I HATE IT when media compares women to each other, like only one can reign supreme. Let women be great and complicated without pitting them against each other! That said, boy, do I love comparing people and declaring winners and losers! Thankfully, we have Madonna, the master of reinvention. Which of her incarnations is the best? More importantly, who would win in a Madonna-off?

Already in progress, we now join as the final match of the Mercury Madonna-off begins. Only the top three Madonnas remain. Your Madonnas are:

Like a Virgin Madonna (1984)

Evita Madonna (1996)

Rebel Heart Madonna (2015)

Each Madonna is characterized by sheer determination (or, sometimes, desperation) for fame, relevance, and notoriety. An odds-on favorite, Like a Virgin Madonna has the benefit of youth and she's hungry for attention. She said she was gonna take over the world, and boy, did she! She's all energetic and lithe.

Evita Madonna came on the heels of Erotica Madonna (disqualified in an earlier round), just as everybody was getting sick of her and she needed a new spin. She became the star of a movie musical and a mom, which softened her to the masses. It was her biggest transformation yet.

Rebel Heart Madonna is older, yes, but she's shredded as fuck on Pilates, is friends with Katy Perry, and has probably reached third-level Neshamah in Kabbalah by now.


Against any other competitors, Like a Virgin Madonna would ordinarily mop the floor—but not in a battle against herself. She doesn't have the wisdom of experience, and when you're up against two older Madonnas, wits matter. In a surprising upset, Like a Virgin Madonna is quickly taken out of the running.


The true battle, between mid-'90s Madonna and 2015 Madonna, now begins. Evita Madonna's greatest weakness is her desperation—her fatigued audience had quite literally seen too much after Sex and Erotica. Her new mom look, with floral dresses and a '40s-style swoop in her hair, makes her appear nicer, more accessible. It's a great way to win us back.

Meanwhile, Rebel Heart Madonna is problematic. She's started rapping. She has a song called "Bitch I'm Madonna." She should know better, or at least have producers smart enough to say, "Actually? No." Also, her "cool" friend is Katy Perry? She should have gone for someone cooler. The second round ends in a tie, with Evita Madonna clearly in the lead.


But wait! While Evita Madonna's clean presentation can win over the haters, the clear need for validation hobbles her in the final stretch. More importantly, can this Madonna even dance?

Rebel Heart Madonna can definitely dance. This is the grand madam to whose pleather train young pop stars still wanna hitch their wagons. We're not just talking about her—we're devoting entire issues to her.

So the winner in the battle of the Madonnas is... Rebel Heart Madonna! While Evita Madonna is my favorite, it's telling that as soon she got back into our good graces, she did a full 180 again and became Ray of Light Madonna, undisputedly the most annoying Madonna ever. Madonna herself never fully believed in Evita Madonna, and the confidence of 2015's incarnation helps Rebel Heart Madonna eke out a victory. And it's not like she's taking an IDGAF stance. Today's Madonna obviously does GAF, and that she still wants it after all these years makes her the toughest ever. She has taken over the world.

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