Retro Rewind: Madonna Delivers Best Vocal Performance Yet At 1991 Academy Awards

Published: Saturday 23rd Feb 2013 by Rashad

Hollywood’s buzz for the 2013 Academy Awards is in high gear, but as ever, That Grape Juice loves to stroll down memory lane to salute the best of performances past.  This year we tip our hats to the 1991 performance of ‘Sooner Or Later’ by Queen of Pop Madonna.

The pop vixen, accompanied by date/King of Pop Michael Jackson, took on the task of performing the number from her critically panned film ‘Dick Tracy’.  A film that inversely spawned her biggest and (arguably) most iconic music hit to date – ‘Vogue’.  Regardless, the performance saw Madge pay an updated, post-‘Material Girl’ (video) homage to idol Marilyn Monroe while Jackson, amongst other high profile onlookers, spectated what few would believe was an awesome vocal showcase from the songstress.

Despite being known mostly for racy on air antics and questionable vocal skills prior, the showing saw the diva belting and sustaining notes with a passion and control rarely demonstrated in her previous hits.  Minus her normal troop of dancers, Madge stood center stage with a microphone and mink sole and stole the show (despite her nerves getting the best of her in parts).

Press ‘PLAY’ above and see one of the many steps Miss Madonna took to cement her name beside Michael’s as pop’s reigning royalty.

P.S. – We’d love more of these vocal show-stoppers from Madge before retirement!

 Your thoughts?

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  1. Saetana February 23, 2013

    The vocals weren’t bad but she is such an awful actress, totally unconvincing – would love to see Lady Gaga sing this song as she has both the vocal and acting skills to grind Madonna into the dirt. Ah well, at least she wasn’t lipsynching ;o)

    • XoMoDe February 23, 2013

      Well if history is any indictor, Gaga is somewhere plotting which Madonna song and video to copy/impersonate/hijack/steal for her next album…so perhaps this will be the one.

      • Teflon Boy February 23, 2013

        Loool well said;)

    • opd2 February 23, 2013

      I actually love that movie d*** Tracy,i don’t care if it was a flop are not,it,s one of my child wood fave movies and also the labyrinth 1 and 2.

      • AmbeRussell February 23, 2013

        the film grossed 100mill in the states alone…if thats a flop…

    • Common Sense February 24, 2013

      Pretty sure Madonna won a Golden Globe for Evita, and it was in the acting category. And wtf are you talking about Lady Gaga is an awful actress.

  2. Steph February 23, 2013


  3. House Mother Kanye February 23, 2013

    Love her!!

  4. im only here for the KING! February 23, 2013

    Mj was looking fine af! I just wish he knew how s*** he was and left good enough alone

  5. jh February 23, 2013

    this was good, for her standards i guess. but still very below average compared to real singers.

  6. Janae February 23, 2013

    Madonna was more interesting than anything else…….I’ll just leave it at that.

  7. JOHNVIDAL February 23, 2013

    *Waits for @suicideblonde* lol
    Madonna was clearly not the best vocalist and not the best many other things, not respected by critics until 1998 really. But just by this performance you can see how the standard has sunk in recent years. Someone not repected nowadays would be Rihanna for example. Can´t you see how Madonna destroys with this performance Rihanna´s whole touring career? She has spark, even better vocals than Ritry(and that´s saying a lot cos Madonna…lol), performer and entertainer skills, confidence, etc. Nowadays models… it´s just sad to see them

    • 12345 February 23, 2013


      rihanna has a stronger and thicker voice. please….madonna couldnt sing russian roulette etc..

      rihanna as a singer is million times better than madge.

      • EIEIO February 23, 2013

        April Fools is still over a month away. You wasted that lie today. Vocally, Rihanna isn’t even a million times stronger than the guys posing as Milli Vanilli

      • Common Sense February 24, 2013

        The delusions clearly never end with the navy.

  8. RymeReason February 23, 2013

    Pop ROYALTY. Literally.

    The King of Pop and the Queen of pop. Don’t care for Madonna but she sang the hell out of the song.

