1. “Vogue” (1990) – I’m out of breath
It’s impossible to overstate the impact of “Vogue” in 1990, not just on Madonna’s career or on pop music, but on popular culture as a whole. By then, house music had become synonymous with the gay and underground dance communities, but aside from a few breakthroughs, like M/A/R/R/S’ “Pump Up The Volume,” it had no significantly infiltrated the pop market. . But after just seven years as a recording artist, Madonna was set to release her first greatest hits album, as she tackled a film role as femme fatale Breathless Mahoney opposite authentic movie star and famous Hollywood lothair Warren Beatty in Dick Tracy, singing songs by Stephen Sondheim. The soundtrack of the film, I’m out of breath, offered her a full spotlight on the kind of versatility she hoped to showcase, juxtaposing the 1930s glamor of her setting with her own edgy sexiness. But those songs were never going to be pop singles — the kind she used to release, anyway.
Enter Shep Pettibone, a remixer and producer with a foothold in musical communities that Madonna openly loved and was quick to borrow for her songs. With $5,000 he received from Warner Music, Pettibone quickly recorded a demo which she would quickly multi-track in a studio in the basement, for the song’s release as the B-side of her latest single from like a prayer, “Keep it together.” Working together on the ‘rap’ centerpiece, a movie star name check that brings to mind again Dick Tracybut also offering a wish list for the icons whose ranks Madonna aspired to join, the duo created a tribute to classic Hollywood glamor that presented an effortlessly cool, festive, even enlightening look at an aspect of gay culture that few people know about. strangers knew well: ballroom.
That she was already working with the stars of the prom documentary Paris is burning in his clips and on tour was not necessarily known; but due to its musical subtleties (a Salsoul Orchestra excerpt from a song used about 10 times in Paris, which later led to a lawsuit) to her polished and irresistible house groove, Madonna was catapulting her music into the 90s and bringing LGBT culture with her. Whether or not they knew what was going on, the listeners were powerless to resist. “Vogue” captures the past, present and future of pop at the same time, which is why it still feels as fresh and exciting today as it did then. [Todd Gilchrist]