Tuesday, 30 June 2015

This Week In 1985: June 30, 1985

When people talk about Madonna's image changes, they're usually referring to how she'd routinely go from blonde to brunette and back again. But there's been another way in which the Queen of Pop has kept fans on their toes - and that's by changing her sound.

Australia went crazy for Madonna's first ballad single

This week in 1985, Madonna debuted on the Australian top 50 with a song that sounded like none of her previous singles. Not only that but it became her second single in three weeks to fly into the top 20 on its way to number 1, signalling the fact that she'd be able to have a more diverse musical output than many might have expected.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending June 30, 1985

As well as landing the week's highest new entry, Madonna also ascended to the number 1 spot with that earlier single, "Angel", which now had "Into The Groove" officially noted as its double A-side.

Off The Chart
Number 83 "Little By Little" by Robert Plant
Peak: number 83
Fresh off his success as part of The Honeydrippers, Robert Plant issued his third studio album, Shaken 'n' Stirred, but this lead single did not follow "Sea Of Love" up the chart. Easy to see why.

New Entries
Number 50 "Paisley Park" by Prince
Peak: number 38
Prince had enjoyed a pretty good previous couple of years on the ARIA charts, with four consecutive top 10 singles between 1983-84 and his first number 1 album thanks to the soundtrack to Purple Rain. Although later singles from Purple Rain were chart failures, anticipation for a brand new song from a new studio album would've been higher than at most other points in the diminutive singer's career. So it's a little odd that Australia (following the UK's lead) released "Paisley Park" as the first single from Around The World In A Day instead of going with the US choice, "Raspberry Beret", which would be the follow-up here. Sharing its name with Prince's recently launched record label and his recording studios just outside Minneapolis, "Paisley Park" gave an indication of what to expect from the psychedelically influenced album (which sat just inside this week's top 20) but is one of The Artist Eventually To Be Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince's less memorable singles.

Number 44 "Slave To Love" by Bryan Ferry
Peak: number 29
Between 1972 and 1982, Bryan Ferry had maintained a release schedule that Rihanna would be proud of, churning out eight studio albums with Roxy Music as well as five solo albums - making the fact that there'd been no new music featuring Bryan's smooth-as-silk vocals for three years pretty remarkable. Order was restored in 1985 with the release of Boys And Girls and lead single "Slave To Love", a lush and sophisticated piece of pop by the most stylish man in music. The only thing wrong with this song, which sounds as good today as it did in 1985, is that it didn't do better on the ARIA chart. 

Number 37 "Get It On" by The Power Station
Peak: number 8
Next up, it's a band whose singer went to the Bryan Ferry school of sartorial elegance. Fronted by the sharp-suited Robert Palmer, supergroup The Power Station returned to the chart with their cover of the 1971 UK chart-topper (and Australian number 14) from T. Rex. There seems to be some confusion between the single and album as to whether this remake was called "Get It On" or "Get It On (Bang A Gong)", but there was no mistaking that this was a second straight smash for the Duran Duran side-project. In fact, by reaching the top 10 for a second time (but landing no further top 50 hits), The Power Station joined a select group of two-hit wonders on the ARIA chart.

Number 16 "Crazy For You" by Madonna
Peak: number 1 
Proving the Australian public - especially the people of Victoria - couldn't get enough of Madonna in 1985, this brand new offering from the soundtrack to forgotten '80s film Vision Quest became an instant top 20 smash just three weeks after "Angel/Into The Groove" achieved the same chart milestone. It also became Madonna's first ballad to hit the chart.
Almost not released as a single due to concerns by Warner Bros that "Crazy For You" would deflect attention away from her current studio album, the movie love theme became one of five singles Madonna released in 1985 in Australia - and Like A Virgin (which it did not appear on) still managed to clock up 55 weeks inside the top 50 by the end of the year.
Although it sounded nothing like "Into The Groove" (which, let's face it, was the main reason people were buying "Angel"), "Crazy For You" did share one thing in common with her other concurrent hit - it featured in a movie in which Madonna also appeared. Admittedly, her role in Vision Quest, which was retitled as Crazy For You in Australia, wasn't that much of a stretch - she played a singer in a bar (as seen in the music video).
As it turned out, the very fact that "Crazy For You" didn't bear any resemblance to her previous singles worked in its favour. Not only did it show that the flood of Madonna singles to hit the chart were all unique, it established the fact that she was not to be pigeonholed into a specific music style. As Madonna's fame soared, "Crazy For You" became touted as evidence that she could "actually sing", contrary to the claims of her detractors.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1985:

Next week: a single disowned by its singer for decades, a second hit for a duo that debuted just eight weeks earlier and the vocalist of one of the previous decade's biggest bands starts his solo career in earnest.

Back to: June 23, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 7, 1985


  1. Completely missed the Robert Plant song at the time, doesn't sound too good now.

    Paisley Park - that IS a forgotten Prince song, I certainly forgot about it! The only song I can name from 'Around the World in a Day' is still Raspberry Beret.

