More on Madonna
Back in the mid 1980s, I was convinced that Madonna was a flash in the pan, and that Cyndi Lauper was going to build on the excellence of "Time After Time" and "True Colors" and have a huge, long-term popular career. I guess I was wrong, although I'm of the opinion (again possibly wrong) that Madonna reached her creative peak in the late 1980s through the late 1990s.
The allmadonna site includes singles chart listings for Madonna singles in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden (the webmaster is Swedish). I'd like to use this as a jumping-off point to vent my long-awaited opinions on various Madonna singles. The list is partial. Note that in most cases (with a few exceptions), I am commenting on the music itself, rather than the lyrics, the videos, the books (adult or children's), or the MTV performances.
Holiday #16 Dec 1983
I first heard this on a CBS promotional album that was received at Reed College's KRRC radio station (the album also included a flute-based version of "Uncertain Smile" by The The. Seemed like an OK song at the time from some post-disco singer. Voice was OK, but nothing to write home about.
Borderline #10 Apr 1984
More good stuff from what's-her-name.
Lucky Star #4 Sep 1984
You know, this Madonna has this dance music thing down pat.
Like A Virgin #1 Nov 1984
I quit subscribing to cable when I moved to California, so I didn't see the infamous performance of this song at the MTV Video Music Awards. My view at the time was that Madonna continued to prove that she was good at dance music, but didn't have the depth of, say, Cyndi Lauper.
Material Girl #2 Feb 1985
This is probably the first time I took notice of Madonna as anything other than a dance singer. The song was widely popular at the time - I remember seeing a comedienne at a Claremont comedy club singing a parody called "Bacterial Girl."
Crazy For You #1 Mar 1985
Hey! This isn't a dance song! Voice is still pretty weak.
Live To Tell #1 Apr 1986
After a couple of other dance numbers ("Angel," "Dress You Up"), Madonna displayed the lower register of her voice. Now she has two voices.
Papa Don't Preach #1 Jul 1986
Yes, I know disco and violins have been associated since Van McCoy, but the first few seconds of this song caused my ears to perk up. This is one Madonna video I remember as a mixed bag; the scenes with her father were good, but what was up with the kicks and dancing during the chorus? One of the first Madonna songs with lyrics that could possibly appearl to conservatives (an anti-abortion argument could be implied).
La Isla Bonita #4 Mar 1987
Madonna continues to branch out beyond dance numbers with this Latin-influenced number.
Like A Prayer #1 Mar 1989
Ignore the video for a moment (which I hadn't seen at the time anyway). This song, with a similar name to her first number one hit, is light-years away musically, even down to the chorus in the chorus.
Vogue #1 Apr 1990
Madonna is now doing some very interesting things musically.
This Used To Be My Playground #1 Jul 1992
In my view, a beautiful song. Incidentally, this is the point where I noticed that her singing voice has improved. (Aside: although the song refers to women's baseball, I always imagined Madonna walking through the vomit-strewn club neighborhoods of lower Manhattan, singing "This used to be my playground...." She had come a long way.)
Erotica #3 Oct 1992
Again, I'll just comment on the music. Madonna masters minimalism.
I'll Remember #2 Mar 1994
After sex, Madonna returned to music. Nice fade.
Secret #3 Sep 1994
Tasty song. This song reminded me that Madonna had (by this time) tried about every music form other than straight out arena rock. This is one of the few Madonna songs in which I could even recall hearing a guitar.
Don't Cry For Me Argentina #8 Dec 1996
Yes, Madonna has mastered multiple music forms. I'm not a movie fan, but isn't this the one Madonna movie that actually did well?
Frozen #2 Mar 1998
In my view, Madonna's best song ever, and the only one I own (on a two-song CD single). Frankly, my ideal Madonna release would be a double-A side of "Frozen" and "Material Girl," the better to emphasize the frequent perspective changes that rival those of David Bowie. (All publicity, of course, ably abetted by Liz Rosenberg, who Madonna name-dropped in a Linda Richman appearance on Saturday night Live.)
Beautiful Stranger * #19 June 1999
Remember how I've been talking about how Madonna has been issuing good songs which (in my view) have pushed the boundaries of pop? Well, here is a good song that is very retro. Of course there are reasons for it being retro - it's from an Austin Powers soundtrack - but still...
Music #1 Aug 2000
Here I'm starting to get less interested again. Run-of-the-mill dance song for the new millennium.
Die Another Day #8 Oct 2002
I think I previously mentioned that I'm not a movie fan, so I had no idea where this song came from. In fact, when I first heard this song on KDL, I didn't even know who was singing it. When I first heard the "shut my body down" lyrics, I thought it was some anonymous songwriter's ditty about post-rape trauma. Didn't realize it was a new movie theme from Madonna.
One additional comment - back when I was writing a zine called Shuffleboard! in the late 1980s, I ran across some dance music publication (you know, the one where they state the bpm's for every song). Unfortunately, this was a very poorly written dance music publication, and the editor let the spelling "Moadonna" slip through in the publication!