Born on August 16, 1958, Madonna came to be known in the 1980s, and beyond, as the Queen of Pop. But perhaps more than anything else, her superpower is the ability to reinvent herself. As fans can see below, her top 10 songs are a cornucopia of pop, dance, ballads, and more.
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Known for pushing the boundaries, especially when it comes to sex and subject matter, Madonna has enjoyed a multi-decade career that continues today, with recent news about a biopic (in and out of the works) and an upcoming new tour, Madonna is not slowing down.
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The artist, who moved to New York City in 1978 to pursue a career in modern dance, has done much more than that over the years. She’s become an icon thanks to best-selling albums, Like a Virgin in 1984, Ray of Light in 1998, and more. She’s also an actor, having played roles in Dick Tracy in 1990, A League of Their Own in 1992, and Evita in 1996.
With over 300 million albums sold, she’s a legend. Let’s take a look at her top songs below.
1. “Like A Prayer”
The title song from her 1989 album, this track dropped on March 3 of that year. The song is about a young girl in love with God, who becomes her central male figure. The music video for the song shows Madonna watching a young white woman killed by a group of white men while a Black man is arrested for the murder. Madonna hides in a church for safety. The Vatican condemned the video, yet it rings especially true these days.
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2. “Material Girl”
From her 1984 album, Like a Virgin, this song is all about wanting more and more stuff. Madonna said at the time that the song was about her life at the moment. She had the world and all its accessories in the palm of her creative hand.
From her soundtrack album, I’m Breathless, in 1990, this song was the LP’s debut single, dropped on March 27, 1990. This song inspired a dance where performers “vogue” by posing in various positions while the music plays.
From Madonna’s seventh album, Ray of Light, in 1998, “Frozen” was the LP’s lead single, released in January of that year. A mid-tempo electronica ballad, this track used synths and strings to enrich the sound. Lyrically, it’s about a cold and emotionless man.
The title track to Madonna’s eighth studio album, which was released in 2000, “Music” dropped in the summer of that year. Madonna said the song was inspired by a Sting concert she went to. It’s a disco, electro-funk song made for people to dance and celebrate the power of song.
6. “Express Yourself”
From the 1989 LP, Like a Prayer, this song was inspired by the concept of female empowerment. It tells women not to go for second-best but rather to express their wants, needs, and more. The dance-pop song was a hit and remains so today.
7. “Ray Of Light”
The title track to Madonna’s seventh studio LP, which dropped in 1998. This song is another standout dance track featuring elements of techno, trance, disco, and more. Lyrically, as with many of Madonna’s best songs, the track is about finding and feeling freedom.
8. “Like A Virgin”
Perhaps Madonna’s most famous song, “Like a Virgin” came from her second studio LP of the same name in 1984. Madonna recorded it in New York’s Power Station after a demo was sent to her via Warner Bros. Records. The song came out on November 6, 1984, and it’s been a mainstay in her repertoire ever since.
9. “Justify My Love“
This song was released as part of Madonna’s first greatest hits album, The Immaculate Collection, in 1990. Written by Lenny Kravitz and Ingrid Chavez, with Madonna’s help, “Justify My Love” was later sampled by Jay Z for his LP, The Black Album. The song touches on sexual fantasies and positions the woman in the story as the one in control.
10. “I’ll Remember”
This softer, more mellow song was released for the 1994 movie, With Honors. It’s a heartfelt song that came on the heels of Madonna releasing some controversial material like her book, Sex, and her album, Erotica.
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