Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Madonna fan. I have been since I was a wee lad dancing around my bedroom lip-syncing to "Borderline". Amid some Madonna leakage, she released six tracks (which I'm loving) early from her 13th album Rebel Heart (due out on March 10, 2015). That premature release went number one in 42 countries on iTunes sales charts across the globe. Not bad for someone who is 30 years into her career! In my opinion, it's some of her best work in years. I'm totally "Living for Love".
She has so many amazing songs that it's hard to remember every last one. So in the era of lists, I made one! I wanted to put together a little collection of some great Madonna tracks that aren't in the forefront of everyone's mind. For this list, I stuck with songs that were actually released in some form. In honor of her 13th album release, here are 13 underrated Madonna songs.
13. Turn Up The Radio
The message and lyrics are simple. Madonna just wants to turn up the radio and dance. While this single wasn't a huge success, I think it floundered because of lack of promotion. It also suffered from a not-so-great first single ("Give Me All Your Luvin'"). To me this song is just such a great nod and throwback to the Music album or Confessions on a Dancefloor. It's definitely one of my favorite tracks from MDNA. Excuse me while I turn up my radio and just drive... and lip sync for my life.
12. Bye Bye Baby
Madonna may be an "Unapologetic Bitch" but "Bye Bye Baby" may be one of the sweetest sounding piss-off songs. Sung in an almost cutesy-baby voice, she sings, "I know I love you because I hate you and now I'd rather haunt you." Ouch! But you are dancing to it so who cares! Just don't get on Madonna's bad side.
(She if you can spot Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba in this video from The Girlie Show.)
This is the third song released from American Life. It wasn't as popular as her other albums but it's one of my favorites. To me this was an album for the true Madonna fans. You know, aside from the title track. Ok, maybe not the track but that rap. Girl. Your gays weren't in the office that day. In this track, Madonna skewers all things in La La Land. All true. What's funny is everyone in Hollywood would just dance to the great beat and not even realize they were being made fun off. Oh, Hollywood.
10. Bad Girl
Is it autobiographical? Or is it a "character" she's playing in the song? Who can say? But aside from being a touch melodramatic, this song really has a powerful message. Madonna has always thrived at her ballads, which is funny since she's most noted for her dance tracks. This one is no exception. Who hasn't been a bad girl from time to time? I've lived this song Over and Over, well, except for the cigarettes. Oh and the video is pretty damn epic. It gives us more short film than a music video.
9. Love Don't Live Here Anymore
Madonna clearly is a woman scorned, again and again (squish, squish, Madge). It's good news for her fans because it makes her ballads even more powerful. Pondering the Madonna catalogue, she has some real standout ballads. This is one of best. Originally found on the Like A Virgin album, it was released years later on Madonna's album Something to Remember, a collection of her greatest ballads. It has a certain timeless appeal to it with a very raw and gritty edge. It's simple and not overproduced. The music video also follows that simplicity, shooting the whole video in one shot.
8. Keep It Together
Her Like a Prayer album is probably her most personable to date and one of her all time best. There's not one throwaway track on the album. I wish there had been a video for "Keep It Together". At this point in time a video was crucial to a song's success. It's got a great '70s throwback vibe and is all about family love (M does have a heart!). I dare you not to dance to this song. Oh and the Blonde Ambition rendition of this is on point with nods to Clockwork Orange and Cabaret.
7. Nothing Really Matters
"Ray of Light" is a brilliant album and marked a different, spiritual infused turn for Madonna. I was living for the album when it came out! "Nothing Really Matters" is a haunting dance track about the mistakes Madonna made in her life but she's moving on, girl! The video is amazingly artistic and utterly bizarre. I love it! I mean, Madonna is wearing a kimono and cradling a bag of water. What more could you want? Except maybe that the bag is actually full of vodka.
6. You'll See
This song takes a sad break-up and empowers it. Jilted by a lover, Madonna vows she'll be fine "all by myself." Do you have any idea how many times I played this song after bad breakups or feeling hopelessly single? What better way to tell off your ex than with a beautiful ballad? I mean besides sleeping with all of his exes. The video is a sequel to her hit single and gorgeous video "Take a Bow". This is truly a hidden gem in the vast Madonna library.
5. Hanky Panky
Who doesn't like a good spanky? Direct from her concept album I'm Breathless, this song is a great fusion of '90s pop and vintage '30s. I can only imagine what the music video would be? Perhaps it's "scandalous" subject matter ruffled too many feathers to make it a big hit. Even though those ruffled feathers are usually the worst offenders. Madonna threw herself fully into the role of Breathless Mahoney in Dick Tracy (one of her best roles) and to me the I'm Breathless is one of her standout albums.
Confessions on a Dance Floor is one of Madonna's best albums filled with infectious vibes. This one not only makes you want to dance, it makes you want to "Jump", literally. It would have been a much better follow-up to "Hung Up" than Sorry. Not sorry about it.
3. Love Profusion
In my opinion, this is one of the best tracks from her American Life album. I think this should have been the lead single, instead of the title track. Like I previously mentioned who wants to hear Madonna "rap" about having three nannies, a driver and a chef? No one. This song is has a classic Madonna sound yet melded with a more mature Madge vibe.
2. Oh Father
This is one of Madonna's most personal and powerful songs ever released. "Oh Father" deals with abuse, be it mental or physical. In the video, it is the repeated pattern of abuse, first in her father and then a lover (most likely a nod to the tumultuous relationship she had with Sean Penn). There's a certain rawness to her vocals and a vulnerability. This is something you don't see in Madonna a lot. As a victim of mental abuse from my father, this one hits close to home.
1. Nothing Fails
This song is like an acoustic follow up to her mega-hot "Like a Prayer". This should have been the second release off her American Life album (following "Love Profusion") with a music video to compliment it. I get chills when the choir comes on. Chills, I say! I'm not religious but I feel so moved, by this song.
Ok so technically this track was never released as a single but I had to include it in this list. Why? Well, 1) it's my list, dammit and 2) the song is about having sex with a ghost. Madonna is often thought to take herself too seriously as an artist when some of her songs lack depth. With this song is there any doubt that Madonna can have fun with it all? This song definitely ranks high on my list of favorites and should have been included on her Like A Prayer album, instead of just a B-side to "Cherish". This definitely could have been a great release and can you just imagine the music video for this?