Our Top 10 Madonna Songs list presents ten of the best and most inspiring Madonna songs released during the past four decades. Of course, picking ten is just about impossible, so we also included an alternate Top 10 list plus an honorary mentions list. We usually don’t do that with any of our top 10 lists, but we were having so much fun with this one we just couldn’t stop.
Madonna has released an abundance of material throughout her career. Madonna’s first full length album was released in 1983 entitled Madonna. Since then, Madonna has released fourteen studio albums consisting almost entirely of original material. Albums that were groundbreaking, trendsetting and loved by millions. Her latest studio album as of this writing in 2021 was 2019’s Madame X. Alongside her studio album releases were soundtrack albums usually associated with roles she played in those films. Her role in Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy yielded a studio alum entitled I’m Breathless. Her starring role in Who’s That Girl also resulted in a studio album of songs associated with the film. There was also the release of the Evita Soundtrack from her starring role in that film.
Of course there were many more songs that were released in films that became hit singles like “Into The Groove,” from Desperately Seeking Susan a film she also starred in early in her career. “Crazy For You,” from Vision Quest, “Die Another Day,” from the James Bond film of the same name, “Beautiful Stranger,” from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, “This Used To Be My Playground,” from A League Of Their Own and “I’ll Remember,” from the film With Honors. Many of these songs could also be found on the various fantastic compilation albums Madonna and her record company have released over the years.
Madonna has also released five stunning live albums often mixed with audio CDs and DVDs of her major tours . These included I’m Going to Tell You a Secret in 2006, The Confessions Tour in 2007, Sticky & Sweet Tour in 2010, MDNA World Tour in 2013 and Rebel Heart Tour in 2017. All of these CD and DVD combo release were huge sellers around the world.
Madonna is one of the biggest stars of all time. She is also one of the most influential artists of the past fifty years. Her influence cut across many boundaries from music to film to fashion impacting mainstream culture on every level. Not only did she influence major cultural movements in fashion, video and music, she served as an inspiration for many aspiring artists as well as one’s already established. She pushed boundaries of what was accepted in mainstream culture many times without fear of reparations. Her ability to balance her talents as an artist and a brilliant business person defines a template that should be studied for years by aspiring artists. But for now, we are just going to focus on her music. We hope our comments on each of the ten songs below offer a little insight into the songs and the massive success each one enjoyed And don’t forget to watch the videos and listen to the music because that is what this one is all about……….
# 10 – Hung Up
We open up our top 10 Madonna Songs list with the great single “Hung Up.” This was a semi- return to form for Madonna. It echoed her earlier 80s dance work with an even more retro active 1970s disco feel. Throw in a little bit of her early 90s grooves and you have a single that defines all the elements of great Madonna songs that people originally fell in love with. Great production, great song, and a fabulous Madonna vocal made this one of her best releases in years.
The song “Hung Up,” was released on Madonna’s glorious album Confessions on a Dance Floor. The album was released in 2005. Confessions on a Dance Floor was Madonna’s tenth studio album. The song “Hung Up,” was written by Madonna, Stuart Price, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. The former ABBA members were given songwriting credit because the song used a sample from ABBA’s hit “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).” “Hung Up,” was a number one hit around the world. It hit number one in France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Japan, Brazil and many more other countries, In the U.S. it hit number one on various Billboard Dance charts and was a top 10 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Its success around the world showcased just how much of an international global star Madonna still was in the 2000s.
# 9 – Deeper and Deeper
Continuing with our top 10 Madonna songs we turn to one of Madonna’s great modern dance tracks from her 1990s period. Madonna’s “Deeper and Deeper,” was released on her 1992 taboo trendsetting album Erotica. Madonna was always one to take what came before her and add her own blend of pop style dance music fueled by her own personality traits. Erotica went much deeper than anything she had done before and pretty much anything that had ever been tried by anyone on such a wide mass cultural level. If someone could pull off spreading S&M to the masses, it was Madonna.
“Deeper and Deeper,” was released as the Erotica album’s second single. The song became a number one hit in Italy. It hit number one in the United States on the Billboard Dance Charts. It was also a top 10 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song was written by Madonna and Shep Pettibone.
