastered, mixed and they’re sitting there,” Radar Online reported.

As if that wasn’t enough, there have also been reports about some never-heard-before duets with some of the biggest stars in music including Elton John and the late Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin.

Michael, who was known as a perfectionist, released his last studio album way back in 2004 called Patience, which topped the charts in his native country of England. He only made five studio albums over the course of his 30-year career outside of the two with Wham!

He last type of musical effort was in 2014 called Symphonica, which was the only live album he released during his lifetime. It included a cover of Terence Trent D’Erby’s song “Let Her Down Easy”, which was his last charting single while he was alive.

An LA Musical And Dance Performance Will Honor Gay Jazz Legend Billy Strayhorn

A gay musician and revolutionary is being recognized by a musical and dance performance.

According to Q Voice News, a performance is being held at the Redcat theatre in Lost Angeles on October 4th to the 7th.

The music and dance performance, titled “Halfway To Dawn,” will honor jazz musician Billy Strayhorn.

Strayhorn was a black, gay composer who breathed new life into the American jazz community. On top of that, he was openly gay from as early as the 1940s.

Staryhorn's musical career took an upward turn when he met Duke Ellington. After that, Strayhorn became Ellington’s musical protégé, and the two were close friends for more than 25 years.

As the Q Voice News writes:

“Between 1939 and 1967, Strayhorn created up to 40 percent of the material for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, including the band’s signature song, ‘Take the A Train,’ and ‘Lush Life.’”

Unfortunately, Strayhorn died of esophageal cancer at the age of 51. He died while being held by his lover, Bill Grove, on May 31, 1967.

Again, a musical and dance performance is being held in honor of this gay, musical legend. “Halfway To Dawn” was written, directed, and choreographed by David Roussève.

If you’re in Los Angeles during the start of October, consider going to see the show. Tickets are on sale here.

h/t: Q Voice News

We Now Know How Dolores O'Riordan Died

If you’re as big a fan as I am or nostalgic for the 90s, you might still feel down about the untimely death of The Cranberries lead vocalist Dolores O’Riordan. The singer died at the age of 46 on January 15th while staying at the Park Lane hotel in London. You can read more about how the music of The Cranberries has influenced my life HERE.

Dolores had a history of medical conditions, including back problems, depression and bipolar disorder, so the reason for her death had been under investigation.

Earlier today, a coroner’s report declared that Dolores O’Riordan died of accidental drowning while intoxicated, according to BBC. The singer left no note and showed no evidence of self-harm, so suicide was ruled out. Just a couple of weeks prior to her death, Dolores tweeted that she was ‘Off to Ireland’.

Dolores was also in London to record new music with collaborators.

The coroner’s report also included that Dolores was found submerged in the bath with her nose and mouth fully under water. There were empty liquor bottles in her hotel room—five miniature bottles and a bottle of champagne—in addition to some prescription drugs.

The toxicology reports showed a ‘therapeutic’ amount of meds in the singer’s system, but a blood alcohol level that was four times the legal limit at 330mg per 100ml of blood.

The Cranberries released a statement:

h/t: BBC

 

Troye Sivan Says He's Not Your Bottom, Queer, Or Gay Icon

Troye Sivan isn’t trying to become your Bottom Icon.

Troye Sivan’s new album Bloom just released and the singer is making the rounds of interviews to promote it.

In a recent interview with them. Magazine, Sivan shared his thoughts on fans trying to label him as their queer icon or their bottom icon.

“As everyone’s saying, “Troye is a queer icon. He’s a twink icon. He’s a bottom icon” — is that something you strongly identify with personally? Are you like, “That’s me, I’m a bottom, and that’s my sexuality!” or is that reductive?” asked Davey Davis for them.

Troye Sivan replied by saying:

“Completely reductive. Without getting into like any sort of details whatsoever, that was a song I wrote about a particular experience. I’m not branding that as myself forever. It was definitely just writing a song.”

This is a mentality that Sivan has shared before.

