This part of the Madonna story is where everything she touches turns to gold. Or silver. Or perhaps platinum. With just one exception, every record she released in the UK in the period between the second issue of the Lucky Star single (see The Madonna Story Part 1) and the release of Papa Don’t Preach received a sales award from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
Before we review her list of achievements, a note on the sales thresholds for awards from the BPI, which throughout the 1980s* were as follows:
● Silver certification (albums: 60,000 units; singles: 250,000 units)
■ Gold certification (albums: 100,000 units; singles: 500,000 units)
★ Platinum certification (albums: 300,000 units per platinum award; singles: 1,000,000 units)
*The thresholds for singles certification were reduced for singles issued after January 1st, 1989 to 200k, 400k and 600k units for silver, gold and platinum respectively.
● Single, Like A Virgin
At this stage in her career, Madonna still relied on other writers for her biggest hits, although Lucky Star had proved that she could pen a Top 10 single herself. (It made #4 in the US.) Like A Virgin, though, was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, a writing partnership that yielded numerous hits throughout the 80s for a variety of artists.
■ Single, Like A Virgin
● ■ Album, Like A Virgin
Like A Virgin was Madonna’s first #1 single in the US.
● Single, Material Girl
It was on the set of the video shoot for Material Girl on 10 January 1985 that Madonna met her future husband Sean Penn.
● Single, Crazy For You
● Single, Into The Groove
● Album, Madonna
Into The Groove was a huge hit for Madonna in the UK, becoming her first #1 here. Surprisingly, it was never issued as a 45 in its own right in America. There, it appeared as an extra track on the 12” version of her single Angel. (Angel, by the way, was the ‘one that got away’ in the UK. Its chart performance was as robust as her other singles in this period but evidently it sold fewer copies, as no certified award was ever forthcoming from the BPI.)
■ Single, Holiday
■ Single, Into The Groove
■ Album, Madonna
★ Album, Like A Virgin
Sire re-issued both of Madonna’s albums in the summer of 1985. Madonna was re-packaged in a colour sleeve, allocated a new catalogue number, and retitled The First Album, although the musical content remained unchanged. Into The Groove was added to the track list for the Like A Virgin album. So keen were Sire to get this new version in the shops, master-bagged copies of the new vinyl edition were sent to retailers with instructions to place them in the sleeves of the previous edition and apply a hype sticker to the front to advertise the inclusion of the extra track. Meanwhile, in the singles chart, for the week ending 17 August Madonna held the #1 slot with Into The Groove and the #2 position with a re-promoted Holiday, with both singles earning gold discs.
■ Single, Crazy For You
Crazy For You was Madonna’s second #1 in America, and although it peaked at #2 in the UK, it ultimately sold more copies than several of her singles that topped the chart here. In 1991, it was released again here (in a supposedly ‘remixed’ version, although the differences are barely perceptible) – and once again, it peaked at #2. (Holiday was also re-issued a few weeks later. It made #5, its third visit to the Top 10.)
★ ★ Album, Like A Virgin
The Like A Virgin album had a very slow climb to #1. It took four months just to reach the Top 10, and finally made the first of two visits to the top spot in the week ending 21 September 1985.
● Single, Gambler
★ ★ ★ Album, Like A Virgin
Gambler (released by Geffen, the company responsible for the soundtrack album of the film the song was featured on, ‘Vision Quest’) was not released as a single in America as Sire in the US was concerned about diverting attention from the Like A Virgin album, which was as far as they were concerned was the priority product at the time. Sire in the UK were evidently less concerned as the track was cleared for release as a single here. Gambler was the last Madonna song produced by John “Jellybean” Benetiz to be released as a single.
● Single, Dress You Up
★ Album, Madonna
Dress You Up, fresh from its appearance on ‘The Filthy 15’ earlier in the year, was issued as single in America in July 1985. Madonna performed the song on her ‘The Virgin Tour’ of the States and footage form a recording of one of the concerts on the tour was used for the video clip to help promote the single. (Just to show that she could top the charts for all media, the video cassette of the ‘The Virgin Tour’ made #1 in the music video chart in the UK on its release in December 1985.) Here, it was Madonna’s last single of ’85. An innovation was the release of a special star-shaped picture disc edition of the 7”. This had two holes bored into the vinyl: one in the centre so it could be played on a turntable, and another at the top to enable it to be hung on trees as a Christmas decoration.
● Single, Borderline
It took Borderline over 18 months to earn its first sales certification. It was released in May 1984, peaking at #56; a special picture disc was released on 13 January 1986 as part of an effort to re-promote it and bring it to the attention of a wider audience. The efforts worked: this time it made #2.
■ Single, Borderline
The promotional clip filmed for Borderline was issued, along with those for Lucky Star, Burning Up (not a single in Britain) and Like A Virgin, on VHS and Betamax in March 1985 on a collection variously known as ‘Madonna’, ‘The Video EP’ or ‘Four Clips’. This video cassette was also a best-seller on the music video chart.
● Single, Live To Tell
From Live To Tell onwards, Madonna co-wrote (and, for that matter, co-produced) nearly all her singles. The only exception for the rest of the 1980s was Papa Don’t Preach, released today 29 years ago, which she wasn’t responsible for writing (although she did receive a credit for supplying “additional lyrics”). It was one of her biggest hits, going silver in July 1986 and gold the following month.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Jun. 16
MADONNA Papa Don’t Preach (Sire W8636)
Gary NUMAN I Can’t Stop (Numa NU17)