# 8 – Open Your Heart
Madonna’ “Open Your Heart,” was the fourth single release from her record breaking album True Blue. Madonna’s True Blue album was released in 1986. It was the star’s third studio album. From a singles standpoint, True Blue was Madonna’s most successful album as it yielded three number one singles. In 1986, Madonna had become the biggest star in the world. She was more popular than the big 80s stars such as Prince, Bruce Springsteen and even Michael Jackson. One could arcge that she may have become the biggest star of all time at that point, possible only eclipsed in star power by Marylin Monroe, Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley in their primes. In 1986, Madonna had so many songs still trending on the charts from her previous two albums and movie soundtrack singles. Madonna was everywhere one looked in 1985 and 86.
“Open Your Heart,” was Madonna’s third number one single from the True Blue album alone. The album’s first two singles “Live To Tell,” and “Papa Don’t Preach,” also also hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The album’s title track “True Blue,” was released as the third single and hit number three. Four straight top 10 singles and three number ones from one album was pretty much unheard of unless you were in a band called The Beatles.
The production on “Open Your Heart,” was spectacular. Madonna always surrounded herself with brilliant talent from songwriters to musicians to producers. She had an ear and an eye for greatness, originality and marketing. True Blue was a highly anticipated album. Madonna did not disappoint with this one. “Open Your Heart’s,” crisp, tight sound and stellar production took advantage of the new CD format that was only a couple of years old and still finding its way into homes. The song sounded fresh, was immeasurably energetic and its melody completely captivating. It’s hard to describe what it was like hearing this on a CD in 1986. We were not used to hearing sound like that in such great quality. It was breathtaking, and so many of us played it over and over again. On an album of great songs, “Open Your Heart,” stood as the record’s best one.
# 7 – Lucky Star
Looking back at Madonna’s first album, one can really call it a dance pop music masterpiece. Every single song on the album is great. Even more so, after 37 years, they are still a joy to listen too. The album is timeless. Since we are composing a top 10 Madonna songs list, we had to be very careful as to which song or songs to pick from her debut LP to be represented on this list. We really could not pick more than one because of the abundance of material from the rest of Madonna’s catalog we had to choose from. It came down to either “Lucky Star,” “Borderline,” or “Burning up.” And of course there was also ‘Holiday,” and her debut single “Everybody,” that also were in the running. We also love “Physical Attraction,” “Think Of Me” and “I Know It.” In the end, we went with “Lucky Star,” as our favorite song on the LP.
Madonna’s “Lucky Star,” was the album’s opening track. The song was released as the fourth single from the album. It would become Madonna’s first top 10 hit as it peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Top 100 Charts. It would become the highest charting single from the record on the mainstream music charts. The song also hit number one on the Billboard U.S. Dance Music Charts. “Lucky Star,” was the song that really broke Madonna into the mainstream as MTV jumped all over the video and put it into very heavy rotation. The song was written by Madonna and originally produced by Reggie Lucas. Later on Madonna brought in John “Jellybean” Benitez who was her boyfriend at the the time to re-produce the record.
# 6 – Crazy For You
Placing Madonna’s single “Crazy For You,” on this top 10 Madonna songs list is part sentimental. How could it not be, at least for anyone who came of age in the 1980s. This is just one of those songs that everybody fell in love with when it was first released. It’s such a great ballad that defined the sound of the mid-80s. The song was released on the soundtrack to the movie Vision Quest. The movie starred Matthew Modine and Linda Fiorentino. The film was one of those romantic teen coming of age 80s movies that were so popular during the decade of big hair. Madonna performed the song as a night club singer in the film.
The song “Crazy For You,” was a huge hit for Madonna and showcased Madonna singing a ballad for the first time in a single release. “Crazy For You,” would become Madonna’s second number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. It was released while her Like A Virgin album was still climbing the charts. The song was not written by Madonna but rather composed by John Bettis and Jon Lind. This one was special.
# 5 – Give It 2 Me
We enter the second half of our top 10 Madonna songs list with a great one from her smoking CD Hard Candy. This a driving number that balances the lines between pop, dance, electronic, hip hop and some rock and roll soul. In simpler terms, its a cranking Madonna song. Madonna’s “Give It 2 Me,” was the second single released from her Hard Candy LP. It was released after the album’s lead single “4 Minutes,” that featured a duet with Justin Timberlake. While “Give It 2 Me,” was nowhere as successful as “4 Minutes,” which was a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, it still hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Dance Charts.
