UK March, 1986
Monday, January 31, 2011
Beautiful Stranger is a Grammy Award winning song written and produced by Madonna and British song-writer and musician William Orbit, drawing heavily on the 1966 song "She Comes in Colors" by Love. "Beautiful Stranger" was written for the film soundtrack Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). The song was released as a single in the middle of 1999. It was the last single Madonna released during the 1990s.
She Comes In Colors - Love
In the United States, the song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on June 1, 1999 at #78 and peaked at #19 on July 13, 1999 (after reaching the Top 40 on June 15) on the strength of radio airplay only, a considerable achievement at the time for a song that did not receive a commercial release. By not releasing a single, fans in the US had to purchase the soundtrack, which has sold two million copies in the US alone. "Beautiful Stranger" was also a hit on the Billboard dance charts, reaching number one on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart and number three on the Hot Dance Singles Sales Chart.
In the United Kingdom, the song was a huge hit, reaching number two on the UK Singles Chart, being kept from the number one spot by S Club 7's "Bring It All Back". The song spent sixteen weeks on the singles chart, with seven of those being within the top twenty. "Beautiful Stranger" also became one of the most played songs on UK radio ever. At one point the song received 2,462 broadcasts per week. According to The Official Charts Company, the song has sold 520,000 copies there.
Elsewhere the song was also a hit, reaching number one in Canada, South Africa, Finland and Italy. It also went top five in Australia and top twenty in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and Japan. The single sold around 2.5 million copies worldwide.
It won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media in 2000.
"Beautiful Stranger" featured a retro music video that was directed by Brett Ratner and shot on May 1, 1999 at Universal Studios in Universal City, California. The video won in the category of 'Best Video from a Motion Picture' at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
1999 MTV Video Music Awards
Sunday, January 30, 2011
On October 19, 2008, I had the opportunity to see Madonna live front row centre. It was truly and amazing experience. Avril Lavigne was actually in the same row as me. I had seen the show the night before on the 18th (Nelly Furtado was there!) and thought that was it for my Madonna experience. BUT...the next day, my best friend got a text from someone who had an extra ticket for the second show in Toronto. Being the good guy that is, he let me have it. The best part is that I paid the cost price and not some ridiculous marked up price. I was very lucky.
Below are some pics that I took, with my friend Rino and Billie and some shots of front row centre.
She's Not Me
That's me at the 0:27 mark at the bottom right waving my hand with the black cuff.
La Isla Bonita
You can actually see me at the bottom right corner at the 0:41 taking the pictures below.
Give it 2 Me
That's me again at the bottom left corner, bobbing my head at the 5:14 mark. Here is the pic you see me taking.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
It is written by David Williamson who is generally regarded as the top playwright in Australia. His director in this production, Laurence Boswel,l also has a great reputation following an eclectic career that has included work with the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as a well-regarded Hamlet and Ben Elton's stage version of Popcorn.
Within Jeremy Herbert's Cubist set, complete with video backdrops, the story of a young art entrepreneur's attempts to persuade three different bidders to buy the last privately-owned Jackson Pollock in the world can be very funny, if a little cruel. The great Abstract Expressionist is at one stage described as Jack the Dribbler. He is currently very much in fashion in London, as the biopic of his life has also finally made it across the Atlantic. Other modern artists fare little better, with Damian Hirst coming in for much flak.
Loren (Madonna) is the art dealer. She is married to a psychotherapist, Gerry, played by Tom Irwin, who often seems in need of some of his own medicine. It seems a given in this play that marriages will be unhappy power games where money is more important than love. Loren increases the stress levels in the relationship by her increasingly desperate attempts to get rich quick.
For some unexplained reason, she has been commissioned to sell the Pollock rather than a more experienced dealer. She has such confidence in its provenance and value that she underwrites the sale at well above the generally accepted market value. This is where the comedy starts, as she has to avoid losing $2 million while at the same time holding her marriage and sanity together.
The three bidders for the painting are an interesting cross-section of (art) society. There is a coked-up, young couple very reminiscent of the wild pair in Popcorn. They have made their millions on the internet by preying on unhappy couples whose relationships are breaking up. Needless to say, their own is too.
The second couple are old established wealth and in particular, the husband, Manny, played excellently by Michael Lerner, is a sad, very nasty piece of work whose sexual foibles are even more embarrassing than those of the internet gurus - and that is saying something.
The third and perhaps most sympathetic bidder is Dawn Gray (Sian Thomas). She is a frumpish academic who has sold her soul, somewhat reluctantly, for money. She now acts as an art buyer for a large corporation that she hates.
The bulk of the play consists of the ups and downs of the week during which Loren tries to persuade the three buyers to pay $20 million for a painting that is worth far less. This becomes a comic emotional roller-coaster although its comments on life and art tend to be subsumed by the nominal star.
It is a very strange experience seeing Miss Ritchie (Madonna to the pop music world) making her West End stage debut. She is a very beautiful, glittering star who is well used to appearing on a stage. However, her voice is weak and it seems unlikely that those in the cheaper seats would have been able to hear many of her lines clearly. She is also rather strangely cast in this part.
While an actress with good looks is needed, she does not portray the mental strength of a character that has managed to persuade a very hard-nosed art owner to use her to negotiate a sale. Her only defences against major personal attacks are to simper or squeal in fury.
Perhaps this does not matte, as for so many the chance to see an iconic superstar on the London stage is far more important than her performance. In many ways, the play that is going on behind her is of little relevance as her personal aura holds the eye in some magical way.
In theatrical terms, she is horribly upstaged by an excellent piece of character acting by the only English actor in the cast, Sian Thomas. Looking very much like Edvard Munch's painting The Scream, she plays a prim and proper English lady who eventually lets her hair down - literally, with hilarious results.
This is a very interesting evening's Theatre for an assortment of reasons. It is good to see David Williamson produced on a London stage and Laurence Boswell always provides fireworks. Ultimately, for most though the real attraction is the Material Girl herself.
Up for Grabs is a comedy about the relationships between money and greed, unhappy couples and expensive art. It shares many traits with Yasmina Reza's Art as it considers the commodification of a canvas.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Madonna’s feature film W.E. will not be screening as part of the Festival de Cannes in May, according to IMGlobal, the sales agent that is handling the film.
While the French newspaper Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui said on Thursday that the film would appear at the festival, the Madonna-directed movie, which is currently in post-production, it is not expected to be completed in time for Cannes and is instead aiming for a bow on the fall film circuit.
Madonna is expected to visit Berlin next month to host a private screening of select footage for foreign distributors attending the European Film Market.
W.E. stars Abbie Cornish and Oscar Isaac in parallel stories about the love affair between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII as well as one about a modern romance.
The official selection of films that will appear at Cannes won’t be announced by artistic director Thierry Fremaux until April.