Song of the Day #4,297: ‘Borderline’ – Madonna

Last week I wrote about R.E.M.’s Murmur, arguably the most significant debut album of 1983. But giving it a run for its money is the self-titled release by Madonna.

The 25-year-old Madonna started her rise to superstardom with an album that took a full year to climb into Billboard’s Top Ten. That happened just in time for her sophomore release, Like a Virgin, to dominate the culture.

I remember how Madonna’s influence washed over my middle school, with the trendier girls starting to dress like their favorite pop princess. I wasn’t heavily into music of any kind at that point, but I was certainly familiar with this album’s hits: ‘Borderline,’ ‘Holiday’ and ‘Lucky Star.’

Marrying pop vocals with danceable beats, Madonna created a template that pays dividends to this day. Can you imagine Carly Rae Jepsen without Madonna?

I have come to appreciate pop music far more as I’ve gotten older. I never gave Madonna much thought as an artist, but listening to this album now I recognize its greatness.

For too many years, I considered this kind of music unworthy of serious consideration. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.”

[Verse 1]
Something in the way you love me won’t let me be
I don’t want to be your prisoner
So baby, won’t you set me free?
Stop playing with my heart
Finish what you start
When you make my love come down
If you want me, let me know
Baby, let it show
Honey, don’t you fool around

[Pre-Chorus]
Just try to understand, I’ve given all I can
‘Cause you got the best of me

[Chorus]
Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline
Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline

[Post-Chorus]
Keep on pushing me, baby
Don’t you know you drive me crazy?
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline

[Verse 2]
Something in your eyes is making such a fool of me
When you hold me in your arms, you love me ’til I just can’t see
But then you let me down
When I look around, baby, you just can’t be found
Stop driving me away
I just want to stay
There’s something I just got to say

[Pre-Chorus]
Just try to understand, I’ve given all I can
‘Cause you got the best of me

[Chorus]
Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline
Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline

[Post-Chorus]
Keep on pushing me, baby
Don’t you know you drive me crazy?
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline

[Verse 3]
Look what your love has done to me
C’mon, baby, set me free
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline
You cause me so much pain
I think I’m going insane
What does it take to make you see?
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline

[Outro]
Keep pushing me, keep pushing me
Keep pushing my love
C’mon, baby
C’mon, darling, yeah
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,297: ‘Borderline’ – Madonna

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I’m not sure I would classify Madonna’s music as “great,” particularly the songs from this first album. However, I began to appreciate her more with the hits from her next few albums after the debut.

    Meanwhile, just yesterday I heard Rosie O’Donnell talking about her good friend Madonna. She was saying that Madonna still goes to parties basically topless. Rosie would say to her, “Madonna, you’re the most recognizable woman on the planet. Put a damn top on!” But Madonna refuses and instead leaves her “tits to the wind.”

  2. Amy says:

    I loved Madonna’s playfulness. She was the first woman artist of my era who seemed entirely in on the joke. Being an MTV teenager meant growing up with half naked women on the hoods of cars in various male artists’ videos. Then suddenly there was Madonna, in a huge puffy wedding dress, opening the MTV video awards with a hilarious and provocative performance of “Like a Virgin.” Not sure how much I’d thought to that point about the concept of feminism, and the nuances by which it could be revealed, but I felt in my bones that Madonna was making her own rules and not everyone around her was completely comfortable with them. That was thrilling to my 16 year old self. Dana’s story about her current shenanigans suggests not much has changed in all these decades, though I’m more amused/bewildered by her choices at this point. :).

    As for the greatness of her music… I’m thinking of the portion of the recent TS documentary, when she discussed how many years a woman pop artist is “allowed” a spotlight and how much reinvention during those years is required in order to retain that spotlight, It’s Madonna who pushed those boundaries, who determined fashion choices for myriad young girls, all while inserting sometimes very serious concepts in her pop songs (“Papa Don’t Preach” comes to mind most immediately). Whether her music, alone, is great, I don’t know, but Madonna surely was.

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