Review Summary: With Madonna's debut album, she gave herself the perfect starting point for a lucrative career that is still pushing onward nearly 30 years later.
In the current state of pop music, through all the dubstep wobbles and 80’s synth revival, it is hard to not to find the influence of Madonna, the proclaimed Queen of Pop. Debatably one of the most influential women in pop music, Madge has left a lasting impression on the music scene with her ability to consistently shift styles with each album, while still staying fresh and relevant through her glory years in the 80’s and 90’s. Perhaps some of the best of Madonna’s work actually comes from before she became this musical chameleon, with her self titled debut album released in 1983, the heart of the 80’s pop music scene was born.
The eight-track long album was an instant success, with all but three of the songs becoming charting singles. The simplistic song arrangements of bouncy synth lines and energetic choruses with hints of jazz and disco influences make up eight songs of pure pop bliss. The album has its faults, particularly with the lack of variety and the now dated sound of the nearly 30 year-old work, but still is a landmark in the history of music.
The album opens with one Madonna’s most recognizable hits, Lucky Star. Beginning with a fluttering synth line and bubbly guitar riff that sets the album off right. It fully showcases Madonna’s style of vocal delivery well, despite her early singing voice being often mocked today even by Madonna herself. The high-pitched “Minnie Mouse voice,” to some is very tiresome, but in context of the album it is almost a novelty to be heard.
The following song, and another hit single, Borderline, does not break away at all from the style set by Lucky Star aside from mellowing out the synths a little bit and trading in the guitar for a light piano riff. The chorus even features a faint gospel choir, a style that she would later explore with greater depth on “Like A Prayer.” Borderline, being sandwiched between two wonderful pop songs, Lucky Star, and the high energy Burning Up, creates one of the best string of songs on a pop album. Each one is faintly similar in style, but delightfully strong on their own.
Unfortunately the album falls into what might be called The Thriller Effect, meaning the short album is so single heavy, all the non-singles simply pale in comparison, much akin to Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking, “Thriller.” The three songs that were not released as singles, I Know It, Think of Me, and Physical Attraction are all just simply “good” songs, never reaching the same strides that hits like the famous “Holiday” did from this much too short album (Although the saxophone line in Think of Me is one of the most memorible moments of the album).
Despite this, Madonna’s breakout into the music scene was an event like no other, and though she has leveled out over the past couple years, her early work is hard to match. Her influence on music is everywhere, and while many of her albums surpass the work she did on her debut, it was really the best starting point she ever could have crafted for herself.