MADONNA - THE ALBUMS 1983 - 2000
MATERIAL GIRL - Madonna's second album opens with the quirky, self mimicking tribute to Marilyn Monroe. Its a bouncy track with hints of New Wave Pop and old style orchestration but keeping to the dance feel. The chorus is memorable and catchy and Madonna plays up to the "femme fatale" with a penchant for the finer things in life. Great song and reached number 3 in the UK singles chart echoing the title track's feat. Madonna was here to stay.
ANGEL - One of my favourite tracks by Madonna. Its got a slight Motown and Soul feel and Madonnas vocal is more serious than the previous track, emotional and passionate. Its a really nice song, great melody and simple chorus. Another single from the album and reached number 5 in the charts, yet another top ten hit!
LIKE A VIRGIN - The unmistakeable electronic intro and sexy breathy vocals made this one of the most well known and loved songs of the 80s and Madonna herself. It is saucy, funky and innuendo-laden but an absolute Pop gem. This title track reached number 3 in the UK chart and paved the way for 80s success.
OVER AND OVER - An uptempo and very cool Synth Pop styled track. Its simple continuing backing and "pop pop" style vocals and repetitive chorus make this a great Dance tune.
LOVE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE - I always loved it when Madonna sung ballads due to the harsh criticism by the media of her vocal talent. The fact was that Madonna changed her styles to suit the song as this track proves. A beautifully emotional ballad of the Rose Royce classic. This orchestrated gem is a highlight of the album bar the single hits.
DRESS YOU UP - One of my favourites and I loved this on the Virgin Tour, its got that simple incessant percussion and the vocals lift the song to the big chorus. Its funky, bright and saucy in abundance. Awesome track that became another top ten single in the UK reaching number 5.
SHOO-BEE-DOO - Again a beautifully sung Pop ballad in a Motown Soul style. This is just a great song and one I never tire of playing it. Don't be fooled by the child-like title this is a pure gem.
PRETENDER - This song is a little like "Physical Attraction" on the first album, it fails to lift off for me. Its repetition doesn't do it any favours this time. Its a decent song but on an album full of great tracks this falls short.
STAY - The final track should have been a single in my opinion. Its a great Pop song with a catchy chorus, nice backing and a good beat. A more accomplished album ends building a bridge between Disco of the first album with the Pop style of the next album, "True Blue".
PAPA DON'T PREACH - Madonna's third studio album opens with the critically acclaimed track that was her second number 1 in the UK chart. A positive anthem for young mothers everywhere and stressing the message that women can be strong in adversity. This strong feminine image was pioneering to women throughout the 80s and 90s. A great mid tempo orchestrated Pop ballad. Classic.
OPEN YOUR HEART - A favourite track of mine, I love the throbbing uptempo clattering of drums. A great anthemic chorus and big vocals from Madonna. reaching number 4 on the UK chart, the top ten hits kept coming. This had a hint of Motown and R 'n B in there too. One of Madonna's best.
WHITE HEAT - This is a mid to fast paced Synth Pop with hints of Rock guitar sounds. Sampling the film White Heat's dialogue and gunshots its a decent song. Not one of my favourites but its got a good tempo but is a little too repetitive for me. As with all great artists there has to a handful of songs that honestly we have to say don't match the majority of class we are accustomed to.
LIVE TO TELL - An incredibly moving and passionate Pop ballad. This again proves Madonna's growing maturity in songwriting and vocal skills. The lead single from this album reached number 2 in the UK chart. An absolute classic.
WHERE'S THE PARTY - An energetic Dance Disco track that would not be out of place on either of the first two albums. Its big, brash and bouncy and Madonna's vocals carry this to an acceptable level of quality. Its a decent song if not a great song.
TRUE BLUE - The title track reached number 1 on the UK chart and is a really cool old style Rock 'N Roll doo wop ballad with that hint of Motown Soul. Complete with cute harmonies and a very slight but clever beat in the background. It is Dance Pop with a twist. Great song.
LA ISLA BONITA - Spanish for "The Beautiful Island" this Latin inspired mid tempo Pop ballad is another brilliant song. It also became yet another number 1 for the already titled Queen of Pop. Lovely vocals over a summery sunny beat and exquisite Spanish guitar mark this down as classic Madonna.
