Angel (Madonna song)

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"Angel"
Top view of a blond with rough, scrambled hair. She wraps a blue cloth around herself with her hands closing it on her chest. On the right hand side of the image, the words "Madonna" and "Angel" are written from top to bottom in capital peach letters.
Single by Madonna
from the album Like a Virgin
B-side
Released April 10, 1985
Format 7", 12", CD single
Recorded 1984
Genre Dance-pop
Length 3:56
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Nile Rodgers
Madonna singles chronology
"Crazy for You"
(1985)
"Angel"
(1985)
"Into the Groove"
(1985)

"Angel" is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna from her second studio album Like a Virgin. It was released on April 10, 1985 by Sire Records as the third single from the album. Written by Steve Bray and Madonna, it was one of the first songs developed for the project and, according to Madonna, was inspired by a girl who is saved by an angel, and she falls in love with Him. "Angel" was released as a 12" single with "Into the Groove" in some countries and charted likewise. A music video was initially planned for the release, but was later cancelled. Instead a promotional video comprising clips from her previous videos was released in the United Kingdom.

Musically "Angel" consists of three chord ascending hook, which serves for the verse and chorus. It has vocal harmonies beneath the main chorus and the lyrics repeat the angel-like image of Madonna's saviour. Critics gave mixed review of the song, with one group denoting it as a classic while the others felt it was sub-par compared to the other Madonna singles. "Angel" became Madonna's fifth consecutive top-five single on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the top of its dance charts. It was also able to reach number-one in Australia and the top-five of the charts in Canada, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom. Madonna has performed the song only once, on her Virgin Tour in 1985.

Background[edit]

"Angel" was written by Madonna and Steve Bray and released worldwide on April 10, 1985. Madonna explained to Bray that she wanted a stronger, more pop-oriented album, hence the songs should reflect that. One of the first songs that they developed was "Angel". Madonna commented that the song was about a girl, who was "in depression over something. An angel appeared and healed her soul, making her fall madly in love with Him. [...] It's something that I felt when I was young. I thought it would make for an interesting story if I wrote that [experience] as a song on my record."[1] The song was recorded as early as April 1984, but the whole project was held off, much to Madonna's frustration, by the continuing sales of her self-titled debut album, which had by then sold over a million copies in United States.[1] She had decided to release "Angel" as the initial single from the album, but changed her mind, after the recording of the title track "Like a Virgin" was complete. "Angel" was ultimately released as the third single, and included the song "Into the Groove", from Madonna's 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan, on the B-side of the 12-inch maxi-single.[1]

Madonna had initially planned to release a music video for "Angel", but later decided to go against it, as at that time, there were already five Madonna music videos on-rotation in the music channels and were being broadcast continuously. Hence, Warner Bros. and Madonna felt that adding another video to the already saturated channels, might not be in her favour.[2] A promotional video, containing scenes from the music videos of "Burning Up", "Borderline", "Lucky Star", "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl" was made by Warner Bros. Records and aired in the United Kingdom. The video was included on the promotional-only video compilations It's That Girl and She's Breathless.[3][4]

Composition[edit]

