Monday, January 05, 2009

Express Yourself

Well, it's been a quiet couple of weeks here on the blog. I didn't set out to take a holiday, but when I noticed traffic was down 50 percent it kind of seemed like everyone needed a break from the blogosphere so I decided to slow down a bit, too. (Go figure -- most of you seem to read blogs on the job!) Now that the new year is upon us and I'm in the midst of launching Year 4 of kenneth in the (212), I decided I wanted to stir things up right out of the gate. First I thought about a post arguing the pros and cons of Israel's ground assault on Gaza. Then I considered taking stock of the myriad candidates for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. (Did you know Rosie O'Donnell's gay brother recently threw his hat into the ring?) Then I had an idea to do an in-depth analysis of our soon-to-be president's economic stimulus plan (Is Barack Obama Turning Japanese?). But then I decided none of those topics was controversial enough to really get a heated debate going on here. That's when I decided to really live on the edge, with a topic everybody has an an opinion on.

What's your fave Madonna song? (please, no "ties")

What's your least favorite Madonna song?

I'll start things off and come right out and say that this isn't easy. First I wondered if I'd need to do a "singles" versus "album tracks" pick, but then I realized that virtually all of Madonna's best songs were singles in one form or another. (My apologizes to "Love Tried to Welcome Me," but this is really meant as a compliment given that her early albums usually had four or five singles on them and rarely more than 10 songs total.) Then my pal Jesse asked (pleaded?), "Can't we do it by eras?'" to which I replied, NO! (This post is not a love song -- don't I know it!)

So my favorite Madonna song is (drum roll, please):

"Into the Groove"
While I was tempted to say "anything on the first album -- particularly "Borderline," "Burning Up" and "Physical Attraction" -- that would be breaking my own "no ties" rule. But because those songs are so interconnected for me (kind of like the whole "Ray of Light" album), I was able to let go and come up with an answer that was truly honest. It started when I heard "Into the Groove" in the Danceteria scene in the life-changing "Desperately Seeking Susan," and then turned into a "repeat all night on the stereo by not putting the lever down on the turntable" when I got the 12-inch single of "Angel." in high school. (Incidentally, I was tickled by the handful of e-mails I got from you guys about that idiotic piano that was added to the song and felt duly vindicated for bringing up how it'd ruined later versions of the song!)

My least favorite is much easier:

"La Isla Bonita"
Sure, Madonna has "worse" songs ("Papa Don't Preach," "Hanky Panky," "Human Nature" and her SHOCKINGLY DISAPPOINTING cover of "Fever" are all duds; and MOST of her last three albums blur together for me). But I hated "La Isla Bonita" the minute I bought "True Blue" in '86, and the fact that the song seems to be held in such high reverence by Madonna herself (why else does she keep performing it live while dissing a HUGE portion of her other early hits?) and is constantly played on the radio and in restaurants after all these years just makes me dislike it all the more. An dishonorable mention goes out to "Love Makes the World Go 'Round." No, I don't dislike it (it's actually kind of sweet). But how Madonna and Patrick Leonard avoided a plagiarism lawsuit from the guys who wrote "Let's Hear It for the Boy" for Deniece Williams is BEYOND me!
So now it's YOUR TURN TO VOTE. Please tell me your favorite and least favorite Madonna ditty in the comments section.

Until then here are my honorable mentions:

"Borderline" (They don't make 'em like this anymore.)
"Ray of Light" (Out-of-this-world wonderful from arguably my favorite Madonna album.)
"Like a Prayer" (With a little "help" from the Staple Sisters, this song became an instant classic.)
"Burning Up" (I think I fell in love on this one.)
"Physical Attraction" (Even better than "Everybody"? You betcha!)
"Cherish" ("True Blue" would have been here if she hadn't outdone herself with this one!)
"Vogue" (Perhaps the most original song to ever hit the airwaves.)
"Dress You Up" (Still gives me goosebumps!)
"Take a Bow" (Teaming up with Babyface was a GREAT move, unlike later pairings.)
"Crazy for You" (I know I should say "Live to Tell," but I get swept away by the romance of this one.)
"Sooner or Later"/"Back in Business"/"Now I'm Following You" (This album is highly underrated.)
"Rain" (The unsung hero from an album that has grown better with age.)
"Music" (This is truly the last song she recorded that lived up to her own impeccable standards.)

(Timeline credit)


Anonymous said...

I was scrolling down on the computer reading the post and i was thinking 'la isla bonita ... worst song, la isla bonita ... worst song' and then you had it too! Love it.

and you got the best song too!

Anonymous said...

