99. Madonna - Holiday

The Rolling Stone list has only one entry by Madonna, “Like a Prayer.” For my list, I almost used “Like a Virgin.” But then I started to really think about whether either was a great song. I think that both of those songs were iconic, but not necessarily great. “Like a Prayer” became huge not only because of the song, but because of that Pepsi commercial and that weird-ass video. “Like a Virgin,” likewise, became huge because of another strange video, but more for the amazing performance at the MTV Video Music Awards where she writhed on the floor in a wedding dress.

So I started listening to lots of Madonna songs. There are lots of great ones, but which one (or ones) deserved to be on a list like this. For me, there was only one. “Holiday,” from her self-titled debut in 1983. It’s one of the best dance songs ever written. Listen to it and just try not to bob your head or even do the torso dance in your car sitting at a red light. Like most great dance songs, it’s repetitive in all the right ways, simplistic in all the right ways. It doesn’t try to be anything more than just a great dance song.

This is the first of her work with John "Jellybean" Benitez and they didn't try to overproduce the song, like lots of other producers were doing in 1983. There's a simplicity to it that is both dated and timeless, if that makes sense. It sounds old, sure, but it still sounds good. Some critics called her singing as Minnie Mouse on helium, but as she showed later in her career, especially in Evita, she can sing when she needs to. For this song, she and Jellybean knew a lighter touch was needed.

Let's not kid ourselves, though. The song isn't trying to change the world. Then again, with lines like -
“Everybody spread the word/We're gonna have a celebration/All across the world/in every nation”
she may just be trying to change the world. Everybody just celebrate life and take a day to enjoy things, enjoy everything. It’s one of the few songs on her debut album that she didn’t have a hand in writing, but it still comes across as being her song. Listen to it and take her advice. But I’m guessing, for Madonna, she takes this advice more than just one day out of life. And thank goodness for all of us that she does.

The video that follows is an early clip that Madonna did on Solid Gold. You just can't beat Solid Gold! The name says it all.

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