Madonna will celebrate her 60th birthday on Thursday, Aug. 16, and Apple Music’s Beats 1 is marking the milestone by speaking with an array of music artists about her influence on modern music and her enduring legacy.
Among the artists offering praise is Adele. “There’s a reason there’s only one Madonna,” says the “Hello” singer. “For me, she’s the complete definition of evolving, and evolving, and evolving each time.”
Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers, who produced the “Like a Virgin” album, recalls working with Madonna on what proved to be her breakthrough record.
“I have never worked with the person that I respected more, that had such focus and such determination and such a work ethic,” he says. “There was no amount of takes of a song that I could ask Madonna to do that she would not do. She was tireless.”
However, he recalls their collaboration getting off to a rocky start. “My first formal meeting with her at my apartment, she comes in and she plays essentially what’s the ‘Like A Virgin’ album, because she had collected all these demos and stuff. She said to me, in a very matter of fact kind of tone, ‘Nile, if you don’t like all these songs, I can’t work with you.’ And I said, ‘Well Madonna, I don’t like all the songs, but let me tell you this. By the time I get finished with them, I’m gonna love them.’ This must have been the right answer, because I didn’t get fired.”
Decades later, Diplo worked with Madonna on her “Rebel Heart” album. “As far as musicians I’ve ever worked with, she’s the #1. For history and what she’s accomplished, and how she works and how serious she takes her own music, it pushed me to really work even harder than I do — which is hard, I thought, but I can always do more,” he states.
“Madonna is going to be relevant forever,” Diplo adds. “Madonna invented what we all have as a pop star. There wasn’t anything before her, in that capacity, of all encompassing. To keep it going for 30 years and also, to be so in touch with the underground… She’s an icon. You’re always relevant if you’re an icon like that.”
All-female rock band HAIM were influenced by Madonna, and not just music from one particular stage in her career. “With Madonna, every era of hers was iconic. Just with ‘Like a Virgin’ — her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, and then her performance 15 years later with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. I mean, so iconic,” the band tells Beats 1. “No one was doing anything like that at that point. It was a time and a place and she kind of personified what was going on at the time. She’s had an amazing career that has entailed about seven or eight different careers. She’s a chameleon, this one, and there have been so many different vibes that she’s kind of explored as an artist, and I think that’s really inspiring.”
To get into the groove for celebrating Madonna’s 60th, enjoy this “essentials” playlist from Apple Music: