Dress You Up

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"Dress You Up"
Background color is black. "Madonna" above photo of a young brunette woman in the red dress with the ponytail and curvy, groovy hair. Below photo is "Dress You Up" in cursive font.
Cover art for U.S. 7" vinyl single
Single by Madonna
from the album Like a Virgin
B-side "Shoo-Bee-Doo"
Released July 24, 1985
Format 7", 12", CD single
Recorded 1984
Genre
Length 4:01
Label
Writer(s)
  • Andrea LaRusso
  • Peggy Stanziale
Producer(s) Nile Rodgers
Madonna singles chronology
"Into the Groove"
(1985)
"Dress You Up"
(1985)
"Gambler"
(1985)

"Dress You Up" is a song by American singer Madonna. It was released as the final single from her second studio album, Like a Virgin, on July 24, 1985, by Sire Records. The song was the last track to be added to the album as it was submitted late by songwriters Andrea LaRusso and Peggy Stanziale. Madonna pushed for the song's inclusion on Like a Virgin as she particularly liked its lyrics. Musically, the song is a drum beat driven dance track featuring instrumentation from guitars and vocals from a choir. The lyrics are an extended metaphor for fashion and sex, comparing dressing up with passion. A live performance from Madonna's first tour was used as the music video.

Critics reacted positively to the dance-pop nature of the track. "Dress You Up" became Madonna's sixth consecutive top-five single in the United States. It also reached the top-ten in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The song was most recently performed on the 2009 leg of the Sticky & Sweet Tour. "Dress You Up" was added to the "Filthy Fifteen" list of the Parents Music Resource Center, due to the perceived sexual nature of its lyrics. The song has been covered in different forms by a number of artists.

Background and release[edit]

"Dress You Up" was the last song to be included on the Like a Virgin album. Producer Nile Rodgers had initially asked songwriters Andrea LaRusso and Peggy Stanziale to write a chic-styled song for Madonna.[1] However, the writing took time, since both LaRusso and Stanziale were busy with other projects.[2] When the lyrics of the song was submitted, Rodgers rejected it as there was no time to compose a melody and record it for the album. But Madonna liked the lyrics of the song, and persuaded Rodgers to include it on Like a Virgin.[2] In Britain, the song was released as a limited-edition shaped picture disc. In this case, it was star-shaped to tie in with the Christmas release date for the single.[3] The song is one of several of Madonna's hit singles not included on The Immaculate Collection compilation, released in 1990.[4] "Dress You Up" was, however, later included on Madonna's 2009 compilation album Celebration.[5] Although no music video was separately made for the song, a live performance of "Dress You Up" from The Virgin Tour, filmed at Detroit was used as the video.[6]

Composition[edit]

A 20 second sample of "Dress You Up", featuring Madonna singing the line "Gonna dress you up in my love", followed by two male voices singing "All over, all over".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Dress You Up" is a characteristic drum machine driven dance track and consists of a two-chord verse. The chorus is supported by vocals from a choir, a four-chord progression and a single guitar note, played by Rodgers.[7] A rock guitar solo plays during the bridge. Towards the end of the song, the sound of the drums are decreased, while the treble is increased.[7] 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 moderate tempo of 100 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of C minor, with Madonna's vocals ranging from a low-note of B3 to a high-note of F5. The song has a basic sequence of Cm–B–G7 in the verses and A–B–Cm–Cm/G in the chorus, as its chord progression.[8]

