Iconography: The Great Madonna Retrospective

That interview is incredible! I love her sticking up for the idea of music videos: "What's the difference from performing just because a camera's on you? You're acting right now." Brilliant. She was so cocky. She just knew she was going to be huge, she must have.
 
S

StraightActing19

Sadly, I'm at my parents' for the next two weeks so I'll be unable to fully participate in this, but maybe I'll give some thoughts when I get back home. I will however say that this is possibly my favourite Madonna album - there's something very sincere with the simplicity of the album that probably makes it one of the most honest albums Madonna's ever recorded. While her later albums might have better production, there's just something that always grabs me everytime I put "Madonna" on - be it just an urge to shimmy around the room for a bit.

Anyway, here's Leila K's cover of Burning Up if anyone's interested:

http://soundcloud.com/moralhora/leila-k-burning-up
 
I wish so badly that I could have lived through Madonna's rise. It would have been just amazing, getting to witness her making history, getting blacklisted, being shunned by the Catholic Church; all of it would have served up amazing memories.

Also, she looks exactly like Dianna Agron in that video.
 
Finally getting round to posting! Aha cutting it fine.

Madonna:

Lucky Star - The twinkly synths over the strong beat are just perfect. I think the thick bass makes this song though.
Borderline - I like how this a lot more softer than the other tracks. I think this definitely had the potential to sound cheesy to me but it never has. The video is lovely too! Totally gives me that 80s New York vibe visually.
Burning Up - Somehow this has slowly become by favourite from this album. It has that distinct 80s Rock edge and that works so well her attitude. The breathy repeated 'hot' bits are quite sexy actually aha.
I Know It - I've never connected with this to be honest. I love the Saxophone but it's dosen't have the dancefloor qualities of the other songs and unlike Borderline actually does feel a bit cheesy.
Holiday - Obviously this is such a signature track. The percussion, bass synths, guitar and of course the piano near the end are just perfect and of course the uplifting main chord structure. Unfourtunately I think this song got the point of being fatigued in terms of being on every tour but i'm glad she's given it a rest for the past 3 (well not for S&S 2009 but whatever).
Think of Me - This is like a harder version of Borderline. The bit where the kick drops out and it's the synth and the Saxophone is just one of those distinctly 80s moments in music, it's such a perfect part of the song for me.
Physical Attraction - This 6.40 mins of perfection is just so good! Lyrically and in terms of timbres it's so characteristically 80s, the production is thick like Lucky Star and the middle 8 is so euphoric for me. Also, spoken Madonna is always welcome! aha. After MDNA webchat thing I thought we'd be seeing this on tour but obviously not...though i'm just happy she acknowledged it.
Everybody - I used to adore this but i've slowly grown away from it. However it's interestingly more relaxed than a lot of the other songs yet it maintains that dancefloor ready feel. For Madonna's debut single it's suprisingly overlooked but I think that all the more compliments it's understated style.

With being a 90s kid I'm always suprised when I find myself going back to this album a lot recently. It totally creates an impression for me of what was happening musically during the early 80s, but is still relevant in terms of the thick, dance heavy production. Finally the cover remains flawless! The pose, the jewellery, the minimalistic font and the red/white/black colour scheme...perfect!
 
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Here's my Madonna story/introduction, first off I am 33 years old and was 5 years old when the 'Madonna' album was released but I never bought that album until about 7 years ago and had never really listened to it until about...oh an hour ago! I am a big Madonna fan and 'Like A Virgin' was one of my first ever albums, its still one of my favourite Madonna albums along with True Blue <3 Ever since I was old enough to start buying my own albums I have bought madonnas albums the week they came out and own all her albums.

On to 'Madonna', although I only just listened to it I knew all the tracks apart from 'I Know It' and 'Think Of Me' as the other tracks have all either been singles or are on 'You Can Dance'. For me the 3 main singles (Holiday, Lucky Star and Borderline) are all in Madonnas top 5 songs ever and are all fabulous in their own way. Even though Ive heard them thousands of times I dont get sick of them, especially Borderline and Lucky Star. Everybody and Burning Up are great little pop song which seem to have dated a bit quicker and Physical Attraction doesnt seem quite as good as the rest.

On hearing 'I Know It' and 'Think Of Me' for the first time, I really like them but are VERY MUCH in the vein of Holiday/Borderline/Lucky Star. Overall Id say I prefer 'Think Of Me' which just seems catchier, perhaps Ill change my mind after a few listens. Ill have alot more to say from the next album onwards as Ive owned then all since release.
 
Physical Attraction - This 6.40 mins of perfection is just so good! Lyrically and in terms of timbres it's so characteristically 80s, the production is thick like Lucky Star and the middle 8 is so euphoric for me. Also, spoken Madonna is always welcome! aha. After MDNA webchat thing I thought we'd be seeing this on tour but obviously not...though i'm just happy she acknowledged it.

THIS. i thought she was performing it this time around aswell but obviously she was just joking.. she loves teasing us!!
 

Mr.Arroz

Staff member
he/him/his
It's in the top four of Madonna albums along with American Life, Ray of Light, and Confessions.

Just simple, focused, fun pop music. It sounds of its time, no doubt, but it's also a great record to play today. The songs alone are very strong, some a little silly (Lucky Star), but together they make a very powerful and compact set of tracks.

I Know It and Holiday are my favorites. The singles are pure classics.
 
It's in the top four of Madonna albums along with American Life, Ray of Light, and Confessions.

Just simple, focused, fun pop music. It sounds of its time, no doubt, but it's also a great record to play today. The songs alone are very strong, some a little silly (Lucky Star), but together they make a very powerful and compact set of tracks.

