Song of the Day, May 1: Into the Groove by Madonna

MadonnaGrooveToday’s song is one of Madonna’s most famous singles, despite its lack of chart presence in the United States. In 1985 the singer was white hot. She had a massive #1 smash with the title track from her second album, Like a Virgin, the first of a rapid-fire string of Top Five hits. She was also readying her movie debut, a charming turn in the comedy Desperately Seeking Susan opposite Rosanna Arquette.

Madonna wrote Into the Groove, inspired by an attractive man that she wanted to ask out. She fused that desire with her love of the dance floor and created an infectious dance track. She was going to offer it to her friend Mark Kamins to produce for one of his artists. She decided to record her own version for the movie, a brilliant decision that resulted in one of her finest moments on record. She turns in a perfect vocal over a surging, urgent groove, creating an irresistible dance rhythm that surges with sexual tension.

She had just had a chart conflict arise from a movie song, however, when her single Material Girl and her contribution to the VisionQuest soundtrack, Crazy For You, wound up on the charts at the same time, possibly diluting their chart power. Since Angel was about to be released, Into the Groove was relegated to the B-side of the 12″ version of that single. It was released internationally, however, going to #1 in Australia, the UK, Ireland, and a half-dozen other countries.

Ironically, the single that never was has been hailed as Madonna’s “first great song.” It hit #1 on the Billboard Dance Charts, which relied on club play rather than commercial availability and was recognized by the magazine as Dance Single of the Decade for the 80s. It has been recognized on numerous best-of lists and remains a fan favorite and one of Madonna’s most lasting grooves. It’s also in my Madonna Top 3.

Enjoy this brilliant dance classic today.


Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight uses statistical analysis — hard numbers — to tell compelling stories about politics, sports, science, economics and culture.


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