Favorite song: "Jump"
Least favorite: "Spanish Lesson"

Anonymous said...

into the groove is my fav too. <> you hated la isla bonita, but you liked music? LOL. her worst songs from the 80s and early 90s are ten times better than her best songs from the late 90s and 2000s. get a clue. when her daughter was born her creative imagination died. RIP Madonna 1958-1997. (funny, michael jacksons creativity also seemed to disappear when his kids were born)

Anonymous said...

Damn, this is harder than I thought. I guess my favorite is "Like a Prayer" and my least favorite is also "La Isla Bonita".


Neal said...

Hey Kenneth:

I think my favorite is "Secret". I still CRANK it everytime I hear it-Plus, it got me back into Madonna in a period where I just didn't care about her anymore.

Least favorite: "True Blue"- this saccharine mess puts my teeth right on edge.

Unknown said...

Fave is Causing A Commotion

Least Fave is American Pie.

It used to be La Isla Bonita until I saw it live at the Girlie Show.

S said...

"Something to remember" from the I'm Breathless album.

And, I always liked "I'd rather be your lover" from Bedtime Stories.

Yes, that's two, but come on. The woman does amazing pop music.

Anonymous said...

Best: "Crazy for You"

Worst: "4 Minutes"

I also like "Oh Father," but that's probably for more personal reasons than objective excellence.

Tom S. said...


Favorite: "Vogue"
Worst: "Shoo-Bee-Doo"

I had a more difficult time deciding on my least favorite Madonna song. "Vogue" is arguably her best and most iconic song.

Anonymous said...

la isla bonita and true blue are beautiful melodic 1980's compositions. i cant imagine any madonna fan not liking them, let alone preferring her contemporary and soulless techno-hiphop inspired works of shitola.

Anonymous said...

Favorite : Future Lovers
Least Favorite : Cherish

mrtrblmkr1 said...

It's hard to pick an ultimate fave, as I'm addicted to Secret and Deeper and Deeper, but above those two, one that had me on tears for my own personal reason, is Frozen:

Fav: Frozen

I can easily pick those I don't like, especially from earlier in her time line, largely because I'm not into the style of music produced then - Hanky Panky was mentioned so I'll use:

Worst: Cherish

Bradmo said...

Fave:Bedtime Story (it's Bjork-i-licious)

Worst: La Isla Bonita...I'm with you on this one, even before I saw you had selected it. Gag. Add any other song sung in Spanish to the el worst list.

And I'll pretend you didn't diss Fever, one of my faves. Do you have the remixes, K?

Major Models said...


Anonymous said...

I guess to each its own righ??? I do love Into the Grove dont get me wrong, BUT, i trully think it's impossible to come up with a Madonna number one song..All of her songs are amazing.. I do agree witht he comment you made about the Erotica cd, too bad people were too blind to see what a piece of genious that cd was.

Sam said...

I'm going with "Live to Tell" as a favorite. So nice and reflective, plus it's from the Sean Penn years, for what that's worth.

Least favorite has to be American Pie. I don't have the words.

Anonymous said...

Favorite: tie between Dress You Up and Rain

Least: American Life

Anonymous said...

NEWS FLASH: Madonna is a crusty has-been, and was only ever a mediocre vocalist. There's nothing brilliant about "Music." I mean really. "Music...makes the people...come together...yeah." Wow, that's pure genius.

The Captain. said...

Favorite: "Live to Tell." Beautiful, and it has really withstood the test of time.

Least favorite: "4 Minutes." A hot mess from start to finish. If staying relevant means turning out this garbage, I'd rather have her irrelevant.

Alan Bennett Ilagan said...

Favorite: Like A Prayer
Least Fave: Act of Contrition
Both off the same album...

kq said...

Favourite song: Vogue, but only if I really have to choose.

Worst: Mother and Father, she's particularly whiny on this one...

Anonymous said...

Favorite song: "Express Yourself"

philly76 said...

Favorite: Any song from the Ray of Light album. but if I had to choose, "The Power of Good-bye."

Least Favorite: American Life

Anonymous said...

my fav madonna song is "Rain"

my least fav is "Poppa Don't Preach"... poor Danny Aiello :(

Anonymous said...

Yicky: "American Life"
She was running out of controversies to sell, and this song was the unfortunate result

Yay: "Get Together"
Just a simple tune with a great thumping beat. The echoey breakdown is great. It's really her best uptempo song since "Ray of Light", it's 100 times superior to "Music", which was my runner-up for worst song.

Anonymous said...

Love "Get Together", "True Love", "Borderline", "Dress You Up", "Like a Virgin".

Anonymous said...

I pretty much agree with your list, however I would swap out "Cherish" (have always disliked that song *almost* as much as La Isla Bonita).....with "You Must Love Me".

James Greenlee said...

Loved everything pretty much until 1997. VERY mixed bag after that.