  9. Damone Williams February 23, 2013

    I’m sorry, but her “Take a Bow” performance with Babyface was her best Ever, live performance, there is also a performance of her slaying “Like a prayer” with dancers & everything live!! This was very Blah

    • janet1814 February 23, 2013

      I’m sorry but it’s quite clear that she was lip syncing the one with Babyface…

  10. Anne February 23, 2013

    Glad TGJ pulled this one out is a pretty good example
    of one of the Madonna performances that showed everyone
    that she did have some vocal skills or at least better than
    what most thought. I agree with DAMOLNE WILLIAMS in that there
    are some even better examples. I also think JOHNVIDAL’s Rihanna
    comparison is valid. Rihanna too has those periodic performances
    that let people know that her vocals skills can be better than
    what is expected from her. Both with both Madonna and Rihanna its
    all about expectations. When they have a pretty good or decent
    vocal performance people are impressed mostly because their
    expectations preperformance were low. Anyway the major difference
    between Madonna and someone like Rihanna is Madonna made music that
    stands the test of time. Not to mention that her stage presence
    and choreography was on point at her peak. She earned the title
    QOP and will always be, despite the fact that she has never really
    been considered a top vocalist.

    • JOHNVIDAL February 23, 2013

      Well my final point was that Madonna is so much better than Ritry and the likes, but yes I agree and you got the comparison I tried to make

  11. MadBrax February 23, 2013

    First of all, D*** Tracy was far from a flop. It was one of the top films of 1990 you r*****
    Second, @SAETANA Lady Gaga? are you f*cking serious? Get your life and get back on your meds. Caca is nothing more than a carbon copy wannabe manufactured product. She will be nowhere in 5 years time.
    Madonna never claimed or pretended to be the best vocalist in music, she even said so in Truth or Dare (which coincidentally Caca copied for her tour doc) but she writes her own music, produces her own music and has major stage presence and showmanship which is why she’s the top female performer.
    Whitney may have been an amazing singer but she didn’t write any of her songs, produce any of her songs and most of her songs were covers of other people’s songs.
    Mariah may be an awesome singer (arguably of late) and she did write her own music but she has zero stage presence and always looks a fool when she doesn’t just stand there and sing.
    Madonna knows her limitations and worked with them which is why she’s the best selling female artist in history (despite Mariah’s desperate attempts to make all interviewers wrongly state that she is)

    • Likica February 23, 2013

      I agree with all that you wrote! Plus I think that Mariah was a better vocalist than Whitney in her prime. She has great songs, she’s a good songwriter but I feel like she doesn’t have any iconic performance. They are all vocally great, but very repetitive and the same. Madonna is obviously queen of pop and no one can take her throne. Btw, I think that Celine has outsold Mariah, she has two 30+ million album sellers. Madonna is more artists (well not sure when you compare her to Mariah) than all of them, especially than Whitney Houston. Plus Madonna never sounded as bad as this, and she will probably never.

      • EnRanc February 23, 2013

        Anyone who says that Mariah was a better vocalist than Whitney in her prime is a lunatic who need a q-tip. I dare Mariah (at any point in her career) attempt to sing Whitney’s “All The Man That I Need.” That one song smashes every vocal performance Mariah ever had.

        It’s no secret that the last 15 years of Whitney’s life saw her vocals dramatically deteriorate, so perhaps Mariah could outsing the post-1999 version of Whitney (although Mariah’s voice has gone to s*** too), but NO ONE was f****** with 1985-1996 Whitney. No one. Especially not a Mariah.

        Furthermore it has to be noted that even when Whitney was in s***** voice, she could still command a stage and rile up an audience. That’s something that Mariah has never been able to do. She’s always been terrible when it comes to stage presence and thrilling a crowd.

      • Likica February 23, 2013


        Mariah Carey is soprano and she possesses 5 octave vocal range, while Whitney is just mezzo-soprano. No one can touch Mariah’s head voice and whistle register. All The Man That I Need is not even close vocally to Without You/Hero, I Will Always Love is the most vocally challenging song of Whitney Houston. Not to mention the fact that Whitney didn’t write any of her songs. Mariah is bigger ARTIST than Whitney for sure, she has sold more records. Enjoy it.

      • Dev February 24, 2013

        The video was a silly example due to the fact that smoking drugs was the cause of Whitney to sound that way, and considering that Whitney stated that she toured after the bodyguard heavily using drugs and still gave stellar performances and it took years for her to get to the point when she sounded really bad means that your video example is kinda un-valid.

    • Common Sense February 24, 2013

      How do you that Mariah is forcing people to call her the best anything? Don’t blindly assume things. I agree with everything else you said though.

  12. nick February 23, 2013

    if this is the best; o lawd jesus its a fiire, no mam

  13. king z February 23, 2013

    d*** tracy was a critical flop…panned by every respectable critic in the country. next this is madge’s best vocal performance. she slayed every aspect of this performance…as king mike smiled for queen madge

    • DD1G February 23, 2013

      Who cares? D*** Tracy was a commercial smash and was in the top 10 grossing films of that year.