A 20 second sample of "Angel" where Madonna sings the chorus, which is backed by the sounds of laughter.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Angel" begins with a laugh and an echo, panning from left to the right.[5] The song is built on an ascending hook consisting of three chord sequence, which serves for the verse and chorus. It consists of a constant 8th rhythm throughout the song, making it sound similar to the songs of the band Machine.[5] Vocal harmonies are also added beneath the main chorus. It is a two-bar phrase song, and laughter is again added as the song slowly fades out.[5] Madonna sings in her lower register at the beginning, and shifts to the higher one in the line "I can see it in your e-e-e-eyye-e-s". The line was taken from the song "Death Disco" (1979), by the British musical group Public Image Ltd.[6] According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com, by Alfred Publishing, the song is set in the time signature of common time, with a medium tempo of 120 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of G major, with Madonna's voice spanning from the high-note of G3 to the low-note of B4. The song has a basic sequence of Dm7–Em7–F–Dm7–Em7–F as its chord progression.[7] The lyrics continuously repeat the angel-like image of Madonna's saviour.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Rikky Rooksby, author of Madonna: The Complete Guide to Her Music, commented that "Angel" is a song "that is less than even the sum of its parts."[5] Santiago Fouz-Hernández and Freya Jarman-Ivens, authors of Madonna's Drowned Worlds: New Approaches to Her Cultural Transformations, felt that "the pizzicato synthesizer line that opens 'Angel' was indeed classical Madonna."[8] John Leland from Spin called it a rehash of Madonna's previous single "Lucky Star" (1984), with "an even lamer melody and punch. [...] 'Angel' is Nile Rodgers doing what he does best: turning crass product into cash product."[9] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic called the song "an excellent standard-issue dance-pop."[10] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine called the song sugary.[11] While reviewing the album in 1995, Dave Karger from Entertainment Weekly felt that the song comes off as a bit repetitious and immature.[12] Alfred Soto of Stylus Magazine commented that "'Angel' is a particular stunner, certainly the apex of Rodgers' post-Chic skills. [...] It does a better job than the two big singles of delineating the boundaries of Madonna's determined shallowness, an act that confounds Philistines today and made the appreciation of her musical skills a lot harder than it took these critics to dismiss Cyndi Lauper as the real charlatan."[6] Nancy Erlich from Billboard called the song "romantic, uncontroversial techno-pop. [...] [Madonna's] reign continues as '85's premier media obsession."[13]

Chart performance[edit]

After its release, "Angel" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at 48 on the issue dated April 27, 1985, while her previous single "Crazy for You" was at number-two on the chart.[13] After ten weeks, "Angel" reached a peak position of five on the chart. The song tied Madonna with Olivia Newton-John, as the female artist with most top-five hits on the Hot 100 at that time.[14] It was ranked at 75 on the year end chart for 1985.[15] "Angel" debuted on the Hot Adult Contemporary Chart for the issue dated May 11, 1985, and reached a peak of five.[14] The song debuted at 40 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart on June 1, 1985, and reached the top after three weeks.[14][16] It also charted on a number of Billboard charts, such as reaching the top of the Hot Dance Singles Sales and the Hot Black Singles chart at position 71.[16] On July 30, 1985, "Angel" and "Into the Groove" was together certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for the shipment of one million copies across United States—the requirement for a gold single prior to 1989.[17][18] It was the first 12-inch single to be certified gold, since Frankie Smith's "Double Dutch Bus" (1981).[19] "Angel/Into the Groove" placed at 81 on the year-end chart for 1985, with Madonna becoming the top pop artist for the year.[20]

In Canada, the song debuted at 80 on the RPM issue dated May 4, 1985.[21] After eight weeks, the song reached a peak of five on the chart.[22] "Angel" was present on the chart for 25 weeks and ranked 56 on the 1985 RPM Year-end chart.[23][24] The song was released in the United Kingdom with "Burning Up" as its B-Side, and debuted at ten on the UK Singles Chart on September 9, 1985.[25] It reached a peak of five next week, and was present for a total of 12 weeks on the chart.[26] The song was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for the shipment of 200,000 copies of the single across United Kingdom.[27] According to The Official Charts Company, the song has sold 205,000 copies there.[28] In Australia, "Angel" charted as a combined single with "Into the Groove" and reached the top of the Kent Music Report chart. It was the second highest selling single of 1985 in Australia.[29] The song reached the top 20 in the charts of Belgium, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles.[30][31][32][33][34]

Live performance[edit]

The song was performed as part of Madonna's 1985 Virgin Tour; it was the fifth song of the setlist. Madonna wore a blue see-through crop-top, revealing her characteristic black bra. She also had lacy leggings and crucifixes around an ear and her neck.[35] As she finished the vigorous performance of "Everybody", the lights were dimmed and the introduction music of the song started. Rotating lights fell on the stage. Madonna appeared sitting on top of the stairs and gradually descended. During the intermediate bridge, she and her dancers moved energetically around the whole stage, as white balloons fell on them from above.[35] Madonna continued singing as the lights were dimmed again. She finished the performance and disappeared behind the wings for a costume change.[35] "Angel" did not appear in the final home video release Live – The Virgin Tour.