Favorite: "Open Your Heart" (followed very closely by "Express Yourself," "Vogue" and "Don't Tell Me."

Least Favorite: "American Life" and absolutely every other song on that album. Terrible.

Anonymous said...

Her best is Into the Groove and Crazy for you for me.

Her worst none because I'm a true fan unlike kenneth who should be doing this best/worst list on debbie harry/blondie who is his ultimate diva.

Matthew said...

GOD, you must be dying to get comments...haha. It's hard to pick the best because one wants to avoid anything obvious. Like, it's hard to say the best song on LIKE A PRAYER is "Like a Prayer" just because it's so obvious. But avoiding comparing my choice to anyone else''re right, it's "Into the Groove." I am with you on most of the runners-up, too, though "Cherish" isn't near my top (love it, though). "La Isla Bonita" is a fantastic cheesy song, and while I am sick of her doing it over and over (again and again over and over), her gypsy version is brilliant and was a highlight of STICKY & SWEET despite having been previewed for that green concert.

Worst song? Man, that is hard...I'll avoid unreleased but commonly available songs.

Single, maybe "American Pie," but I will listen to it happily.

Non-single, there are a lot of bad ones as there would be from anyone with her catalogue. How about "Love Makes the World Go Round?"

dappervirgo said...

Kenneth... i can't even believe you would ask someone to name their favorite song from such an amazing artist. It's honestly not fair. I am a bigger Mariah fan than anything else (tattoo and everything) while i am not old enough to recollect enough of the 80s to justify saying "i've loved madonna her entire career" i will say that i favor more her ballads than her techno house music.
So because i ADORE you and want to contribute i will put this out there.

Favorite: You'llSeeCrazy4UWhatItFeelsLike4AGirl
Least Favorite: Jimmy Jimmy

To be fair though... I know that music just holds a moment in time for you and sometimes others wouldn't understand. I was not really a child of the 80s so while Jimmy Jimmy may not be my favorite, had a i been around when it was released it may of been "cool" back then to me had i been of sound age to appreciate it for whatever "art" it is suppose to be lol

John said...

Favorite: "The Power of Good-Bye"
(really hard to pick one)!

Least Favorite: "X-tactic Process"

Anonymous said...

I can't improve on your choices. Always loved "Into the Groove" -- my friends said I danced like one of the guys with crazy fin hair in the club scene from the movie -- and I do (did) not! LOL.

Might dislike "Papa Don't Preach" even more than "La Isla Bonita".

The God Of Biscuits said...

Favorite - Causing a Commotion

Least Favorite - American Life

Anonymous said...

Favorites: "Burning Up" and "Express Yourself". I can't pick just one.

Worst: "American Life" introduced us to Madonna the rapper. Hopefully a lesson was learned.......

"I'm drinkin a soy latte, I get a double shotty.
It goes right through my body and you know I'm satisfied"

Tupac is rolling over in his grave!

Timmy said...

Fave; Deeper and Deeper

Anonymous said...

Favorite: "Keep it Together" ( A bit cheesy, I know. What can I say?")

Contenders: "Where's the Party?" "Vogue" "Express Yourself" "Crazy for You"

Worst:"American Pie" Poor Don McLean. And us, for having to listen to it.

Anonymous said...

Favorite songs (new Madonna): Dance 2 night
(mid Madonna): Like a Prayer/Vogue
(old Madonna): Into the Groove

Least favorite song: Love Song (Duet with Prince on Like a Prayer - truly shiteous!)

Anonymous said...

Favorite: "Skin"
Lease Favorite: "American Pie"

Anonymous said...

Best Madge Song:
Tough Choice: Probably "Lucky Star"
conjures up amamzing memories.

Easily her remake of "Santa Baby"
That little girl voice just ruins my holiday. I called Sirius last year and asked them to please at least play Earthas' version just once in awhile instead and they actually did after that.

Anonymous said...

Just to be perverse:

Favorite(s): La Isle Bonita/Hanky Panky

Least favorite: Papa Don't Preach (or "Help me get out of this mess but don't you dare tell me what to do")

Timmy said...

OH! Forgot to give you my least fave: Secret

Anonymous said...

Fave Maddy track: "Deeper and Deeper"

Least Fav: 'American Pie"

Just not getting the 'La Isla Bonita'
backlash. Mads always does a fantastic live version.

Michael said...

Favorite - love "Material Girl" and "Vogue" equally.
Worst - "I Love New York" from the Confessions album. It made me turn my car stereo off the first time I heard it.

Blobby said...

Agreed on "Las Isla Bonita". I swear she sings, "...with eyes like potatoes..."

But I'm a big fan of "Frozen", and the VERY unrepresented "You'll See".