  14. Era of Tin February 23, 2013

    To put Rihanna in the same sentence with Madonna is ridiculous because Madonna was never anyone’s puppet. She didn’t get told which songs to sing, or when and how to make any of her moves. From virtually the start of her career, she dictated it. She didn’t have a Jay-Z type telling her what to do, how to do it, and giving her an allowance for completing tasks. And by her 7th album she wasn’t still operating like some puppet mastered newbie and overgrown teenager.

    That’s the difference between Madonna and the all pop star wannabes who laughably get compared to her is that Madonna is and was always her own woman, always had an alpha-female personality, was never dictated to and her higher intelligence is ever present. Will Britney or Rihanna ever have a Like a Prayer or Ray of Light? No. Those two are permanently stuck in Madonna’s Like a Virgin era, an era that Madonna herself only in but in a minute before moving on from it.

    • CzarM February 23, 2013

      Agreed. Rihanna is in way, shape or form comparable to Madonna. I don’t even know where people get that. RIhanna is basically a nefarious version of Sheena Easton on repeat.

      • CzarM February 23, 2013

        ** is in *no* way, shape, of form…I meant to say.

    • Teflon Boy February 23, 2013

      That’s a brilliant observation.., people can say what they want about Madonna but even when she was at her most provocative there was always a thought out manifesto that she could back it up with (funnily enough I thought of her when I saw a Marilyn Manson interview as he had much the same intelligence). This is what made her ‘evolution’ believable as for the most part each incarnation could be organically articulated be it for personal or sexual political reason. I love Rihanna and like Beyonce (although I wouldn’t call myself a stan of either) but Riri’s ‘bad-girl’ manifesto and Bey’s perma-‘female-empowerment’ manifesto just about sum up how out of ideas and creatively stilted the pair of them are…, judged as a vocalist Madonna comes up short, but judged as an artist who opened doors and pushed the envelope and for the most part has remained creatively fresh into her latter career (Something To Remember, Ray Of Light, American Life, Confessions, Music etc.) she really shows up her industry daughters for what they are i.e. Vapid and Criminally Blonde.

    • JOHNVIDAL February 23, 2013

      And who said otherwise?? We all agree on that. It´s obvious

  15. S****** Blonde February 23, 2013

    I love this performance, love her voice here, this is a prove that she can sing, she’s not a vocalist but she can deliver a good interpretation of a song, she had the world at her feet that year, controversy, the tour, the image, the fame, the good music, if you think about it, not much has changed since then. The romance with Warren Beatty one of the most gorgeous men in Hollywood, D*** Tracy wasn’t a smash like many Madonna films but the soundtrack is one of the best of all times, it shows Madonna skills as an musician, one of my fav. albums of her. @JOHNVIDAL They didn’t respected her because of all the controversy cuz i dare anyone in the music industry to say that “Like a Prayer” isn’t a masterpiece. Today many artists are rewarded for albums that are mediocre, i mean Rihanna and Taylor Swift receive at least one nomination or one Grammy for all of their albums while Madonna didn’t get a Grammy until 1992, that’s why i don’t give a s*** about what critics say about this woman, her artistry is nowhere near any other woman in the music industry and for those who are mentioned Gaga here, this is an example of a tribute not the kind of tributes your Mother Monster do, she ask for permission and paid to sing part of Marilyn’s song in this performance as it should be unlike her imitator who don’t give credits, still can’t wait to see what part of Madonna’s iconic career she’s gonna pay homage. BTW i take Madonna vocals in her Evita and Ray of Light days over Lady Gaga’s imitation of Gwen Stefani and her Madgesty voice ANYDAY. With that been said: MJ and Madonna looked fabulous that night, everybody were thrilled by their presence, the two biggest Pop star on the planet together, it was the s***, Pop came to life that night.

    Long Live The Queen of Pop Madonna Louise Ciccone.

    • JOHNVIDAL February 23, 2013

      LOL I knew you were coming 🙂
      I agree with you man, you know I didn´t lie. I didn´t mean she didn´t deserve more critical acclaim, I said she didn´t had it, which is true. Not only cos of the controversy, but also cos aroungd that era there were other true greats doing their thing (many of them obviously more talented), so it´s normal she didn´t have that much recognition. But there´s no need to get mad. Like I said she got it from 1998 and on. So it´s all good, don´t you think?
      About Rihanna and Taylor Swift: they are jokes, what else do u want me to say? I´m not the one defending Ritry´s ass every chance I get 🙂
      About Gaga: yes she imitates, but she´s not a joke like the other two cos she can sing, can entertain and can songwrite

      • S****** Blonde February 23, 2013

        Not only cos of the controversy, but also cos aroungd that era there were other true greats doing their thing (many of them obviously more talented).

