In response to “Top Ten Songs by Madonna” by Heather Michelle. Read it here…
Like most (okay, least) heterosexual twenty-something males, I have my opinions on Madonna and, yes, believe the world ought to hear them. Say what you like about Madonna, but the songstress’ career has outlasted every boundary the naysayers laid down and then some. And while it’s true that there may have been a few “reinventions” too many, you can’t fault a woman who manages to stay on top by pure blonde ambition.
And the superstar singer’s still got it in her to inspire shock and controversy-even as I write these words, there’s an uproar about her adopting an African baby. Some people are natural newsmakers. Madonna knew the score long ago.
Heather Michelle offers her views on the top ten songs by the Material Girl; presented in her order, here comes my analysis, rebuttal and simple shrugs of agreement.
This entire period was, frankly, not Madonna’s best-I put this charitably. Between “Music” and the dreadful “American Pie” cover, I prefer to just keep this era under wraps. If Madonna’s digital years, full of fascination with sliding volume and weird echoes, must be covered, I suggest “Die Another Day”.
(9) “Crazy for You”
Good choice, not one of Madonna’s more distinctive works but by the same token something easy to listen to, slow-dance to, have in the background as a relaxing, sweet piece that doesn’t call attention to itself. Michelle accurately pinpoints its best uses. This tune was used to time-appropriate effect in the film “13 Going on 30”.
This is one that by turns amuses and infuriates me. Maybe it’s just that I don’t buy Madonna using the term “holiday” for “vacation” as the Brits do (and don’t get me started on her new faux-British image).
(7) “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”
It’s not that I dislike the song-indeed, I’m a Lloyd Webber fan-I just have my doubts about whether it qualifies as a Madonna song, in that she is performing it in character rather than sticking it on an album. Nonetheless, Eva Peron is one of Madonna’s better acting roles (yes, guffaw here, I know we’re not spoiled for choice), and she brought the appropriate fervor to the screen.
(6) “Ray of Light”
I’d be inclined to move this up further, if only for its status as Madonna truly finding her place in the late 90s after a stretch of it not being clear where she fit any more. A very shrewd production that’s juuuust computerized enough without falling into failed experimentation boosts what ordinarily might have been a weak melody with thin lyrics.
(5) “Material Girl”
Now, this would be my number one. Defining the 80s without a trace of irony, “Material Girl” is also noted for a fondly-remembered music video and giving Madonna her nickname. And it’s fun, too! Michelle claims the song has “no significant message”, but perhaps fails to view the lyrics through the lens of satire and social comment.
(4) “Into the Groove”
It’s the lack of resolution of phrases in this dance tune that force me to downrate it. Every verse, even lines mid-verse, sends the melody off a cliff and doesn’t let us feel it landed, creating a lopsided listening experience.
(3) “Express Yourself”
More coherently produced, this is a top-10 worthy song. Madonna’s vocals sell the rounded ‘o’ sounds, and the gung-ho message, while coming off a wee bit dated in presentation, is still worthy of repetition today. And it certainly fits Madonna’s image.
(2) “Like a Prayer”
Without fail one of the best of the collection, I agree with Michelle’s placing of this well-rounded dance anthem / love song / what-have-you at number two. Spiritual and catchy and fun, this uplifting tune deserves more attention for itself and less on the then-controversial video Michelle mentions. Don’t you love how it builds up on “Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there..”?
(1) “Like a Virgin”
You know, I never noticed the title similarity till now. This is a fun enough song, but a bit screechy to be my number one. Perhaps the word ‘virgin’ sparked more controversy back then.
Now where the hell is “Vogue” in all this?