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MadonnaNation's top 25 Madonna songs


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#15

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Paradise (Not For Me) by Mr. Impressive

I love when a song makes me feel different things other than dancing like a freak to the beat of it. 'Paradise' is that kind of song that makes you feel something deeper (that was so kabbalah of me). It makes me feel thinkful, melancholic, lonely, inspired.... It's something hard to explain.

This song stands out in Madonna's catalogue because of it uniqueness. The production, the dramatic string arrangement, the simplicity of its suicidal lyrics, the vocoder (an excellent example of how the vocoder should be used in a song). I think Madonna likes this song because of the incarnations (I think that's the word I want to use. haha) she gave to it, first with the amazing backdrop video for the Drowned World Tour and then with the acoustic version on Confessions Tour.

So in just a few words: This song is flawless.

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#14

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Justify My Love by 12:51

As the world recovered from "Vogue" and Blonde Ambition, Madonna snatched another ripe opportunity to titilate, this time with the pulsating Lenny Kravitz vehicle "Justify My Love," a song that rivals "Like A Prayer" on the Madonna scandal-meter. Armed with drunkenly sexy vocals from Madonna, who speaks more than she sings, the song stands out in her catalogue as not only her most rhythmic single, but also as her most intoxicating and unlikely #1 hit.

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#13

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Oh Father by HEC

This song (and its accompanying video) are artistic achievements which cannot be appreciated enough, even on a forum where we have already admired and discussed it countless times over the years.

Oh Father is one of Madonna's most personal and moving songs. It's not an easy listen. In it she recalls a painful, abusive relationship with her father from her childhood. She thinks she's empowered because she left home and no longer experiences the abuse, but the memories and emotional wounds are still there, haunting and hurting her. Why did he do this? Can she find the strength to understand and forgive him?

Madonna, accompanied by a lavish piano, sings the song beautifully. Her voice at times soars like that of a child singing at Mass. For most of the song her vocals are deliciously GRITTY and RAW. The final two times Madonna sings the chorus she sounds like she's about to break down crying while singing, but she sounds triumphant at the same time. This is great singing. Could you imagine Mariah butchering this song attacking it with soulless, note-perfect melisma screams and dog whistles? "Somebodeeeeeeeeee h-h-hurt you, no no no SOMEBODDDDDYYYYYYY hurt yoo too-hoo-hhoooooooo-rawrrrr-oooo! Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeee!" :scared:

Oh Father's lyrics, vocals and heart-tugging production complement each other magnificently. It's all so incredibly moving and real. The David Fincher directed video matches the song brilliantly and elevates it even further. Every time you watch the video you can discover another subtle and inspired detail.

Oh Father is a magnificent and mature work which all pop princesses should study to understand why Madonna is such an ACCLAIMED pop goddess.

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Could you imagine Mariah butchering this song attacking it with soulless, note-perfect melisma screams and dog whistles? "Somebodeeeeeeeeee h-h-hurt you, no no no SOMEBODDDDDYYYYYYY hurt yoo too-hoo-hhoooooooo-rawrrrr-oooo! Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeee!" :scared:

I love this so much :lol:

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#12

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Express Yourself by loomer

The follow-up to the epochal “Like A Prayer”, the best comeback in music history, this song had a very tall order following that startling song. It more than did its job, especially with the epic video which she really went all-out with, having a huge, record-at-the-time budget and just as well because topping the previous iconic video was a tough job in itself. Musically, it continued with the soul-influenced sound of the previous single – there was actually a joke on Spitting Image at the time where Madonna held a press conference and when asked by a journalist what her new single “Express Yourself” sounded like and she replied, “The last one!” Well they don’t really sound that alike of course, the gospel of LAP is replaced here by a Stax homage, heavily influenced by The Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself”.

The lyrics (apparently the song was inspired by an idea from LAP video snubber Niki Harris :lol:) are quite simplistic and it isn’t quite the clear girl power manifesto it later turned out to be elucidated with the video and all, the message isn’t actually quite what she paraphrased in the ode to thyself be true “Human Nature” – “express yourself, don’t repress yourself”. There are some top notch Pettibone mixes, particularly his later Shep's 'Spressin' Himself Re-Remix included on the US JML CD Maxi with its gorgeous use of otherwise unheard since they’re too low in the original mix Madge and Nikki/Donna background vocals, but the original Stax-esque version remains the best or the slightly beefed up single mix.

