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Madonna – Spotlight


A few years ago I wrote a thing about the challenges Madonna faced as she entered the fourth decade of her career, and I ended it by asking the question: “if Madonna is the last one to leave the party does that make her brilliant or tragic?”

I think we can all agree – in terms of public perception at least – that this question has now been answered fairly definitively. Everything that’s happened this year – the leaks, the fall, the disappointing sales, the leg-over at the Tidal launch, the photos with heirs apparent Taylor Swift and Rihanna that scream “let’s get you home” – points to a changing of the guard once again. Madonna now seems fallible in a way she hasn’t before. And once you make the mental adjustment that is just fine – thirty years of more-or-less uninterrupted cultural and commercial relevance is something no other pop star has achieved, and I doubt ever will again. It had to end sometime and it’s amazing that it took this long – and how like Madonna it is not to go quietly. Why should she?

Popvoid contenders for Madonna are few and far between – she almost always picked exactly the right singles and until 2012 they all made the top 40, with the vast majority going top ten. But lurking in 1987 is Spotlight – the “new” track from remix album You Can Dance.

Recorded as part of the True Blue sessions, Spotlight was rejected for sounding a bit old-fashioned when stacked up against the more mature inclusions on the album (though hilariously Jimmy Jimmy still made the cut) and in 1987 it did come across as a bit old-school. Now of course, it sounds fresh and new and were Kiesza to release it we’d all be quite excited.

It’s ironic that for all her stances and crusades Madonna has never said anything truer and more sincere than “you can dance…for inspiration” and Spotlight is a continuation of that message – essentially it’s Cass Elliot‘s Make Your Own Kind of Music updated for the eighties, with a bit of Sly and the Family Stone‘s Everybody is a Star thrown in. It’s entirely joyous, a bit shambolic and completely charming, especially when you play it next to 2012’s similarly themed but utterly horrible Turn Up the Radio.

The tide may have turned against her for now, but one day we will all remember how much we love Madonna. Some of us, of course, never forgot it in the first place.

Entered chart: was not released (except in Japan)

Who could sing this today and have a hit? Kiesza, most likely.

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