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#ThrowbackThursday: “Borderline” by Madonna

Madonna “Borderline” Sire/Warner Bros

By Sean Smith

On July 27, 1983, 34 years ago today, the music world came to know Madonna as she released her self-titled debut album.

There is no denying the level of superstardom that Madonna has achieved in these past two-plus decades in the industry. She has won nearly every award imaginable, and is one of the best selling musical acts of all time. In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes her as the fourth best selling artist of all-time, behind only The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. This of course makes Madonna the greatest selling female musician in the history of the industry.

However, sometimes all this fame and success has caused the material girl some problems. A prime example of this can be seen in some news that came out of New York last week. A former personal assistant and former friend to Madonna for over 20 years, Darlene Lutz, has put numerous items that had belonged to Madonna up for auction. Some of the items include some never before seen photographs, a letter criticizing Whitney Houston, costumes from tours and even a hair brush that contains some of the star singer’s hair. Also, up for auction was a breakup letter from one of her former boyfriends who was in prison at the time of his writing it. That person, the late great rapper Tupac Shakur. Madonna took to the courts to attain an emergency court order to stop the auctioning of some of these articles, including the hairbrush and Tupac letter, which a judge granted the singer last week.

While the courts will decide what Madonna’s former assistant will ultimately be able to sell or not, this week we want to take a moment to remember one of the singles released off of her debut album released 24 years ago today.

Madonna released five songs as promotional singles in the United States off of her self-titled debut. The first single was a song called “Everybody,” and while it was a popular song at dance clubs it did not perform extremely well commercially. The second single “Burning Up” had a similar fate, although it did reach #13 on the Australian popular music chart. Her first crossover hit in America came with her third single “Holiday.” Not only was it a popular dance hit, but it also reached as high as the #13 spot on the mainstream Billboard Hot 100 chart. Madonna repeated the commercial success she saw on “Holiday” with her fourth single “Lucky Star.” While this song would eventually reach the #4 spot on the Hot 100, it only propelled that high after her fifth single became her first official Top 10 hit. That fifth single being “Borderline.”

Released on February 15, 1984, “Borderline” was written and produced for Madonna by Reggie Lucas. Lucas is responsible for the majority of the production work on Madonna’s debut album. The success that Madonna found with “Borderline” proved to be just the beginning. While it was her first single to enter the Top 10 on the charts, it would certainly not be her last. In fact, the next 16 consecutive singles she would release also met that benchmark of success.

A music video for the track was released and was produced by a woman by the name of Mary Lambert. It was the first time Madonna had worked with Lambert, and that positive experience was the start of a solid working relationship. Lambert continued working with Madonna in the years to come, and produced both the “Like a Virgin” and “Like a Prayer” videos. The video depicts Madonna torn between two worlds. One where she is living in a barrio with a Hispanic lover, and her other as a burgeoning star in a relationship with her photographer. The video was well received critically, and even won the praise of activists who applauded the depiction of an interracial relationship.

So with today marking 34 years since Madonna appeared on the scene with her self-titled debut album, this week we take a moment to remember the fifth and final single from that album with “Borderline.” Enjoy.




From Madonna

Sire/Warner Bros. Records