The (former) Queen of Pop celebrates a record-setting tenure on the dance charts with a new, occasionally questionable compilation
Has anyone been remixed more than Madonna?
Think about how many records she’s released since her first, “Everybody,” almost exactly 40 years ago (October 6, 1982, to be precise). And the fact that remixing has existed for the entirety of her career. And that she’s a dance/pop artist first and foremost, naturally prone to remixing.
There’s a few of her ballads that didn’t receive official remixes, sure – but the vast majority of her singles have. So many, in fact, that Madonna’s hit Billboard’s Dance Club Play chart 67 times, and 64 of those trips have resulted in top tens. And of those 64, an astounding 50 have topped the chart. (All three numbers are records by far, along with her 75 cumulative weeks at #1; additionally, no artist has topped any single Billboard survey as many times.) To celebrate the occasion, and also to mark both the 40th anniversary of her first single and the 35th of her first remix album (1987’s You Can Dance), we now get the compilation Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones, featuring single-edited versions of each one of these 50 chart-toppers across three CDs (or, of course, streaming).
Early on, her dance hits weren’t actually remixed, but sometimes just extended – though as seen above*, in the case of her first #1 on the dance chart, “Holiday” and “Lucky Star” were listed jointly as “LP Cuts,” a common practice on the chart at the time. Club DJs simply played the songs straight off the album! These two songs spent 5 weeks at #1, a run matched in her catalog only by 2000’s “Music.” Oddly, only “Holiday,” but not “Lucky Star,” appears on Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones. [I include the album’s subtitle because a more compact 16-track version, just titled Finally Enough Love, was released in June.]
VIDEO: Madonna “Holiday”
VIDEO: Madonna “Lucky Star”
One of this comp’s problems, however, is that these are all tidy single-size versions of what were originally, in some cases, 10-minute-plus remixes. On one hand I get that plenty of more casual pop listeners may just want a “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” edit – but on the other, wouldn’t you think that most listeners interested specifically in this album would want to hear those extended remixes? Giving me the 7” edit of “Like A Virgin” one more time is just… uninspiring.
What also doesn’t help is the choices of whose remixes to include: both Offer Nissim and Tracy Young get three selections apiece, for example. Offer Nissim’s mixes are alright, but tend to get very samey (spoiler alert: he really likes hard drums). Similarly, Young’s work is solid, but why not mix things up and give us some different contributors? (That said, her Tracy Young Dangerous Mix of “Crave” is deliciously breezy, and features an indefatigable bassline.) Then there’s “Give Me All Your Luvin,’” which is featured in its Party Rock Remix by, I wish I was kidding, LMFAO. (Remember them?) It’s as clunky and stupid as their own singles – and worse yet, the thrusting, kinetic Laidback Luke mix of the same track was right there waiting to be used! (Blame Madonna herself, who reportedly curated the selections here.)
VIDEO: Madonna “Give Me All Your Luvin (Remix)”
To be fair, I’m picky when it comes to these things. Shep Pettibone’s fingerprints are all over the selections here, especially on the first disc (“Into the Groove,” “Like A Prayer,” “Express Yourself,” “Keep It Together,” “Vogue,” and “Fever” all appear via his remixes), and I’m not mad at all – and would frankly welcome even more from the man who I think is one of the all-time greatest to ever remix a record. His take on “Groove” (originally featured on Madonna’s epochal 1987 remix album You Can Dance) in particular is the one I consider definitive; the edit featured here doesn’t defang any of its power.
VIDEO: Madonna “Into The Groove (You Can Dance Remix Edit)”
The other chief problem with this collection is the simple fact that the remixes – and dance chart #1s – have been coming fast and furious this century, and a lot of these songs just aren’t that good. Starting with 2003’s American Life, I’ll argue that Madonna’s only made one good-to-great album in the past two decades (2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor), and the last 12 remixes featured here are of songs originally on Hard Candy, MDNA, Rebel Heart, and Madame X – a stretch of work that I don’t think anyone would call her strongest. Conversely, however, even if you take her classic ‘80s work out of the equation, there’s a lot of killers here. Madonna’s ‘90s-into-’00s can stand up against almost any pop artist’s catalog: from “Vogue,” of course, through “Erotica” (featured in Masters at Work’s legitimately sexy Underground Club Mix), to “Secret” and “Bedtime Story” (both remixed by Junior Vasquez), onto the classic Ray of Light singles, Music’s “What It Feels Like for a Girl” (presented here in its breathtaking Above & Beyond Club Radio Edit), culminating with the Dance Floor classics, remixed by the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Stuart Price, and Axwell. I mean, whew.
AUDIO: Madonna “Jump (Axwell Remix Edit)”
So, yes, Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones is overstuffed, absolutely too much, a gut-busting buffet, and not all of it’s great. But if you choose wisely, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Dig in.
*(The chart excerpted above is taken from World Radio History’s Billboard archive. This particular chart is the Dance/Disco Top 80 for the week ending September 24, 1983.)
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