Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Best Of Madonna - part 3

JUMP TO: 55-41 II 40-21 II 20-1


Thirty-five songs down, and now, my favourite 20 Madonna songs of all time - and, not surprisingly, there's a bias towards her 1980s output.


What will be number 1? There's only one way to find out...


Number 20 "Holiday"


Year: 1983
Album: Madonna
Charts: #4 AU, #2 UK, #16 US
It took her three singles, but with this release, Madonna's career was off and running - despite the fact that "Holiday" didn't actually come with an official video, just a variety of TV performances that were aired in different countries.




Number 19 "Lucky Star"


Year: 1984
Album: Madonna
Charts: #36 AU, #14 UK, #4 US
With one hit record under her belt, there was no stopping Madonna, with this fourth single from her self-titled debut album kicking off a string of US top 10 hits that would continue until 1989.




Number 18 "Express Yourself"


Year: 1989
Album: Like A Prayer
Charts: #5 AU, #5 UK, #2 US
Speaking of 1989... Accompanied by one of her most expensive film clips (directed by David Fincher, and featuring an army of semi-clad men and a scene-stealing black cat), "Express Yourself" was radically remixed from the version found on Like A Prayer, and the video mix didn't turn up on one of her albums until 2009's Celebration.




Number 17 "Who's That Girl"


Year: 1987
Album: Who's That Girl soundtrack
Charts: #7 AU, #1 UK, #1 US
Another song that was absent from an all-Madonna album until Celebration despite being a US and UK number 1, "Who's That Girl" was the theme song from the film of the same name - one of many movies that suggested she should stick to her day job.




Number 16 "Frozen"


Year: 1997
Album: Ray Of Light
Charts: #5 AU, #1 UK, #2 US
Madonna could always sense when the time was right for an image overhaul and the transformation into Earth mother was a much-needed shift. The 1996 birth of daughter Lourdes might just have had something to do with the transformation as well. The first single from the career-redefining Ray Of Light, "Frozen" signalled Madonna was still a force to be reckoned with on the charts.




Number 15 "Material Girl"


Year: 1984
Album: Like A Virgin
Charts: #4 AU, #3 UK, #2 US
The song which gave Madge her most used nickname (and one for which she's expressed distaste) featured a clip inspired by the Marilyn Monroe film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Coming off the back of the massive success of "Like A Virgin", "Material Girl" confirmed her status as the biggest pop star in the world.




Number 14 "Hung Up"


Year: 2005
Album: Confessions On A Dance Floor
Charts: #1 AU, #1 UK, #7 US
American Life had been a bit of a disaster, so Madonna went back to doing what had made her a star in the first place: releasing dance floor-friendly club tracks. Featuring a more obvious sample - the synth hook from ABBA's "Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)" - than Madonna had ever used before, "Hung Up" was a long overdue return to form and chart favour.




Number 13 "Live To Tell"


Year: 1986
Album: True Blue
Charts: #7 AU, #2 UK, #1 US
Sure, she'd released a ballad single before, but, teamed with a new stripped back look, "Live To Tell" was the first major image revamp in Madonna's career. The long blonde locks didn't last - they were cropped short for subsequent single "Papa Don't Preach" - but the public did learn never to pigeonhole Madonna again and to always expect the unexpected. "Live To Tell" featured in the film At Close Range, which starred her then-husband, Sean Penn.




Number 12 "Gambler"



Year: 1985
Album: Vision Quest soundtrack
Charts: #10 AU, #4 UK
All but expunged from history, this frequently overlooked single was the second track taken from the Vision Quest soundtrack, a film in which Madonna appeared as a nightclub singer (her first major movie role, even if it wasn't exactly a stretch). "Gambler" is also noteworthy since it features another brilliant middle-eight: "You can't stop me now/Cause I'm right and I'm making advances..."




