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.
You have to hand it to Madonna. She just released her 14th studio album in her 36th year of recording and every one of those records has sold at least a million copies worldwide. All but the last couple have sold more than five million. And all but her debut have been in the top three spots on Billboard’s albums chart (eight of them at #1).
It seems like we don’t hear from her much anymore, but her most dedicated fanbase has followed her religiously for nearly four decades. I know, because the guy who cuts my hair went on at great length about her new release the last time he had me in his chair.
A week ago, when I finished counting down the songs I most associate with movies, I was surprised to learn that Simple Minds’ ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ was actually written for The Breakfast Club.
Given that fact, what’s even more shocking is that the song wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award. How on earth did that happen?
I’ve never been the biggest Madonna fan. I’ve always considered her a better self-marketer than a singer, songwriter or performer.
But it’s hard to deny the pop appeal of a song like ‘True Blue,’ even in this overlong “Color Mix,” which adds nothing worthwhile to the original.
Looking at Madonna’s early output — those undeniable hits that helped launch MTV — you can trace a line to Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Carly Rae Jepsen and a handful of other modern hitmakers who owe more than a little of their success to Ms. Ciccone.
Last year, my 40th birthday fell on a Random Weekend and I took advantage of the occasion to spin the wheel and dial up a song that would have special meaning for the day.
I wound up with Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Hurt,’ a powerful and moving song sung by an old man near the end of his life.
It felt like an appropriately weighty selection, if a little morose.