A golden oldie came on my iPod on the way home from work tonight. It was none other than Madonna's "Who's That Girl" which gets quite a bit more play from me 22 years out than you might think. It's always been one of those Madonna songs that everyone forgets about. Banished from The Immaculate Collection (both the CD and the DVD) and only performed live on one tour, it seems like it's a song that Madonna would prefer to leave behind.
I suppose we can't really blame her. It, like most of the Madonna songs on the Who's That Girl soundtrack, is likely just a reworked cast-off from the True Blue sessions. I remember when the song premiered and how shockingly similar to "La Isla Bonita" it was, especially considering "LIB" was the single immediately preceded "Who's That Girl." Melody-wise, it's quite different, but it retains the Latin elements and slow pop groove of its predecessor. If Madonna really wants to include a Latin section in the next tour, I would implore her to consider "Who's That Girl" rather than trotting out "La Isla Bonita" for the 69,000th time.
Although it is mostly forgotten, even amongst fans, I would argue that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to "Who's That Girl." As a friend of mine from the Madonna listserv said, it is Madonna fluff to be certain, but for fluff, it is quite brilliant. What I love most about this song is how strong it is structurally. Sure the lyrics are lightweight and the production very 80s, but when it comes right down to it, it's a solid pop song. It also contains what is arguably the best Madonna bridge of the 80s ("Light up my my life/So blind I can't see...") Madonna's best songs have strong bridges and this is no exception.
It hit #1 on the Billboard charts, but I'd be curious to know how strong of a #1 hit it was. Surely it was a stronger #1 than say something like "This Used To Be My Playground" but it is still a bit of a featherweight when it comes to Madonna singles.
All that to say about "Who's That Girl" and truly, it's not even the best Madonna song on the soundtrack. That honor goes to "Can't Stop" which is definitely in my top 10 favorite Madonna album tracks. It may scream "they kicked me off of True Blue!" but the bridge on THAT song is to die for as well.