Thank God Patrick Leonard/Stephen Bray refused to give the songs on the album a dancier, more Pettibone-esque sound as was rumoured Madonna had wanted – the horror! These uptempo songs still have an organic sound with real instruments which has meant they haven’t dated like stuff with contemporaneous dance production would. “EY” actually sounds a little out of place on the album, being an in your face brash anthem rather than the restrained confessional singer-songwriter stuff that’s predominant otherwise, yet much like follow-up “Cherish” it was always the obvious candidate for a single being the closest to old skool Madonna. Some great performances of this, I especially like her über-cool appearance at the VMAs where she lights up the stairs, great use of a sample of “Everybody” in this and the BA tour version, wish Shep had included that on one of the remixes.

It also boasts possibly her finest ever old style belt-it-out vocal when she showed she had a bit of power in her voice, rather than the later technically trained and more polished thinner head voice stuff which doesn’t have the same kind of strength, depth and resonance. She may have been using her voice incorrectly and damaging it then but she did it well and the throaty style of this makes it one of her best vocals – as shown by Kelly Clarkson choosing it for her American Idol audition. The raw vocal here is much better than on the similar, but rougher-sounding “Vogue”, a similar uptempo song but in a modern house music setting rather than vintage 70s funk, on both songs videos she sported the same hairstyle which has perhaps become the most famous identifiable Madonna image and the single cover of “Vogue” of course came from the EY video, where the newly blatantly sexual, rather than just the merely suggestive Madonna of before, was born, so a landmark song in many respects. “Express Yourself” is a brilliant, uplifting pop tour de force that anchors what still stands as her most acclaimed and beloved album.

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#11

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La Isla Bonita by Johnnox

You know how when you buy an album, after the first play there’s one or two tracks you have to go back to straight away? Open Your Heart and La Isla Bonita were my tracks on True Blue. In the end, La Isla Bonita became of my favourite Madonna songs of all time. Not over-sung, a lilting melody, nicely structured and simply produced, it’s a gem. It became the soundtrack to the last holiday I ever had with my parents in Malta, and I racked up a big phone bill requesting the song to be played on my local radio station.

To be honest, I’ve never been totally happy with the mix. The album mix was good, but I loved the single mix with the extra chorus and guitar, but didn’t like the way the vocals were faded out too early. The 12” mix was a disaster, it stops and starts way too much and is far too short. And the Immaculate Collection mix is just short and shoddy.

At first I hated the video – cheap and plot-less, for me, it didn’t match with the song at all. I always thought her neighbours thought she was the village idiot and begged her to come downstairs in her flamenco outfit and dance her way to the shops just for their own amusement. Over time I’ve grown to appreciate it. But I still hate the long haired guitarist who flicks his hair and beckons her to come down from her bordello. Not matter how much Madonna re-invents this song for her tours, the young girl with eyes like potatoes will always have a place in my top ten list.

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#12

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Express Yourself by loomer

Thank God Patrick Leonard/Stephen Bray refused to give the songs on the album a dancier, more Pettibone-esque sound as was rumoured Madonna had wanted...These uptempo songs still have an organic sound with real instruments

Bravo :clap:

Everyone has done a brilliant job, thus far...looking forward to the rest!

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Could you imagine Mariah butchering this song attacking it with soulless, note-perfect melisma screams and dog whistles? "Somebodeeeeeeeeee h-h-hurt you, no no no SOMEBODDDDDYYYYYYY hurt yoo too-hoo-hhoooooooo-rawrrrr-oooo! Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeee!" :scared:

That almost ruined the tone for me, but OH MAN was it worth it. :lmao:

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#10

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Get Together by Alexz Jay

Where can I start? Yeah, this is the second track of Madonna's highly anticpated comeback album Confessions On A Dance Floor and a total throwback to the disco era. The track starts with an alarm sound that puts you in the mood to listen a track, but, this is not any track, not just a simple track, not a dance track. This track you could tell goes beyond music, it’s art at its finest. Genius lyrics are expected to be heard in this track combined with the most sublime ever. My personal favorite quotes of the track are "if it's bitter at the start then it's sweeter in the end" because of course it's true and that's the magic of Get Together – you feel like a story is being told by Madonna, her emotions are clear, she wants to love and be loved back. The climax of the song is obviously at 3:39, when the music explodes and blows your mind. In my personal opinion, this is the best track ever made by Madonna, the Queen of Pop.

