As far as debut albums go, there are none quite as majestic or truly magical as Madonna‘s 1983, self-titled debut. Before Madonna blitzed the world in a pink leotard on Confessions On A Dance Floor, she inaugurated her star into the pop realm with this dance-floor-heavy coming-out. A truly self-assured star was well and truly born, and it was a sight to behold.
Off the back of two spikey singles, Everybody and Burning Up, the album Madonna (the only time in history it has been okay to self-title an album because, let’s face it, this album could ONLY have ever displayed text that simply read that name) proved to be a timeless collection of my favourite type of music. To quote Popjustice, it’s a record which is Dance Music that sounds like Pop Music/Pop Music that sounds like Dance Music. The first single, Everybody, is an actual true testament to the ‘timeless’ tag so many liberally throw around these days. As recently as four weeks ago, I heard Everybody being played in a nightclub full of ‘hip young things’ (hem hem), and it sounded as fresh and vibrant as it did back during its inception. What made me even happier was, looking to the dance floor, packed, with kids aged 18 – 23 dancing their arses off; to Madonna’s debut single. It’s a moment so special to me that I had to document it in this review. Amazingly, I now hear the song out almost weekly and, naturally, this makes it one of her most inspired singles.
The same goes for Physical Attraction, though (criminally) never a single, is possibly in her Top 10 greatest as well. The longest running track on the album; clocking in at 6:40 (interestingly, most of the songs on the record are quite lengthy compared to todays standard), Physical Attraction is a pure disco dance floor romper that catapults you into musical bliss. Brilliantly, the lyrics are that of romance, the burning desire to be in love. It’s that chemical reaction, she squeaks. It had all the elements of a proper disco song; it made you want to dance and the singer was a woman in love. What’s so genius about that (and Madonna) is that this was a time when Disco was the last thing on peoples minds. And yet, Madonna, a middle class girl from Detroit, Michigan, reinvented the way people would listen to music in the future by giving them just that. Whatever you say about her music now, that is something no critic can take away from her.
Burning Up remains a big favourite amongst fans, and rightfully so. The single is one of her danciest moments (still), and sits comfortably with a crowd whether you’re at an 80′s themed party, or a dark, sweaty nightclub. Seeing Madonna in the singles video clip, on a road as she sings Do you wanna see me down on my knees? Bending over backwards now, would you be pleased? I’m not the others I’d do anything; I’m not the same, I have no shame – I’m on fire! was a sure-fire iconic moment. Never has she looked sexier and, more to the point, been so forthright. The lyrics may have been about a violently burning desire to engulf someone, but they also told the world that Madonna herself was not like the others. Because she would do anything. And that is why she is the icon she is today. A pinnacle pop moment; things only get bigger however.
Arguably Madonna’s biggest song, Holiday (Into The Groove would probably be its only competition when it comes to a general public consensus I would imagine), is not one of my favourites at all. It’s one of my least favourite Madonna songs actually, though that’s not to say I hate it. She’s just had better days than Holiday (like, hey, Burning Up!) and it annoys me that people think THAT’S an iconic image of her. I mean, for Gods sake – it didn’t even have a proper video clip!!!
But Borderline, another big single from the record, is one that I love deeply, and is very possibly also in her Top 10 of all time; lyrics about love going/feeling wrong (Something in your eyes is making such a fool of me/Stop driving me away/Just try to understand, I’m giving all I can, but you got the best of me; Borderline. Feels like I’m going to lose my mind, you just keep on pushing my love, over the Borderline), and an incredibly massive finish (the da-da-dada, da-da-dada, daaaa-daaaa-daaaaauuuhh bit STILL sends shivers up, down, and through my body every time I hear it), with one of her best video clips ever featuring her greatest fashion accessory; that bloody hat, I want one. Lucky Star, although not my favourite of Madonna songs, is a delightful pop thumper with an iconic chorus. I Know It and Think Of Me, however filler they may be, still sound incredibly fresh. Fresh filler is better than dated filler, isn’t it Bedtime Stories?
It’s understandable that, at the time, people thought Madonna would be just another flash-in-the-pan pop star with one album and a couple of hits under her belt. At this time she still had a (minor) vulnerability to her (was it the chubbiness perhaps?) so it was easy to underestimate her as an artist.
It’s also understandable that, a few years down the track, those very people would be eating their words and crying into their morning paper.
There is no one like Madonna. And there is no debut like Madonna’s. And that’s just one (of 16) reasons why she is the ultimate, pop music icon.
God Save The Queen.