The lyrics of the song are a metaphor for fashion and sex. Madonna sings about clothes she would like to drape over her man, so that she can caress his body with her hands, and cover him with "Velvet Kisses".[7] According to Rikky Rooksby, author of Madonna: The Complete Guide To Her Music, the line "I'll create a look that's made for you", later became synonymous with Madonna's re-invention of her image throughout her career.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Nancy Erlick from Billboard said that the song felt like "[Madonna] The pin-up girl in character; part saucy, eager to please."[10] Alex Henderson from Allmusic, commented that "Rodger's [producer] gift for sleek, seductive dance music [Chic's specialty] is evident on such gems as 'Dress You Up'."[11] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic, called "Dress You Up" an excellent, standard-issue dance-pop.[12] Santiago Fouz-Hernández and Freya Jarman-Ivens, authors of Madonna's Drowned Worlds: New Approaches To Her Cultural Transformations, commented that Madonna sounded like a "sex-kitten" in the song.[13] Sla Cinquemani from Slant Magazine called the song irresistible.[14] William McKeen, author of Rock and roll is here to stay, said that the melody of "Dress You Up" was insistently chugging.[15] Debby Miller from Rolling Stone said that "Despite her little-girl voice, there's an undercurrent of ambition that makes her more than the latest Betty Boop."[16] While reviewing the album in 1995, Dave Karger from Entertainment Weekly commented that the song came off as a bit repetitious and immature.[17] Jim Farber from the same publication commented that "the song was built to transcend the Dynasty era."[18]

While reviewing The Immaculate Collection, Alfred Soto from Stylus Magazine commented: "Like A Virgin '​s Top Five absentees 'Dress You Up' and 'Angel' do 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."[19] In 2003, when fans were asked to vote for the top twenty Madonna singles of all time, by Q magazine, "Dress You Up" was allocated the eighth spot.[20] The video was nominated at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, in the category for Best Choreography, but lost to "Raspberry Beret" by Prince and The Revolution.[21]

Chart performance[edit]

"Dress You Up" debuted at 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 17, 1985.[22] After seven weeks, the song reached number five on the Hot 100, becoming Madonna's sixth consecutive top-five hit.[23][24] It also peaked at number 34 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, number three on Hot Dance Music/Club Play and 64 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[24] It placed at 94 on the year-end chart for 1985, with Madonna becoming the top pop artist for the year.[25] In Canada, the song debuted at 90 on the RPM singles chart on August 24, 1985.[26] The song was present for a total of 20 weeks on the chart, peaking at number ten after six weeks.[27][28]

In the United Kingdom, "Dress You Up" was released on December 12, 1985. It entered the UK Singles Chart at number 12, and reached a peak of five, being present on the chart for a total of 13 weeks.[29] The song was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), for shipments of 200,000 copies.[30] According to Official Charts Company, the song has sold 210,000 copies there.[31] In Australia, the song peaked at five in October 1985, becoming Madonna's sixth top-ten single there.[32] The song also reached the top 20 in Belgium, France, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles, while peaking just outside the top 20 in Italy.[33][34][35][36][37][38]

Live performances[edit]

A faraway image of a blond woman, wearing a red shorts, black T-shirt and playing a white electric guitar. Her face is away from the image. Beside her, a band stands with the backdrops displaying white stars on black.
Madonna performing "Dress You Up" on the Sticky & Sweet Tour (2009)

Madonna has performed "Dress You Up" on three of her world tours, namely The Virgin Tour in 1985, the Who's That Girl World Tour in 1987, and the 2009 leg of the Sticky & Sweet Tour. On The Virgin Tour, "Dress You Up" was the opening song of the set. Madonna wore a blue see-through crop-top, revealing her characteristic black bra. She also had lacy leggings and crucifixes around her ear and her neck. As the beat of the song started, Madonna entered the stage and posed on the stairs before reaching the microphone to sing the track.[39] A performance of the song from the Virgin Tour was included on the VHS release Live – The Virgin Tour.[40] During the Who's That Girl World Tour of 1987, Madonna performed it as a medley with "Material Girl" and "Like a Virgin". She wore an elaborate costume, inspired by Dame Edna Everage. It consisted of a hat strewn with fake fruits, flowers and feathers, jeweled batwing spectacles with heavy, black frames, a ruffled skirt and a bodice covered with objects such as watches and dolls and fishnets. Author Carol Clrek stated that the dress was more "ludicrous for Madonna, than humorous."[41] Two different performances of the song on this tour can be found on the videos: Who's That Girl – Live in Japan, filmed in Tokyo, Japan, on June 22, 1987,[42] and Ciao, Italia! – Live from Italy, filmed in Turin, Italy, on September 4, 1987.[43]

