Madonna Ciccone is a singer/songwriter from Michigan in the USA. She released her self titled debut album in 1983 which established her as a hit making artist although no one could have predicted that she would go on to be the biggest selling female artist on the planet and currently the biggest selling living singer in the world.
This debut was more of setting down her pop foundations than being innovative which she would become known for not just from a musical perspective but her image which saw he never looking back and always driving forward.
Even if you find Madonna’s music banal you can still admire the work ethic and creativity that she has manged to install into her career which whilst isn’t as strong today from a hit making perspective it has still been the driving force which has seen her appeal to the pop music market album after album.
Considering the amount of albums and hit singles Madonna has accumulated this self titled debut is quite low key. Yes, there are few well known Madonna tracks but it’s production style and vocal arrangement sees a very standard 80’s style imprinted on the sound and it really would have been near impossible to predict the domination she would go on to produce.
“Madonna” lacks the sexiness that would be so evident and in your face on the follow up to this album “Like A Virgin”. This debut set is sweet and sometimes sickly so.
The first track “Lucky Star” is one I’ve always liked and the funky baseline and synths make it a bit of a disco favourite of mine. This song sets the tone for the rest of the album with Madonna sweetly singing that this man is her lucky star. Whilst I like the track the album version goes on for 5.34 which is at least 2 minutes too long. Get its to point around the 3.30 mark where you are ready for it’s end but it never seems to come.
“Borderline” is one of those massive Madonna hits. It’s a sweet saccharine track where Madonna is attempting to give us the heartening tale of how this man she is love with is pushing her patience to the limits. Does he want her or does he not? Whilst the song essentially should see Madonna coming across upset and slightly sad I never actually get that sense from the way it is delivered.
“Borderline” is similar to a track by another Pop mistress Kylie Minouge with “Hand On My Heart” which like Borderline is a song dealing with a relationship that is failing and the lyrics are of desperation yet both songs are delivered as if the singer has just been given a new born puppy and a box of chocolates in a heart shaped box.
“Burning Up” is an interesting track. It’s synth driving instrumental and sporadic electric guitars is a Prince sounding production. Madonna sounds much more at ease with the lyrics which are about her desire for this man and how she is Burning Up for this man. The structure of the track suits Madonna’s voice and the lyrics are more akin to the personality we would see from Madonna on future albums. She is confident, she is aware and there is no naivety present.
“I Know It” stunts the progress that “Burning Up” was making. This track is like “Borderline” in over drive. It’s so sickly sweet its difficult to listen. It’s almost as if she is trying to give a nod to the girl groups of the 60’s but the horrible production makes this an excruciating listen.
On track 5 we are given one of Madonna’s biggest ever songs – “Holiday”. It is interesting to delve into what makes “Holiday” such a iconic Madonna track. It’s disco/funk sound, irresistible hook and positive lyrics makes it a winner.
The word Holiday in itself evokes good memories and happy thoughts. The whole song is simply justifying the reasons to get away from it all, even if it just one day out of life. Madonna simply justifies it by saying that if we took a holiday it would be so nice. This perhaps quite silly but sometimes lyrics can be over complicated when you are trying to say the most basic things which is simply that we need a holiday and it’s gonna be nice!
“Think Of Me” is the best song on the album. It’s funky, its synth tune is on point and its the most soulful song on the album. The melodic structure is more to my taste and again Madonna shows her fighting side by telling this man that when she is gone he better think of her. I much prefer the confident aspect of her lyrics than the young sweet girl who just wants a man to love her.
The saxophone break in “Think Of Me” is perfectly placed and the song really drives forward as it goes on. At 4.55 it doesn’t feel long. It’s a pop funkyt frenzy and the highlight of this album.
“Physical Attraction” leans itself more toward the synth funk that was permeating around black soul music at the time. At this point Madonna is showing a little more of her sexual side which explodes on the follow up album.
“Everybody” is the final track on the album. It’s one of the first songs Madonna ever recorded and was what started her on the way to stardom. It’s a heavy synth tune with her voice being double tracked which makes it sound a little deeper which is probably required to give us some vocal style variation. The music on the track is bordering on quite R&B which Madonna would not be really known for doing but the song has it’s roots firmly planted in Black music.
So with the stunning career Madonna would go on to have did her debut live up to what would come? Not really. This is simply an introduction to Madonna and a platform for her to use as a springboard to bigger things.
Come the next album the production would be enormous, the videos made with higher budgets, her image becoming part of her music and there would be bigger hits with bigger hooks.
In today’s music climate this album would have been 3/4 tracks long and released as an EP to give us a taster of what would come on “Like A Virgin”.
As it is “Madonna” is a slice of synth pop with a few good tracks and the rest forgettable.