This article originally ran in 2014 and has been updated in honor of Madonna’s birthday on August 16th.
Here’s a funny picture: In July 1983, metalheads and popsters all stormed into their closest Sam Goody, where they likely collided head first in the aisle at M whilst clamoring for Kill ‘Em All or Madonna. Parents scoffed at the time, but either party held the debut album to the future leader of their respective genres. Wild, huh? It’s almost like something out of a Far Side comic; the two most opposite musical forces, both then and today, essentially born as twins. Cowabunga.
Of course, as history goes, Madonna’s self-titled debut didn’t exactly blow out the mall doors upon arrival. The album entered the Billboard 200 at No. 123, and it wasn’t until over a year later that it peaked… at No. 8. It took her third single, “Holiday,” to finally turn heads, which was then followed by “Lucky Star” and “Borderline.” Although her followup, 1984’s Like a Virgin, really introduced the world to the Madonna we champion and pay $300 to see today, the trail of glitter did start here.
So, in light of its 30th anniversary — shh, Madge can’t know, she’ll just get upset — we carved out our top 20 favorite songs. Don’t scoff, we gladly took it upon ourselves to listen to hours and hours of catchy, incandescent pop music. It was a fun process that’s even more addicting than it sounds. (Seriously, I’ve listened to “Borderline” far too many times for one’s own health.) Yet because she’s the Queen of Pop and reigns over a pyramid of hits, we’re sure there will be some omissions.
On the plus side, there’s no room for disappointment — just dancing. Enjoy, and scroll to the end for a playlist of all 20 tracks.
— Michael Roffman