A backing track was created to accompany the performance of "Dress You Up" on her 2004 Re-Invention World Tour, however Madonna found it difficult to learn the guitar chords for the song, choosing to perform "Material Girl" instead.[44] In 2008, Madonna performed the first verse and chorus of the song during the request section of the Sticky & Sweet Tour. The song was performed at Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, Valencia and Vienna.[45] Madonna finally added "Dress You Up" to the 2009 leg of the Sticky & Sweet Tour, replacing the rock version of "Borderline". It was performed as part of the 'old school' segment and featured the groove from The Knack's song "My Sharona" and "God Save The Queen" by the Sex Pistols.[46][47]

Cover versions[edit]

In 1999 "Dress You Up" was sung by a group of artists, including Alex Greenwald, Rashida Jones and Jason Thompson, for Gap's "Everybody in Vests" TV commercial directed by Pedro Romhanyi. Music for the song was created by the Dust Brothers.[48] An alternative rock cover of the song by shoegazer band Apollo Heights was included on the 2007 Madonna tribute compilation Through the Wilderness.[49] The power pop band Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, along with third wave ska band Reel Big Fish, covered the song on their 2007 EP Duet All Night Long.[50] United Kingdom dance artist Kelly Llorenna recorded a new version of the song in 2008. The cover was released as a single in 2009 and a music video aired on Clubland TV, featuring Llorenna trying on a selection of different outfits in a clothes shop named Kelly Llorenna. At the end of the video Llorenna drives off in a limousine wearing a chauffeur's outfit.[51] In 2013, the song was covered in the Glee episode "Feud", mashed-up with Elton John's "The Bitch Is Back".[52]

Legacy[edit]

In 1985, the song was the subject of much media attention, when it was included on the Parents Music Resource Center's (PMRC) "Filthy Fifteen" list, for the perceived sexual content of its lyrics. The Center's founder Tipper Gore had heard her daughter listening to the song, and considered the line "Gonna dress you up in my love" as exemplifying 'vulgar music'. The PMRC called upon the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to give parents a consumer-friendly means of identifying rock records unsuitable for minors – a rating system based on lyrical content. "Dress You Up" received a rating of 'S', for "sex and obscenity", from the RIAA.[53] Gore commented on the song: "Popular culture is morally bankrupt, flagrantly licentious and utterly materialistic—and Madonna is the worst of all." According to Bruce David Forbes and H. Mahan in their book Religion and Popular Culture in America, Madonna's fans took the attitude "Can't you cultural conservatives see what she is trying to do—to annoy people like you! If you don't like it, don't listen to it. Stop trying to police my morality!"[54] The campaign was successful and led to the creation of the Parental Advisory sticker.[55]

Track listing and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the Like a Virgin album liner notes.[61]

