Wednesday, June 21, 2023

#65-69 Madonna

Got a bunch of Madonna cards to peruse today, as we hit numbers 65 through 69 in the 1991 MusiCards set.

Madonna is the face of MusiCards, mathematically speaking, with Pro Set getting the most out of their hot licensing coup. She appears on 5 cards in series one (the max number given per artist), 2 more in series two (again the max for that series), and her total of 6 cards in the UK edition is bested only by New Kids on the Block (who have 7 cards in that set, but do not appear in the US version.)

Card #65 features an attractive shot and is probably my personal favorite of Madonna's cards. Pretty sure that's her "Like a Prayer" look. I remember watching MTV during the premiere of the video back when they would occasionally make a big deal out of the first time they played a new video. Seems "Like a Prayer" was the pinnacle of that "world premiere video" pageantry. Sponsored by Pepsi and controversial for religious/racial stuff (which probably wouldn't move the needle today), it was a hit and is still among my favorite songs of hers.

There are 3 versions of this card, with the photograph also gracing a promo as well as a card in the UK edition.

That's quite an effusive write-up, but yep, she sure was a big deal at the time. Of course she's still a big deal today, even if not consistently topping the charts as she did in her prime. A big world tour kicks off next month, planned to stretch into 2024, billed as her first "greatest hits" concerts.

As I was saying, she's got 5 consecutive cards here in Series 1, then a couple more later in Series 2, plus 6 cards in the UK edition, and a couple promos (one of which has error/corrected variations). Her 16 total cards in the MusiCards master set is the highest total of anyone (unless you also count the Yo! MTV Raps cards under the MusiCards umbrella, in which case M.C. Hammer overtakes her with 19 combined). Six of the seven US front photos are repeated in the UK set, with the above long-necked #66 being the sole "US-only" Madonna MusiCard.

Crazy that she's been at it for over 40 years now. Her image was no stranger to trading cards by this point. Panini put out several Madonna cards in the 80s, then in 1990, Topps released a Dick Tracy card set featuring her character sprinkled throughout.

I never dove too deeply into Madonna's catalog, but generally liked her 80s hits well enough.

I think this is her "Express Yourself" look. The aforementioned corrected promo card shares the photo with card #67 here. Let's take a quick look at the promo, why not...

The difference is on the back, specifically the first few words in the write-up.

Her last name is Ciccone, not Caccione, and she was born in 1958, not '61. Even on the corrected version they mistakenly stuck a comma in the middle of her name, lol.

Anyways, back to Series 1...

Speaking of distinguishing yourself, I went to elementary school with a husky kid named George who was big into Madonna. It was funny because all us other boys were into playing GI Joes and riding bikes or whatever, and then there's big George consistently rocking the Madonna shirt in 4th grade with no fucks given. (And no, he wasn't overly feminine; if anything he was sort of a bully!) I wish I could track that guy down and catch up with him. Did he love Madonna his whole life, or did the obsession fade as he got older?

Card #68 here would have been better off swapping photos with the back, if you ask me, trading the relatively boring headshot for some black & white voguing... a flipped version of the photo on the back of the promo.

Anyone looking for updated stats and additional information can skim Madonna's lengthy Wikipedia entry.

Like a Prayer era Madonna is where it's at for me, syncing up with the height of when I was listening to pop music. If the "Cherish" video came on MTV back in the day, I'm watching it. And "Oh Father" is a favorite of mine that was only a minor hit, also found on that album.

This shot may look familiar, as a similar photo is used on the back of card #66. I'd probably rank this "biker chick" look at the bottom of the fashions displayed on Madonna's MusiCards, honestly.

#69, nice. Pro Set didn't repeat photos in the set too often, but this back shot was also used on card #67 (and seems to be from the same photoshoot as the front of card #66).

She was still in the thick of her peak years in the early 90s. These cards were hitting retail shelves around the time Madonna was filming 1992's A League of Their Own, regarded as probably her best on-screen effort.

The only Madonna album I ever actually owned was a True Blue cassette I probably picked up used for a couple bucks or maybe got cast off from a buddy. Some good tunes on that one, with "Live to Tell" being my favorite. But yeah, I was down with Madonna at the time and still enjoy most of her hits up until getting all over-the-top mega-horny, with "Justify My Love" and 1992's Erotica and her SEX book ironically turning me off. But her first 4 studio albums get a thumbs-up from me. Beyond that, I also really like "Don't Tell Me"... reminds me of walking around campus during my days at SDSU.

That'll wrap up this post. Let me know in the comments if you've got anything to share on the subject. I would guess most of my readers are like me and consider themselves casual fans of 80s Madonna and that's about it, but hey, maybe some of you guys really love (or hate) her.

We'll check back in with the Queen of Pop once we eventually get to cards #275 and 276. Ziggy Marley is up next.