Number 11 "Crazy For You"


Year: 1985
Album: Vision Quest soundtrack
Charts: #1 AU, #2 UK, #1 US
Here's the other song from Vision Quest, which was actually released in Australia and the UK under the title Crazy For You. Madonna's first ballad release, "Crazy For You" was a shock to the system and critics who'd written Madonna off were forced to pause and reconsider. The song is also remarkable for having peaked at number 2 twice in the UK - once in 1985 and again in 1991, after being re-released to promote The Immaculate Collection.




Number 10 "Papa Don't Preach"


Year: 1986
Album: True Blue
Charts: #1 AU, #1 UK, #1 US
"Live To Tell" was included on True Blue, but "Papa Don't Preach" was the track that kicked off that album's promotion - and came with a clip that featured Madonna sporting her new bleach-blonde hairdo. Also new: more serious lyrical content (on the topic of teen pregnancy) than any of her previous singles had featured. And, while many of Madonna's singles have remained untouched by other artists, "Papa Don't Preach" was tackled by Kelly Osbourne 16 years later - but the less said about that the better.




Number 9 "Vogue"


Year: 1990
Album: I'm Breathless
Charts: #1 AU, #1 UK, #1 US
Conceived as a B-side to final Like A Prayer single "Keep It Together", "Vogue" ended up as a single in its own right (and, in Australia, it was "Keep It Together" which wound up as the credited flipside). "Vogue" was also the first single co-written with Shep Pettibone, who'd been remixing Madonna's tracks for years. The song was also shoe-horned into the Dick Tracy soundtrack album, I'm Breathless, despite sounding nothing like the rest of the songs.




Number 8 "Cherish"


Year: 1989
Album: Like A Prayer
Charts: #4 AU, #3 UK, #2 US
Making it three global top 5 hits in a row from Like A Prayer, this playful song written with frequent collaborator Patrick Leonard still puts me in a good mood. The memorable black-and-white clip was directed by photographer Herb Ritts and featured future Madonna boyfriend Tony Ward as one of the mermen.




Number 7 "Jump"


Year: 2006
Album: Confessions On A Dance Floor
Charts: #29 AU, #9 UK, #105 US
Possibly a surprising inclusion this high up the list, but this is my favourite Madonna song from the post-'80s era. Thankfully, "Jump" was the fourth single from Confessions..., which meant it received the single edit treatment (something I wish all the tracks from that continually sequenced album were given).




Number 6 "La Isla Bonita"


Year: 1987
Album: True Blue
Charts: #6 AU, #1 UK, #4 US
Next: the final single from another album, this time the fifth release from True Blue, which, despite coming out eight months later, still managed to hit top 10s around the world. The first of a number of Madonna tracks to feature Spanish lyrics and sounds, "La Isla Bonita" also came with another new look as her hair went back to a darker hue.




Number 5 "Burning Up"


Year: 1983
Album: Madonna
Charts: #13 AU
A hit nowhere other than in Australia, "Burning Up" had been Madonna's second single and initially sneaked to number 95 on the ARIA chart in late 1983. Once "Holiday" had been a hit, "Burning Up" was reactivated and stormed into the top 20 in early 1984. The song was accompanied by Madonna's first kind of controversial clip in which she writhed around in front of a parked car - well, it was considered controversial by the makers of a religious studies video we watched in high school about the evils of pop music.




Number 4 "Like A Prayer"


Year: 1989
Album: Like A Prayer
Charts: #1 AU, #1 UK, #1 US
Madonna has been scandalous before, but with "Like A Prayer" she really shocked the world, mostly due to the song's provocative video. Controversy and lost Pepsi contracts aside, "Like A Prayer" was her most accomplished single to date and again proved she was more than your average pop singer.




Number 3 "Borderline"


Year: 1984
Album: Borderline
Charts: #12 AU, #2 UK, #10 US
We're getting close now! The fifth and final single from Madonna, "Borderline" even had a video with a storyline - and wanton property damage.




