My speak-the-rainbow theory got an unexpected test when a friend suggested I review the acceptance speech Madonna made at Billboard’s Woman in Music Awards. A singer of Madonna’s stature knows the 10 things an audience wants. Not only does she deliver on all points, her unpredictable, unique rainbow is as intriguing, creative, and colorful as Madonna herself. I suggest you enjoy this amazing rainbow speech only Madonna could have made.
Here is my rainbow breakdown of Madonna’s use of colors. I discuss each following the order that they appear in the speech for the first time.
The speech opens with yellow joy and a very “Madonna” reference to a banana as she sets the scene. Then she gets a loud laugh from the audience with the ironic remark of being happier with “something hard” between her legs. Yet there is no outburst of joy at receiving this award and, apart from one or two hints of humor later in the speech, yellow is the weakest color in her rainbow. Thankfully this color gets a boost from the presence of her bright yellow necktie and yellow elements in her beautiful outfit.
Orange is one of the strong colors in Madonna’s rainbow. Her powerful stage presence is visible from the moment she strikes her unique pose with legs planted firmly like wonderwoman. Her audience sees she is aligned and ready to deliver a message with energy. Her body does not flinch or budge and this reinforces her presence from start to finish. Furthermore her voice is filled with force and at times resonates with oracular power.
Once orange is established, Madonna hits her audience with an Indigo list of deep subjects: misogyny, sexism, constant bullying and relentless abuse. These words are hooks to announce the deep content which Madonna develops later in her speech around the role of men and women in the music industry and our society. Deep questions are raised and throughout her speech Madonna uses an exceptionally large range of vocabulary from crude swear words to terms like “objectifying my sexuality”. As a speaker, Madonna knows how to choose and use rich words and deep indigo content to connect.
Indigo is followed by red as she discusses her past in a long section about life in New York in 1979 which begins with “When I started …” These red details about the emotional turmoil of her early career establish a strong connection with the audience. Red is used again towards the end of the speech when she expresses her love and appreciation for those that believed in and supported her. These red emotions almost overwhelm Madonna herself and make red one of the dominant colors that remains after the speech is finished.
Purple bursts into the speech when Madonna uses her VULNERABILITY to connect and admits “I am vulnerable”. Vulnerablility is, as I learnt from Usher’s Masterclass The Art of Performance, the secret to creating purple connections which great performing artists like Usher and Madonna use. She also speaks of receiving divine gifts. By stating “I am not the owner of anything”, Madonna portrays herself as a soul guided by divine forces. Powerful pauses are interspersed throughout this speech and allow the audience to approach and make a connection to her vulnerable soul.
Green is one of the weaker colors in this speech which offers little hope, vision of the future or uplifting message. However, Madonna offers some lessons to her audience, even if bleak ones. One green section begins with “if you are a girl..”. and continues until “You will be criticized, you will be villified”. More green lessons appear around 7 minutes with “As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth… “. Green appears again at the end when she addresses the “you” by expressing “Thank you”.
Madonna’s main color is blue, the color of creative personal vision. The body of this speech reveals herself, her vision, creative inspirations, voice, and the emotional battles that formed her resolute self and world view. Blue appears as the dominant color of this speech when she makes the revelation “I am a bad feminist” which gets a huge reaction. Madonna’s blue message to her audience is that, in a year in which David Bowie and Prince died, she is firmly planted and not going anywhere. This leaves the audience with respect for her commitment and extraordinary career. Thanking her audience for the award for Woman of the Year, Madonna connects with her own rainbow and her unique vision. Audiences everywhere will watch this, applaud, and say, “What a woman!”