It wasn’t easy turning me into a Madonna fan — and even then it never quite took. Her first hit, “Holiday,” was a third-rate ripoff of The Go-Go’s far superior “Vacation.” And as a Go-Go’s fan, I resented her for it. “Like A Virgin” didn’t do anything for me, either. I saw some promise in “Material Girl,” but the promise wasn’t kept very long, as it would be five more years before she was able to catch my ear again.
From 1989 to 1992, Madonna put out a series of albums and singles I still find myself listening to, sometimes even queuing them up on purpose. Like A Prayer was the first of the three albums, followed in pretty short order by I’m Breathless (“Music From and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy“) and Erotica.
I don’t know who thought it would ever work, pairing Madonna with Broadway songwriter Stephen Sondheim for the Dick Tracy soundtrack, but it turned out to be an inspired bit of stunt-casting. Erotica was accompanied by Madonna’s notorious Sex coffee-table book, which signaled the start of her rapid descent into sad self-parody. Oh, well — I still got three pretty decent albums out of her.
So let’s start tonight with the single that caused a bunch of commotion when it came out. I didn’t understand the commotion then, and I don’t understand it now. But I know a good pop single when I hear one, and this is the one that turned me, very briefly, into something like a Madonna fan.