By Justin Myers
To kick things off, it’s one of Madonna’s most recent chart-toppers. The second single to be released from Madge’s big return to the disco album Confessions On A Dance Floor, Sorry was something of a surprise Number 1 for her. The video was Madonna in full kitsch mode – first driving around in her own version of the Vengabus (possibly) before rollerskating dressed like a kind of disco astronaut. It was catchy, it was energetic and it was a worthy chart-topper
WHO DID IT BEAT? Corinne Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On had to settle for Number 2.
CHART FACT: It was the first time she’d had two consecutive Number 1s in five years.
A product of Madonna’s movie ambitions – with some success – Who’s That Girl was the first of three tracks released from the soundtrack of the movie of the same name. After a whole campaign with blond hair, brunette Madonna was back and up to her usual tricks, dancing about and ‘causing a commotion’ in between clips from the movie. Critics had their knives out for the movie, in which Madonna played a kooky ex-con with sticky fingers but a heart of gold, but Madge just about pulls it off. As lead singles go, it may not be up there with Madonna’s finest, but it has a certain charm.
WHO DID IT BEAT? Madonna knocked Pet Shop Boys’ It’s A Sin off the top. Almost 20 years later, they would remix Sorry for its single release. So no hard feelings, then. That's good.
CHART FACT: Who’s That Girl was Madonna’s second chart-topper to spend just one week at Number 1.
A long, long time ago… well, 1972 to be exact, Don McLean had a hit with the classic American Pie, which was so long it took up two sides of a 7” single (ask your mum). Madonna, for reasons that are unclear, decided to cover the song, but to make it all fit nicely onto one CD (ask your older sister) she edited the track considerably. Then-collaborator William Orbit added his signature swooshes and even Rupert Everett, Madonna’s co-star from movie The Next Best Thing, popped in to lay down some backing vocals and appear in the video.
WHO DID IT BEAT? American Pie knocked All Saints’ Pure Shores – another William Orbit production – off the top spot and left N Sync settling for Number 3 with Bye Bye Bye. Madonna would later go on to team up with N Sync's Justin Timberlake on another Number 1…
CHART FACT: Don McLean’s version only got to Number 2.
Just before Who’s That Girl came La Isla Bonita, a song which, legend has it, was originally written for Michael Jackson. Madonna got her hands on it first, however, and created a new anthem for anybody who wishes their holiday would go on for a bit longer – and she loves a Holiday does our Madge.
WHO DID IT BEAT? La Isla Bonita held off Judy Boucher’s boohoofest Can’t Be With You Tonight.
CHART FACT: La Isla Bonita took four weeks to slowly climb from Number 5 to spend two weeks on the top spot. Not bad for a fifth and final single from an already huge-selling album, True Blue.
Madonna was a force to be reckoned with in late 2000, and enjoyed her second Number 1 of the year with this, the true lead single off her album Music. Although she had just given birth to her second child, Madonna went on a promo blitz for Music, performing a special concert in Brixton that was broadcast over the internet (more impressive then than it sounds now). The Mirwais-produced Art Of Noise-style romp went straight in at Number 1 and is a favourite of hers – she still performs it regularly. Hey Mr DJ, put a record on… is possibly one of her best opening lyrics.
WHO DID IT BEAT? Madonna knocked another dance classic off the summit – Spiller and Sophie Ellis–Bextor’s Groovejet slipped to Number 2.
CHART FACT: Music was deposed after just one week by A1’s cover of the A-ha chart-topper Take On Me.
Madonna’s most recent chart-topper weighs in next, a duet with Justin Timberlake and featuring Timbaland in the background. It was the very first time a collaboration had hit Number 1 for Madonna – at that point she preferred to take centre-stage all by herself.
WHO DID SHE BEAT? Madonna nudged American Boy by Estelle off the top spot, taking five weeks to do it.
CHART FACT: It was the first time a Madonna Number 1 hadn’t gone straight in at the top of charts since Vogue in 1990. It’s also Madonna’s biggest selling download ever and spent a month at Number 1.
Perhaps one of Madonna’s signature tunes, she has learned to love again this massive hit from 1990, last performing it at her Superbowl Halftime Show in 2012. Vogue came seemingly out of nowhere after Madonna’s Like A Prayer album ended. Madonna was said to be in her ‘imperial phase’ – she was just about the hugest star on the planet and was set to bare all in fly-on-the-wall movie about her Blond Ambition tour and star in movie Dick Tracy with then-boyfriend Warren Beatty. Soundtracking Madonna’s year of excess, Vogue was sophisticated, slowed-down house dripping in glamour. Featuring a rap that namedropped a host of ‘40s screen legends, Madonna’s place among them in the A-list was quickly secured.
WHO DID IT BEAT? Madonna Vogued her way to Number 1 at the expense of Snap’s The Power, which ran out of batteries and slid to runner-up spot after two weeks.
