Thursday, April 16, 2009

Her laughter burns you up inside

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.

7 comments:

Paul said...

I love underrated Madonna songs. I quite like Whos That Girl. You are right it does make a nice substitute for LIB. Now lets discuss how brilliant Gambler is and how it should be covered by someone immediately if not sooner.

Bess said...

I forgot how much I like this song! I will have to listen to it tonight...

Yuяi said...

Dan, I think Madge reads your blog! Look at what I found: http://www.hardcandymusic.com/2009/04/madonna-who-that-girl-sticky-sweet.html

It would have been great to have heard this one live after all this time!

Dan said...

Gambler is another brilliant underrated Madonna song! Perhaps there will be a post about it some day.

Yuri, I hope that they wait to release the DVD of Sticky & Sweet if that is true!! I can see her mixing things up a bit for the second leg.

Adem With An E said...

Yes, please post about "Gambler", you know how I feel about that song; it's still my favourite of hers, without a doubt.

And you're so right about the bridges in her songs, they're of epic proportions.

I was listening to "Rescue Me" the other day on a long drive to Melbourne, I'd forgotten how spectacular that song was.

xolondon said...

I think the key is underplayed Madonna songs sound very good now. All the ones mentioned along with tracks like Secret, Thief of Hearts, Stay and even the bubbly Ain't No Big Deal (uh uh uh uh uh).

But Like A Prayer, Into The Groove and True Blue have better bridges!

Dan said...

"Rescue Me" is another of the forgotten songs. I would agree that it is really quite good.

XO, of course you are right. In my enthusiasm over WTG's bridge, I forgot many other much more worthy ones, not the least of which were mentioned by you.