Italians Do It Better - Various Artists (20 Madonna Covers)

Published on 20 August 2021 at 19:33

By Paul Laird

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The greatest pop star(s) of all time? 

The Beatles? 

The Rolling Stones? 

David Bowie? 

The Smiths? 

Joy Division? 

The Stone Roses? 


Wake me up when it’s over. 

Sure The Beatles had a couple of jolly singles, no argument. 

Yes, that funny dance Mick Jagger does where he looks like a stick insect being given  electroshock therapy is entertaining. 

No arguments about how divine Bowie was between 1971-1977 (Hunky Dory to Heroes). The Smiths changed the language of pop music. 

Ian Curtis was one of the few poets in pop. 

The Stone Roses had great haircuts. 

And lots of people really like Oasis. 

But the greatest? 


Not for me. 

There is only one contender and her name is Madonna. 

The end. 


A fiercely intelligent, constantly evolving, provocative, sensual, political, genre hopping, genre  creating, hilarious, arch, viciously creative and endlessly fascinating. No other band or artist can  come close to matching her. Even her few moments of being less than astonishing are better  than some of the best at their peak.  


She is the best-selling female recording artist of all time with total sales of over 300 million units  worldwide. Let that sink in for a second. Three hundred million records sold. Given that The  Beatles released their first single two decades before her and that they were playing to an  audience who didn’t have the alternatives that a modern audience has, this makes her  achievements even more remarkable. While her sex shouldn’t come into it…it has to, she is  operating in a male dominated industry, facing hostilities and discrimination that male artists never  do. To achieve what she has is worth your respect on its own…regardless of your feelings on her  output.


As she approaches the fortieth anniversary of the release of “Everybody” in 1982” and on the  occasion of her 63rd birthday, the creative cats and kool kids over at Italians Do It Better have  released an album of cover versions to celebrate this most incredible of careers. With  contributions from the likes of Glüme, Joon, Desire, Orion, Number One Poster and Jorja  Chalmers this album serves as a testament to the influence of Madonna on new artists and to the  quality of the songs. 


Despite some of these songs being four decades old everything sounds fresh, modern, current  and futuristic…sometimes all at the same time. These are pop, electro-pop, synth-pop and synth  wave artists who are paying homage to the Queen of pop and who are doing so by taking that  which is hers and crafting something completely new from them. Jorja Chalmers take on “Justify  My Love” is a great example of that.  


Bundled together this may just be the best collection of cover versions ever assembled. It is  impossible to find a single moment that isn’t worth your attention and time. All killer and no filler.  But that isn’t to say that every song is a cover of a hit, there are deep cuts here like Farah’s cover  of “Gang Bang” from Her Majesty’s “MDNA” album, released in 2012. Maybe only ardent fans will  recognise some of the other cuts, even if they were singles but that doesn’t diminish the power of  the song or the ways in which they have been approached by the artist. 


Two moments stand out for me, Glüme’s take on “Material Girl”, a slow, brooding, sultry take on  one of the biggest songs in the Ciccone catalogue. Album opener “Papa Don’t Preach” by the  magnificent Joon is a delicate, Lynchian, atmospheric version of a song that everyone knows.  Doing something different with such cherished material from the pop history books is brave…but  that is what Italians Do It Better does best, brave music by brave artists. 


Cherish it.


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