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‘Billboard’ Names Madonna Woman Of The Year — In 2016

‘Billboard’ Names Madonna Woman Of The Year — In 2016

I have to be careful on how I write this. Judging by emails, tweets, and comments, over half of Pop Music Scandal readers are Madonna fans. We don’t dislike Madonna AT ALL, but think her past five years — at least since the release of MDNA — have been, well, reductive.

When we reported that Madge was in talks to do a duet with Katy Perry, we noted that Madonna is far more talented than she is given credit for. We also said something controversial that upset her fans: Madonna needs to embrace her age, NOT RUN AWAY FROM IT. Yeah, we know — ageism this and ageism that. You can do better Madge.

Bennett Raglin / Stringer
No, Madge…just…NO!!

That said we weren’t entirely upset (nor entirely happy) when Billboard decided to name Madonna “Woman of the Year” in 2016. We can reveal that Madonna didn’t pay ONE CENT for this title, unlike some other artist. Her manager Guy Oseary has campaigned for this title since 2012, but it’s only this year that Billboard agreed.

Madonna is almost never given credit for her influence in music (when she used to make good records), and, especially, her influence in LGBT rights. Millennials don’t want to believe something existed unless there is an app for it on their iPhone, but there was a time, just twenty years ago, when the LGBT community was treated like trash…PURE TRASH!

Madonna risked her career to stand up for the gay community. No, she didn’t meet with any politicians, but most politicians couldn’t even say the word “gay” in the 1980’s or early 1990’s without suffering a backlash. Madonna suffered a backlash, but she also guaranteed she would have a dedicated following till the day she dies. So it’s great that Billboard is recognizing an older woman whose influence has spread far beyond music.

Is this what caused Elton John to call Madonna a "fairground stripper"?
Is this what caused Elton John to call Madonna a “fairground stripper”?

However, this is the year 2016…! Sorry Madonna stans, but can you name something she did this year that would qualify for “Woman of the Year”? Yeah, there was the Rebel Heart Tour, where she started shows two hours later than scheduled (some would argue that at least she performed despite her horrible family situation). There was that awful Prince tribute. There was that time she dressed up in the worst outfit ever and claimed it was for all for “women’s rights.” Yeah, there was that awesome performance of “Borderline” on the Tonight Show. But 2016 was NOT Madonna’s year.

Listen, Madonna stans — we are not saying that 2017 won’t be Madonna’s year. 2018 may even be a great year for her, just like 2005 and 1998 were. Billboard should change the name of the award to the “Women’s Lifetime Achievement Award” this year since that’s pretty much what they are giving Madonna the award for. But an award with the numbers “2016” should be given to Beyonce or Adele, two women who truly did rule 2016.

Main Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images

An Interview With Former Veteran ‘Billboard’ Employee

An Interview With Former Veteran ‘Billboard’ Employee

As Pop Music Scandal has revealed Billboard’s unethical alliance with Lady Gaga these past couple weeks, a veteran employee of the magazine got in touch with us. We met for an hour conversation this afternoon, and the interview is very telling. Of course, for legal reasons, we can’t give his real name, but his information is interesting.

PMS: What made you get in touch with us and write such a passionate letter?

Former Billboard Employee: I worked with Billboard for several years. I thought what you wrote might have been over-exaggerated, but I just knew there was also some truth to it and wanted to tell you the real story.

PMS: What did we over-exaggerate?

Former Billboard Employee: I don’t think artists ever meet with Billboard and try and pay them cash to cheat. That is a ridiculous assumption (no offense). But you’re not far off. Billboard does do “favors” for certain artists or their record companies, but they don’t add unearned points to artists’ songs so they could chart better.

PMS: Be More Specific

Former Billboard Employee: In 1995, around the time Billboard started going downhill, Tommy Mottolla met with the magazine after Michael Jackson’s HIStory wasn’t selling as well as expected. Motolla wanted to know if Billboard had any “suggestions.”

I was at the meeting when they informed Motolla that since single sales were big, Sony could severely reduce the price of the single.  Thus, we have the beginning of the end of the relevance of Billboard‘s charts. “You Are Not Alone” was released at 99 cents (49 cents in come places) and debuted at No. 1 — thus giving the illusion that people still wanted to hear Michael Jackson. Then, Sony started doing this with a lot of artists. Soon, other labels followed.

PMS: Didn’t anybody at Billboard say something, like how wrong it was. 

Former Billboard Employee: If they did say something, they were fired. But, it gets worse. Later in the year, there was a meeting with Billboard, Sony, and, I think, Soundscan. Michael’s album had shipped more than 2.5 million copies though it didn’t sell nearly as much. Sony wanted to make it seem like a bigger hit because everybody was calling it a flop, though it certainly wasn’t a flop worldwide.


