1984: A song called Holiday jets into the Top 10 for the very first time – but certainly not the last. Madonna’s debut hit and signature song has been a Top 10 hit THREE times.
Can you remember a time before Madonna? If you can’t, and only know her as the global superstar she is now, there’s every chance you won’t know just how exciting, different and interesting this ragtag American singer with a kind of squeaky voice seemed when her ditty about skiving off work entered the Top 10 this week in 1984.
Sassy solo female singers were nothing new, of course and another young American lady named Cyndi Lauper was enjoying her first Top 10 hit with Girls Just Want To Have Fun a little further up the chart, but Madonna seemed to have something special from the start. Brutally honest and funny in interviews, her music was unashamedly poppy and devoted to having a good time and Holiday, now one of her most famous songs, perfectly encapsulated Madonna’s whole ethos: “Awww, just have a day off, it’ll be fine”.
Watch Madonna perform Holiday on Top Of The Pops before we tell the story of her very first feelgood smash. The guy dancing to the left of her with the impressive sweatpatches is her brother Christopher.
Little did we know that behind those bright eyes and kind of half-hearted dancing there was an ambitious workaholic, who would stop at nothing until she achieved global domination and, well, it didn’t take her very long.
Holiday had been in the Top 40 for three weeks before it finally clambered into the Top 10. It seemed odd that this happy, carefree record hadn’t been released in the height of summer and when it peaked at Number 6, Madonna obviously decided that wasn’t good enough – it was rereleased 18 months later covered in suntan lotion and in the height of Madonnamania, this time making it all the way to Number 2.
Holiday was Madonna’s first Top 10 hit but her next two singles fared less well. Lucky Star landed at Number 14 and Borderline, a huge fan favourite, actually stalled at Number 56 first time round. That one usually comes up in pub quizzes – nobody can quite believe it wasn’t an instant hit.
Perhaps sensing that plan for world domination couldn’t be achieved by tracks from her debut, self-titled album, she moved on to the Like A Virgin era in November 1984, beginning a residency of the Official Singles Chart that would see every single she released for the next 10 years chart in the Top 10. Yes, all 35 of them. 35! The spell was finally broken by Take A Bow, one of her biggest hits in the US, which peaked at Number 16 in the UK.
Borderline would get another shot at the Top 10 in 1986, when it zoomed up to Number 2, coming at the end of a blitz of Madonna chart entries – eight within a year. She would have to wait until August 1985 for her first Number 1, Into The Groove. For one week, Holiday sat right behind it in Number 2. There’d be another 12 chart-toppers to come, but we’ll be talking about those later…
After Madonna released her first greatest hits collection in late 1990, The Immaculate Collection (still one of the biggest selling albums in the UK of all time, fact fans), Holiday’s time had come once more. It was rereleased the following summer with some tunes that hadn’t made the greatest hits and so had another crack at the Official Singles Chart. This time, it reached Number 5. Three goes at getting to the top spot is a pretty impressive run, and even more impressive to hit the Top 20 every time, but you’ve got to know when it’s time to retire, and Holiday finally went on a very long chart vacation and hasn’t been since.
Madonna’s not one for showing much affection for her old hits, but Holiday has fared better than most – she has performed it on all but one of her nine live tours. And you love it too: it is one of her biggest selling singles, shifting 795,000 copies in the UK.
Watch Madge – we can’t believe we got the whole way through an article without calling her Madge until now – perform it on her Reinvention Tour in 2004. She’s come a long way, hasn’t she?
by Justin Meyers