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Thursday, February 02, 2012

The 10 Best Singles By... Madonna

Madonna will be performing at the Superbowl this Sunday (as if any of you didn't already know that), so I thought it was the perfect time to submit her discography to the Top Ten treatment. She's an interesting one. While I can appreciate her work and am definitely a fan, I've never felt a connection with her like I have with some other pop divas (ie: Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue). Still, at seventy-five singles and counting, it goes without saying that I could easily have expanded this list well past ten.

10. Music (2000) - The toughest spot on the countdown, because this was battling with several other singles, some much more iconic. But ultimately I chose this because I think it's the best representation of her early 2000's output. And, as silly as it all is, it's actually aged quite well.

9. Vogue (1990) - One of her most iconic songs, and ultimately I think it suffers from that a bit. Still, taken on its own merits, there's simply no denying the melody and sound. To me, this is the last release of her greatest, late 80's era.

8. Borderline (1984) - A highlight of her early output, it's all about the sugary melody here. Free from gimmicks or production flourishes, it's just a great pop song.

7. Live To Tell (1986) - The first track on the countdown from her greatest pop album, this was the most mature ballad listeners had heard from her at the time. Even today, it's still incredibly beautiful and affecting.

6. Material Girl (1985) - Her first perfect music video and one of the most instantly catchy hooks of her career. When thinking of early Madonna, this is what comes to mind for me.

5. Ray of Light (1998) - After a muddled output in the 90's (in my opinion), this was the track that brought her career roaring back. Combining elements of her early work (the massive hooks and bright production) with the artistic experimentalism that would define this period of her evolution, it was the perfect musical statement.

4. Hung Up (2005) - Madonna and Abba. It could have gone horribly wrong. But that sample, coupled with the song itself, easily became the highlight of her 00's output. If only she would have continued in this vein for the rest of the decade!

3. Papa Don't Preach (1986) - Her first major foray into exploring social issues in her singles. But -- and this is key -- that seriousness didn't stop the song from being incredibly melodic, 100% pop and timeless in production. One of her absolute best.

2. Open Your Heart (1986) - '86 to '90 were her best years, by a mile, and this was part of the reason. Quite simply, it's a perfect pop song. It would sound great anywhere, anytime.

1. Like A Prayer (1989) - Like the past two songs, it's perfect pop. What elevates this slightly is its wild ambition, both in the music video and the song itself. Choirs, guitars, religious overtones and a new found vocal maturity all add up to her most riveting single.

So there you go! But here's the thing, no list is complete without hearing what you think! Leave your top ten Madonna songs in the comments!

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Anonymous Gerd said...

01 Give It 2 Me
02 Material Girl
03 Like A Prayer
04 La Isla Bonita
05 Like A Virgin
06 Papa Don't Preach
07 Borderline
08 Into The Groove
09 Express Yourself
10 Vogue

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Cherish (favourite)
2. Dress You Up
3. True Blue
4. Angel
5. Oh Father
6. Dear Jessie
7. Who's That Girl
8. Borderline
9. Into The Groove
10. The Look Of Love

2:08 PM  
Blogger Scott Stebleton said...

I was reading through this and nodding in agreement with just about everything, and then I realized I'd read through #2 with no mention of Like a Prayer, Like a Virgin, or Express Yourself.

So I had to wonder, of those three, which would you choose? I thought it would come down to Like a Prayer or Express Yourself; I don't think Like a Virgin has aged all that well.

My choice would've been Express Yourself; what it lacks in religious overtones it makes up for with epic sweep and memorability. 22 years later (has it really been that long?), it still sounds fresh, ballsy, and uplifting. (I still recall being scandalized by the video the first umpteen times I watched it.) I'd swap it out for Hung Up, a song I've never liked all that much, in spite of my love for all things Abba. (How many times will she rhyme "waiting" with "hesitating?")

Others that might've fought for inclusion: Frozen, Holiday, Into the Groove, Cherish (definitely underrated).

3:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Good lists, guys!

Scott, Express Yourself and Cherish just narrowly missed my list. The other songs are good, too. And I agree... though Like A Virgin is absolutely iconic and a good tune, it hasn't aged as well as some of her other material in that era.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Steve M said...

Just found this blog after looking for some Daggers (ex-Hurts) images. Random! But love your witterings and musical tastes - so I'm signed up. Anyhow, onto Madge.

Deffo my top 3:

01 Into the Groove
02 Lucky Star
03 Like a prayer

Then I'd include:

04 Justify My Love
05 Die Another Day
06 Papa Don't Preach
07 True Blue
08 Rescue Me
09 Express Yourself
10 Frozen

Whaddya reckon? Keep up the great work. Ta, Steve

2:12 PM  

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