Thursday, 2 February 2012

Madonna, Queen of Pop, #5 - 1

Long live the Queen!

And now... the moment you've been waiting three long, agonising, nerve-wracking days for... it's the top five Madonna songs! February 3 aka tomorrow marks the release of her new track, 'Give Me All Your Luvin' featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A, the lead single to MDNA, the twelfth studio album to be released by the most successful female artist in history. Coming up are five extremely good reasons to get excited for tomorrow, but make sure you check these out first...

#5 - Frozen
Album: Ray of Light (1998)

Now there's no point in placing the blame,
And you should know I suffer the same,
If I lose you, My heart will be broken.

Embrace change. It's not easy for many of us to do and yet, change can often lead us in exciting new directions. No one in the history of music had adopted the mantra 'embrace change' as openly and successfully as Madonna. From the material girl to 80s punk-princess, sex icon, disco diva and beyond, Madonna has pulled off every distinct persona she's created. Without a doubt, the past and future classic pop songs in her catalogue have played a huge part in allowing her fans to embrace the changes. The fact that she was able to release a song like 'Frozen' and take it to the upper echelon of charts worldwide is a testament to her ability to create musical magic. This ain't no standard pop number, oh no... 'Frozen' is firmly rooted in the sounds of trip-hop, chill-out and electronica. Released as the lead single for Ray of Light, this deliciousness went on to top the UK charts (her first #1 since 'Vogue') and would have made it to #1 in the US if not for that damn amazing Celine Dion super smash hit, 'My Heart Will Go On.' You love it, don't even think of denying it!!! Laced with haunting string arrangements, middle eastern influences and a completely different vocal range for the leading lady, 'Frozen' marked Madonna's most dramatic transformation to date. Sealing the deal? Chris Cunningham's striking music video, one of the greatest of all time.  

#4 - Vogue
Album: I'm Breathless (1990)

All you need is your own imagination,
So use it that's what it's for (that's what it's for).

As iconic as any Madonna song and video will ever be, 'Vogue' is a good place to start when discussing just why Madonna stands alongside Michael Jackson and Prince as one of the biggest stars of the MTV generation. I think deigning a song as 'pop perfection' is thrown around too freely these days (especially by me), but how else can you describe 'Vogue?' One of the biggest songs of all time, accompanied by one of the most critically acclaimed and loved music videos and a song that is still emulated, referenced and inspiring today. Plus, it was on Glee y'all, so you know it's got to be good!

#3 - Music
Album: Music (2000)

Music makes the people come together...

Indie desert-witch one moment, pop superstar the next. Unsurprisingly, Madonna maintained the the huge commercial success of Ray of Light with 'Music,' her last song to reach #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. After a fairly chilled out couple of years, hearing Madonna back in the more mainstream surroundings of dance pop actually seemed refreshing. Actually, it seemed almost right. Despite my personal love for Ray of Light, Madonna is one of dance music's greatest superstars and a song like 'Music' shows off the sound through which she excels. You would have been just as likely to hear this on the radio, at a club or in every shop you'd stroll into. This is universal dance music that everyone can love. And... it's a celebration of music and who doesn't love music? If you don't love music, you're probably reading the wrong blog.   

#2 - Like A Prayer
Album: Like A Prayer (1989)

Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there,
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery,
Just like a dream, you are not what you seem,
Just like a prayer, no choice your voice can take me there...

Stranger: "What's Madonna's biggest song?" 
Stranger 2: "I'm not a music historian, but 'Like A Prayer' would have to be her biggest song."

That conversation right there, that happens all the time. If I had a dollar for every time I'd heard it, I'd have about two dollars and fifty cents. Yeah, so I haven't heard that conversation as often as 'that happens all the time' would suggest, but there's a valid point in this drawn out introduction. 'Like A Prayer' is the song that will define Madonna's career. When most people think about Madonna, they think about 'Like A Prayer.' It turned her into a pop culture phenomenon when the music video created controversy (no, that isn't black Jesus) after being condemned by the Vatican despite the unquestionably moral way Madonna conducts herself. Madonna was viewed as rebellious... cool even. Not a material girl, but a modern woman, independent, smart and free-thinking. 'Like A Prayer' also benefited from being an epic 80s anthem, church choir and all! Kids, this is Rock and Roll Madonna and she was a babe. Standing in front of burning crucifixes and rocking out? It doesn't get any better. Except of course, for our #1 song.

#1 - Ray of Light
Album: Ray of Light (1999)

And I feel, like I just got home
And I feel...

Did you guess what It's My Kind of Scene deems to be the greatest incarnation of Madonna? Yeah, it's the Ray of Light 90s Madonna! With that in mind, you can understand how there is no other song that could be Madonna's greatest than 'Ray of Light.' Chasing the techno trend and putting her own trademark stamp on it, Madonna gave us a song that works getting you in the mood for a big night out, a song that you want to hear played on a big night out and a song that you can come home to in the early hours of the morning. You want to celebrate how much fun you had during the night the second you get home? Put on 'Ray of Light.' You really wont regret it. This song, to me, defines the best of not only 1990s dance music, but it also stand as one of the greatest tracks of the decade from any genre. In fact, I believe we ranked it at #10 in our Top 200 Songs of the 1990s countdown. Now that I'm thinking about it and listening to it again, I think I should have put it higher. Everyone has a Madonna that they'll remember and love... 'Ray of Light' Madonna? She's the one for me.

'Give Me All Your Luvin' featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A is out tomorrow! Check back for our review and let's all keep our fingers crossed for a classic like these five tracks.

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