Unless you’ve been living under a rock (i.e. not following our blitz of Facebook and Twitter updates), then you know it’s Madonna’s birthday today.
And we’re gonna help you celebrate this ‘Holiday.’
It would be easy to just put on “The Immaculate Collection” and call it a day. We don’t blame you if you do that, per se, but you might as well say, “I like chocolate, and being able to breathe.”
Ugh. Save another day to be boring. Today, on Madonna’s birthday, show some creativity!
I mean, seriously. When was the last time you listened to any track off “You Can Dance”?
Oh, shit. You aren’t sure, are you?
Don’t worry, we will help you out.
Here are 10 under-appreciated Madonna tracks to help you celebrate her birthday. Or, another way to view it: 10 more Madonna songs for you to groove on if “The Immaculate Collection” is your main frame of reference. We’ve picked songs that might have slipped past your radar for a variety of reasons: songs that didn’t have singles, songs with low-performing singles, songs without videos, and so on. In other words, you won’t find “Like A Prayer” or any hit that made multiple compilations.
1. “Think Of Me,” from “Madonna” (1983)
This deep cut from the first album will have you moving from the second you hear that drum machine. Don’t even bother holding any beverages in your hand, because as soon as that synth kicks in, you’ll be flopping around.
2. “Sidewalk Talk,” from “Wotupski!?!” (1984)
This track from Jellybean Benitez’ first EP featured Catherine Buchanan on lead vocals, but it was Madonna who stood out with the chorus.
3. “Stay,” from “Like A Virgin” (1984)
Many of the tracks from Madonna’s second album could have easily been on her first, in terms of sound and feel. “Stay” might be the “Madonna”-est in that respect, as one could easily imagine it coming after “Think Of Me” or “I Know It.”
4. “Pretender,” from “Like A Virgin” (1984)
If “Stay” was the “Madonna”-est tract on that album, then this track Madonna wrote with Stephen Bray is a close second. There’s a swagger throughout the song, but the most infectious part comes when she sings, “I know that I should take my friend’s advice/’Cause if it happened once, you know it happens twice.” You’ll want to listen to that portion about 37 times before you move on. That’s right: 37 — in a row.
5. “Spotlight,” from “You Can Dance” (1987)
This earnest “you can do it” track sounds a little (too) squeaky clean compared to her other tracks, even when compared to “Holiday.” It’s probably the Madonna song that would be easiest to convert into a high school graduation speech, but we’re OK with that.
6. “Keep It Together,” from “Like A Prayer” (1989)
Like every aspect of Madonna’s life, her complicated history with her family has been reported on extensively. Given the knowledge of her family’s dynamics, this funky ode to siblings is inspiring.
7. “Don’t Stop,” from “Bedtime Stories” (1994)
“Don’t Stop” was not poetic, per se; “Feel it in your body/Sing ladi dadi” is just a notch above “I like to singy, singy, singy, Like a bird on a wingy, wingy, wingy” from “Impressive Instant.” But the lyrics don’t matter, because once you hear that blast of horns over that drumbeat, you’re done. You won’t stop dancing.
8. “Into The Hollywood Groove (The Passengerz Mix),” from “Remixed & Revisited” (2003)
As we pointed out in “Into The Groove” post from “Cover Songs Uncovered,” this was not just a remix of “Into The Groove,” but a mashup with “Hollywood,” her single from that year’s “American Life.” It was by far the best thing she released that year, in large part because of Missy Elliott’s sick rhymes about Gap jeans.
9. “She’s Not Me,” from “Hard Candy” (2008)
This funky jam, which sampled The S.O.S. Band’s “Take Your Time,” was the hidden gem overshadowed by the album’s weaker singles. We’ll take these six minutes over “4 Minutes.”
10. “Dance 2Night,” from “Hard Candy” (2008)
There were several things about this track that felt obviously 2000s — Justin Timberlake, for starters — but much of “Dance 2Night,” especially the chorus, has the feel of the first album.
We generously decided to add one to grow on:
Honorary mention: “Celebration,” from “Celebration” (2009)
Yes, it’s from a greatest hits compilation, but it’s from one that you probably don’t own, so we feel OK including it. The title track from the double-disc compilation checked all the boxes of a classic Madonna song: a dance song about dancing, with a spoken word interlude and a sample of Madonna’s laughter. We’ll take it.
Naturally, there are many more than these that we could add. What would you add? Sound off in the comments.