JIMMY JIMMY - Really not sure of this one, it sounds like a filler, an afterthought. It sounds more like a demo that Madonna made during her "early years" recordings. It tries to be old style 50s Rock 'N Roll but doesn't really work. The bridge has a nice layered vocal but that's the only positive I take from this. Never been a song I continue to play from my Madonna collection.
LOVE MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND - Enhanced its reputation at the Live Aid performance. This is a greeat Dance Pop song with a positive message. Apart from "Jimmy Jimmy" this is another polished album with some fabulous tracks proving that Madonna was smashing the 80s as she would do in the 90s and early 2000s too.
EROTICA - The fifth studio album by Madonna was released at the same time as her accompanying book, "SEX". The video for this title track caused as much controversy as the book. The song itself is a trip hop style sexy dance song. It reached number 3 in the UK chart, it paved a way for more experimental leanings later in her career after the pure Pop of her previous albums. Although "Like A Prayer" was edging towards this album. Not one of my ultimate favourite Madonna songs but still a great one.
FEVER - A cover version of the song made famous by Peggy Lee, although this is more of a House dance song. It leads on nicely from the title track in this album but its still a weak song in my opinion, more for the club dance officianados rather than music lovers of multi genres. It surprisingly reached number 6 in the UK.
BYE BYE BABY - I didn't like this song at first but it grew on me over the years. It works well as a Pop song and also club and dance fans. The beat pumps along nicely with Madonna's mostly spoken sqeuaky vocals merging well into the song. The vocals are apparently representing a 1940s feel coming through an old radio. Clever.
DEEPER AND DEEPER - All of the single from this album all reached top 10 but only the title track making the top 5. It was a mixed reception for this new sound after her last 11 singles all reached the big 5. This track only made number 6 and was a more Deep House Pop track, it was a more catchy song than others here. This was Madonna at her best once again.
WHERE LIFE BEGINS - The pace is slowed down a little with this song. It has like a jazzy Pop feel to it with a slowed down big beat. Nice keyboard sounds and Madonna does her best sultry, sexy chanteuse vocal. It's a good song and has a nice vibe to it.
BAD GIRL - One of my favourites and definately the best track on this album for me. Criminally only reached number 10 its a great mid tempo Pop ballad with a brilliant chorus. It is up there with Madonna's classics in my opinion. The brilliant Christopher Walken stars in the video.
WAITING - A great sleazy dance style track with elements of Jazz and some really nice keyboard parts. Madonna has a more fuller deep vocal on this, the big brash beat elevates it to a great song.
THIEF OF HEARTS - This track has never been a favourite of mine and seems to go nowhere fast. It meanders along with a similar vein all the way through. Not a great song worthy of Madonna's back catalogue I'm afraid.
WORDS - Similar to the previous track, this is pretty bland all the way through without hitting any heights. Not a great song.
RAIN - Back to her best on this track. Really love this and it is a favourite, along with "Bad Girl" the best offering on this album by far. Reaching number 7 on the UK chart is remarkable as its a great song. It has a great vocal by Madonna, lots of great harmonies and the song itself has a great positive and emotional feel. Classic Pop.
WHY'S IS IT SO HARD - This is similar in vein to "Deeper and Deeper" in its beat, its a little repetitive but still a good song although average by Madonna's high standards.
IN THIS LIFE - This is a slightly off key keyboard led track. This actually sounds like an "Evita" song, a classical themed ballad. Great emotional vocals from Madonna and maybe tracks like these gave her the role of Eva Peron a few years later. Nice song.
DID YOU DO IT? - Basically Andre "Dre" Betts, Mark Goodman and Dave Murphy pointlessly "rapping" over the track "Waiting". Supposedly asking the question did "Dre" have sex with Madonna. Apparently it was a joke started by betts talking over the track while waiting for Madonna to arrive. Pointless and not worthy of an album cut or any cut at all. Madonna sometimes made me laugh, this isn't one of those times. Just plain embarrassing.
SECRET GARDEN - A really great song, jazzy, poppy and still ahving that deep house trip hop style. A spoken vocal which sounds very poetic and a lovely cool chorus. Thankfully this track ends the album and forgets the previous track quickly!
SURVIVAL - After the somewhat controversial mixed surroundings of previous album "Erotica" and the "Sex" book and indeed the "Body Of Evidence" movie this sixth album is Madonna back to her best. This opening track is a Pop/R 'n B hybrid with almost Jazz-like undertones but with a cool simple beat and good harmonies and melody. A nice, chilled out smooth start.
