Unlike the Stones, Madonna refuses to play all her greatest hits on command. Picture: Michael Campanella/Getty
Unlike the Stones, Madonna refuses to play all her greatest hits on command. Picture: Michael Campanella/Getty

Madonna will survive Eurovision just fine, thank you

LOOK, even the biggest Madonna fan couldn't argue Madonna's Eurovision guest slot was up there with her most iconic TV performances.

Her voice strained during Like a Prayer (although magically the YouTube version she's belatedly shared sounds much improved) and new song Future uses the divisive autotune effect.

But for media commentators to legitimately call it the 'death of her career' is the epitome of clickbait.

We're talking about a woman who is still being called a "prostitute" in 2019 by fellow musician Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream for playing in Israel to promote her new record at Eurovision. (British music writer Peter Paphides noted that Gillespie did not call his mates Radiohead sex workers when they played a concert in Tel Aviv two years ago, just Madonna.)

Take away the politics of playing in Israel (which Madonna did not shy away from - her dancers wore Palestinian and Israeli flags on their jackets while embracing - a stunt hidden from organisers and breaking the strict non-political rules of Eurovision broadcast) and Madonna has always gravitated to the uneasy option.

She recently spoke about going to the AIDS wings of hospitals in the 80s and how she lay next to dying patients to hug them when other people were too scared to even share a glass with them.

Professionally, she's survived being told writhing around the floor in wedding dress singing Like a Virgin at the MTV Awards would end her career. Naturally, it propelled it.

She was told releasing her Sex book - where she posed nude, discussed masturbation and female sexual fantasies in the prudish early 90s - was career suicide. That too, provided her with even more fame.

She was told she was too old to play Evita, was regularly labelled a slut and a whore for being open about her sex life, she's been mocked for adopting her children, everything from her hands to her face have been picked apart by magazines - and quite often by female editors.

Mick Jagger can still wear tight pants and midriff jumpers at 75, but any time Madonna (who turned 60 last year) shows skin, online comments rain down with "put it away Grandma" and variations on that tired and ageist theme.


Unlike the Stones, Madonna refuses to play all her greatest hits on tour, which seems to really anger people outside her diehard fanbase - the ones that pay her high ticket prices.

She continues to work with modern artists because she sees herself as a modern artist.

Maybe Eurovision wasn't the ideal spot to do a "dark ballet" performance art piece, but as any true fan can tell you, that's peak Madonna. Surely nobody was expecting her to bust out Holiday, La Isla Bonita and Material Girl in some cheery medley.

Sure, she could have done a more 'up' remix of Like a Prayer, or even Express Yourself if it was about celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Like a Prayer album - as well as promoting her upcoming Madame X release. But Madonna's never given a single eff about pleasing anyone but herself. And it certainly hasn't harmed her career so far, either. She remains one of the highest-grossing live acts and highest-selling recording artists of all time.

Complaining about an off key vocal, or whinging about song choice or making hilarious eye patch jokes all adds up to the fact that in 2019 Madonna has still keep the world talking about her. And she'll stop when she's ready.

Cameron Adams is a national music writer. @cameron_adams