Are you having a Madonna party this week to celebrate her 60th? Looking for some musical inspirations beyond the usual suspects? Here’s a curated list from someone who has been a fan since the beginning
Who can resist that intro? Impress your friends by pointing out that a slowed down version of it was sampled and included in her 1990 opus magnificus, ‘Vogue’
DRESS YOU UP
Yep, Like A Virgin and Material Girl are great, but they are so overplayed. Why not instead throw in this top 10 hit from 1985. Besides, it’s got a dance routine! Check out the video from Madonna’s Virgin Tour and learn those moves!
INTO THE GROOVE
The version played in Desperately Seeking Susan is an early demo which was then remixed for the single. Madonna’s vocal is nasal and pretty much out of tune, but it has an urgency which mustn’t be ignored. The pounding DX drum machine and synth bass pretty much force you onto the dancefloor.
OPEN YOUR HEART
This is the moment in your party when the drunk fan will pull out a chair and start re-enacting Madonna’s opening scene from the video. Why not play the extended version which includes a heap of spoken phrases which you can lip sync along to?
LA ISLA BONITA
This one’s a little slower but still a banger, is it not? You can certainly shove in a few sexy moves or pull out a rose from a nearby vase and stick it between your teeth to dance with authenticity. The song was turned down by Michael Jackson before Madonna changed a word and took a third.
CAUSING A COMMOTION
At the time, it was cute to have Madonna quoting her own previous lyrics in a song. Little were we to know that she would do this a lot in later years. And that bass line? Yep, it made its way into Vogue.
LIKE A PRAYER (Club Mix)
Shep Pettibone did a number of remixes of this song and though his house / dance mix would eventually be used on tour and on the Immaculate Collection, this version is far superior. So quickly does he want to get to the chorus that he leaves out the opening verse. Cue lots of Catholic guilt dancing, whatever that is.
EXPRESS YOURSELF (Non-stop Express Mix)
Madonna is fundamentally a dance artist, so the original mixes of her songs are often the best, but not only is this version better than the album mix – it’s possibly the greatest remix of all time. Madonna redubbed the video with this revised version when she realised that it was superior.
At 116.5 BPM, this is the perfect tempo for strutting yourself down the makeshift runway on the dancefloor. You want moves? You’ve got them. Whether you want to do the original version, the Dangerous Liaisons version, the Bhangra version or the yoga-tastic version, there are many routines to this song which you can learn and play out in your front room when the party is in full swing. The original demo version of this song omitted the discordant piano chords which would eventually turn this into a 90s classic.
DEEPER & DEEPER
Again, there’s a lot of available remixes of this song, but the album mix is by far the best. It was Madonna’s idea to add the flamenco guitar in the breakdown and it’s all the better for it. Shove on a bubble perm wig for Vera Duckworth-realness.
UP DOWN SUITE
Ok, this is where you throw in something a bit rare to confuse but amuse your audience. A track called Goodbye to Innocence was originally intended for Erotica, but Madonna wasn’t quite feeling it and instead started singing the Peggy Lee classic ‘Fever’ over the top of the track. A remix of that song ended up on the B-side of Rain and whilst it’s very of its time, it’s really rather good.
SECRET (JUNIOR VASQUEX MIX)
Madonna’s mid 90s hits are all a bit downtempo, but the lead single from Bedtime Stories has a rather good remix which went down well in the clubs at the time. In fact, this song has aged really quite well.
DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA (SINGLE MIX)
Not strictly a remix, as this whole version was re-recorded for the clubs. What’s astonishing about it is how much the Graham Norton Show ripped it off for the theme tune.
RAY OF LIGHT
You can’t beat the album version as one of Madonna’s greatest dance singles. Fusing acid bleeps with heavy metal guitars and a weird, muffled bassline, the song comes to life as Madonna’s incredible vocal carries us through the chorus. One of her finest moments and it still sounds fresh today
NOTHING REALLY MATTERS
Despite its William Orbit feel, a recently leaked snippet of Patrick Leonard’s original version of this song sounds surprisingly familiar to the Ray of Light version. And if you can quickly don a red dressing gown as the intro builds, why not re-enact the Geisha-inspired video?
The warm months of 1999 were all about sleeveless tops and three quarter length trousers and… well… quite frankly this song which may have only reached no. 2 but it was the sound of the summer.
Do I even need to explain why your party needs to include this song?
DON’T TELL ME
Again – there’s a routine. No one really remembers it, but that’s OK. You put your fingers through your belt loops and shuffle your feet around. Jerk a little as the acoustic guitar glitches and throw back an imaginary cowboy hat – job done.
HOLLYWOOD (Stuart Price Remix)
AKA the Thin White Duke mix AKA the Thin White Duck mix (yep, this was a typo on the CD single) this version was a portent of things to come. More energetic than the Mirwais original, Madonna used it on tour and, more importantly, for the “Britney Kiss” at the VMAs
How could you not include this song? Why not play the bootleg mix that combines it with Cher’s wonderful cover version of ABBA’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’
One of Madonna’s finest singles of all time, this is often overlooked because of the strength of the songs that surround it. With a production style that was five years ahead of its time, it has the driving urgency we heard on hits like Into The Groove.
GIVE IT 2 ME
‘4 Minutes’ may have been one of Madonna’s biggest selling singles of all time (look it up) but it’s not dated well and, let’s face it, Justin Timberlake’s inclusion has become a little problematic so skip to the second single and impress your friends by telling them it was the original title of Madonna’s 2008 album (hence the boxing-inspired photo shoot).
CELEBRATION (Benny Benassi Remix)
Rumour has it that Madonna asked Paul Oakenfold for some backing tracks that she could sing along to as she prepared her final compilation for Warners and this was the song that she created. Again, the remix is stronger than the original and even warranted an alternative version of the video which included a cameo from Lourdes.
I’M A SINNER
Not a single, but there are slim pickings from MDNA. Completing the quadrillogy of Ray of Light, Beautiful Stranger and Amazing, this is the fourth time William Orbit used a particular breakbeat sample on a Madonna song. Its witty lyrics and clever melody suggest that this should have been lead single from Madonna’s least memorable album.
LIVING FOR LOVE
Although Rebel Heart saw an improvement in Madonna’s output, there weren’t quite so many bangers other than this, the lead single. Besides, if you’ve still got your red dressing gown handy from your Geisha dance a few tracks back, fasten it as a cape and ask a friend to tug at it whilst you perform a highly choreographed fall backwards to re-enact Madonna’s Brits performance from 2015.