Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Best Of Madonna - part 2

JUMP TO: 55-41 II 40-21 II 20-1

Since I started counting down my 55 favourite Madonna songs, I discovered Billboard has also listed the 40 most successful tracks by the Queen of Pop on the Hottest 100. Do come back after you've checked it out!

"Like A Virgin", which appeared back at number 50 on my list, was crowned number 1 by Billboard - with their list being based on chart performance (highest position, number of weeks on the chart, etc.) rather than straight sales or airplay tallies.

My list is based on my own preferences - a rather unscientific approach, I guess, but no one knows what I like more than me. Here are the next 20 songs...

Number 40 "Don't Tell Me"

Year: 2000
Album: Music
Charts: #7 AU, #4 UK, #4 US
The album's title track was the bigger hit, but I preferred this second single from Music. It may not have been the global chart-topper "Music" was, but "Don't Tell Me" was still another smash, and its number 4 peak in the US gave her back-to-back top 10 hits in the US for the last time (to date). The song was originally written by Madonna's brother-in-law, Joe Henry (husband of Melanie Ciccone), and adapted by Madonna and producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï.

Number 39 "The Power Of Goodbye"

Year: 1998
Album: Ray Of Light
Charts: #33 AU, #6 UK, #11 US

America sensibly skipped over "Drowned World (Substitute For Love)" and went straight onto this single after "Ray Of Light", whereas elsewhere "The Power Of Goodbye" was the fourth track lifted from Ray Of Light. Another ballad, the track's video took Madonna back to the beach for the first time since "Cherish" and featured ER star Goran Višnjić as her love interest/chess rival.

Number 38 "Get Together"

Year: 2006
Album: Confessions On A Dance Floor
Charts: #13 AU, #7 UK, #106 US
Apparently released as the third single from Confessions... due to its high download tally, "Get Together" continued a trend started with the American Life album of subsequent singles failing to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Elsewhere, it was a decent sized hit and is said to have been influenced by Stardust's 1998 hit, "Music Sounds Better With You" - although not as heavily as "Hung Up" was dependant on "Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)", since the writers of the Stardust track did not receive a credit on "Get Together".

Number 37 "Oh Father"

Year: 1989
Album: Like A Prayer
Charts: #59 AU, #16 UK, #20 US
In Part 1, I mentioned that "Dear Jessie" was released instead of "Oh Father" in the UK, while this track became the fourth single from Like A Prayer in the US. Despite it being one of Madonna's most personal songs (dealing with her feelings about her mother's death and her father's subsequent remarriage) - or possibly because it was quite a change of pace - it became her first single to miss the US top 10 since 1984's "Lucky Star". "Oh Father" finally became a UK single in 1996, when it was released to promote ballads compilation Something To Remember. It also missed the top 10 there.

Number 36 "Secret"

Year: 1994
Album: Bedtime Stories
Charts: #5 AU, #5 UK, #3 US
Co-produced by Madonna and Dallas Austin, "Secret" marked a shift from pop and dance to R&B, the genre of choice for sixth studio album Bedtime Stories and one she'd return to 14 years later on Hard Candy. "Secret" is the highest ranking track from Bedtime Stories on this list, with other singles "Human Nature" and "Bedtime Stories" not making the cut.

Number 35 "Love Profusion"

Year: 2003
Album: American Life
Charts: #25 AU, #11 UK
Issued in combination with "Nothing Fails" in some parts of the world, "Love Profusion" actually had a music video filmed for it and is, in my opinion, the better of the two songs, which were both released towards the end of 2003. In the US, both tracks followed the lead of "Hollywood" and gave the Hot 100 a wide berth.

Number 34 "Nothing Really Matters"

Year: 1999
Album: Ray Of Light
Charts: #15 AU, #7 UK, #93 US
The fifth and final single from Ray Of Light was given a great remix by Club 69 (which you can hear by clicking the link in the song title above) and its that version that's responsible for the song appearing so high on this list. The video version, which features Madonna dancing around in a red kimono, is below.

Number 33 "You'll See"

Year: 1995
Album: Something To Remember
Charts: #9 AU, #5 UK, #6 US
By 1995, the world was ready for a break from the seemingly relentless shock and awe Madonna's career had offered up since "Like A Virgin" - and so, sensing the time was right for another image overhaul, this emotional ballad kicked off the Something To Remember campaign and set the stage for Evita to re-establish Madonna as a serious performer.

Number 32 "Angel"

Year: 1985
Album: Like A Virgin
Charts: #1 AU, #5 UK, #5 US
Like "Keep It Together", "Angel" is another track with an interesting release history. The third single from Like A Virgin, it was teamed with Desperately Seeking Susan soundtrack hit "Into The Groove" in Australia - and that double A-side topped the ARIA chart. In the US, "Into The Groove", which only appeared on the 12" version of "Angel" didn't qualify for the Hot 100 and so was only an airplay hit - meaning the number 5 peak of "Angel" in the US is entirely down to that song. Meanwhile, in the UK both "Angel" and "Into The Groove" received separate releases.

