Lucky Star (song)

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"Lucky Star"
Madonna looking towards the front. She has unkempt hair and wears heavy makeup and a number of junk jewellery on her neck and hands. A number of pictures of pentagonal stars flank her.
Single by Madonna
from the album Madonna
B-side
  • "Holiday" (NA)
  • "I Know It" (EU)
Released September 8, 1983[1]
Format 7", 12", CD single
Recorded February—March 1983[2]
Genre Dance-pop
Length 5:37 (album version)
3:50 (radio edit)
Label
Writer(s) Madonna
Producer(s) Reggie Lucas
Madonna singles chronology
"Holiday"
(1983)
"Lucky Star"
(1983)
"Borderline"
(1984)

"Lucky Star" is a song by American pop singer Madonna from her debut studio album of the same name. Originally released in the United Kingdom on September 8, 1983, by Sire Records, it was the fourth single from the album. The song also appears on her hits compilations The Immaculate Collection (1990) and Celebration (2009). "Lucky Star" was written by Madonna and produced by Reggie Lucas. However, during recording, Madonna was not impressed by Lucas' version. She called her then boyfriend John "Jellybean" Benitez to remix the track according to her ideas. "Lucky Star" is a medium-paced dance track and combines the heavy beats of a drum with the sounds of a guitar played in a high riff. The lyrics juxtapose the male body with the heavenly stars in the sky.

Both contemporary and modern critics praised the song, heralding it as the introduction to upbeat dance music. "Lucky Star" became Madonna's first top-five hit on the Billboard Hot 100, when it reached the peak position of four, becoming the first single in her record-breaking string of 16 consecutive top-ten hits. It had already become Madonna's first number-one song on the Billboard dance charts, when it peaked the chart alongside the previously released single "Holiday".

The music video portrayed Madonna dancing in front of a white background, accompanied by her dancers. After the video was released, Madonna's style and mannerisms became a fashion trend among the younger generation. Scholars noted that in the video, Madonna portrayed herself as narcissistic and an ambiguous character. She referred to herself as the lucky star, unlike the lyrical meaning of the song. Madonna has performed the song in a number of live appearances, most recently at the Confessions Tour (2006). It has also been covered by a number of artists.

Background[edit]

In 1983, Madonna was recording her first studio album with Warner Music producer Reggie Lucas and her then boyfriend John "Jellybean" Benitez.[3] However, she did not have that much new material to ensure a full LP album.[4] Lucas produced a number of songs for the album, namely "Borderline", "Burning Up", "Physical Attraction", "I Know It", "Think of Me" and lastly "Lucky Star". The song was written by Madonna for DJ Mark Kamins, who previously promised to play the track at his club Danceteria, where he worked as a DJ.[3] However, the track was instead used by Madonna for her debut album, which she planned to call Lucky Star.[3] She believed that "Lucky Star" song, along with "Borderline", were the perfect foundation for her album. But problems arose after recording the song. Madonna was unhappy with the way the final version turned out. According to her, Lucas used too many instruments and did not consider her ideas for the songs.[5] This led to a dispute between the two and after finishing the album, Lucas left the project without altering the songs to Madonna's specifications. Hence, Madonna brought Benitez to remix "Borderline" and "Lucky Star", along with some of the other recorded tracks.[5] In a later interview, Benitez reflected back on the recording sessions and commented,

"She was unhappy with the whole damn thing, so I went in and sweetened up a lot of music for her, adding some guitars to 'Lucky Star', some voices, some magic. [...] I just wanted to do the best job I could do for her. When we would play back 'Holiday' or 'Lucky Star', you could see that she was overwhelmed by how great it all sounded. You wanted to help her, you know? As much as she could be a bitch, when you were in groove with her, it was very cool, very creative."[6]

"Lucky Star" was initially decided to be released as the third single from the album, but "Holiday" had already become a dance-hit in the United States. Hence it was released as the fourth single from the album.[4] Music executive Jeff Ayeroff, who was instrumental in green-lighting Madonna's career, recalled how Madonna initially didn't want to release "Lucky Star" as a single. He says that around that time Madonna was getting sued and needed money, so he told her "Let me release 'Lucky Star', and I guarantee that you'll sell enough records to pay that off." According to Ayeroff, he was right because "Lucky star broke the first album wide open."[7][8]

Composition[edit]