    'Slave To Love' is just another smooth as silk Bryan Ferry song, should have made the Top 20 at least.

    I quite liked the Power Station's cover of 'Get It On'. It was the theme tune to the Adelaide 'Top 40 Videos' show I mentioned a few weeks back that began around this time, and remained so until the end of 1987.

    'Crazy For You' was a nice change in direction for Madonna, and one I didn't see coming. Got to say it's another of her songs I really like - she really was on a roll at this point.

  2. I don't know 'Paisley Park' other than by title. Together with 'New Power Generation', 'Glam Slam' (his nightclub), 'My Name Is Prince' and the '(love symbol)' album, he sure liked self-referential titles.

    The 'Get It On' cover was quite pointless.

    I never cared much for 'Crazy For You', inoffensive as it is; but I suppose at the time it was quite an unexpected sound for the previously helium-voiced Madonna. Being released on a different record label than her usual stuff (presumably due to the soundtrack) was an interesting and rare occurrence.

  3. I'm not sure that "Crazy For You" "almost wasn't released" because of Warner Brothers - they couldn't really do anything to stop the release of the single, since they'd allowed Madonna to record it for Geffen after she'd signed a contract with them. Interestingly, every time Warners use it on a Madonna compilation, they have to license it back from Geffen (which, no doubt, irks them no end!). Nathan - it's interesting that you mention the "previously helium-voiced Madonna", since she recorded CFY close to 18 months before the "Like A Virgin" album :-).

    1. It seems to have been a contentious issue, though: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2009/05/jon-peters-book200905

    2. An interesting article - thank you for sharing! Jon Peters' claims were disputed by Bob Daly (and even the section of his book treatment published in the article was full of factual errors), but there was obviously some discussion about a release schedule. Reading the Wikipedia article for the single, it's clear that some people's recollections of how the song came to be are erroneous. Even Jon Bettis (co-writer) got mixed up, as he claimed that "Borderline" was out when they found out that Madonna would be singing the song in the movie (and then discusses attending the initial recording session and being unhappy with the outcome)...yet the movie was filmed in "fall 1983", and "Borderline" wasn't released until February 1984 (he might have been thinking of "Holiday", though, which actually was released in the US fall of 1983).

      It's likely that Jon Peters wanted to release the single a few months before the movie was released to generate interest in it, but Warners objected and negotiated to have it released after the movie, allowing them to promote two singles from "Like A Virgin" before a "competing" release. While they couldn't prevent Geffen from releasing anything, as distributors of the movie itself, they would have control over the movie release date. Just my take on it, though!

  4. PS: Given Angel's Top 5 chart placings in both the US and the UK, I think it's fair to say that it would have done really well here without "Into The Groove" - just not #1 (so it's a bit unfair to suggest that just about everyone was buying it simply because of ITG - both tracks received a heap of airplay at the time).

    1. No doubt it would've been a hit, but without Into The Groove I don't think it would've been anywhere near as big.

      Given the album had been out (and successful) for some time and Angel was its third single, there would've been less people who would've bought the song on its own.

      A popular song with lots of airplay? Sure, but as we've seen plenty of times in the 80s, later singles from hit albums often struggled in Australia without something new to prompt buyers.

    2. That's true about the law of diminishing returns, although Madonna was an exception to that rule in the mid-80s, with only "Open Your Heart" "underperforming" ("La Isla Bonita" rectified this a few months later). "Dress You Up" managed to enter the Top 5 and it was released a good 10 months into the "Like A Virgin" campaign. Madonna really could do no wrong at this point, so I suspect "Angel" would have reached the Top 10 without any trouble ("Dress You Up" didn't have anything new on it to arouse interest).

  5. Should note that Madonna was never "helium-voiced" - in a pre-digital era, songs like Into the Groove, Material Girl and Like a Virgin were recorded in a slightly lower key and the analogue tapes sped up to make her voice sound higher.
    Little wonder she has rarely performed these songs live unless she changes the key drastically or does a weird arrangement (eg. her Marlene Dietrich version in the Girlie show). Maybe nowadays in the age of autotune she might be performing them, I lost interest last century...

    1. You make a good point about analogue/digital etc., but the "Like A Virgin" album was recorded entirely digitally (according to the album cover - this was still quite rare).

      Nile Rodgers (producer of "Like A Virgin") expressed surprise when Madonna came into the studio and started singing the songs in such a high register. He advised her to change the key, but she insisted on keeping it as it was, as that was how she'd learned them. She sang it in the same key at the MTV Awards in September 1984 (when the song was premiered), but as you noted, she usually sings it in a lower key live (it's one thing to nail a performance in the studio in a particular key but another to do it night after night live for months). It's a shame you lost interest in Madonna last century, though, Alastair - she's released some brilliant music and staged over half a dozen incredible world tours over the past 20 years :-)