SECRET - One of my favourite Madonna tracks, an almost Acoustic styled track with Jazz leanings. The vocals are brilliant and showcased her voice without the aid of electronics, it was a more mature Madonna. I loved this style and it suited her, it has a slight funky beat but a great Pop song all round. This single reached number 5 in the UK chart as the lead track from the album.
I'D RATHER BE YOUR LOVER - Featuring rapper Meshell Ndegeocello on vocal rapping and bass, this is a repetitive but engaging funky Pop dance track. A decent track if not a great one.
DON'T STOP - This track takes us back to the Dance diva Madonna of the first few albums. It's a cool, simple, bright track that although scant on lyrical merit is still a nice laid back track.
INSIDE OF ME - This is apparently about her mother, its a sad, melancholic song with emotional vocals by Madonna over a mid tempo moody beat. Not one of my favourites to be honest, although the sentiment is nice it's a bit bare on quality.
HUMAN NATURE - This track reached number 8 in the UK singles chart and is a throwback to the last album, "Erotica" and is like one of the better tracks on that album. Defiant lyrics saying she is not sorry about "talking about sex" and her "fantasies" stating that you should "express yourself" not "repress yourself". It's pumping dirty beat, and sometimes whispered vocals seemt to work with its Trip Hop, R 'n B style. A cool track.
FORBIDDEN LOVE - A beautifully sung song, emotional and smooth sounding with some great harmonised backing vocals including Babyface.. It is a nice laid back song with a great atmospheric backdrop.
LOVE TRIED TO WELCOME ME - A nice enough track but it fails to lift to another level for me. Its another smooth, sleazy backing with soft vocals that pretty good but together as a whole it kind of leaves me waiting for that oomph factor.
SANCTUARY - An eerie sounding song reminiscent of the "Erotica" style. Maybe this track and "Human Nature" was getting that phase over with and moving on to a more mature sound. It's a mysterious track with lots of electronic whirrs and whistles and beeps but it's pretty basic fare and could be classed as filler.
BEDTIME STORY - The song reached number 4 on the UK chart. Bjork was one of the writers which makes sense as its a weird, Electronic House styled track. Its other worldly vocals and harmonies and echoed backing make this an intriguing track. Maybe this was a forerunner to the next album, "Ray Of Light". Its a great song and a little different from anything Madonna has done before. Classy.
TAKE A BOW - Another classic Madonna ballad that amazingly only reached number 16 on the UK chart. Its a beautifully sung song with very soulful vocals . This is just a fantastic song and one of Madonna's best in my view. Great to end the album on a high.
DROWNED WORLD/SUBSTITUTE FOR LOVE - This opening track on Madonna's 7th studio album reached number 10 on the UK singles chart. The album as a whole has a much fuller pure vocal from Madonna and this song has a very eclectic mash up of sounds. There is a little Trip Hop, Pop and Techno hints while keeping the beautiful melodious backing keeping a mysterious ambient air.
SWIM - A very open Trip Hop style similar to Morcheeba with some great vocal changes happening through the song, another great melody and some nice Acoustic guiitars too. The production on this album is superb, in headphones you can hear every little sound spinning around your head.
RAY OF LIGHT - The title track and a Madonna classic, although very different from her 80s Disco tracks. This is a brilliant frenetic Pop, Club, Disco, Rock, Electronica crossover. Should have been number 1 but reached number 2 in the UK chart. Love this track and a real favourite of mine.
CANDY PERFUME GIRL - Written with William Orbit and Susannah Melvoin (sister of Wendy from The Revolution and Wendy and Lisa). A superb medium paced Electronic Rock/Techno hybrid. Another gem from this album.
SKIN - A fast paced Synth Pop styled track with a little Techno and Trip Hop added. Reminds me a little of Kraftwerk and New Order combined. A really cool track.
NOTHING REALLY MATTERS - The intro reminds me of "Frozen", a very passionate and emotional vocal over a mystical, minimal electronic backing. Then it kicks in to a quicker tempo and an Electronic Dance track. It is not one of my favourites but it reached number 7 in the UK chart. Something is missing for me but its still a good song but not on a par with the previous 5 tracks.