# 4 – Ray Of Light
While Madonna’s “Ray of Light,” was a totally surprising incursion into electronica dance music, it was actually one of Madonna’s best vocal performances on record. The song served as the title track to Madonna’s Ray Of Light CD. This grand exploration into electronica was also filled with touches of Middle Eastern melodies and scales that sounded unlike anything Madonna had ever recorded before. The queen of reinvention had delivered a collection of songs that were efficaciously captivating. While the album was filled with many great tracks, “Ray Of Light,” was easily the stand-out cut.
The Ray Of Light album was released in 1998. “Ray Of Light,” was released as the second single from the album behind the CDs lead single “Frozen.” “Ray Of Light,” broke the Billboard’s Hot 100 top 10 peaking at number five. Like so many other Madonna songs “Ray Of Light,” went straight to number one on the Billboard Dance Music Charts. The song was written by a team of songwriters who got credit for it including Madonna, William Orbit, Clive Maldoon, Dave Curtiss and Christine Leach.
# 3 – Vogue
At number three on our top 10 Madonna songs list we come to one of the most interesting and successful songs of Madonna’s career. It was also one of the most trendsetting songs in pop music history. By 1989, Madonna had released four wonderful albums in a span of six years. Her fourth album entitled Like A Prayer was an artistic masterpiece that in many ways begged the question now what? Well, leave it up to Madonna to completely reinvent herself again and come up with a song that fueled in many ways a new musical style, or at least brought it out of the underground and into the mainstream.
The song “Vogue,” was released on the album I’m Breathless. The album was a companion piece to the movie although it did not serve as the official film score soundtrack but rather as a new Madonna album filled with songs inspired by the film. Danny Elfman composed the movie’s original score. There was also a third soundtrack record released with songs from various artists. “Vouge,” was the album’s closing number on Madonna’s I’m Breathless album. (Her character’s name in the film was Breathless). The song was written by Madonna and Shep Pettibone.
Madonna’s “Vogue,” was a monster hit. The song went straight to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 It also hit number one on the U.S. Dance Music Charts. It wasn’t just a smash hit in the United States, “Vogue,” was an international success. “Vogue,” hit number one in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Spain Italy and twenty four other countries around the world. The song went mufti-platinum in many of the countries it hit number one. “Vogue,” is Madonna’s biggest selling single of all time in the United Stares.
# 2 – Like A Virgin
Madonna’s debut album was filled with hits and turned a lot people onto the young singer from the Mid-West. However, the early 80s were filled with many musical artists who hit it big with a hit song or two and then faded away rather quickly. With the release of Madonna’s second album Like A Virgin, Madonna and her record company made sure to not only avoid any sort of sophomore jinx but to also turn Madonna into one of the biggest stars in the world. It’s safe to say that they were most successful on every front. Madonna’s Like A Virgin album was filled with plenty of hits. However, none was bigger than the album’s title track “Like A Virgin.”
The song “Like A Virgin,” as well as the rest of the album proved that Madonna would not be satisfied being labeled as just a dance artist, This was an album filled with pop songs fueled by energetic rock and roll dance grooves. The addition of Niles Rogers as a producer was a brilliant move. The song “Like A Virgin’s,” opening bass and keyboard riff grabbed the listener’s attention instantly. Madonna’s vocal performance on this incredibly addicting song was so sexually energized in such a cute, innocent but yet somewhat dangerous way that everyone who heard it was instantly mesmerized whether you were male or female, young or old. It was a perfect pop song that served as the point in which Madonna became a world wide phenomena leading the way to becoming one of the biggest stars of all time.
# 1 – Like A Prayer
Its hard to pinpoint any particular moment in Madonna’s career as an artistic peak because Madonna was always reinventing herself on so many levels. However, if we had to choose, we would focus on the release of her fourth album entitled Like A Prayer as the moment in her career when she released her most mature and artistic record of her entire catalog. Madonna’s first three albums had delivered pure pop and dance gems that captured the love of millions. In 1990, “Vouge,” had altered the sound of dance music for almost a decade. “Ray of Light,” cast electronica into the mainstream. Yet, the song “Like A Prayer,” showcased Madonna’s fearlessness. A character trait that anyone who looked to lead the way in the arts and make bold artistic statements must never yield.
Madonna’s “Like A Prayer,” is an incredibly personal song fueled by Madonna’s Catholic school upbringing. Anyone who went to Catholic School in the 50s, 60s, or early 70s understands the trauma of what so many of us went through during those years growing up. The experience is never forgotten. Madonna was clearly channeling that experience in the song. She added her own artistic voice to the experience writing lyrics that were poignant, yet vague enough to be open for interpretation like all great art should be. She seemed to be both celebrating and protesting her faith at the same time while almost breaking free…almost.
