In September 1989, Madonna graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, solidifying her position as the Queen of Pop and cementing her status as a cultural icon. At the time, Madonna was amid her highly successful “Like a Prayer” album and tour, and the Rolling Stone cover showcased her at the height of her powers.
The cover photo featured Madonna provocatively wearing a black leather jacket and a sheer white blouse. Her hair was wild and disordered, and she stared directly into the camera with a look of fierce determination. The cover headline declared her “The Diva of the Year,” The accompanying article delved into Madonna’s rise to fame, her controversial image, and her impact on popular culture.
At the time, Madonna was one of the most controversial figures in music. Her blend of pop music and provocative imagery earned her acclaim and criticism, and the Rolling Stone article explored this dichotomy. The author, Robert Palmer, described Madonna as “a pop chameleon who has made an art form of provocation,” He noted that her music “has always been a mix of high art and lowbrow culture, of street smarts and sophistication.”
Palmer also touched on Madonna’s impact on feminism and sexuality. He noted that while some critics accused her of exploiting her sexuality for commercial gain, others saw her as a feminist trailblazer pushing boundaries and challenging societal norms. Madonna herself addressed these criticisms in the article, saying..
I don’t think I exploit myself. I think I express myself. I think that there’s a big difference.
The Rolling Stone cover and article were a testament to Madonna’s enduring cultural significance. More than three decades later, Madonna remains a cultural icon and an inspiration to generations of artists. Her influence on music, fashion, and popular culture is immeasurable, and her ability to reinvent herself and stay relevant is a testament to her talent and power.
Looking back on the Rolling Stone cover from 1989, it’s clear that Madonna was a force to be reckoned with. Her music, image, and impact on popular culture have stood the test of time, and she remains one of the most influential figures in music history. The cover photo and accompanying article captured a moment when Madonna was at the height of her powers, and they serve as a reminder of just how important she was – and still is – to the world of music and pop culture.