This is so silly to me when the kids get on the internet all loud with unresearched hot takes like this. Madonna is a mediocre dancer and even more mediocre singer yet she was able to will her way into being the template for provocative pop for the next 30 years thru taste and personality.
Every pop star since the 80s has followed Janet (choreo), Whitney (vocals), or Madonna (spectacle & persona) and the most successful girls find a way to combine two or more.
We can hear Whitney’s influence on vocals (Mariah, Beyonce, Ariana).
We can see Janet’s influence on choreo (every boyband, Britney, Ciara).
And you can see Madonna in all of your loud, flashy pop stars (Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Kesha) and most importantly Rihanna.
There is a straight line from Madonna to Rihanna and none of the kids want to see that because the Madonna they know is an old white lady collecting brown kids and making an ass of herself online every 18 months. Rihanna isn’t a great singer and she can’t dance at all but she got HERE through picking the highest quality collaborators and changing her style every cycle, in tandem with an outspoken personality that fans can connect with. Madonna is the first and biggest pop star to come out with completely different looks and sounds for different albums. She did an R&B album, a deep house album, an edm techno album, a disco album. You identify Madonna eras by hairstyle & fashion – just like Rihanna.
But what Madonna did better than anybody else was picking under-the-radar collaborators. She wasn’t afraid to grab someone like William Orbit who no one had ever heard of and let him do a whole album with her. Whereas the girls today grab the hottest producer out to make the biggest splash they can, Madonna found a sound she liked and molded her eras around that – and the public still ate it up every single time. Madonna’s sense of musical taste is so impressive that she – a dance artist with a thin voice – has NUMEROUS top ten BALLADS that would definitely be better performed by a more gifted singer, but the songs are so strong they were hits anyway.
Most of Madonna’s impact doesn’t come from her as a singer or necessarily a performer but as a woman who controlled her career and her image from the very first note. She says “I’m singing this, I’m wearing this, I’m saying this, I’m doing this.” And she made it work for over twenty years. You don’t have to like Madonna’s music (even though I think she’s made some of the most finely crafted pop in history) but she was a YOUNG woman in a man’s game who took full control of her image and sexuality on her own terms in a way that no one had done before and few since. Combine that with an innate musical sensibility that kept her on the cutting edge of pop for over two decades – for what she lacked in vocals she made up for in ears & taste – and there’s not a pop star in the game right now who doesn’t owe Madonna due reverence.