Madonna is back, not that she ever went away. After four years without new music, Madonna's fourteenth studio album, Madame X, is imminent.
The first single, Medellín, features Colombian singer Maluma and joins an array of classic hits given the honour – and huge responsibility – of launching a new Madonna album.
Everybody has their favourites, of course, and fans worldwide have been posting their own rankings of the big launch singles. But when we push aside taste and make it all about the numbers, which comes out on top? We looked at combined physical and download sales, audio and video streaming figures to count down the definitive list of Madonna's lead hits.
To make things a bit more interesting, we include her soundtracks to Who's That Girl and Evita, plus Dick Tracy tie-in I'm Breathless – featuring the earliest release to appear on an album for the first time – and the first (new material) singles off her greatest hits. Why? Well, you can never have too many hits in a countdown, can you? See all Madonna's hit singles, including 13 Number 1s, in her Official Chart archive
The biggest lead single of them all goes to Like A Virgin, the provocative title track of Madonna's second album. While it reached only Number 3 in January 1985, it's amassed 925,000 combined sales – although it was another eight months before the parent album would make it to Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart.
Next is another title track, and a very similarly titled one at that, Like A Prayer. Cruising to Number 1 in early 1989, the euphoric gospel pop banger has a tally of 850,500 and its parent album topped the charts too. In third place is the mighty ABBA-sampling Hung Up, with 730,000 combined sales to its name. Heading up the campaign for Confessions on a Dance Floor – Madonna's longest album title FYI – the song spent three weeks at Number 1 and helped its parent album rack up over 1.35 million sales.
Perhaps a controversial choice, given it felt more tacked onto the end of its mothership album rather than a part of it, Vogue is fourth, with 663,000, coming from I'm Breathless, which was inspired by the movie Dick Tracy, and featured the underrated Hanky Panky. Hard Candy's 4 Minutes, featuring Justin Timberlake and Madonna's most recent chart-topper, is next on 627,000, and Madonna's huge comeback in 1998, Frozen, from the seminal Ray of Light, is next on 602,200 – it was the first Madonna song ever to debut at the top of the Official Singles Chart.
True Blue is Madonna's top selling studio album in the UK, but, rather surprisingly, its first single Live To Tell is in 10th spot, with 331,000. Live To Tell was originally recorded for movie At Close Range, and in early 1986 Madonna said the album would be called Live To Tell, later changing it to the True Blue we all know and love. Just behind Live To Tell is another ballad, heading up a whole album of ballad greatest hits – You'll See is in 10th place on 322,000.
The Immaculate Collection, Madonna's greatest hits from 1990, is her biggest selling album overall in the UK, with 3.76 million combined sales, but its flagship song, the "filthy for the time but pretty tame now" Justify My Love, is only her 12th biggest lead. It might have something to do with the fact radio stations were scared to death of it, and its raunchy video was only on late night TV. Plus, the album came out the week after the single and literally everyone raced to buy that instead.
Madonna's lead singles ranked in combined sales order:
|1||LIKE A VIRGIN||3||LIKE A VIRGIN||1984|
|2||LIKE A PRAYER||1||LIKE A PRAYER||1989|
|3||HUNG UP||1||CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR||2005|
|5||4 MINUTES||1||HARD CANDY||2008|
|6||FROZEN||1||RAY OF LIGHT||1998|
|8||WHO'S THAT GIRL||1||WHO'S THAT GIRL OST||1988|
|9||LIVE TO TELL||2||TRUE BLUE||1986|
|10||YOU'LL SEE||5||SOMETHING TO REMEMBER||1995|
|12||JUSTIFY MY LOVE||2||IMMACULATE COLLECTION||1990|
|15||YOU MUST LOVE ME||10||EVITA||1996|
|16||AMERICAN LIFE||2||AMERICAN LIFE||2003|
|17||LIVING FOR LOVE||26||REBEL HEART||2015|
|18||GIVE ME ALL YOUR LUVIN||37||MDNA||2012|
©2019 Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.
Relive all Madonna's singles artwork in our gallery: