This is a Madonna post, but today’s song isn’t by Madonna.
It’s a Madonna post, because it is inspired by Madonna. Yesterday, I was at work listening to the radio—I swear, I actually work at work—when her breakout single “Borderline” came on. Of course I was humming and even singing (at low volume) along. It’s one of those songs from her first album that began making Madonna the star she is today. As her first top ten hit, you could say the legend started to grow from that song. Anyway, though I probably shouldn’t have, I made the following tweet at the time the song was playing:
Fast forward a few hours later, and my tweet is retweeted by the fabulous Lennon Carlyle of Fabulous With Glitches blog fame. We have a brief chat about Borderline, and Madonna’s first album. At that point, I had started listening to that album again, when I read the review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine from the All Music Guide. The telling quote for me from Erlewine’s review is “And her eponymous debut isn’t simply good, it set the standard for dance-pop for the next 20 years.” Truer words were never spoken. When the Madonna album came along, dance music was looked at as poison, and with one debut by a wannabe dancer looking to sing, it came back into vogue. There will be a post about that album in the days to come but for now, I want to focus on the standard that Madonna set.
Much as Erlewine noted above, many acts that followed and some that were already around did their best to create the magic that was present on that first album. Even three years after that album had come and gone, and Madonna had rocketed to superstardom, that early sound was still being heard on the airwaves. One of the more obvious, and maybe better, knockoffs of the sound was done by singer Regina (one-named singers were popular in the 80s), whose “Baby Love” sounded like a Madonna song that Madonna didn’t sing. It’s “Baby Love” that is the Morning Groove for today.
That it sounded a lot like a Madonna track isn’t all that accidental; her former boyfriend and collaborator Stephen Bray co-wrote the song, and Regina’s vocal doesn’t sound too far off from how Madonna sounded on that first album. Born Regina Richards in Brooklyn, she was one among many looking to hit with the dance-pop sound that Madonna pioneered. That she took this song to the pop top ten speaks to the quality of the song and the sound that still had a hold on the pop and dance world in 1986. Unfortunately for Regina, this was her one shot at glory; she was a true one-hit wonder. She never graced the charts again.
Do you remember this song, and if so, what do you think of it? Does it sound like a Madonna song? Did you think it was Madonna? Have your say in the comments. As always, thank you for reading and listening.