Elvis Presley was the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” when he passed in 1977. Michael Jackson was the “King of Pop” when he died last month. So who’s the new King, or, er, Queen, of, you know, Whatever, in music now that MJ has joined Elvis in leaving the building?
The question came to mind for me back a couple of weeks ago right after Jackson passed. It reminded me of how baseball nerds liked to refer to Joe DiMaggio as “the greatest living ballplayer,” and then when he passed that title went to Ted Williams for a time. You don’t hear of Willie Mays referred to that way, but he is the greatest living ballplayer. I remember asking a fellow baseball nerd, OK, then, who is it after him?
“Hank Aaron,” he answered without a second’s delay.
I thought I’d had him, just as I thought I had the world on the post-Jackson royalty question. My wife snapped, “Madonna,” and the conversation over lunch today was quickly over.
But I wasn’t about to give up that easily. I polled my friends on Facebook this afternoon.
“Madonna, the “Queen” of Pop?” Craig Cavanaugh chimed in seconds after my Twitter made it to Facebook.
Stacey Strawn agreed, as did former AFP intern Stephanie Puliafico. “Hands down, Madonna,” she wrote.
And yeah, I have to agree now. Madonna, like Elvis, like Michael Jackson, has stood the test of time, from her curvy “Material Girl” phase to that sacrilegious “Like a Prayer” video that began her romp as the controversial one to the aerobicized whips-and-chains dominatrix that marked the early ’90s and “Justify My Love” to her turn as a singer/slash/actress/slash/cougar today.
One interesting perspective in my informal poll. I ran into a friend at the YMCA and posed this same question to him. He said he had asked his 16-year-old daughter her thoughts on who the biggest music star of the day is. Her answer: “Snoop Doggy Dogg.”
Think 20,000 people are going to be memorializing Snizoop at Tha Dog Pound in 30 years when one too many gin-and-juices does him in?
Shudder the thought, right?
– Column by Chris Graham