 

A post shared by troye sivan (@troyesivan) on

While Sivan shared in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he “want[s] to make music for queer people,” he also shared that he dreams of a day when he’ll be seen as just a singer and not a gay singer.

“There’s hunger for that conversation. So I’ve always been totally fine to talk about and embrace that,” he told EW. “Am I excited for the day where [a headline is] just, ‘Troye Sivan puts out a song’? Sure, yeah, that’s exciting. As I’m excited for the day when a trans woman of color can walk down the street and not fear for her life, you know what I mean? We’ve got so much work to do as a community, and the only way is forward.” 

Plus, Sivan shared in a Wonderland Magazine interview in March that he feels the pressure of being a “gay icon” is too much.

“I will never understand the struggles of a trans woman of colour growing up,” he told Wonderland, “What can I do as an empathetic person? How can I help? That’s why I politely reject the term “gay icon”. I would never wanna put that on myself.”

Despite pushing back against such labels as a gay, queer, or bottom icon, Sivan is committed to creating music for queer people and his new album, titled Bloom, is out now as an example of just that.

h/t: them., EW, Wonderland,

Janet Jackson’s 10 Most Loved Songs of all Time

Janet Jackson’s career spans not one, not two, not three, but four decades at this point. The 52-year-old pop icon has come a long way from her television appearances on the 70’s sitcom Good Times to becoming a bonafide legend in the entertainment industry.

She’s loved worldwide by millions of fans, many of which are from the LGBTQ community. Janet has been a major ally for us for several years now, winning a ton of awards for her incredible efforts.

Her music catalog is nothing short of spectacular, as she has put out album after album after album of nothing but incredible pop, R&B, hip-hop and rock tracks for us to jam, dance and vibe to. Question is… which songs are the ones we loved the most?

We polled our Instinct Magazine followers, as well as our personal loved ones to get their opinion on what Janet song is their all-time fave. What’s fantastic about these results is that 48, yes 48 DIFFERENT SONGS were voted on at least once. That’s a pretty incredible number, and it goes to show just how beloved our Janet really is.

Based on your votes, here are the 10 most loved Janet Jackson songs of all time, with two alternates who came one vote shy of making the top of the list.

Do you agree with what placed? Let us know.

“Together Again” (Album: The Velvet Rope)

 

 

“That’s the Way Love Goes” (Album: Janet.)

 

 

“If” (Album: Janet.)

 

 

“What I Think of You” (Album: Control)

 

 

“Miss You Much” (Album: Rhythm Nation 1814)

 

 

“Black Cat” (Album: Rhythm Nation 1814)

 

 

“Escapade” (Album: Rhythm Nation 1814)

 

 

“Love Will Never Do Without You” (Album: Rhythm Nation 1814)

 

 

“Rhythm Nation” (Album: Rhythm Nation 1814)

 

 

“Nasty” (Album: Control)

 

 

Alternates:

“All for You” (Album: All for You)

 

 

“Pleasure Principle” (Album: Control)

 

 

What are the 10 Greatest Girl Group Songs of all Time?

Girl groups are to gay men what peanut butter is to jelly: they just fit. Many of us grew up idolizing the songs they created, no matter what the genre or background of them was.

Whether they be a trio, a quartet or more, these girl groups have captivated us with their signature fashion styles, fantastic beats, great vocals and a bevy of other factoids that lead many of them to this list.

What are the 10 best girl group songs of all time? Are you more of a major throwback kind of person with The Supremes and Labelle? Is it 90’s all the way with TLC and Spice Girls? Or are you all over the place with your girl group love?

Take a look at the ten songs (in no particular order) that made our list in the world of all things girl groups.

The Supremes: “Baby Love”. Diana Ross and co. were really the ones that got the girl group phenomenon started over 50 years ago with this classic gem that we still bop our heads to all these years later.