        Mmmm no cuz today is the same thing with Rihanna and other talentless b******, we have many talented artists today but still these girls are rewarded so your point isn’t all that true, when Madonna caused controversy those were hard times so i guess that was the main problem, her music is about taboo topics, still f*** them if they think Her Madgesty don’t have talent.

        Madonna>>>>>>>>>>>>everybody else.

      • JOHNVIDAL February 23, 2013

        Did you read what I said? lol
        Those b****** are rewarded nowadays cos industry has changed and labels don´t support the more talented ones (and there are not true greats like in 1991 either). So they get a pass cos there is not too much from where to choose in mainstream music. Back in the day talented competition was fierce
        Madonna got what she was searching for in 1998, why you mad?

      • S****** Blonde February 23, 2013

        I’m not mad at all, btw, i don’t think she was searching for recognition, she has never care, they didn’t ignore Ray of Light cuz even her haters called out the Grammys, this is one of the best records that has ever been made it.

      • JOHNVIDAL February 23, 2013

        Oh man… yes she WAS searching for that. I remember her face when she finally won a grammy (not main category but still) in 1999. She was so happy. You know, one of those few moments you can see she was being real 🙂

      • S****** Blonde February 23, 2013

        (not main category but still)
        DEATH at you trying to shade Madonna for the Grammys, like really The grammys are s***, who are the Grammys in comparison to Madonna’s career and she’s always real unlike others, always herself.

  16. JOHNVIDAL February 23, 2013

    And here it is: @likica trying to downplay iconic Whitney Houston. For her (or him) Whitney was not that great vocalist, her songs are mediocre, and she doesn´t deserve praise cos she wasn´t a songwriter LOLOL Of course she (or he) doesn´t mind Celine Dion (one of my faves btw) and on top of that she/he loves Rihanna LOLOL what a songwriter, vocalist and visionary Rihanna is hey hun? LMAO what a joke

    @Likica´s taste in music: Whitney is a nobody and the world only knows about her cos of a song (LOL)
    Rihanna and Kelly Clarkson are the best. Two legendary artists LOL

  17. JOHNVIDAL February 23, 2013

    King of pop (unmatcheable mix of everything and probably the artist that impacted the world the most): Michael Jackson
    Queen of Pop: Madonna (the equivalent, less talented and everybody knows she´s no Michael, but the Queen of Pop anyway)
    For the ones trying to downplay Mariah or Whitney: please they couldn´t be queens of pop compared to Madonna cos they are so R&B, so hip hop and so Soul (and a bit of Gospel). The only one doing pure pop her whole career is Madonna
    Rihanna and Britney would be the possible candidates cos their whole careers are pure pop. And yeah we know how bad the comparison is for them…

    • S****** Blonde February 23, 2013

      What does Madonna’s talent has to do with being the equivalent of MJ?, she is in her own level, just like The Beatles and Elvis, MJ in in his own level, he didn’t have to be ELVIS and the same applies to Madonna she is MADONNA and don’t have to be anyone else and honestly i don’t want her to be MJ.

      • JOHNVIDAL February 23, 2013

        I know b****! But they are called queen and king of pop, so it isn´t that weird to compare them is it?

  18. mc the place to be! February 23, 2013

    OMG why is mariah being brought into this of course she doesn’t have stage presence because she didn’t really sing on stage a lot before she was signed she was more on just singing in the studio doing things behind the scenes but that didn’t stop people from going to her concerts she has a wonderful voice and so did Whitney that’s enough you need they are singers anything else is really extra and unnecessary but Madonna is great full rounded entertainer and the only reason people say mariah is the best selling Singer is because she sold so much in her 23 years they’re people who have 50+ careers and still haven’t sold over 100 million but either way she still is one of the best selling females of all time she’s in the top 3 and she’s also the best selling non Asian artist in Japan #fact I dislike people who try to down mariah like she didn’t sell a thing sing a thing or wrote a thing in her life her Whitney and Celine were a force in the 90s because of their voices alone and that’s kinda rare because it was now coming to a time where you did need to do something extra to sell don’t underestimate them! I’m not putting anyone against anyone but dont down someone who is just as established in the industry like madonna

  19. Music Soul Harmony February 23, 2013

    Omg will this Lickika b**** STFU. Her downplaying of legends irk
    The f*** outta me. SMH.

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