Track listing and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[44]

Charts and certifications[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Rooksby 2004, p. 15
  2. ^ Bego 2000, p. 186
  3. ^ Madonna (1987). It's That Girl (VHS). Warner Home Video. 
  4. ^ Madonna (1990). She's Breathless (VHS). Warner Home Video. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Rooksby 2004, p. 17
  6. ^ a b Soto, Alfred (2007-10-23). "Madonna – Like a Virgin / The Immaculate Collection". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 13 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  7. ^ "Digital Sheet Music – Madonna – Angel". Musicnotes.com. Alfred Publishing. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  8. ^ Fouz-Hernández & Jarman-Ivens 2004, p. 60
  9. ^ Leland, John (August 1985). "Singles". Spin (New York: Spin Media LLC) 1 (4): 36. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2001-11-12). "Like a Virgin > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  11. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (2001-09-09). "Madonna: Like a Virgin (Remaster) Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  12. ^ Karger, Dave (1985-11-10). "Madonna – Like a What?". Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc.). Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  13. ^ a b Erlich, Nancy (1985-04-27). "Billboard Review: Pop Singles". Billboard (New York: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (17): 60–68. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  14. ^ a b c d e Grein, Paul (1985-06-29). "Chart Beat: Another Milestone For Madonna". Billboard (New York: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (26): 4, 55. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  15. ^ Bronson 2003, p. 351
  16. ^ a b Chin, Brian (1985-06-15). "Dance Trax". Billboard (New York: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (24): 58. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  17. ^ a b "RIAA certifications – Madonna – Angel/Into the Groove". Recording Industry Association of America. 1985-06-03. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  18. ^ Grein, Paul (1989-05-14). "New Golden Rule: 500,000 Sales Mark for All Singles". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2010-12-22. 
  19. ^ Grein, Paul (1985-08-10). "Hot Madonna: July Fills Her Coffers With RIAA Metal". Billboard (New York: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (32): 7. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  20. ^ a b "Top Pop Albums 1985". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (52). 1985-12-28. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  21. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 42, No. 8, May 04 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-05-04. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  22. ^ a b "Top Singles – Volume 42, No. 15, June 22, 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-06-22. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  23. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 43, No. 6, October 19, 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-10-19. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  24. ^ a b "RPM's Top 100 Singles of 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-12-28. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  25. ^ "Chartstats – Singles Chart For 21/09/1985". The Official Charts Company. Chartstats.com. 1985-09-21. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  26. ^ a b "Chartstats – Madonna – Angel". The Official Charts Company. Chartstats.com. 1985-09-28. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  27. ^ "BPI – Certified Awards". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  28. ^ "Madonna: The Official Top 40". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  29. ^ a b c Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  30. ^ a b "Madonna – Angel – Song details" (in Dutch). VRT Top 30. 1985-05-27. Archived from the original on 4 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  31. ^ a b "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. 1985-12-15. Archived from the original on 5 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  32. ^ a b "ライク・ア・ヴァージ Japanese Singles Chart" (in Japanese). Oricon. 1985-07-21. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  33. ^ a b c d "Madonna – Angel (Chanson)". Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  34. ^ a b "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles". Billboard (New York: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (33): 57. 1985-07-27. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  35. ^ a b c Clerk 2002, p. 41
  36. ^ Angel (US 7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. 7-29008. 
  37. ^ Angel (Australian 7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. 7-29008. 
  38. ^ Angel (US 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. 9 20335-0 A. 
  39. ^ Angel (Australian 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. 0-20335. 
  40. ^ Angel (UK 7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. 928 881-7. 
  41. ^ Angel (European 7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. 929 008-7. 
  42. ^ Angel (UK 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. W 8881 T. 
  43. ^ Angel (European 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. 928 881-7. 
  44. ^ Like a Virgin (LP, Vinyl, CD). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. 9 25157-2. 
  45. ^ "Chartverfolgung – Madonna – Angel" (in German). Media Control Charts. charts.de. 1985-06-24. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  46. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  47. ^ "Billboard – Madonna – Adult Contemporary". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2012-01-31. 
  48. ^ "Billboard – Madonna – Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2012-01-31. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]