Charts[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bego 2000, p. 34
  2. ^ a b Rooksby 2004, p. 19
  3. ^ "Dress You Up" (12-inch single – Picture disc). Madonna. Warner Bros. Records. 1985. 
  4. ^ The Immaculate Collection (LP, Vinyl, CD). Madonna. Sire Records. 1990. 7599-26440-2. 
  5. ^ Celebration (LP, Vinyl, CD). Madonna. Warner Bros. Records. 2009. 521096-1. 
  6. ^ "Madonna: Dress You Up music video". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  7. ^ a b c Rooksby 2004, p. 20
  8. ^ "Digital Sheet Music – Madonna – Like a Virgin book". Musicnotes.com. Alfred Publishing. 
  9. ^ Rooksby 2004, p. 15
  10. ^ Erlick, Nancy (1985-08-17). "Pop Singles Reviews". Billboard (New York: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (33): 65. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  11. ^ Erlewine, Bogdanov & Woodstra 2002, p. 245
  12. ^ Thomas Erlewine, Stephen (1984-11-19). "Like a Virgin > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  13. ^ Fouz-Hernández & Jarman-Ivens 2004, p. 55
  14. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (2001-09-09). "Madonna: Like a Virgin (Remaster)". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  15. ^ McKeen 2000, p. 234
  16. ^ Miller, Debby (1985-01-17). "Madonna: Like A Virgin : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Archived from the original on June 18, 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  17. ^ Karger, Dave (1995-11-10). "Madonna – Like a What?". Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc.). Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  18. ^ Farber, Jim (2001-07-10). "The Girl Material". Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc.). Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  19. ^ Soto, Alfred (2007-10-23). "Madonna – Like a Virgin / The Immaculate Collection". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  20. ^ Reporter, Staff (2003-12-09). "Top 20 Madonna Singles of All-time". Q magazine (San Francisco: Bauer Media Group) 19 (23). ISSN 0955-4955. 
  21. ^ "1986 MTV Video Music Awards". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  22. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100: Week Ending August 17, 1985". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1985-08-17. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  23. ^ a b "The Billboard Hot 100: Week Ending October 5, 1985". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1985-10-05. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  24. ^ a b c d e Grein, Paul (1985-10-05). "Chart Beat". Billboard (New York: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (46): 6. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  25. ^ "Top Pop Albums 1985". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (52). 1985-12-28. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  26. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 42, No. 24, August 24, 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-08-24. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  27. ^ a b "Top Singles – Volume 43, No. 5, October 12, 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-10-12. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  28. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 43, No. 17, January 18, 1986". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1986-01-18. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  29. ^ a b "Official Charts Company – Dress You Up by Madonna Search". Official Charts Company. 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2013-05-06. 
  30. ^ a b "BPI – Certifications search". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  31. ^ "Madonna: The Official Top 40". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  32. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  33. ^ a b "Madonna – Dress You Up – Song details" (in Dutch). VRT Top 30. 1985-11-02. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 
  34. ^ a b c d e "Madonna – Dress You Up (Chanson)". Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  35. ^ a b "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. 1986-09-25. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  36. ^ a b "Madonna: Discografia Italiana" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. 1984–1999. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  37. ^ a b Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  38. ^ a b "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles". Billboard (New York: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (48): 57. 1985-05-18. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  39. ^ Clerk 2002, p. 41
  40. ^ Madonna (1985). Live – The Virgin Tour (VHS). Warner Bros. Records. 
  41. ^ Clerk 2002, p. 66
  42. ^ Madonna (1987). Who's That Girl – Live in Japan (VHS). Warner-Pioneer Japan. 
  43. ^ Phares, Heather. "Ciao Italia: Live in Italy (Video) > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  44. ^ Timmerman 2007, p. 61
  45. ^ "Madonna Sticky & Sweet Tour". The Insider (Neri & Associates). 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  46. ^ "Bienvenido a MADONNAMEXICO". MadonnaMexico: Official Madonna Mexican website. Madonnamexico.com. 2009-07-04. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  47. ^ Bianco, Giovanni (2008–2009). Official Sticky & Sweet Tour Program. Los Angeles, California: Signature Networks, Inc. pp. 58–62. MDN44899. 
  48. ^ Reporter, EW (1999-09-10). "Mind the Gap". Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc.). Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  49. ^ "Through the Wilderness: A Tribute to Madonna by Various Artists". iTunes. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  50. ^ "Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer". iTunes. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  51. ^ "Kelly Llorenna "Dress You Up"". World News. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  52. ^ Slezak, Michael (March 14, 2013). "Glee Recap: He's Been Telling Lies". TVLine. PMC. Retrieved March 15, 2013. 
  53. ^ Fouz-Hernández & Freya Jarman-Ivens 2004, p. 60
  54. ^ Forbes & H. Mahan 2005, p. 76
  55. ^ "Can You Dance To It: PMRC Sucks". TOTSE. 2007-03-13. Archived from the original on June 9, 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  56. ^ Dress You Up (US 7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. 7-28919. 
  57. ^ Dress You Up (US 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. 9 20369-0 A. 
  58. ^ Dress You Up (Japanese CD Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1987. 28XD-456. 
  59. ^ Dress You Up (UK 7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. 928 848-7. 
  60. ^ Dress You Up (UK 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1985. W 8848 T. 
  61. ^ Like a Virgin (LP, Vinyl, CD). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. 9 25157-2. 
  62. ^ "Top Pop Singles 1985". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1985-12-31. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  63. ^ "Top Dance Sales Singles/Albums 1985". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1985-12-31. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]