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Madonna's 13 UK Number One Singles

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

The Queen of Pop

Looking back on a career that spans three decades as the reigning Queen of pop, the Brits simply can't get enough of Madonna. As the material girl releases her twelfth Studio album in the UK and her latest hit single Girl Gone Wild, let's take a look back at the 13 singles that have made it to the top spot in the Official UK Singles Chart.

1985 - Into the Groove

Taken from the soundtrack of Madonna's most successful movie, Desperately Seeking Susan, Into the Groove marked her first UK number one. It debuted at number four on July 27 1985, taking the top spot one week later and staying there for four weeks. Into the Groove was the third best-selling single, behind Jennifer Rush's The Power of Love and Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson's I Know Him So Well. Madonna wrote the song with Steve Bray and told Time magazine that it was inspired by watching a Latin boy across her balcony. At the time, Madonna described the song as 'dorky'.

Madonna Into The Groove

1986 - Papa Don't Preach

Papa Don't Preach was written by Brian Elliot; reportedly, he heard schoolgirls from the North Hollywood High School gossiping outside his studio about a classmate who had fallen pregnant, and wrote the song in response. Papa Don't Preach was one of three UK number ones to come from Madonna's third studio album True Blue. At the time, the song caused controversy, with national syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman claiming that the video was "a commercial for teenage pregnancy". In 2012, the television show Glee released an acoustic cover version of the song.

1986 - True Blue

With a light-hearted and cutesy retro feel and inspired by the Motown girls groups of the 1960s, True Blue topped the charts in the UK, Ireland and Canada. The song is a tribute to Madonna's then-husband Sean Penn and her feelings of pure love towards him. Critical reception to True Blue was varied; Davitt Sigerson of Rolling Stone magazine wrote that the song "squanders a classic beat and an immensely promising title". On the other hand, Maury Dean disagreed, claiming that it was a "masterwork of simplicity interwoven with secret complexity".

Madonna La Isla Bonita
1987 - La Isla Bonita

Literally translated into English, La Isla Bonita means 'The Beautiful Island' and was originally penned for Michael Jackson, who rejected it much to Madonna's glee. The song was the first of Madonna's to feature an overt Spanish influence, with arrangements of Cuban drums and Spanish guitar. The video for La Isla Bonita features the film actor and producer Benicio del Toro as a background artist. When the song topped the charts, it made Madonna a record breaker; the first female artist to enjoy four number ones in the UK.

1987 - Who's That Girl?

Continuing the hispanic theme of La Isla Bonita, Who's That Girl? was taken from the soundtrack of the film of the same name. Unlike the movie, the song received numerous award nominations including Best Song From A Motion Picture at the 1988 Grammy Awards and Best Original Song at the 1988 Golden Globes. Famously, the recording of the song marks the only time Madonna has ever laid down her vocals in one take.

1989 - Like A Prayer

Never one to shy away from controversy, Like A Prayer marked a deliberate effort from Madonna to re-invent herself. She said at the time that she was attempting to mature and grow with her audience; she had recently emerged from a low point in her career, having received unfavourable reviews for the film Who's That Girl and her appearance on Broadway in the David Mamet play Speed the Plough. Incorporating a gospel feel, a choir and lyrics inspired by Madonna's Catholic upbringing (but also infused with sexual innuendo), Like A Prayer was criticised by the Catholic church for being blasphemous. 

Madonna Vogue
1990 - Vogue

Although the song doesn't feature in the movie, Vogue does appear on the album I'm Breathless which features music from Dick Tracy in which Madonna starred. The song itself was inspired by vogue dancer Jose and Luis Xtravaganza from the Harlem House Ball community. They were responsible for introducing Madonna to Vogueing at the New York City club Sound Factory. The video that accompanies the song takes stylistic inspiration from the 1920s and 30s and in it, Madonna pays tribute to the golden era of Hollywood. Vogue was the best-selling single of 1990 and sold over six million copies worldwide.

1998 - Frozen

Taken from Madonna's seventh studio album Ray of Light, Frozen was the first ballad that had ever taken the Queen of pop to the UK top spot. The song marked an artistic departure for Madonna, exploring darker electronic undertones and more emotionally charged lyrics; she has said that the song is about "an emotionally frozen man". There were claims in a Belgian court that the opening bars of Frozen were plagiarised from the song Ma vie fout le camp, composed by Salvatore Acquaviva of Mouscron, but the charges were eventually dropped.

2000 - American Pie

American Pie is the only cover version to top the UK music charts for Madonna. The original version was by Don McLean, who praised Madonnas's version for being "mystical and sensual" and "a gift from a goddess". It was recorded to accompany the release of the movie The Next Best Thing which co-starred Rupert Everett, who also appeared in the video for the song. Madonna has since said that a music executive "twisted her arm" to record the song.

Madonna Music
2000 - Music

Music earned Madonna two Grammy Award nominations in 2001, for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. In the United States, the song made Madonna the second female artist (after Janet Jackson) to have number ones in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and it remains the last of her songs to reach the top spot in that country. An unauthorised version of the song was leaked onto the internet in May 2000 and in reaction, Madonna described the release as a "work in progress" and actively campaigned against the trend for music piracy. The video stars comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as Ali G.

2005 - Hung Up

Hung Up was the first of Madonna's songs to be released on iTunes and features a pounding sample of the Abba song Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight). It was only the second time Abba had given permission for one of their tracks to be sampled. At the time, Benny Andersson said "we admire Madonna so much and always have done. She has got guts and has been around for 21 years". Hung Up was the first single from her tenth studio album Confessions on a Dance Floor and restored her popularity somewhat after what is generally considered her weakest album American Life. In the United States, Hung Up marked Madonna's 36th top ten single; the only other artist to ever enjoy the same accolade was Elvis Presley.

2006 - Sorry

The music video for Sorry continued themes from Madonna's previous release from the same album, Hung Up. It featured roller skating dancers and Madonna fighting men in a cage. A popular remix of the song was master-minded by the British group The Pet Shop Boys and also featured samples of Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Talking about the remix, Madonna said "Whenever I make records, I often like the remixes better than the original ones". Sorry opens with expressions of regret and sadness in several different languages including French, Spanish, Dutch, and Italian.

Madonna 4 Minutes
2008 - 4 Minutes

A collaboration with ex-boyband member Justin Timberlake, 4 Minutes was inspired by a urgent need to save the planet from destruction and Madonna's visit to Africa where she witnessed "unparalleled human suffering". It was written off the back of conversations between Madonna and Timberlake about issues and relationships that may occur should the world self destruct. 4 Minutes is notable for another musical departure for Madonna into the world of hip-hop, R and B and Bhangra.

So from this list of Madonna's number ones in the UK it's clear that the Queen of pop is by no means a one hit wonder!



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