It was Billboard that suggested a double album (if the recordings go over a certain time — I forgot what that was) should get double certification. I thought it was an okay idea, but the only reason the idea even came up was to appease Sony, not because Billboard thought it was really the right thing to do. Suddenly, overnight, Michael Jackson’s album went from being certified 2X platinum to 5X.

PMS: But Billboard did change their charts in 1998 to reflect airplay more than sales, correct?

Former Billboard Employee: That was three years too late. And the only reason they did it was because a lot of people were criticizing the charts. Billboard didn’t care if the industry was cheating, After all, Billboard was now PART OF the industry, but pretending to be a magazine that reported on it.

PMS: You said in your letter that Billboard has special “relationships” with other artists besides Lady Gaga. 

Former Billboard Employee: Yes, Billboard tends to develop special relationships and act as a publicist for pop divas, given that over 80 percent of the employees are gay, not that there’s anything wrong with that. [He laughs at the Seinfeld reference from the 1980s.]

PMS: Can you give any names?

Former Billboard Employee: Well, at beginning of 2015, when reports that pre-orders for Madonna’s Rebel Heart album were crashing — which I thought was ridiculous because pre-orders don’t stay on top for a long time — her management contacted Billboard to try and fix up the PR damage. Billboard wrote a front-page article [it is posted here] about how pre-orders for the album were estimated at between 50,000 and 60,000 copies — that number was WAY exaggerated. If the album sold that much in pre-orders, there is no way it only debuted with sales slightly more than 100,00 copies when it came out.

Janet Jackson is another recent example. Her team had several meetings with Billboard. I don’t know what the contents of those meetings were about. I do know that Janet was gaming the system by giving away free copies of her album at her concerts to people who bought other things. Janet’s team claimed the album sales were part of a bundle, but many argued if those getting their free copies were aware of any bundle. Then, there was something that had to do with albums given away with Uber rides, but I don’t remember exactly what it was.

PMS: I remember the Janet Jackson thing and thought that Billboard needed to take a stand on that. 

Former Billboard Employee: Well, of course. And other employees were pissed as hell. But if they said anything, they were suddenly “let go.” It only got worse when Janice Min took over.

Stay tuned to Part 2 of Pop Music Scandal‘s interview, which deals more specifically with the truth behind Bill Werde’s exit, Janice Min’s takeover, and more specifics about Billboard‘s relationship with Lady Gaga. 

Katy Perry And Madonna: A Match Made In Hell

Katy Perry And Madonna: A Match Made In Hell

There is some good news and bad news for Katy Perry and Madonna fans. First the good news: Both of them are working on new music. Now, the bad news: Both of them are WORKING TOGETHER. Why does Madonna always have to hook up with younger singers in order to be relevant? You know, she could be relevant just by being Madonna. She is more talented than people give her credit for (but that Prince tribute was ABSOLUTELY PATHETIC). Madonna needs to embrace her age, NOT RUN AWAY FROM IT.

Katy Perry is getting less and less popular.
Katy Perry is getting less and less popular.

As for Katy Perry, she hasn’t had the best of luck with her new song “Rise.” Actually, Perry has been going downhill for a while. Prism wasn’t half the success Teenage Dream was. Katy Perry may be a nice gal, but she’s limited in the talent department. In a way, Madonna is (once again) lowering herself by working with Perry, just as she did with Britney Spears. Then again, Perry is lowering herself by working with Madonna. We could get another “Pretty Girls” type duet that Britney Spears did with Iggy Azalea.

We hear that Katy Perry was definitely going to release her next album in October. However, because “Rise” hasn’t been quite the hit she expected, Perry needs some “space” before releasing her next single. It’s possible that she’ll release a surprise album in December. Perry would be wise to do so. Christmas season is the biggest time for record sales. And you know she would love to compete with Lady Gaga again.

Madonna is taking a much-needed break from the public eye.
Madonna is taking a much-needed break from the public eye.

As for Madonna, she is purposely taking a (much needed) break from the public eye. She’s in the process of changing her image, THANK GOD. Let’s hope she gets a PR manager who can tell her how to use Instagram correctly and to stop trying to act like she’s 30 years younger. Besides recording a duet with Katy Perry, it’s possible Madonna may give some low-key concerts in the next year or so, but a new album is not in the picture anytime soon.

Pop star collaborations are usually a recipe for failure. Is there any way we can somehow stop Madonna and Katy Perry from recording together and assaulting our ears?