May 11, 2008

Top 10 Madonna Singles - Ever

I can never resist a challenge, and of course after ranking all of Madge's albums, Stef was quick to ask - but what are the best songs? It took some real difficult decision-making, but I've made my list. In honor of our favorite pop mom, it seems appropriate to unveil this list on Mother's Day.

First, my methodology. I began by eliminating any song that was not actually released as a single at some point. Although several albums have some hidden gems that never made it to the radio, I thought it best to stick to the true pop hits. From there I compiled a list of a quick top 20. And then from there I slowly whittled the list down to 10. It was hard, believe me! After the list, I'll give you a few honorable mentions that just missed the cut. (Who knows, maybe they can make a list in the future. If Jaslene can make a comeback...)

And now, without further adieu, the list, in reverse order.

10. Human Nature

Madonna's mid-career was very focused on being one hot n' sexy woman. Of all those sex-positive hits, I think this is the best. It's got a good beat, and is just tongue-in-cheek enough to prove she's not taking it all too seriously.

9. Papa Don't Preach

There have been a few Madonna songs dealing with her tumultuous relationship with her father, and I think this song balances her desire to be loyal to her father but also be her own woman. She's keepin' her baby, and don't you forget it.

8. Like A Virgin

This song arguably is what made Madonna a star. It's known around the world and is a part of our cultural lexicon, even showing up in films like Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Each time I listen, I feel touched (for the very first time).



7. La Isla Bonita

Now begins the real dance masterpieces. Madonna's affection for all things Latin is best showcased in this song, which transports me to a tropical locale. If you want to hear the best version, check out her live concert in Australia for The Girlie Show tour. "La Isla!"

6. Like A Prayer

Madonna's most controversial video ever (and for her, that's saying a lot) seems tame by today's standards. But behind the controversy was a gospel pop anthem that really makes you want to get up on your feet.

5. Holiday

If you're having a party and things are getting dull, just pop in this song, and things will turn out fine. It was one of Madonna's first hits, and has stood the test of time.

4. Ray Of Light

This is the newest song on my list. It represents a whole new sound for our pop earth mother. Perfect for getting up in the morning, driving on the freeway, or working out at the gym.

3. Open Your Heart

I know this song wouldn't rank high on most critics' lists, but there's just something about the beat that gets a hold of my heart. Put thoughts of the video out of your mind, as I know it's a bit weird.

2. Vogue

As I looked back on my life and thought of hours spent dancing in clubs, I realized that even when this song wasn't playing, I sure spent a lot of timing vogueing. Madonna took a style of dance unique to a gay subculture and started a dance revolution. I think even Bette Davis would agree.

1. Express Yourself

Looking at the Madonna oeuvre for this list, I quickly came the realization that for the top of the list there was really only one choice. This song rocks, it's got self-affirming lyrics, the beat is infectious and it's easy to sing along. "C'mon girls! Do you believe in love?"

So there it is. Let me know what you think, and feel free to disagree.

As for the also-rans, there were quite a few ballads. I think that speaks to Madonna's style - she's a pop star first, songstress second. Live To Tell, Love Don't Live Here Anymore...very good stuff, but not the absolute best. Also some of her more recent hits are definitely good, but I think I still need a few years to see if they stand the test of time - Music and Hung Up are up there for sure.

Let's hear it - what do you think?

13 comments:

ScottE. said...

Good list...I think you have all the great stuff in there, but there might be some ordering issues. Good stuff...Now I need to make a play list with all of these...cuz I don't have them all.

Stef said...

Oh, there are so many choices! I completely agree, "Express Yourself" is her absolute best. Lyrics, music, video, it's all there.

Keeping with your rules, also resisting her most recent stuff cuz it's just too new, I'll attempt my 10:

10. Material Girl / Like a Virgin (Tie - I can't help it! They're both so good, yet also somewhat interchangeable)
9. Vogue
8. Borderline
7. Into the Groove
6. Deeper and Deeper
5. Ray of Light
4. Crazy for You
3. Don't Tell Me
2. Like a Prayer
1. Express Yourself

Dancer in DC said...

Funny you should say that, I totally had Material Girl at #11, and decided it was interchangeable with Like A Virgin also!

And that's a good reminder about Crazy For You. I need to make sure that's on the 'pod.

Fredo said...

I don't know that I'd call "Like A Prayer" her most controversial video ever. I certainly remember how scandalous it was (for 1989), but seem to recall a bigger brouhaha the following year over "Justify My Love," a clip considered at the time to be so racy it was outright banned from MTV. And no one could shut up about it.

The Kara said...

I agree with EXPRESS YOURSELF as number 1 - well done! I am saddened that my other top 5's (LIVE TO TELL and DON'T TELL ME) did not make it.. though it would be hard to say what I would kick out... nah, I'd kick out PAPA DON'T PREACH - hated that haircut from her WHO'S THAT GIRL phase and that video. Why Danny Aiello, why?

I also still have HOLIDAY in my mind from when she did it for the USA for Africa Live AID concert - God, I am old!

The Kara said...

Oh, and I happen to also love the song BAD GIRL. If you haven't seen the video, it's before Christopher Walken was the 'go to' video guy!

Stef said...

Kara - speaking of concert versions... since it went against J-Lo's well-reasoned rules, I had to leave out one of my all-time faves: the version of "Keep it Together" from the Truth or Dare doc and that concert tour. I loved it!

Dancer in DC said...

Oh, Kara - I do like that song. In fact, I'm very sorry to say I once broke up with someone using the lyrics from Bad Girl. Because I was that kind of lame guy that writes bad poetry and thought song lyrics were the solution to everything.

Stef said...

Ugh. Truth or Dare was 17 years ago. And I went to see that in high school!

ScottE. said...

I've been listening to these songs this week...and although it really launched her career, I have to take Like A Virgin off teh list...it's just not a great song anymore. I recognize the importance it has...but...I just don't like it as much anymore...

OK, so room for one more.

ScottE. said...

I have a comment about scandalous videos...sure Justify My Love was banned, but that was sex...Like A Prayer was black jesus...OMG!!!! That's BAD! OK--sarcasm--incase someone reading this doesn't know me...

Sex vs. Religion

For that reason, I have to agree that Like A Prayer is the more controversial video. A lot of people just can't deal with someone messing with the image of their religion. And race. And cross burning.

The sex issue may upset people, but it's Human Nature, and I'm not sorry.

And Human Nature...the little puppy and the riding crop. Cute.

DC Food Blog said...

I know this is old but here's my top ten.

10. Borderline
9. Living in a Material World ("caus her homage to Marilyn Rocks!)
8. Into the Groove
7. Crazy for You (the definition of a junior high slow dance song)
6. Cherish (a clearly awesome perky pop song)
5. Ray of Light
4. Rain
3. Deeper and Deeper
2. You'll See (I love that she wrote this as a response to Take a Bow where the woman was destroyed at the end of the song)
1. Express Yourself (agreed! And the Metropolis homage video was awesome. I wish she would continue her Hollywood glamour phase)

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