There’s no possible way to encompass the life and career of the living legend that is Madonna in one article. In a career spanning four decades, the greatest selling female artist of all time has been a constant supporter of the queer community and a breaker of boundaries for women in the music business and for musicians full stop.
To celebrate the 60th birthday of the ultimate pop star and LGBT+ ally, the GCN staff plunge into her humongous back catalogue of hits and hand pick their favourite songs by the Queen of Pop.
Into The Groove (Peter)
Not just the best Madonna song, but the GREATEST SONG OF ALL TIME, ‘Into The Groove’ featured on the soundtrack to the ultimate in 80’s film cool, Desperately Seeking Susan. It was her first of many Irish and UK number one singles. Originally written with her then-boyfriend Stephen Bray for another artist – Chyne, Madonna decided to record the single herself. When producer Mark Kamins reacted furiously to her decision, she responded: “I’m tough, I’m ambitious and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, that’s okay”.
Like A Prayer (Dave)
From her generally regarded best album, the eponymous title track to Like A Prayer was accompanied by a then hugely controversial video. The reaction to the clip led to Pepsi cancelling a planned series of advertisements featuring the singer following threats which came all the way from the Vatican saying they would encourage people to boycott the brand. Ever the businesswoman, while the ads were pulled, Madonna kept the $5 million payment.
Express Yourself (Brian)
The second single from Like a Prayer (and yet another monster hit) came accompanied by what was then the most expensive music video of all time. Inspired by the 1927 film Metropolis and directed by David Fincher, it was the first of four times they would collaborate – the most famous being the music video for ‘Vogue’. (Which none of the staff selected!) Describing the song, Madonna said: “It’s my take on how man can express what they want, the same prerogative should be there for a woman too…If you don’t express yourself, if you don’t say what you want, then you’re not going to get it.”
Human Nature (Lisa)
Written as a clap back to critics who had protested her explicitly sexual, infamous Sex book, her Erotica album and The Girlie Show world tour, the fourth single release from the hugely underrated ‘Bedtime Stories’ encouraged listeners to “Express yourself, don’t repress yourself”. The awesome S&M inspired music video was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino who had previously teamed up with the legend on the legendary, banned-by-MTV, ‘Justify My Love’. A song which gets more love now than it did at the time, it closes with the ultimate Madonna statement – “Absolutely no regrets”.
After a period of being underrated by fans and the industry, Madonna would once again prove her naysayers wrong as she celebrated her 40th year by blasting back to the top of the charts with the first single from her groundbreaking Ray Of Light. Annihilating any doubts about who was running the pop show, it would see every band and their mother wanting to work with producer William Orbit trying to replicate the Madonna/Orbit sound. They would team up again for ‘Beautiful Stranger’, which is basically one of the best movie soundtrack choons ever.
What It Feels Like For A Girl (Katie)
Opening with a sample of Charlotte Gainsbourg in The Cement Garden, this single from the colossal Music would be accompanied by her, not first, not second, but third video to be banned by MTV. The ungrateful wretches. Directed by her not first, but second, hubby, it was in great company alongside ‘Justify My Love’ and ‘Erotica’.
So that’s GCN’s little dip into the ocean of Ciccone. If we started rattling off all the other songs that almost made the list, we’d be here until she’s 61.
Fill your day with Madonna in support of the support she’s shown the community over the years. And, just because of the day that’s in it, go on – have one more!
© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.