Posted by Shamir Lee on 10/02 at 01:52 PM
It was 7th grade year, if I remember it correctly. I was in the library, the Spangdahlem Air Force Base library to be exact. And that’s when I saw her. Not exactly her, but it was her on the album cover. Madonna. The black and white album cover for Like A Virgin drew me in. I checked out the CD, secretly of course. I wasn’t sure if my mom would approve of my choice. I slipped the disc into my CD player, and my life was changed forever. For about two years after that, I was completely obsessed with her, along with Michael Jackson and Paula Abdul, but that’s another story. I listened to her music much more frequently back then. But recently, I revisited my Madonna collection, and I was surprised by how much I still enjoy her music, despite my different music taste nowadays. Here are my 10 favorite Madonna songs.
1) “Physical Attraction” - Madonna (1983)
Madonna’s first album is my all-time favorite of hers. Her voice was so raw, the records were very fresh, and her image was her best, in my opinion. From what my mom told me, when her songs were played on the radio, listeners thought she was a black artist. The songs from her first album were considered her most urban sounding. “Physical Attraction” is a good example of this urban sound. It’s definitely a dance record, meant to be played in the clubs. It never received an accompanying video or even a single release, but it’s my favorite song from the album.
2) “Lucky Star” - Madonna
Before “Lucky Star” was released as a single, Madonna had already released three songs from this album, including “Everybody,” “Burning Up,” and “Holiday.” But “Lucky Star” was the first single to make it to the Top 5 on the Billboard charts. You could say this was the beginning of her stardom. The video was always one of my favorites.
3) “Borderline” - Madonna
The first time I saw this video was when I realized how much I really liked Madonna, like really. I couldn’t get enough of the video. I thought she looked beautiful. I liked the song too, but I think the video was the main attraction at the time. Now, I enjoy the song more than the video, and it’s a song I frequently sing in the shower.
4) “Dress You Up” - Like A Virgin (1984)
The Like A Virgin album cemented her status in the pop world. It also cemented her image as a sex symbol, an image she used and exploited for the rest of her career. “Dress You Up” was even called vulgar and overtly sexual when it was released. Compared to today, however, the lyrics are very tame. The live performance of this song is my favorite version of hers.
5) “Pretender” - Like A Virgin
Although never released as a single, this song is one of my favorites off of the album. I didn’t realize how good it was until later. Overall, Like A Virgin is a very safe pop album, with generic pop songs and dance tracks, but “Pretender” has always struck a chord with me.
6) “Into the Groove” - Desperately Seeking Susan Soundtrack (1985)
I watched Desperately Seeking Susan just to see Madonna. I taped it and everything when it came on. I was pretty disappointed, but that didn’t stop me from trying to emulate Madonna’s style in the film the next day at school. At the time, I related to this song, mainly because of the lyrics “only when I’m dancing can I feel this free/at night, I lock the door where no one else can see.” I couldn’t relate to the romantic content…at all.
7) “Sooner or Later” - I’m Breathless (1990)
Skipping ahead about five years, we have “Sooner or Later.” It’s not that I don’t like True Blue, You Can Dance, the Who’s That Girl Soundtrack, or Like A Prayer. In fact, I think Like A Prayer is one of her best albums. I just think her early 90s work is some of her greatest. “Sooner or Later” definitely fits that description. I’ll let you watch the performance below in order for you to understand. In my opinion, it’s one of her best performances, ever.
8) “Justify My Love” - The Immaculate Collection (1990)
This song possesses some of the greatest lyrics ever written. They were written by Lenny Kravitz and Ingrid Chavez, of course, but Madonna made it come to life. You can even hear Kravitz in the background. This spoken song created much controversy when the music video was released, being banned from video channels for its explicit sexual content, just a warning. This was the start of Madonna’s sex era, for which she was highly criticized. Nevertheless, it is a very artistic video. But the song alone is a masterpiece.
9) “Deeper & Deeper” - Erotica (1992)
This dance track is one of my favorite from the Erotica album, and it shows Madonna’s growth in maturity regarding her lyrical content. It has a very 90s feel to it, but still is unique to the decade. The tone gives it a somewhat depressing sound, which is why I enjoy this song so much.
10) “Bye Bye Baby” - Erotica
This was the last single released from Erotica, and sealed the album as a classic album masterpiece. It embodies the themes of the album: strong, gritty and dark. There’s a hint of bitterness in every song on the album, “Bye Bye Baby” being most reflective of that. This song might be my favorite on the album, a close tie with the title song (NSFW), in my opinion.
Author: Shamir Lee
Bio: Shamir Lee is a senior majoring in Advertising. She’s a writer for Penn State’s CRITIQUE, a student-run business magazine. Additionally, she has created ads and flyers for One Heart, an organization fighting against child sexual abuse. She’s interested in looking at cats, doing ballet, exercising, and ending animal cruelty. In her free time, she enjoys watching horror movies, some of her favorites being Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue and the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ("sorry, I just really like the cinematography"). Music is a big part of her life, as she plays piano, a little bit of guitar, and used to play saxophone. Some of her favorite musicians are Jason Becker, BUCK-TICK, Megadeth, Aivi Tran, Missing Persons, Nina Hagen, Prince, and Koji Kondo.
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