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#9

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Secret by Coked Up Baby Boy

The best song from her Bedtime Stories album, i love that old skool 90's r&b that this song sounds like, sexy low baseline, catchy melody, i love the way the song starts with the guitar and then the beat kicks in soon after, it's brilliant.

Makes me wanna have a black baby.

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#8

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Ray of Light by Jimmy Mack

How brilliant was it to be a Madonna fan in 1998? After the years of being told “she’s over”, “her best years are behind her”, “what a has been”, what a wonderful feeling to be able to turn around to all the naysayers and exclaim, “we told you so”!

I don’t know what I expected from “Ray of Light” (the track) when I first played it. I’d read a number of reviews that all pegged it as the standout and a dance floor monster. All I knew is that it was going to be brilliant, so actually skipped past “Drowned World” and “Swim” and went straight to it when I put the album on for the first time. What I wasn’t expecting was the Bangles go acid house as sung by Kate Bush! It’s fair to say that I wasn’t as impressed as I hoped to be.

However, it didn’t take me long to realise that this track was one pure big bundle of joy. Yeah, her voice is probably a bit screechy in parts, but she’s never sounded freer. She sounds so enthused to be singing it that she could take right off out of the room.

I remain a bit let-down by the cloak and dagger approach to this track’s origins (it IS a cover version, guys, and it wasn’t Madonna who first had the idea to run it into a dance anthem), and will bitterly disagree with anyone who says she deserves to be first named song writer on the credits, but what the hell. It’s a brilliant track which will forever be thought of as her’s, an enduring classic, and she looked every inch the superstar in the video.

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#7

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Into the Groove by Johnnox

Ahh…happy days…. In 1985, Madonna ruled the world. This was the first Madonna single I bought after falling in love with the first time I heard it played on Radio One. It had just entered the charts at Number 4 and everywhere in my home town of Northampton had sold out of it. So I had to get a bus to another record shop 20 miles from home just to buy this one 7” single.

But I was so gutted when I got it – instead of the sexy Desperately Seeking Susan picture on the cover, there was a generic black slip cover instead. So a month later, I bought the damn thing again just so it looked better.

Everything about this record was astonishing; from the high production value to the layers of vocals, simplicity of the lyrics to the catchy chorus.

A fantastic rhythm that barely changes the whole way through was unusual for the 1980s, there was no instrumentation breaks in it – not a piano or guitar solo in sight (til Shep got his hands on it for You Can Dance).

It’s the record Debbie Harry would have killed for as a solo artist.

The week it was number one was a great week for Madonna fans. Crazy for You was still top 20, Holiday had gone back up the charts to number two, she played a storming (if not amateurish) Live Aid gig and DSS was about to hit cinemas.

My favourite part of the song is the very last second. As it fades out, turn the volume right up and she sings the word ‘Yeah’ - and that sums up 1985 for Madonna. She had 8 UK chart hits, brilliant Like A Virgin sales and everyone loved her. If it was me, I’d have sang ‘Fuck, yeah!’

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#6

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Hung Up by Fuck Buddy

Put yourself in Madonna’s place circa 2004. You’ve just delivered the lowest selling album of your career and experienced a serious media backlash in your home country. You’ve even turned to a laughing stock by connecting your name to an embarrassing duet and even more embarrassing tv advert. The odds are you’re probably over. Only you are not Madonna, and betting against her turning the cards around is not a wise thing to do.

Step One: make a great show, so that everyone remembers why it’s no coincidence you’ve been titled as the world’s biggest live act. Madonna does Re-Invention, step one accomplished, then.

Step Two: record a great album. And make sure you mark your comeback with a lead off single that will blow everyone’s minds on the dance floor. It could sound odd at first, yet Madonna’s never been known to give people what they expect. The basic structure of the song is simple, light, yet effective: the classic recipe for the perfect pop tune.

And now the real fun begins: enter Mr. Stuart Price. His production signifies the fact that she’s never really forgotten her roots, meaning the club land. He got the beats: early 80s synth elements combined with today’s electro, thus creating a futuristic sound that has defined the dance genre ever since. The clock ticking while she effortlessly declares that time goes by so slowly reveals the grounding theme and inspiration for this song: dancefloor fillers of the past have never been more relevant than today, as excitement for anything retro is evident to every aspect of pop culture. Therefore: enter ABBA.

