Madonna turns 60 today so here’s happy birthday to her. I’ve written before about Madonna, about the turn of the 90s Madonna where she took on board house music and sampling and bestrode the planet like a Galtier bra wearing colossus singing Justify My Love and Vogue, and also about the later 90s Madonna working with William Orbit making the superb Ray Of Light album, and before that about Into The Groove and Sonic Youth’s Ciccone Youth, and before that about her appearing on The Tube at The Hacienda and a story about Peter Hook (allegedly) or Rob Gretton (possibly) offering her £50 to dance for him and being told to fuck off.

Madonna’s songs from the 1980s, the pop stuff, sound better and better the further away from then we get- whenever I hear them on the radio or the TV I’m always struck by their dance-pop nous and the exuberance she put into them. La Isla Bonita, Live To Tell, Borderline, Like A Prayer, Live To Tell and a load of others too- top stuff. Here are two of them to remind you…

Borderline was her first US top ten hit and reached number 2 in the UK. Produced and then remixed by Jellybean Benitez, her boyfriend at the time, it is one of the building blocks of her career, four minutes of perfectly pitched pop music.


Like A Prayer, from 1989, signals the end of her pure-pop phase and the start of the next part, but is really just pop. It is a blast, mixing sex and Catholicism, and guaranteed to cause controversy. The video where Madonna witnesses a murder by the Ku Klux Klan, takes refuge in a church and then dreams about kissing a black Jesus, was banned by The Vatican and led to an outcry by various ‘family and religious groups’ who also boycotted Pepsi who then dropped her and the song from an advert. A lot of fuss over a pop song- who’d have thought the religious right wing were so touchy?

Like A Prayer