Madonna oozes charisma at 60

Madonna has never gone more than four years without an album since her self-titled debut in 1983.
Madonna has never gone more than four years without an album since her self-titled debut in 1983.PHOTO: MADONNA/ INSTAGRAM

NEW YORK • Madonna dates men three decades younger, maintains a svelte figure that would be the envy of most people half her age and, on her latest tour, put on a characteristically provocative show.

The pop superstar, who is turning 60 on Thursday, entered pop culture at the same time as music channel MTV.

She has embodied the cult of youth like few other artists. While others reinvented themselves or staged nostalgic comebacks, the Material Girl has never gone more than four years without an album since her selftitled debut in 1983.

Freya Jarman, a music scholar at the University of Liverpool who co-edited a book on Madonna, said: "As an ageing, female popular musician who is still so much in the public eye, she is (still) absolutely relevant."

But Madonna, as throughout her career, has faced harsh commentary as she grows older.

Many social media users heaped scorn when she locked lips on stage at the Coachella festival with the much-younger Drake, who is 31.

Not that she cares a whit about what others think. In a 2016 speech as she accepted an award from music magazine Billboard, she lashed out at the music business' worshipping of youth.

"Do not age. You will be criticised, you will be vilified, and you will definitely not be played on the radio," said Madonna, likely referring to BBC Radio 1 declining to play one of her recent singles as it pursued a younger audience.

The attention to her relationships stands in contrast to the comparative yawn over older men who date much younger women, with Mick Jagger, 75, and Billy Joel, 69, both recently becoming fathers again.

"As a feminist, I would say good for Madonna. If she can pull it off, she is doing a fantasy that most women either don't want or can't do," said Ms Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

She is upbeat that Madonna, along with ageing Hollywood stars, is offering a new model for women of their baby-boomer generation.

"The baby boom, which has always been at the edge of trying to give new definition to sex and gender, is trying to say - you know, we're not ready to be written off just because we're older now."

Madonna, who last year moved to Lisbon where one of her sons is attending a youth football academy, is marking her 60th birthday by encouraging fans to donate to her charity for children in Malawi.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2018, with the headline 'Madonna oozes charisma at 60'. Print Edition | Subscribe