Labelle: “Lady Marmalade”. The most well-known song from this 70’s girl group was also the naughtiest on this list, as Patti Labelle flat out asks if someone wants to sleep with her tonight. It was later remade for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack in 2001 by Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink, Lil Kim and Missy Elliott. Their version won several awards, including Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The Go-Go’s: “Our Lips Are Sealed”. The most successful all-female rock band of all time… and rightfully so.  The group’s debut single is still considered by many as their signature song, as the varying vocals of Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin mixed with all the other goodness that this girl group put into this song is nothing short of pop perfection.

The Bangles: “Walk Like an Egyptian”. Can you believe this was the third single they released from their album Different Light and not the first? Madness! The infectious “Oh Whey Oh” part of the song was just one of the many delicious toppings that helped turn it into an international smash. It became so successful that Billboard listed it as the number one track of 1987. Nice.

En Vogue: “Free Your Mind”.  The “Funky Divas” gave us something we could “feel” with this 1992 hit that went beyond working it on the dance floor. It attacked prejudice in many forms head on while the song went for a much harder edge compared to the other hits that this legendary girl group released up to that point.

TLC: “Waterfalls”. Similar to “Free Your Mind”, “Waterfalls” was a socially-conscious track that dealt with many different issues including drugs, promiscuity and AIDS. The late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes verse on this is one that needs to be listened to over and over again on a song that could also be placed in the top 10 of the best hits of the 90’s overall.

Spice Girls: “Wannabe”. You could not escape this song in the late 90’s… and for good reason. Spice Girls were everywhere, and their debut track (which hit number one in several countries) still remains their biggest… and quite possibly their best.

Atomic Kitten: “Whole Again”. A random pick perhaps, however this popular British girl group went into pop ubiquity after it was released. It shot to number one on the UK charts and is still one of the biggest selling girl group songs of all time. Such a simple and fun song to listen to.

Destiny’s Child: “Say My Name”. This track was the first to feature new members Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams (video only) even though it was sung by the ones who were either fired or quit (LaTavia Robertson and LeToya Luckett). The start-stop rhythm of this hit mixed with a great message to it became one of DC’s signature songs, and sort of helped Beyonce become, well… BEYONCE.

Danity Kane: “Damaged”. One of Puffy’s two girl group protégé’s (outside of Dream), Danity Kane hit the charts with this club-thumping track that remains one of the best to come out in the 2000 decade.

Do you agree with this list? Any you would like to add?

This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus To Honor Drag Queens, Gay Rights, And AIDS Victims

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is teaming up with Broadway and TV sensation Billy Porter.

Back from their tour across conservative states, in which they had to increase security in order to maintain the safety of the chorus members, the chorus is using its upcoming season to celebrate rebel drag queens, fallen comrades, and the Stonewall Inn riots.

Billy Porter will be joining the chorus as a special guest for their June 21-22, 2019 performances at San Francisco’s Nourse Theater. The performances will be titled QUEENS.

But according to Playbill, that’s not all.

The 41st season for the chorus made up of 250 men will include several events such as a 40th birthday concert in October featuring soprano Ellie Dehn, a tribute to the nearly 300 former members who have died due to HIV/AIDS, a salute to the musical genres, artists, and bands from the United Kingdom, and more.

As Artistic Director Dr. Timothy Seelig said in a statement:

“Following the tremendous successes of this past anniversary season, we launch Season 41 with great excitement. The season begins with one of the most monumental moments in our history—the groundbreaking of a memorial to our own chorus members we have lost at the National AIDS Memorial Grove, along with a performance of the first requiem composed in memory of those lost to AIDS. We end the season celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. In between, we will be singing, dancing, and raising a roof or two with incredible musical offerings.”

To find out more info about what the chorus has planned for the upcoming season and where/when you can buy tickets, head over to the SFGMC.org website.

h/t: Playbill

Madonna's 13 Studio Albums, Ranked. Happy Birthday to the LGBT Icon!

Today, Madonna is putting the “sex” in sexagenarian. The Queen of Pop is 60. In addition to entertaining and thrilling us for over 30 years, Madonna has been outspoken about LGBTQ+ rights in her work and life since long, long before it was trendy, or even acceptable.

To celebrate the big day, Instinct has ranked all 13 of her albums, from least memorable to most unforgettable.

Note: we are only pulling from studio LPs— no soundtracks, compilations or greatest hits packages.

Here they are. All of Madonna’s albums, ranked.

 

13.  MDNA (2012)

William Orbit, who also produced Ray of Light, has said that MDNA suffered in part because of Madonna’s preoccupation with other business ventures. That checks out: there is very little to connect to here, so unusual when Madonna albums are generally such spirited affairs. MDNA feels like a product, like we’re going through the motions. The LP definitely has its moments: Madonna sounds furious and heartbroken on “Gang Bang” and “Love Spent,” far and away the two best tracks. “Girl Gone Wild” is a lot of fun (it should have been the lead single over the confusing “Give Me All Your Luvin’”), and she sings beautifully on album closer “Falling Free.” There is no such thing as a bad Madonna album; MDNA is the closest thing there is to a lifeless one.

 

12. Hard Candy (2008)

Guest artists on a Madonna record are usually not a good idea; it rarely works. Plain and simple, no one can match Madonna’s spirit and personality, and bringing younger, perhaps trendier stars into the mix comes off as forced. Hard Candy is the first album since Like a Virgin where Madonna doesn’t have a writing and/or producing credit on every song, and it’s kind of an orgy of guest stars. Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Kanye West and Timbaland bring what you’d expect from them to the table, but as a result this barely feels like a Madonna record. The best tracks (“Give It 2 Me,” “Miles Away,” “Voices”) are the ones where she is front and center, telling us what’s up.

 

11. American Life (2003)

The response to American Life echoed the response Erotica received a decade earlier; it was largely dismissed and didn’t sell many copies. Erotica was misunderstood, overshadowed by the backlash surrounding Madonna’s coffee table book Sex, and has since been reappraised.

It’s still hard to warm up to American Life. The rapping in the lead single is still nails-on-a-chalkboard, and the album never really takes off, only partially committing to a stripped-down singer/songwriter aesthetic. There are moments of brilliance: “Nobody Knows Me” has great spirit, “Mother and Father” has a rousing chorus, and “Die Another Day” is a terrific dance track, just a weird fit for Bond…but ultimately American Life is a downer, and not in a good way.

10. Like a Virgin (1984)

Make no mistake: This is the moment Madonna proved she wasn’t a flash in the pan, and became a pop culture giant.

“Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl” are two of the catchiest, not to mention most iconic tracks in pop music— and they overshadow the rest of the album, which is otherwise mostly filler, save for “Dress You Up” and, to a lesser extent, “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” and “Angel.”

9. Rebel Heart  (2015)

First thing’s first: Lead single Living For Love is one of Madonna’s best tracks ever, and Rebel Heart might have been something like a home run if it were a few tracks shorter. The lyrics on “Heartbreak City” are uninspired and goofy, and the song stops the album dead for a moment. Though it’s not as intrusive as on MDNA and Hard Candy, Rebel Heart suffers from too many cooks in the kitchen, too many trendy references, etc. Madonna, you’re the trendsetter. There’s a lot to appreciate here, though: “Ghost Town” is gorgeous, and folky “Body Shop” sounds so experimental and appealing it’s easy to overlook the fact that it’s one big sex/car repair innuendo.

8. Madonna (1983)

The album that got this whole thing going is, not unlike Like a Virgin, uneven overall but with sky-high highs. “Borderline,” “Everybody,” “Holiday,” “Burning Up,” and “Lucky Star” are essential Madonna, bona fide pop classics. How about the rest of the tracks, though? Do you remember “Think of Me” and “I Know It?”

7. True Blue (1986)

True Blue is the highest-selling album by a female artist of the 1980s, and one of the best-selling records of all time. This is when Madonna took the reins and reinvented herself head-to-toe for the first time.

“Live to Tell” is Madonna’s greatest ballad, and maybe even her best song, period. She wrote all of the words herself. Who else could rock a pop song about child neglect?