If there was one person able to persuade them for using a sample of their music, that could only be Madonna. Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) is all over the song and the result is so bloody fantastic that nobody could dare to imagine this song with the exclusion of the most infectious sample in recent pop history. The biggest pop anthem of the decade exploded all over the world, quickly rose to iconic status and is now considered the biggest hit of her career. Not a bad mode to mark a triumphant return to form, Madge. Step Two accomplished.

Best moment: 4:04. The build up to the final chorus. The ABBA sample starts rising over the sound of the clock ticking. The frenetic climax is near.

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#5

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Frozen by Coked Up Baby Boy

One of the most beautifully haunting tracks EVER MADE! i'm really into those dark brooding type of ballads that artists create [Massive Attack, Moby, Tori Amos] and this is probably my all time favourite!!!!! certainly by Madonna anyway.

Love it all, the echo of her voice, the electronic BUZZING that pops up after the first chorus and the BEAUTIFUL instrumental after the second chorus as she floats up into the air in the video. I GET GOOSEBUMPS!

Makes me want to get naked and frolic in a desert under the moonlight.

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#4

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Drowned World/Substitute For Love by Suedehead

I can still remember the very first time I heard “Drowned World/Substitute for Love.” I was a first-year university student at the time and had decided to skip one of my elective classes to pick up the album. I was walking back and listening to the album on my discman. By the time the closing bars of the songs arrived and she said “This is my religion” I literally had to stop walking, pause the disc and take a minute to absorb what I had just heard.

Some say that Ray of Light was the most eagerly anticipated album of her career – and I tend to agree with that. The only other record that can rival that is Like a Prayer, which arrived after the first ‘Madonna-free’ year in her career; but Ray of Light was different in the sense that she seemed to be away for so long, even though she physically wasn’t. She hadn’t had an album of all new original material capturing the public’s imagination since Like a Prayer, funnily enough, and the mid-‘90s were devoted to sideline projects – even though, of course, one may just think of them as the stepping stones to Ray of Light itself.

So naturally, a lot was riding on this album. The initial buzz from the press was overwhelmingly positive. I had already read about the title-track being a mindfuck wall of upbeat guitar-disco, and the mystical “Frozen” had already topped the charts all over the world, but I must still say that nothing had prepared me for “Drowned World.”

She wasted no time in setting the scene – “I traded fame for love/ Without a second thought”. The lady meant business. From then on the track flows, ebbs and simply metamorphoses from a moody, introspective mid-tempo ballad to a colossus of a song with its thunderous bridge in which she seems to be exorcising demons and coming to terms with her past at once. And then it all crashes back down to her naked voice and her declaration of “And now I find I’ve changed my mind.”

“Drowned World/Substitute for Love” remains to date my favourite Madonna song of all time. And in a catalogue that brimful of genius moments, that is no mean feat.

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#3

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Vogue by henZ

Glamour. Sex. Fame. For many, Vogue is the epitome of what’s Madonna, the jewel in her crown, her absolute best. Perhaps that is why she opened her 2004 Re-Invention Tour with it, reminding people that even though American Life had flopped, she deserved a place among the best for this song (the fact that she has done countless other classics helps too, though :lol:).

Vogue sees Madonna exploring a new dimension, sonically, from what she was used to. Coming off the rather tacky Who’s That Girl project, where the songs sounded dated before they were even recorded (that comment is going to spark controversy), Madonna moved onto a more timeless, classical- and R&B-inspired musical landscape with Like A Prayer, only to discard it a year later and utilize a new genre called house for Vogue, inspiring many artists to come in the process. And thank God she did. I can only imagine what it might have been like to actually have heard the gloriousness of Vogue the day it was released – instead, I discovered it on a rainy day in 2002, my first thought being “this is definitely not one of her best songs”. However, as the last few seconds of the song ebbed away, I realized that it was stuck in my head – and has been since.

Of course the video is epic as well. You’ll be hard pressed to find a video where Madonna looks better than she does in Vogue, and the old Hollywood glamour fits the song perfectly. However, Madonna took the song even further back in time at the VMA’s, trading the Hollywood glamour for a baroque-inspired routine that showed that Vogue just works with EVERYTHING.

The lyrics make this song stand out even more, if possible. It’s an updated version of Holiday and a theme she used again in Music – that music can save your life if you let it. In a way, it certainly saved mine.

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