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Happy Birthday Madonna

You have been making this planet more fabulous than it otherwise would have been for 56 years, and I for one think you deserve presents for it. But what do you get the icon who has everything? I get her something no one else can give - The Wally Star!

It's been 31 years since Madonna released her self-titled first album. I was 11 years old when "Madonna" was released. It came into the soundtrack of my life like a whisper, and before I knew it I was dancing. If I could go back to my 11-year-old self and tell him anything, it would be "You are 100% right to be listening to Madonna. Thank you for letting this music in. Go with the flow." At that age, "dance and sing, get up and do your thing" was exactly the anthem I needed. Madonna became a fast favorite, and my favorite album at 11 remains one of my favorites to this day.

I remember the first time I heard the synthesizer arpeggios that open "Lucky Star". It was a very exciting sound. It was the sound of Madonna bopping onto the scene. I was instantly dancing in a way that no music had moved me before. This is the album that got me dancing, got my body shaking, and got my chakras opening up. If dancing brings the devil, then you can blame Madonna. I liked that she declares herself to be lucky, that she embraces her good fortune and lets herself be swept up by it.


I remember the cute boy Madonna was dating in the "Borderline" video. I remember how she got in a nice car and left his ass, and I remember thinking I wanted to leave people like that! With class, and style, and expensive things.The first two songs on this album wake up the body and get you dancing. With "Burning Up", the third track, Madonna wakes up our inner fire and things start to pick up. It's here she teaches us how to roll around in the middle of the road. I love that. "Burning Up" is the song that first gave me Madonna fever. I have been burning up to "Burning Up" for over three decades and the song is still hot.The final song on the first side of the record (yes I listened to this on a record as a child) is "I Know It", and with it Madonna lays the blueprint of so many Madonna albums to come. Side one of the album begins with love that burns with an uncontrollable heat and then goes south and ends with heartbreak. On side 2, we forget about our heartache and celebrate anyway.By the time "Holiday" was released as a single, I am officially falling in love with Madonna. By now, I am spinning to her in my socks on the hard-wood floor. How can anybody listen to "Holiday" and not be skipping around the room? This is the song where I learned to celebrate the positive aspects of life. I had always, in my irish-influenced childhood, been a fan of sad country music. Madonna snapped me out of that funk and had me letting love shine. She woke up the dancer in me, she encouraged me to "take some time to celebrate."The next song, "Think Of Me", may have been a little bit prophetic, as it wouldn't be long before all anybody could think of was Madonna. For me, Madonna was often in my thoughts as the harbinger of the mysteries of sensuality and sex. For an inexperienced kid, "Physical Attraction" was a big eye-opener in my education. I liked her talking, saying "I know you want me" and teaching me that desire is nothing to be ashamed of. When she says to me, "What are you gonna do?", I don't know what "it" is but I know I'm going to do "it"."Everybody" is the final track on the album. (FYI, it is also the song that was first released as a single.) This song always wakes me up. It gets my little bum dancing and singing and getting up and doing its thing. It was the beginning of the lesson that the only person that was required to believe in me was me. Musically speaking, "Everybody" was really cutting edge when it came out. The strange new sounds of new-wave music were just beginning. New bands like Yaz and Depeche Mode were barely breaking through, and Madonna was one of the innovators that co-opted the way synthesizers were being used and brought it into the top 40 pop sound. "Madonna" (the album) is the first brilliant example of what Madonna (the pop star) does so well: she finds the newest hottest trends in upcoming music and shines her light upon them for all of us to see. We here at Sharpe Influence are forever shaped because of Madonna's musical brilliance, and so we award her first album with The Wally Star. Happy Birthday, Madonna!

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