The Original Candy Perfume Girl – Scenting Madonna’s Greatest Albums

H.R.H. The Queen of Pop

Madonna; no other name is more instantly recognisable, no person is more likley to divide opinion. Arguably the most famous woman on the planet, Madonna is a force that is hard to define; singer, dancer, performer, entertainer, provocateur, feminist, business woman, calculating she-devil, love her or hate her, whatever moniker you throw at her will most likely apply.

The fascinating thing about Madonna is that her ratio of talent to fame is perhaps slightly off balance. She’s not the greatest singer or dancer in the world, or even the best looking, but she has that je ne sais quoi that makes a person a star. Some say that she’s just a good business woman and I’m sure she is but that does not make for such longevity. By pushing people’s buttons and having something to say (and saying it rather noisily) Madonna has ensured that she is more than a just a star, she’s that rare commodity: an icon.

Madonna is well-known to be a lover of perfume and is reported to be a loyal wearer of Fracas and practically anything containing tuberose, including her very own (and rather good) fragrance ‘Truth or Dare’ which was released earlier this year. A diva needs her diva-fumes y’all and in honour of the Queen of Pop and her love for perfume I present to you some of my favourite Madonna albums, each with their very own olfactory accompaniment that captures the spirit of the music and all that is ‘Madonna’.

[Please also head over to Persolaise, Eyeliner on a Cat and Fragrant Moments to see their takes on Madonna and perfume]

True Blue & Petit Fracas

True Blue was the album that turned Madonna into a star, taking her from being “that woman that writhed on the floor in a wedding dress” to being, well ‘Madonna’. As well as being her true breakthrough album True Blue is also the pinnacle of 80s pop; toothachingly cheesy, fun-loving and fancy free, but is ultimately an album about love.

That’s right, True Blue is a very smooshy album that pretty much consists of Madonna fawning over her love for then husband Sean Penn. It’s an optimistic, youthful and undamaged album that celebrates all that is good and great about life and love.

Seeing as Madonna is a tuberose fan and a devoted wearer of the queen of the genre, Fracas, it seems fitting that True Blue, the youthful bubble gum incarnation of Madonna, should suit the carefree fun of Piguet’s new, and rather delicious, Petit Fracas (stay tuned for a review next week). Petit Fracas is about as much fun as a riot in a sweet shop but at the same time it manages to respect the spirit of the original by breaking the rules.

Spritz and Listen: Just looking at True Blue’s track listing is like a window into some of the best pop songs ever; there’s Papa Don’t Preach, Open Your Heart, Live to Tell, True Blue and even La Isla Bonita! Listen to them all and spritz away.

Like a Prayer & Avignon

If True Blue is the pop-representation of Madonna’s happy relationship with Sean Penn then Like a Prayer is the divorce. Focusing on themes such as domestic and parental abuse and then juxtaposing them with female empowerment and tales of lust, Like a Prayer is a tour de force that put Madonna on the map as a serious artist and proved to the world that she can be one heck of a songwriter.

Considering the strong spiritual themes of the album, specifically Catholicism and Madonna’s relationship to the church, and its more mature sound it is hard not to pick a something really obvious such as an all-out incense fragrance. The thing is sometimes the obvious choice is the right choice and that’s why when listening to Like a Prayer you have but no choice to spritz on Comme des Garçons photorealistic church incense Avignon.

Spritz and Listen: Whilst musing over your Avignon listen to; Like a Prayer (obviously), Express Yourself, Till Death Do Us Part, Promise to Try, Oh Father and Cherish.

Erotica & Tubéreuse Criminelle

Erotica is the album everybody accused Madonna of making long before she made it. It’s Madonna saying: “OK, you think all I’m about is sex, deal with this bitches.” But Erotica isn’t an all-out sex-fest, yes there are whips and chains but there’s also romance, sadness and longing too, all of which are laid over heavy bass lines, synths and gritty piano riffs.

Dark, brooding, edgy and long before it’s time Erotica is Madonna’s most under appreciated album, and whilst it may not be my favourite I will say that it is most definitely her most raw outing.

