I've never been a big fan of Madonna. I remember the first video I saw - her writhing in the street to "Burning Up". I also saw her performance at the first MTV Video Music Awards, as she writhed around on stage in a wedding dress. Big deal.
Over the years, though, she has proved to be mistress of her own domain. Far smarter than one would have imagined from her early exposure, she has managed to always stay in the public eye, either through her music or one controversy or another - she is an exemplar of the show-biz motto that there is no such thing as bad press. She also continues to change and grow, a kind of David Bowie without Bowie's fake intellectual pretensions.
There have been a few of her songs that have stood out for me, for different reasons.
I think "Live To Tell" was the first time she wasn't presented in a video as a sex symbol. Sitting quite demurely in a chair, in a chaste dress, her hair up, her vocals understated, the song was for a forgettable movie her then-husband, Sean Penn had done, At Close Range. I still don't know why it stands out for me, unless it was just the fact that it was so different from anything she had done before.
"Justify My Love" may not be the best erotic song ever written - Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" probably has that honor - but there's something about that synth opening, her husky whisper. It's like the feel of skin underneath one's lips. Geez, now, I'm getting all sweaty . . .
I liked "Ray of Light" almost instantly, and still do. Don't ask me why. The sound here was taken from a tour rehearsal, overlaid with the original promo video.