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Main Page Content:

The immaculate guide to 50 years of Madonna

13:21 | Tuesday August 19, 2008

She is one of the music industry’s most enduring talents, an eclectic, idiosyncratic and enigmatic singer and songwriter, who guards her private life jealously, juggles a recording career with motherhood, and recently celebrated her 50th birthday. But enough about Kate Bush – we’re here to look at the phenomenon that is Madonna, who shares all of the above characteristics with Bush and has enjoyed unparalleled success since she arrived on the recording scene in 1982.

Although precocious in many ways, Madonna was something of a late starter as a recording artist, and has still spent less than half her life as a hitmaker.

Born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone in Bay City, Michigan, she is one of a quartet of major stars born within a few weeks of each other in 1958. Prince arrived on June 7, Kate Bush on July 30, Madonna on August 16and Michael Jackson on August 29.

Her initial singles, Everybody and Burning Up, were major club hits in America – both reached number three on the Billboard dance chart but fell short of the Hot 100.

Third single Holiday’s frivolous, sing-along style won it a much wider audience, and provided her with her introductory Top 20 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and much of the rest of the globe. On its first visit to the UK chart, in 1984, it peaked at number six. Subsequently reissued in 1985 (when it reached number two) and 1991 (number five), it continues to sell well as a download, and recently became the third song by Madonna to top 0.75m sales here.

Madonna has not looked back since Holiday, and has accumulated 64 consecutive hits, all of which made the Top 20. Along the way, she has sold 16.41m singles in Britain – an average of more than 250,000 per release. That is enough for her to rank fourth in the all-time table of top singles artists in the UK, trailing only Cliff Richard (21.21m), The Beatles (20.71m) and Elvis Presley (20.66m). Richard and Presley rarely penned their own songs but for Madonna, writing, or co-writing her hits is part of the process, and in sales terms she is by far the most successful singer/songwriter in UK chart history.

She has sold as many singles as the two next most successful female solo artists – Kylie Minogue and Whitney Houston – combined. Runner-up Kylie’s career tally of 9.05m is impressive but, although 10 years Madonna’s junior, she has lost ground on her in the last five years.

Here is our exclusive list of Madonna’s UK hits, ranked by sales.


Rank title Sales Hst. Pos. Release year

1 Into The Groove 843561 1 1985

2 Like A Virgin 768129 3 1984

3 Holiday 752968 2 1984

4 Crazy For You 662481 2 1985

5 Papa Don't Preach 629386 1 1986

6 True Blue 534728 1 1986

7 Hung Up 517036 1 2005

8 Beautiful Stranger 513992 2 1999

9 Like A Prayer 513231 1 1989

10 Frozen 508296 1 1998

11 Vogue 484308 1 1990

12 La Isla Bonita 421760 1 1987

13 4 Minutes 400784 1 2005

14 Music 400531 1 2000

15 Material Girl 389999 3 1985

16 American Pie 380937 1 2000

17 Who's That Girl 376498 1 1987

18 Don't Cry For Me Argentina 338494 3 1996

19 You'll See 302432 5 1995

20 Borderline 298388 2 1984

21 Gambler 292341 4 1985

22 Live To Tell 271897 2 1986

23 Erotica 270800 3 1992

24 This Used To Be My Playground 270427 3 1992

25 Ray Of Light 262514 2 1998

26 Dear Jessie 250769 5 1989

27 Causing A Commotion 229934 4 1987

28 Justify My Love 228683 2 1990

29 Hanky Panky 205733 2 1990

30 Dress You Up 204970 5 1985

31 Angel 198650 5 1985

32 Express Yourself 194102 5 1989

33 Cherish 192891 3 1989

34 Open Your Heart 186742 4 1986

35 Don't Tell Me 179939 4 2000

36 Sorry 178963 1 2006

37 The Power Of Good-Bye / Little Star 175095 6 1998

38 Die Another Day 167863 3 2002

39 Deeper And Deeper 136854 6 1992

40 Rescue Me 134764 3 1991

41 Rain 130771 7 1993

42 Nothing Really Matters 128137 7 1999

43 Me Against The Music 126136 2 2003

44 The Look Of Love 121439 9 1987

45 Secret 117957 5 1994

46 Lucky Star 117470 14 1984

47 Take A Bow 102739 16 1994

48 Give It 2 Me 100986 7 2008

49 I'll Remember (Theme From 'With Honours') 100090 7 1994

50 Bedtime Story 97428 4 1995

51 Drowned World (Substitute For Love) 90651 10 1998

52 You Must Love Me 90428 10 1996

53 What It Feels Like For A Girl 86771 7 2001

54 Fever 86077 6 1993

55 Human Nature 80685 8 1995

56 Another Suitcase In Another Hall 75233 7 1997

57 Bad Girl 74915 10 1993

58 American Life 72260 2 2005

59 Get Together 67163 7 2006

60 Hollywood 59633 2 2003

61 Oh Father 58730 16 1996

62 One More Chance 56851 11 1996

63 Jump 52038 9 2006

64 Love Profusion 41025 11 2003

Note: 4 Minutes is by Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake, Me Against the World by Britney Spears feat. Madonna. All others credit only Madonna. Sales include digital downloads, and are complete to midnight on Saturday 15 August 2008, when Madonna’s 50th birthday started.

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19 August, 2008

 

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