Erotica is a very cold album and feels almost like Madonna has gone for a “sex-by-numbers” approach. Madonna herself sounds aloof and detached throughout the album’s 75 minutes and it is this cold, austere quality that sums up the overall feel of Erotica thus making only one perfume choice appropriate.

Serge Lutens’ vampiric floral Tubéreuse Criminelle is the only perfume that perfectly encapsulates everything that is Erotica. Both are ice cold, carnal, gritty and dare-I-say more than a tad vengeful, but most importantly they are both ultimately awash with soul, depth and scars.

Spritz and Listen: Whilst wearing your Tubéreuse Criminelle listen to Secret Garden and Where Life Begins.

Ray of Light & Beyond Paradise

Ray of Light is often considered as Madonna’s best work and when listening to it it’s hard to disagree. The album sees Madonna the tired-dominatrix come provocateur reborn as earth mother in command of the elements. It has a distinctly hedonistic vibe whilst simultaneously touching upon everything from childbirth, Japanese courtesans, gothic witches and steampunks.

The album is also incredibly varied sonically; guitar-laden rock sits quite happily next to dark trance and spiritual chanting, making it quite tricky to pick a perfume that compliments it. However, one recurrent theme throughout Ray of Light’s entirety is water and the ocean, and the cleansing power that both hold.

Despite it’s tropical moniker Estée Lauder’s Beyond Paradise is a perfect fit for a vibrant, multi-coloured (and cultured) album that emphasises the healing properties of the ocean. The abstract floral mist captures the essence of Ray of Light; the joy, the sadness, the light and the dark.

Spritz and Listen: Whilst wearing your Beyond Paradise listen to; Drowned World/Subsitute for Love, Swim, Skin, The Power of Goodbye, To Have and Not to Hold and Mer Girl.

Confessions on a Dance Floor & Rush

After Madonna’s folktronica album American Life crashed and burned (it was vastly under appreciated FYI) everyone thought that the Queen of Pop would hang up her crown and bow out gracefully, but they must have forgotten who they were dealing with. It’s true, Madonna did hang up her crown, but she only did so temporarily and in order to put on a pair of sparkly pink dancing shoes and matching leotard, you see it’s rather difficult to lose oneself on the dance floor with a crown, it just gets in the way.

Confessions on a Dance Floor was Madonna’s way of saying “Pfft, I’m not done yet, watch this…” and “this” was a non-stop onslaught of brain thumping pop music so camp it made Julian Clary look positively butch. In addition to being contemporary and camp, Confessions on a Dance Floor is wonderfully retro because it looks back to the disco era, sampling Abba, The Jackson Five and Donna Summer. Fabulous.

The olfactory representation of Confessions on a Dance Floor is Gucci’s Rush. No other fragrance is as high-energy, future disco, camp, glitzy, ridiculous, completely over the top and fabulous. Gucci Rush gives just about as much of a shit about it’s detractors as Madonna does about hers, it says; “here I am, watch me explode”, and us bystanders can only stand back and watch in awe.

Spritz and Listen: Spritz on a metric ton of Rush and listen to the entire thing from start to finish. No stopping. No exceptions.

— — —

Join the Discussion!

What’s your favourite Madonna album?
What scents would you pick to match Madonna’s albums?
What scents would you pick for Madonna?

Please leave your thoughts and comments in the box below!


45 thoughts on “The Original Candy Perfume Girl – Scenting Madonna’s Greatest Albums

  1. You may be interested to know that the “Like a Prayer” LP sleeve was scented with patchoulie oil!
    I still have it, and it’s still scented…

  2. My very first cassette was ‘you can dance’ a remix album with this fierce red cover, Mads rocking a sequined ballero jacket ! Oh boy , did that tape get some air time in my house ! The scent of this album would have to go to Tabu by Dana , skanky and anamalic. This would totally dominate any smoky 80s dance floor , letting every one around know there is only one queen ruling the discotheque throne, eat my sillage bitches ! For inspiration 😉 !!!!!

  3. I was a fan in the early years but then she fell off my radar somehow. Perhaps I need to go back and have a listen to what I’ve missed. I will admit I danced around my bedroom and sang my little heart out to her music back in the day.