SKY FITS HEAVEN - A more moodier version of "Ray Of Light", a pulsating, throbbing beat with various electronic sounds making it an engaging song. It is like Madonna is singing a real Pop song in front of this Techno style beat. Normally this would be a bad idea but this works, a good experimental track.
SHANTI/ASHTANGI - Adapted from text by Shankaracharya, taken from the Yoga Taravali, this Asian inspired track is like a funky mantra. A pounding beat with various vocal chants interspersed with Madonna's reading of text. Unusual but still very cool, the last time I heard an Asian inspired Pop song was Monsoon's "Ever So Lonely"!
FROZEN - This was Madonna's first single since 1990's "Vogue" to hit top spot in the UK. Well deserved, it is a beautifully sung atmospheric Ambient/Electronica ballad. It is mystical, sombre and uplifting in large amounts. A Madonna classic and another of my favourites.
THE POWER OF GOOD-BYE - Reaching number 6 in the UK singles chart this great melancholic Electronica ballad has Madonna in top form again. Both this and "Frozen" showcase Madonna's singing voice that had been much maligned in the early days. Since playing Eva Peron in "Evita" and having those singing lessons her voice became more awesome. This should have elevated her to more mature audiences in the future but she has regressed a little.
TO HAVE AND NOT TO HOLD - This track has nice moments but this slow tempo electronic fails to grab me. It is a bit slow going and doesn't lift up much throughout apart from the occasional vocal "ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba" that changes the mood for a brief second.
LITTLE STAR - This song is about daughter Lourdes and Madonna gives everything vocally, there is a passion and emotion in her lyrics and a love. A really nice, relaxing and uplifitng listen. The Electronic Techno backing is minimal and allows Madonna's vocals to lead the song.
MER GIRL - Another beautiful song, with Madonna's vocals at the fore carrying the track. The very slight orchestrated Electronica backing makes it almost Acoustic and the sound is mysterious, sensual and light. Great end to a fine album.
MUSIC - Madonna's eighth album for me, is her last really great album in my opinion. This opening track was released as the second single form the album following "American Pie" (which was later added to certain versions of the album) and reached the accustomed number 1 spot in the UK chart once again. A supercharged Pop track mixing Funk, Electronica, Dance and Disco it is one of Madonna's best tracks. Featuring the infamous "Ali G" in the video it was a hit all over the globe.
IMPRESSIVE INSTANT - Not one of my favourites, a bit too many effects and the vocoder vocals for me. It is a mishmash of Electro Funk and Pop and doesn't really grab the listener either lyrically or musically.
RUNAWAY LOVER - A frenetic William Orbit co-written and produced track that has potential, the chorus could be catchier if the backing wasn't so overpowering, it becomes an instrumental drum and bass track with vocals way back in the mix. Frustrating track.
I DESERVE IT - A slice of slow and lush Morcheeba style Trip Hop where Madonna uses her emotional vocal techniques she learned all those years ago filming "Evita" which graced tracks such as "Secret" and "Frozen". This song is one of my favourites.
AMAZING - A track similar in style to "Beautiful Stranger", this is a great uplifting, almost funky track.
NOBODY'S PERFECT - The vocoder is back and again it makes the song even more dreary than it already is. This track slumbers on at a slow, eerie pace and it sounds like an experimental disaster.
DON'T TELL ME - Back to the good stuff, this single reached number 4 in the UK chart. A great Trip Hop slow ballad with a genius sprinkling of Country Pop. Brilliant song.
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE FOR A GIRL - Reaching number 7 in the UK chart this track one of the most mature sounding songs she has recorded (until this album). Beautiful vocals and a really summery, wistful light ballad. A little Electronica and Trip Hop hybrid that works superbly.
PARADISE (NOT FOR ME) - Atmospheric, eerie sounding kind of early Synth Pop, it grows on you after a few listens but its a very moody track.
GONE - A really lovely Pop track similar to a couple of tracks on "Bedtime Stories". It almost has a jazzy swing feel to it. A steady slow backbeat with snippets of Acoustic guitar give it a really nice laid back feel.
AMERICAN PIE - A cover of Don McLean's classic, rated by himself as a "gift from a goddess". This version has a hint of Dance, Pop and Electronica but still does the original justice in the vocals. Superb end to the album (although this track was only added to some versions!).