I Know It and Holiday are my favorites. The singles are pure classics.

What a short yet perfectly accurate review.
 
From reading all the reviews so far, it does seem that the first album has aged better than a lot of 80s music, and it's regarded more approvingly by today's music fans than anyone (in the UK, at least) at the time. Sales-wise, it didn't perform spectacularly, and 1983/84 on both sides of the pond were dominated by the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince, Lionel Richie. Perhaps because it isn't so synonymous - as a whole album - with the era it's from, has allowed it to be appreciated more now.
 
It's just a remarkably solid album without any pretense or pressure attached to it, and I have to wonder if Madonna misses the days where she could make music this... carefree and have it well received, as opposed to the revulsion the majority of Hard Candy and MDNA were met with. I mean, Madonna blows both of those albums to pieces, but I can't help but feel that, along with declining creativity, Madonna also has to fight people's expectations of the music that she should be making. Whether it's down to her age, or bars set by her previous material, there's always a preconceived idea as to what a Madonna album should sound like these days. I can't imagine that the recording process is as liberating as it used to be.

Melodically, it's hard to find a song on Madonna that isn't absolutely timeless also. I think Eric Generic probably has a point when he says that it's endured so well because nothing on it has ever really exploded into the public consciousness. The bulk of those songs are on the next album...

Also, over the past few months I've finally realised the truth in all of I.M.A. Fever's posts about how good her voice was in the early days. Screw technique or range, the sheer attitude she oozes throughout is phenomenal and elevates a lot of the songs far higher than they have any right to go. "Burning Up" is made by her vocals.
 
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10 years ago, I don't know if Madonna was so predictable as she is now, there used to be an element of the Bowie about her next move - would it be more electronic, more orchestral, more arty, confessional, throwaway....would it be an album she made for herself, to prove a point, or just to give her some big hits and good sales?

Sadly it seems Confessions..was something of a watershed album, as everything since then has gone down the same route, only with decreasing returns. I listen to something like Turn Up The Radio and despair, to be honest. It's fashionable, tinny, repetitive drivel. And from someone with Madonna's past, her catalogue, her ability to do so many different things in her time, not to mention her maturity in years, it's all a bit embarassing.

So yes, to hear the warmth in the early music (sonically speaking), the attitude and ambition, probably feels more welcome than ever. But in a way, Madonna has overseen the change in pop music right through my (pop-literate) life; from 1983 to now. She made the type of music that I loved in the 80s, then she became fascinating and unpredictable in the 90s, which was a fasicnating and unpredictable decade for a lot of acts, and then the 00s saw a slow decline into what passes for contemporary pop in the iTunes world.

Like A Virgin, of course, changed everything for her. It's the big one. Well, the first big one, haha.
 
M

MadgeBrit

Are we still discussing "Madonna"?

It was the early 90s and I had already had several newer Madonna records but started delving into her back catalog - i was around 8 years old at this time - so I got the earlier stuff on cassette (!) - i got Madonna, Like a Virgin, True Blue and I think Like a Prayer on cassette all in one or two go's. I already had You Can Dance (my first Madonna album, given to me in 1989 by a family friend who was a fan) and I'm Breathless, and several cassette-singles (!!) - I had, or should I say still have, Vogue, Like a Prayer, Express Yourself, Keep It Together and Hanky Panky on cassette single. I also still have the long-box the You Can Dance CD came in. The original CD is lost.

I digress..

What struck me about "Madonna" as well as "Like a Virgin" was their artwork. Black and white. Madonna's debut album was released the year I was born - I knew this - but to an 8 year old, their lifetime is about 50 years, so the black and white artwork of the first two albums made them seem extra distant to me.

I of course had the Immaculate Collection so I knew the hit singles - Holiday, Lucky Star, Borderline - and had or been allowed to rent the video compliation with the companion clips. I had also rented the other video comp with her first four videos on it - Burning Up to Like a Virgin so I knew Burning Up was a hit too. I remember loving Burning Up for its really hard edged rock sound versus the disco of the other tracks.

I also remember, when watching the videos (1990/91) of her early work, I remember how striking the early look was to me. I knew she didn't look like that anymore - we were deep in the edgy/super-nova famous/popcultural omnipresence of the "Vogue" era at this point.... but her early look esp in the Borderline video was amazing to me.

I remember liking the whole album though compared to Vogue or the later hits it seemed rather plain. The music seemed almost black and white to me - because of the artwork, but also because of my scant familiarity with the early videos and that the early videos themselves incorporated black and white or at least simple colors. Black outfits, jackets, etc

Listening to the cassette, Side A ended on "I Know It". Side B started on "Holiday". I became quite familiar with the "album tracks" of Madonna's early work because of listening to them in this format. Even if I hadn't cared to listen to "I Know It" (which frankly, I liked always - such a simple and friendly song, and expressive vocals!) I would have anyway since I didn't want to have to REWIND THE TAPE to get to the start of Holiday.

Looking back, I think I preferred Side A of "Madonna". I honestly never cared for Holiday that much. It seemed played out to me, even at the time. And just not as musically or emotionally complex (???) as Lucky Star or Borderline.

However playing thru Side B, we get to "Think of Me", another TOTALLY unappreciated song. I always liked the cowbell intro. Delightful! And reading the credits "Cowbell by: Madonna" added to my child's fantasy of imagining Madonna in her Lucky Star garb dinging a cowbell into the mic!!

Physical Attraction I always liked, and I knew it from "You Can Dance" however its long running time seemed a long slog to me.


As for Everybody, I dont recall my early impressions of it. I love it now.

This was just a rundown of the first album to me. As we progress I will try to have my posts be my "first impressions" of the albums rather than what I think of them now.
 

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