Number 31 "Celebration"

Year: 2009
Album: Celebration
Charts: #40 AU, #3 UK, #71 US
One of two new tracks included on Madonna's career retrospective double CD collection, Celebration (an album which also marked the end of her relationship with Warner Music), this title track received a rather muted response from the record buying public. There's a link to the album version (which I prefer) in the song title above, while the video version is below.

Number 30 "True Blue"

Year: 1986
Album: True Blue
Charts: #5 AU, #1 UK, #3 US
After "Hanky Panky", this is possibly the cheesiest single of Madonna's career - but unlike the Dick Track soundtrack hit, "True Blue" is still one of my favourites. That said, it's the lowest placed single from the album of the same name on this list, which should give you some clue as to what tracks will dominate the top of this list. Like a number of Madonna songs, the best bit of the song isn't the chorus, but the middle eight ("No-oh more sadness/I kiss it goodbye...), which we get to hear twice - another common feature of her tracks.

Number 29 "Deeper And Deeper"

Year: 1992
Album: Erotica
Charts: #11 AU, #6 UK, #7 US
I was never a fan of "Justify My Love" or "Erotica" (both of which fail to register on this list), while "Rescue Me" and "This Used To Be My Playground" place quite low down my list of favourites, and so by late 1992, I'd begun to fear Madonna might have lost her touch. Thankfully, this disco-infused second single from Erotica completely restored my faith.

Number 28 "Spotlight"

Year: 1987
Album: You Can Dance
Charts: #32 US (airplay chart)
A new song that appeared on remix album You Can Dance (after failing to make the cut for True Blue), "Spotlight" didn't received a full commercial release in most countries - but was issued as a single in Japan, and so it qualifies for this list. It also features another great middle eight: "This is your chance to shine/Don't be afraid to fall...".

Number 27 "Causing A Commotion"

Year: 1987
Album: Who's That Girl soundtrack
Charts: #7 AU, #4 UK, #2 US
Despite being among her biggest hits of the '80s, "Causing A Commotion" has never appeared on any Madonna greatest hits collection - and didn't even receive a proper music video at the time. And, yep, once again the best bit is the middle eight: "I hope you find what you're looking for/Is it mine walk through that door..."

Number 26 "Die Another Day"

Year: 2002
Album: American Life
Charts: #5 AU, #3 UK, #8 US
By 2002, there wasn't much Madonna hadn't done - and so it seemed inevitable that the responsibility of recording a James Bond theme song would eventually fall to her. Despite being the most successful Bond theme since Duran Duran's "A View To A Kill", many critics weren't impressed. This critic was, although I agree her appearance in the film as a fencing instructor was probably unnecessary.

Number 25 "4 Minutes"

Year: 2008
Album: Hard Candy
Charts: #1 AU, #1 UK, #3 US
Another thing Madonna hadn't done until the new millennium was release a duet as a single - the closest she'd come was having Babyface appear prominently on backing vocals for "Take A Bow". In 2003, that changed when she appeared as the featured artist on Britney Spears' "Me Against The Music", and then she launched the Hard Candy album with this duet with Justin Timberlake (also featuring a bit of help from Timbaland). I always liked the urgency of the track, even if it's not considered as one of her all-time classics. It did, however, become her biggest hit since "Hung Up" after a string of disappointing singles.

Number 24 "Dress You Up"

Year: 1985
Album: Like A Virgin
Charts: #5 AU, #5 UK, #5 US
Madonna was clearly so busy in the '80s that she just didn't have enough time to make music videos for all her singles. And so, like "Causing A Commotion", a live clip was played to promote this fourth and final release from Like A Virgin. Interestingly, it peaked at number 5 in Australia, the UK and the US.

Number 23 "I'll Remember"

Year: 1994
Album: With Honors soundtrack
Charts: #7 AU, #7 UK, #2 US
Madonna's career is littered with great songs from completely forgettable movies - and here's another: the theme to Joe Pesci comedy With Honors. Did anyone actually ever see that movie?

Number 22 "Sorry"

Year: 2006
Album: Confessions On A Dance Floor
Charts: #4 AU, #1 UK, #58 US
Australia and the UK were still on board the Madonna disco party train with this second single from Confessions On A Dance Floor, but interest in America dropped right off after "Hung Up". "Sorry" also marked the first collaboration between Madonna and Pet Shop Boys (who remixed the song), two decades after the duo considered offering her their track "Heart".

Number 21 "Beautiful Stranger"

Year: 1999
Album: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack
Charts: #5 AU, #2 UK, #19 US
Another soundtrack hit, but unlike With Honors, At Close Range, Vision Quest and The Next Best Thing, the film for which "Beautiful Stranger" was recorded was a massive success. The song was another collaboration between Madonna and producers William Orbit, albeit a much poppier one than anything on the Ray Of Light or Music albums.

In Part 3 of my countdown, my top 20 Madonna singles of all time - which includes four tracks from each of my two favourite albums of hers. I'll also list my top 20 Madonna non-singles.

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