  4. A great list, Mr Candy… although I am SHOCKED that you didn’t suggest we listen to Candy Perfume Girl on Ray Of Light 😉

    I love the idea of Erotica and Tubereuse Criminelle!

  5. Hey CPB! I love your choices but would have put Madonna in something considered old lady for Confessions on a Dance Floor, but that perfumistas consider a classic like Shocking or Femme, I do understand that these are not Tuberose but to me they fit too.
    Portia xx

  6. Wow, what a spectacular read! You are spot-on with your matches! I’ve been a fan of Madonna since the beginning; even at age 10 I sported those black bracelets and a big lace bow atop my head! My favorite album of Madge’s is Ray of Light, second favorite is a tie between Like a Prayer and Confessions. I have each one, even American Life, which is decidedly her worst. Just saw Madonna – for the first time- earlier this month. She puts on a hell if a show!

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  8. Nice call on Beyond Paradise for Ray of Light, but no love for Bedtime Stories, eh? That was the last album of hers I loved more songs on than not. Defiant “Human Nature”, sad-sultry “Love Tried to Welcome Me” sliding into the hearbreaking finality of “Take a Bow.”

    I’d scent it with Douce Amere because it has the white flowers Madonna loves but instead of their usual trumpeting sweet style, artemisia and beanpod vanilla render them with the cozy bitterness of a potent aperitif sipped alone in bed.

    • Firstly; Douce Amere is a fab choice for Bedtime Stories, I really like the idea of something a bit more plush for BS. It’s definitely a velvety album.

      I do like Bedtime Stories (Bedtime Story was one of my favourite songs for AGES) but it always seemed a bit patchy to be considered on of her greats.

  9. I was obsessed with Madonna in my youth so this post was a joy. Love all your choices.

    My favourite album is Like A Virgin because I loved it so much when it came out and just looking at the cover brings back happy memories. I must have watched the Madonna Live tour video at least a couple of hundred times!

  10. Wow, does this take me back! True Blue was such a great album. Well, they all were. I don’t think I can comment on the current stuff . . . 😦

    But these are great pairings that you have chosen! I can picture them all!

  11. this is such a great idea for a post. I’m going to check archives to see if you’ve done more of these pairings . Tuberuesue Criminelle (the only perfume from the ones you listed that I have on hand) is perfect to spritz and listen to Madonna. Till now my scent association for Madonna has been open road and car interior – the plastic kind of interior, not leather.

    • Thanks mridula!

      If you click on the ‘Scent a Celebrity Series’ category on the right-hand side of the main page you should find some similar posts.

      You have an interesting scent association with Madonna. Is that because you listen to her music in the car by any chance?

  12. I think it’s pretty badass that we four chose to represent all different sides of Madonna and eras of her music. I particularly like your point of view as a super-fan; you talk about Madonna with the same affection you would a family member. That familiarity in tone is touching!

    • I agree Carrie, it’s been fascinating to see four VERY different takes on Madonna, her music and scent.

      Madonna will always be a part of my family 🙂

      (P.S. I did try to comment on your post (and Dariush’s too) but for some reason Blogger was eating my comments)

  13. I’m not a big Madonna fan – but just because I’m not really any music fan (well, maybe a couple of names). But I have an enormous respect for her. And I’m really impressed with your pairings.

    I do not have a favorite album but I have a favorite song – “La Isla Bonita”. And I’d scent it with By Kilian Beyond Love.

  14. Mandy Aftel made Pink Lotus (discont.) for M as well… i do believe in the RoL era? i always find it hilarious in her concert videos (Truth or Dare / Stick & Sweet Tour) she will absolutely hose herself down in perfume (“…my french whore’s bath”) when the costumes get to stinking. Looked like Versace in ToD… can’t tell in S&S. anyway… great blog!! and bye mo… we hardly knew thee.

    • Ahh yes, wasn’t it a gift from Sting?

      I think it was Fracas that she doused herself in during I’m Going to Tell You a Secret. You have me intrigued to see what others she has spritzed!

      Thanks for your kind words einsof!

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