CHART FACT: Vogue was the 8th best selling single of 1990 and spent four weeks at Number 1 in April.
EXTRA CHART FACT: If Beautiful Stranger had been a Number 1, it would have placed here on her sales countdown – 530,000 copies sold.
Madonna’s third Number 1 was also the third single from the album it gave its name. True Blue was a huge success and its ‘60s-throwback title track saw Madonna at her most demure – something we wouldn’t see again for quite a while. Written for her then-husband Sean Penn, Madonna seems to have airbrushed True Blue out of history – she hasn’t performed it since 1987.
WHO DID IT BEAT? Five Star’s Rain Or Shine had to settle for second place that week, while the Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way fell from the top to Number 3.
Returning to pop after a few years off starring in Evita and having her daughter Lourdes, the Madonna of 1997 was her most unusual reinvention yet. Part-Earth mother, part-trance goth and looking a bit like a witch (in the best possible way), Madonna released Frozen, a traditional Madge ballad with a twist, as the lead single from comeback album Ray of Light.
WHO DID IT BEAT? Frozen knocked Cornershop’s Brimful Of Asha off Number 1, and kept My Heart Will Go On at Number 2 for another week.
CHART FACT: Frozen was Madonna’s first Number 1 for eight years.
She’d been away for a while, but in early 1989 Madonna made a dramatic comeback. It’s not just her hair that had got dark – her sound was more serious too. Like A Prayer, a rousing gospel-influenced epic, caused instant controversy thanks to its video (pretty tame by 2014 standards, really) and was an instant classic. Even Madonna had to admit in an interview years later that Like A Prayer was “up there” when it came to her best work.
WHO DID SHE BEAT? Madge evicted Jason Donovan’s Too Many Broken Hearts from Number 1. And just behind him was Donna Summer’s This Time I Know It’s For Real.
CHART FACT: Like A Prayer spent three weeks at Number 1 and was 11th best selling single of 1989.
Into the Top 3 of Madonna’s chart-toppers now, and this one came courtesy of a pretty big Abba sample. Coming after American Life, a fan-favourite album, but one which hadn’t performed as well as previous albums. Madonna went back to basics and headed back to the discotheque with this storming global hit. Even though she was recovering from a rather nasty fall from a horse, Madonna really went for it in the video, even stopping off at the arcade to have a go at Dance Dance Revolution.
WHO DID SHE BEAT? It was bad news for Westlife – You Raise Me Up had to take a step down.
CHART FACT: Hung Up sampled Abba’s Gimme Gimme Gimme, which only made it to Number 3 in 1979.
She’d been flirting with controversy since the very moment she first pulled on a pair of lace gloves and rolled around a gondola in Venice on Like A Virgin, but Madonna was straying into new territory with this tale of teenage pregnancy and a girl who was determined “I’m keepin’ my baby”. Churches were outraged, prim aunties clutched their pearls… and everyone else rushed out to buy this amazing record immediately. It was Madonna’s first proper foray into pushing people’s buttons and making everyone think, but certainly not her last. And, no, it wasn’t her real dad in the video. And, yes, that Italians Do It Better T-shirt is still brilliant.
WHO DID SHE BEAT? Madge knocked Wham!’s Edge Of Heaven off the top.
CHART FACT: Papa Don’t Preach was the 11th out of 35 consecutive Top 10 entries for Madonna between 1984 and 1994. 35!
“And you can dance… for inspiration…” So the biggest selling Madonna number one is the song that kicked off that impressive 13-strong run of chart-toppers. Released almost as an afterthought, Into The Groove was taken from the soundtrack of Madge’s first movie hit (and, er, last for quite for a while). Despite not having a proper video, and only being a B-side in the USA, Into The Groove is a Madonna classic that almost everyone knows the words to. Its success was perhaps helped by the fact that a) it didn’t appear on Madonna’s Like A Virgin album until a hasty reissue once it hit Number 1 and b) Madonna was at the very height of her early popularity and c) it was amazing. Into The Groove spent pretty much all of August 1985 at Number 1 and was knocked off the top by UB40 and Chrissie Hynde’s cover of the Sonny & Cher classic I Got You Babe.
WHO DID SHE BEAT? Until Madonna came along throwing her pop weight around, Eurythmics were enjoying their first ever Number 1 with There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart). It lasted at the top for just one week.
CHART FACT: Holiday was rereleased in July 1985 and peaked at Number 2, sitting right behind Into The Groove for one week. Into The Groove is also Madonna’s best-selling single in the UK, spending 12 weeks in the Top 40, and selling…
Did you know Madonna has had 59 Top 10 singles as a lead artist? And that’s without even counting songs that were released more than once – Holiday made the Top 10 three times under three different releases.
She had a run of 35 consecutive Top 10 entries from 1984–1994. A decade of nonstop Top 10s!Back