By the release of the single Causing A Commotion, Madonna had a full two years of worldwide hits behind her. Recognition of her popularity came in the form of record and ticket sales: her music releases were bestsellers, her concerts sold out, and despite questionable reviews for her movies, enough people were going to the cinemas to see them. But recognition from her peers in the industries she operated in was rarer, and major awards from reputable organizations were in short supply at this stage in her career. Readers of the music press and viewers of music television shows did, however, vote on her work in their masses and from 1985 onwards, she was a regular in publicly-voted polls.
Smash Hits had been conducting readers’ polls since 1980. Madonna had first appeared in the 1984 poll, achieving third place in the ‘Most Fanciable Female’ category. (She would go on to win that title several more times.) But it was in the following year that her name started to appear in multiple categories. In 1985 (“A big kiss to all Smash Hits readers. Thank you very much,” she wrote in response to her wins) she was Best Female Singer, her Like A Virgin album was the Best Album, and her movie ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ was the Best Film. In addition, two of the 10 Best Singles were hers: Into The Groove was third, and Crazy For You eighth. She had similar success in 1986 (“Hey! You readers! Thanks a lot! You’re Number One with me too!”), wins including Best Female Singer, Best Album (True Blue) and again two of the 10 Best Singles (True Blue at #3 and Papa Don’t Preach at #8). She won Best Female Singer for the third year in a row in 1987. (But she was a divisive figure. In 1985, for example, in the rather more obscure categories of Non-Event Of The Year and Most Very Horrible Thing, she placed first in the former (for her wedding to Sean Penn) and fourth in the latter (for her beauty spot). And for (almost) every favourable vote she had received in the categories where she had triumphed that year, she received a negative one. She was also Worst Singer, Like A Virgin was the second-Worst Album and ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ the second-Worst Film, and Gambler was the sixth Worst Single.)
She also featured in the polls of all the titles in the music press that ran readers’ polls, but beyond that there were few nominations in other British awards ceremonies. As an American, she was eligible for only one category in the big UK music industry awards event, the BPI Awards: she was nominated for Best International Solo Artist in 1987 but didn’t win. Over in the US she achieved more, but despite being frequently nominated often went away empty-handed on the nights the winners were announced. She was nominated in the category Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female two years running at the Grammys (1986 and 1987, for Crazy For You and Papa Don’t Preach respectively) and her 1987 single Who’s That Girl was nominated for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television the following year; she didn’t win for any of them. Who’s That Girl was also a runner-up for Best Original Song at the Golden Globes in 1988, but it did win for Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures at the ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards. (Her Live To Tell had won in the same category the year before.)
But it was at the MTV Video Music Awards that her name was heard the most frequently. She has repeated nominations in various categories at this ceremony from 1984 to 1987, but only one of her videos won in that period: Papa Don’t Preach was the Best Female Video in 1987. The previous year she had won The Video Vanguard Award, the ‘lifetime achievement’ category (rather premature in Madonna’s case), for her body of work to that date. At that time she had made only eight full promotional clips (nine if Live To Tell is included, for which only 50% of the material was specially shot) with the remainder of her singles supported by existing footage from live performances and movie excerpts. Nevertheless, she was one of the first big stars emerging during the ‘video era’ and so celebrating the contribution of the medium to her rise in fame was undoubtedly justified.
Meanwhile, the hits kept coming. Causing A Commotion was her 16th consecutive Top 5 single in the UK, and in the same week it charted, all her LPs to date were in the albums chart Top 50: Who’s That Girl Original Soundtrack (1987) was at #15, True Blue (1986) was at #22, Like A Virgin (1984) was at #41 and Madonna (1983) was at #50. Between them they had amassed 334 weeks on the chart already with sales of over 2.5m copies.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Sep. 7
DEPECHE MODE Just Can’t Get Enough (Mute MUTE016)
BRONSKI BEAT Why? (Forbidden Fruit BITE2)
CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT Free (Mercury CAT6)
HOLLYWOOD BEYOND (Mark Rogers) After Midnight (WEA YZ142)
MADONNA Causing A Commotion (Sire W8224)