By Christopher Rosa
Madonna, the beloved single-monikered shape-shifting pop queen, turns 56 today! She’s been giving us hit after hit for more than 30 years, and her catalog is rich with everything from sugary-sweet dance smashers (“Vogue,” anyone?) to moody ballads (“Frozen” lives up to its title). In addition to music, her fashion is iconic and certainly set the stage for future pop star get-ups (Cone bra, anyone?). But when you’ve got as many radio regulars as Madonna, there are bound to be a few gems that slip through the cracks.
The Material Girl’s discography — including 12 studio albums, four live albums and three soundtracks — is chock-full of ear candies that unfortunately haven’t seen the light of mainstream day. Madonna’s known to take risks in the studio, and some of those chances resulted in breathtaking songs with killer hooks, haunting lyrics and super-sonic effects. Like a prayer, you know she’ll take you there.
In honor of Madge’s birthday, we’ve picked 25 non-single tracks that pack just as much oomph as “Hung Up,“ “Music,” and “Open Your Heart.” These tunes cross decades, genres and Madonna images, but all give the sort of spiritual experience Madonna’s been bringing to pop music since 1982. Give them a listen, and let us know what songs justify your love for Madonna in the comments below.
25. “Easy Ride” from American Life (2003)
Madonna’s then-obsession with marrying electronica and orchestra hits a fever pitch on “Easy Ride.” The sonic climax around the 4-minute mark is particularly interesting.
24. “Candy Perfume Girl” from Ray of Light (1998)
Rock and techno weave effortlessly on “Candy Perfume Girl,” a highlight from the already-spectacular Ray of Light.