Sire Records, 1983

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I still remember the first time I ever heard of Madonna. I was watching a Chicago-area version of MTV, when a video for "Borderline" came on. Upon first glance, I thought Madonna was a British dance music singer who was a sex kitten - wearing a black bra through a white shirt always did that for me.

I was wrong on two counts: Madonna, obviously, isn't British, and as her self-titled debut album proves, she ain't no dance music diva.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Some of the early hits are still somewhat entertaining, don't get me wrong. "Borderline" is an okay song, which could be one of Madonna's better vocal performances on this album. However, there's no denying that this song (for that matter, the whole album) hasn't aged very well; the backing track is rather weak compared to other dance music songs of this time period. Still, you don't knock a good thing.

Too bad there's not many moments on Madonna like this. Problem number one is that Madonna's voice just isn't seasoned enough, and sounds too weak through these tracks. Another hit from this album, "Lucky Star," is an example, where it often sounds like her voice is straining to make some of the notes. "Burning Up" also features some of this strain, but it does feature a little more challenging material to perform. This brings us to the second problem: a lot of the songs on this are just poor-man's dance music. Exhibit "A": "Physical Attraction," an incredible waste of time to listen to.

Problem number three: the production work of Reggie Lucas, which just doesn't fit Madonna's style at all. Mark Kamins, who produced one track, doesn't do much better. Only John "Jellybean" Benitez, is able to do any justice to Madonna on "Holiday," another song which has her straining to hit some notes (though not nearly as many as other songs).

Maybe I'm being a little too harsh; this is, after all, just a debut album. But I think the bigger problem was that Madonna wasn't given a chance to express her own individuality in the music. She would gain this opportunity on her next album, and it would make a bigger difference.

If you absolutely must own the hit songs off Madonna, then pick up The Immaculate Collection. Otherwise, Madonna is one that's strictly for the die-hard fans.

Rating: C

User Rating: B



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.