 

6. Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005)

Madonna got on the horse after the disappointment of American Life but quick, with an all-dance record that has unlimited replay value. The lyrics are often breathtakingly beautiful (“Connect to the sky/ Future lovers ride/ Their ambitions high/ Would you like to try”) and occasionally dopey (“I don’t like cities but I like New York/ Other places make me feel like a dork”).

Truth be told, there’s very little confessing on Confessions. But boy(s) is it a blast.

 

5. Bedtime Stories (1994)

Madonna’s foray into R&B has gotten better with age. This is in many ways Madonna’s softest record, but it displays some of her most effortless, appealing songwriting craft. “Secret” never fails to fill a listener with intrigue. “Human Nature” barely even charted when it was released, but has since become a signature track. It is just fantastic every time she performs it live. The album closes with tremendous strength: “Sanctuary” and “Bedtime Story” haunt and thrill. “Take a Bow” is one of her most successful ventures into balladry.

 

4. Erotica (1992)

Unfairly dismissed 26 years ago, Erotica now at long last seems to finally be getting some of the respect it deserves. Rolling Stone can pride themselves on getting it right; awarding Erotica one of its only glowing reviews at the time. In fact, RS nailed it, calling this dark, jazz-heavy LP “a post-AIDS album about romance.”

This is Madonna The Artist at her most uncompromising and vital. God knows this thing was ahead of its time. So much of the output of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Britney Spears,

X-Tina et al. WOULD NOT EXIST WERE IT NOT FOR THIS RECORD.

It’s not like every track is a masterpiece—that’s not the case—but album closer “Secret Garden” sure as hell is. And "Deeper and Deeper" has arguably held up as well or better than "Vogue."

This writer is 28. I was two years old when this was released. Even I say this thing is damn required listening for all the young gays. Know your history.

3. Music (2000)

It’s tempting to tie this with Ray of Light because they’re so connected. That album was the biggest success of Madonna’s career. Two years later, Music is Madonna the musician at her most confident and instinctive. It’s like she went into the studio, said “f*ck it,” and just made noise, just let it rip. I heard the title track for the first time when I was ten years old, and I honestly think that’s when I knew I was gay, even if I wasn’t even sure what gay even meant at the time. That track still feels as funky and fresh as it did 18 years ago. “What It Feels Like For A Girl” has gained all new resonance in light of the #MeToo movement. 

Album closer “Gone” is the song you play for anyone who says Madonna can’t go deep. There’s no artifice; it’s Madonna with a guitar singing about fame, survival and life--straight from her heart and her brain. It’s Madonna at her most haunting.

2. Ray of Light (1998)

Ray of Light is widely considered a pop masterwork these days. After extensive vocal training for the lead role in Evita, Madonna’s pipes were stronger than ever. A sampling of many genres of world music and a bold foray into electronica that’s lyrically fixated on mortality and motherhood, Ray of Light is spiritually deep and musically adventurous.

After ruling the airwaves and the Billboard Hot 100 for 15 years, Madonna finally won her first Grammys, a total of four, for Ray of Light.

Here's a cruel injustice: "Ray of Light" lost Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammys to that goofy, hilarious song from Titanic. Yeesh.

1. Like a Prayer (1989)

One listen nearly three decades after the fact, and it’s undeniable that this is still Madonna’s finest album. This was the moment she silenced critics who questioned her musical talents.

A concise yet eclectic mix, Like a Prayer shows off Madonna’s astonishing versatility: there’s rock (“Like a Prayer”), soul (“Express Yourself”), romantic doo-wop (“Cherish”) and even a children’s lullaby (“Dear Jessie”). And the entire package is a focused, moving and autobiographical take on religion, spirituality, sexuality and growing up.

On “Spanish Eyes,” Madonna mourns the loss of friends who died of AIDS, extremely taboo at the time.

The LP’s most poignant moment is “Oh Father.” A lot of gay men have adopted this tearjerker as an anthem for the fathers we love even though they perhaps didn’t really understand us or weren’t really there.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments. Long live The Queen of Pop!

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