Number 2 "Into The Groove"


Year: 1985
Album: Like A Virgin (repackage)
Charts: #1 AU, #1 UK
Madonna was unstoppable in 1985 - and with most fans already in possession of Like A Virgin, a brand new track (from the Desperately Seeking Susan soundtrack) was always going to be huge. In fact, Madonna had so many songs in charts around the world that her American record company decided to limit the release of "Into The Groove" to the B-side of the 12" single of "Angel" (which therefore made it ineligible for the Hot 100) and, in Australia, "Into The Groove" and "Angel" were listed as a double A-side. In the UK, "Into The Groove" was Madonna's first chart-topper and while it was at number 1, a re-released "Holiday" was at number 2.




Number 1 "Open Your Heart"


Year: 1986
Album: True Blue
Charts: #16 AU, #4 UK, #1 US
I loved this song from the first time I heard it - and despite competition from over 70 other singles, this fourth release from True Blue is my favourite Madonna track of all time.




Some of Madonna's best songs didn't ever get released as singles. Here are my favourite album tracks and B-sides:

1. "Where's The Party" (from True Blue)
2. "Over And Over" (from Like A Virgin)
3. "Love Makes The World Go Round" (from True Blue)
4. "White Heat" (from True Blue)
5. "Till Death Do Us Part" (from Like A Prayer)
6. "Stay" (from Like A Virgin)
7. "Think Of Me" (from Madonna)
8. "Sky Fits Heaven" (from Ray Of Light)
9. "Physical Attraction" (from Madonna)
10. "Why's It So Hard" (from Erotica)
11. "Amazing" (from Music)
12. "Supernatural" (B-side to "Cherish")
13. "I Know It" (from Madonna)
14. "Words" (from Erotica)
15. "I Deserve It" (from Music)
16. "Time Stood Still" (from The Next Best Thing soundtrack)
17. "Spanish Eyes" (from Like A Prayer)
18. "Don't Stop" (from Bedtime Stories)
19. "Ain't No Big Deal" (B-side to "Papa Don't Preach")
20. "Something To Remember" (from I'm Breathless)


So, there you have it. At some point, I'll get around to ranking Madonna's albums, but tomorrow, it's back to the ARIA charts from 25 years ago. And, I'll also post my top 100 for 1996 (as previously promised) in the coming weeks as well.


8 comments:

  1. Interesting read, and just a little scary as it could have been written by myself with the choices you made.

    I was always bewildered that Gambler was never remembered by even avid Madonna fans, and while Open Your Heart wouldn't quite reach my personal #1, it's that rare song that constantly gets better as the years wear on.

    I would include Confessions "Forbidden Love" in your albums tracks, and possibly my fave song of hers due to the amazing performance from The Confessions Tour.

    Thanks for the read, we'll done.

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  2. And it's not like Gambler flopped - it was a top 10 hit in Australia and the UK, but I guess she had a lot of those!

    I was listening to Forbidden Love and Masterpiece when I was considering the last few places on my album tracks list, so they'd probably be the next two.

    Just came across your SAW list on your blog (I've got my personal SAW list on here), which was an interesting read!

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  3. Actually, I just read it myself. So long ago. Got me thinking I should kickstart that blog again. :)

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    1. I wondered if it was still active. Someone is doing a countdown of the biggest SAW singles (inc. all PWL stuff) in the UK on the Popjustice forum at the moment.

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  4. Some trivia for you - "Holiday" never actually had an official video. The one you've posted is from a French TV show (and, as you'd know, the one shown here in Australia was from her appearance on TOTP). The only video ever issued by Warner to promote "Holiday" was the live one from "Truth or Dare".

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    1. I should've known not to believe the description on that YouTube clip - I've amended my blurb. And yep, I was only familiar with the one Countdown used to air.

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  5. Incidentally, would any of the tracks from Rebel Heart feature on either of your lists (the "non singles" and "singles" lists)?

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    1. No - I don't even own that album, only the first two singles!

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