“Like A Prayer,” showcased Madonna as a truly brilliant artist. Its also defined once again her status as a hit making machine. “Like A Prayer,” hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1989. The song also hit number one in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain, Australia and Canada.
The Alternate Top 10 Madonna Songs
Below is a list of ten Madonna songs that were originally on our first list. It was really tough just picking ten and we went back and forth over this one. The ones below are just so good we could not complete this Madonna songs list without giving them a mention. And we could probably have done another two or three alternative top 10 lists right after this one, but instead decided to do an honorary mentions list……. This list is a little darker, some may actually prefer this one over the first one.
# 10 – Justify My Love
From the album The Immaculate Collection. This was a number one record for Madonna in 1990 on the Billboard Hot 100.
# 9 – Borderline
This was a big time favorite from Madonna’s debut album entitled Madonna in 1983. It was released as the albums fifth single and still became a top 10 hit in 1984. Our favorite video from the album and one of our favorite Madonna songs of all time. This one brings us back…….
# 8 – Bad Girl
From the album Erotica released in 1992. Also the first of two straight videos to feature the great Christopher Walken. “Bad Girl,” was a top 40 hit in the U.S. peaking at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100.
# 7 – Live To Tell
Madonna’s “Live To Tell,” was the first single released form her 1986 CD True Blue. The song went straight to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was also used in the Christopher Walken Sean Penn film At Close Range. Look how young everybody looks in this one.
# 6 -La Isla Bonita
This one was a bit of an outlier in Madonna’s catalog at the time. Yet it was a brilliant Spanish theme recording that stands as one of her finest moments on vinyl. Released on the great True Blue album. It was a number 4 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
# 5 – Express Yourself
Lady Gaga got a lot of flack when she released “Born This Way,” because everyone said it was a rip off of Madonna’s great tribute to Motown in her classic tune “Express Yourself.” One of the great songs released on her Like A Prayer album.
# 4 – Papa Don’t Preach
This one cause a bit of controversy because of the subject matter Nonetheless, this was a kicking songs with a driving groove and melody that was passionate and intense. A great acting performance by Danny Aiello and Madonna wrapped this video up perfectly.
# 3 – Material Girl
No one will ever forget Madonna’s tribute To Marilyn Monroe’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes scene in the video for “Material Girl.” Amazing song, wonderful video and a stunning performance by Madonna.
# 2 – This Used To Be My Playground
Madonna’s “This Used To Be My Playground,” was a song written for the film A League of Their Own. The song was never released on the films soundtrack album but was released rather as a stand alone single. A very successful single as it hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1992. The song was written by Madonna and Shep Pettibone.
# 1 – Burning Up
“Burning Up,” appeared on Madonna’s self titled debut entitled Madonna in 1983. The song was released as the album’s second single. It failed to chart on the Hot 100. However it did hit number three on the U.S. Dance Charts.
Madonna songs that we also love……
In Chronological order these are the ones we wanted to also place on our top 10 lists but just ran out of room
I Know It
Love Don’t Live Here Anymore
Into The Groove
Causing A Commotion
Take A Bow
Drowned World/Substitute for Love
Die Another Day
Turn Up the Radio
The original studio albums Discography
(Released in 1983)
(Released in 1984)
(Released in 1986)
(Released in 1989)
(Released in 1992)
(Released in 1994)
(Released in 1998)
(Released in 2000)
(Released in 2003)
(Released in 2005)
(Released in 2005)
(Released in 2012)
(Released in 2015)
(Released in 2019)
Madonna’s Songs found on Soundtrack albums
(Released in 1987)
(Released in 1990)
(Released in 1996)
(Released in 1987)
Featured the great new song “Spotlight,” and remixes of many of her hits……
(Released in 1990)
A spectacular Greatest hits collection that featured two new songs including her number one hit “Justify My Love,” and “Rescue Me.”
(Released in 1995)
A compilation album featuring ballads, new songs and former hits never released on any of her studio albums such as “This Used To Be My Playground.”
GHV2 – Greatest Hits Volume II
(Released in 2001)
(Released in 2003)
Featured an unreleased song entitled “You Honesty.”
(Released in 2009)
Top 10 Madonna Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2020
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