Madonna Rebel Heart Tour

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Madonna ‘Rebel Heart’ Tour Explores Religion And Sexuality, Familiar Topics For The Pop Queen

Even before any music plays on Madonna’s thundering 1989 hit, “Like A Prayer,” which sat atop the pop charts for 16 weeks, we hear the Material Girl’s plaintive voice asking a simple question:

“God?”

It’s one the pop star has been raising, in some form or another, for years. Religion has been a favored subject for Madonna since she got her start in the music business more than three decades ago, whether she’s appropriating Roman Catholic iconography in a music video or dabbling in Jewish spiritual traditions.

And her upcoming tour, kicking off Sept. 9 in Montreal to promote her new album, “Rebel Heart,” will be no exception.

“I’m very immersed in deconstructing the concept of sexuality and religion and how it’s not supposed to go together, but in my world it goes together,” the superstar told guest editor Andy Cohen in an upcoming event of Entertainment Weekly.

The idea promises to be big business. Madonna’s last two world tours ranked among the top 12 highest-grossing tours of all time. Her 2008 “Sticky & Sweet” tour grossed $408 million, while the 2012 “MDNA” tour earned $305 million. For that, she can thank longevity, a keen knack for being able to reinvent herself, and a cross-generational fan base that stretches throughout much of the world. In 2012, the pop queen famously outsold Lady Gaga during a number of tour stops in South America while the two stars were feuding.

Devilish Divinity

In speaking about the religious concepts in her latest tour, the 56-year-old Madonna was referring specifically to the nuns dancing provocatively on poles in a teaser video posted to YouTube, but she might as well have been alluding to entire swathes of her pop canon. Madonna’s flirtation with religion in her pop culture persona began when she popularized donning large crosses and rosaries — the latter of which is frowned upon by the Roman Catholic Church — as a fashion statement in the 1980s.

But the flirtation turned into a full-on affair with Madonna’s seminal “Like A Prayer” album in 1989. The video for the single by the same name told the story of a young white girl in a forbidden interracial relationship, but it also featured a heavy dosage of Catholic iconography.

The skimpily clad Madonna danced on screen in front of burning crosses and made love to a saint, all while bearing the scars of stigmata on her hands. The Vatican was not amused, calling the video heresy and demanding that it be banned. Pepsi, which had entered into a lucrative endorsement deal with the singer, backed out of the contract and canceled a commercial in which she debuted the song.

Devilish Divinity

In speaking about the religious concepts in her latest tour, the 56-year-old Madonna was referring specifically to the nuns dancing provocatively on poles in a teaser video posted to YouTube, but she might as well have been alluding to entire swathes of her pop canon. Madonna’s flirtation with religion in her pop culture persona began when she popularized donning large crosses and rosaries — the latter of which is frowned upon by the Roman Catholic Church — as a fashion statement in the 1980s.

But the flirtation turned into a full-on affair with Madonna’s seminal “Like A Prayer” album in 1989. The video for the single by the same name told the story of a young white girl in a forbidden interracial relationship, but it also featured a heavy dosage of Catholic iconography.

The skimpily clad Madonna danced on screen in front of burning crosses and made love to a saint, all while bearing the scars of stigmata on her hands. The Vatican was not amused, calling the video heresy and demanding that it be banned. Pepsi, which had entered into a lucrative endorsement deal with the singer, backed out of the contract and canceled a commercial in which she debuted the song.

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