554. ‘Into the Groove’, by Madonna

You can dance… For inspiration… With these words, we welcome an icon. The most successful female artist in British chart history. Come on… I’m waiting…

Into the Groove, by Madonna (her 1st of thirteen #1s)

4 weeks, from 28th July – 25th August 1985

Madonna’s first of thirteen (13!) chart-toppers is an ode to the joys of dance: Get up on your feet, Yeah step to the beat… Her boy has to prove his love for her by boogying. She feels free, she feels sweet sensations… It’s a revelation. For someone who grew up with provocative, cone-bra, sex book Madonna, this early hit feels a little trite, a little bit too teenybopper.

But it’s impossible not to at least tap your feet to this record even if, like me, you’re a terrible dancer. It’s got that hi-NRG beat that recent hits from Chaka Khan and Dead or Alive had, which is a very welcome development after some stodgy production and tempo from the class of ’83-’84. May the BPMs keep rising for the remainder of the decade.

One of the (many) criticisms aimed at Madonna over the years is that her voice is a little… limited? Which I think is harsh, but her early hits do bear this out somewhat. Her voice on this one is high-pitched, and a little one-note (plus, the song being at least a minute too long doesn’t help). Over time her voice will deepen and improve.

As I’m writing, and listening, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s not more to this tune than first meets the ears. When she sings that at night I lock the doors where no one else can see…. and complains that she’s tired of dancing by herself… Is this actually a bit filthy? Is the order to get into the groove actually total smut, if you see what I mean? Or am I just desperate to hear controversial, attention-seeking Madonna from the off? A quick internet search proves I’m not alone in thinking this… That’s more like it, Madge!

‘Into the Groove’ is a decent enough debut for Madonna as a chart-topper. A solid enough song for someone who is the template for every single-named female pop star hereafter, from Kylie to Rihanna to Gaga. But in my perfect world her first #1 would have been the throbbing ‘Like a Virgin’, or the ultimate school dance smoocher ‘Crazy for You’ – both of which had been huge hits without making top spot. Madonna was already a giant star when she finally scored a #1 (shades of Elvis back in 1957), and ‘Into the Groove’ was from the soundtrack to her first film, ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’. Love or loathe her, Madonna was one of the biggest artists in the world in this moment, and will remain so for the next twenty years.


21 thoughts on “554. ‘Into the Groove’, by Madonna

  1. Not a nad song and the movie was cute.

    That said, if you’ve seen Madonna lately…OMG. She doesn’t even LOOK like Madonna anymore. Did you catch the short video clip of “things growing out” of her hoochie koo? Talk about frightening…😳

    • I did not see that clip, and don’t think I want to… My life is complete enough without thinking about Madonna’s ladyparts…

      She is looking a bit uncanny valley these days, but at the same time she gets a lot of shit for the way she looks that other stars of a similar age don’t.

  2. Initially, I completely underestimated Madonna. When I heard “Like a Virgin” for the first time, I essentially dismissed her as “a brainless blonde” – boy, was I wrong!

    I subsequently came to respect her as an artist who knew exactly what she wanted and constantly reinvented herself. Plus, I like when music artists not just perform but also write or co-write their songs.

    Madonna was such a dominant force in the ‘80s and ‘90s. This doesn’t mean I liked each of her songs but she had some I dug. “Into the Groove” isn’t my favorite but still a pretty good pop tune.

    As to Madonna today, I’m afraid I’m no longer interested, based on what I’ve heard.

    • Yeah, ‘Into the Groove’ isn’t one of my favourites either, but she’s got a few more classics to come…

      She was a dominant force, and for so long – which his hard for any popstar to maintain, especially a female one who folks are dismissing as a ‘dumb blonde’… (I’m sure you weren’t the only one!)

  3. Really fun dance jam. Listening to the latest Hit Parade podcast yesterday about the freestyle era of the ‘80s, Chris Molanphy mentions how people thought Madonna was Black or Latina on her early songs with how indebted she was to those dance styles and I can hear it a lot listening to this song. As for her singing, the thing I’ve realized is that while Madonna may not be a technically great or powerhouse vocalist, it’s how she uses her voice that makes a lot of her songs work as well as they do especially her uptempo dance songs.

    In America, “Into The Groove” was not as successful in that it didn’t make the Hot 100 since Madonna’s label didn’t want to release it commercially as a single to not distract from the Like a Virgin singles still impacting the charts with “Crazy For You” from Vision Quest as a single being a compromise. As per Hot 100 rules of the time, this meant “Into the Groove” wasn’t allowed to chart, foreshadowing the many frustrations to come in the ‘90s with labels withholding surefire hits from commercial single releases in the US fucking up the Hot 100 in the process. “Into The Groove” instead wound up as the B-side to the Like a Virgin song “Angel.”

    • Hmm, I can kind of see her being mistaken for Latina, but to me Madonna has one of the whitest voices ever…

      I think she learned to use her voice better later in her career, certainly by the mid-90s when she was belting out showtunes. Here it is pitched a little high and nasally.

      • Yeah it’s funny to think about this now since Madonna comes across as one of the whitest artists but she was in touch with the underground Black and Latin club scene in New York where she sprang from. I definitely agree her voice early on can be annoying but can work on songs like this and “Holiday.” Seeing pictures of her from this time makes me think more of how perfect Julia Garner is for playing Madonna in the upcoming biopic.

  4. Oh wow…I mean I feel the happiness! The happiness of the mute button! She is a headscratcher to me. I don’t see the attraction in her music, voice, face, personality, or anything… I kept my promise and kept it clean and family friendly!

  5. Madonna is a pop dance great and she set the template from day one and its one which stretches out to all dance pop self-controlled female pop since. Before madonna men controlled what little female dance pop there was. After madonna women had the freedom to make their own career choices and challenge social boundaries and co write music if they wanted to. This is a good dance pop record but my choice was Holiday from the outset. Sounded hip and catchy and she invented her own look and she chose hot dance producers like jellybean and Nile Rodgers. When she aped Marilyn Monroe in the Material Girl video she knew exactly what she was doing and she was doing Girl Power. Forget Spice Girls. Without Madonna there would bed no Spice Girls. Pop music was literally changed by Her Madgesty to becoming female dominated and its never gone back since. Ok not the greatest singer but as a whole everchanging pop package she remained brilliant for 20 years and occasionally good for another 15.

    • Yep, pretty much every female pop singer or girl group of the past thirty years can be traced back to Madonna. And while she may finally have slipped into irrelevance, the length of her time at the top is amazing for someone of her gender and genre. And who cares about being the best singer… (I say that as someone whose first pocket-money bought CD was ‘Spice’…) Pop music’s never been about who’s the best singer! One thing I’d disagree on though is ‘Holiday’… that’s one early Madonna song I’ve never been able to get into. Give me ‘Like a Virgin’ any day of the week…

      • All true 🙂 holiday works as an anthem in concert i think thats why its gone top 10 3 times as people get flashbacks to the tours. Like a virgin OTOH she reinvents every time – i recall the slowed down marlene dietrich version writhing on a bed. Not quite so bubbly 😁

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