A 30 second sample of Madonna's "Lucky Star". Here the chorus is played, backed by synthesized beats.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Musically a medium-paced dance track, "Lucky Star" starts off with a sparkle of synth note and is followed by heavy beats of electronic drum and handclaps.[9] A guitar is played in high riff and a bubbling bass synth is produced to accompany the guitar sound.[9] The song revolves around the "star light, star bright" hook for more than a minute, before going to the chorus. According to author Rikky Rooksby, the lyrics are repetitive and inane and revolves around the transparent ambiguity of the stars and juxtaposition of the male character with being a heavenly body in the sky.[9] "Lucky Star" is set in the time signature of common time with a moderate dance tempo of 108 beats per minute.[10] It is set in the key of G major with Madonna's voice spanning from the tonal nodes of G3 to F5.[10] The song has a basic sequence of Gdouble sharp–Adouble sharp–B–Dhalf flat–E–F as its basic chord progression.[10]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

A blond woman wearing a white and purple leotard, with a cape around her, sings in to a microphone. She is flanked by two similarly dressed women.
Madonna wearing a white and purple leotard and a cape around her, singing "Lucky Star" backed by her singers, on the Confessions Tour.

Author J. Randy Taraborrelli, in his biography of Madonna, called the song as "fluffy, danceable, but forgettable."[5] However he noted the song's ingenuity which he credited to come from its simplicity and dance-music nature.[6] Author Rikky Rooksby noted that Madonna had a "cutesy" voice in the song and compared her vocals with those of singer Cyndi Lauper's.[9] Author Simon Gage of the book Queer noted that the song was a "happy disco number".[11] The song was appreciated by authors Santiago Fouz-Hernández and Freya Jarman-Ivens, who complimented it in their book Madonna's Drowned Worlds. They noted that with songs like "Lucky Star" and "Burning Up" (1983), Madonna introduced a "style of upbeat dance music that would prove particularly appealing to future gay audiences."[12] English tenor and academic John Potter, in his book The Cambridge companion to singing, commented that "Lucky Star" is a soft-soul, disco-influenced style song but criticized the song's reverb and double tracking which he believed made the song "de-personalized".[13] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine commented that the track had "unknowingly prefaced her recent foray into the glittery halls of electronic-pop."[14] Bill Lamb from About.com described the song, along with "Holiday" and "Borderline," as "state of the art dance-pop."[15] While reviewing Madonna's 1990 compilation The Immaculate Collection, David Browne from Entertainment Weekly complimented the remixed version of the song.[16] Rock critique Robert Christgau, while reviewing The Immaculate Collection, called the song "blessed".[17] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic described the song as effervescent.[18]

Chart performance[edit]

"Lucky Star" was released as the album's fifth single in the United States and debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at 49, on the week of August 25, 1984.[19] It finally reached a peak of four, and was present for a total of 18 weeks.[20] It was able to enter other Billboard charts, such as Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Adult Contemporary, where it peaked at 42 and 19 respectively.[21] Prior to its release, the song had already reached the top of the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart along with "Holiday".[21] In Canada, the song debuted at position 89 of the RPM Singles chart,[22] reaching a peak of eight in November 1984,[23] and it was present on the chart for 19 weeks.[24] It placed at 72 on the RPM year-end chart for 1984.[25]

In the United Kingdom, "Lucky Star" was originally released as the album's second single in September 1983, simultaneously with "Holiday" in the United States. However, it only bubbled under the UK Singles Chart at number 171.[1] In March 1984, it was re-issued and then debuted on the UK Singles Chart at 47, and reached a peak of 14 after three weeks. The song was present on the chart for nine weeks.[26] According to The Official Charts Company, "Lucky Star" has sold 117,470 copies in the United Kingdom, as of August 2008.[27] In Ireland, the song was able to reach 19 on the Irish official charts.[28] In Australia, the song made the top 40 of the Kent Music Report chart and peaked at 36.[29]

Music video[edit]

Front profile of a blond woman, tilting her whole body towards the back. She wears rag-like clothes and has extremely unkempt hair. Putting her hands on the back of her head, she looks seductively towards the camera.
Madonna in the music video of "Lucky Star", dressed in a black top and ragged skirt, with her hair in tangles and tied with black ribbon. She wears her characteristic rubber bangles.

The music video was directed by Arthur Pierson, and was produced by Glenn Goodwin, while Wayne Isham was in charge of photography.[30] At the time of the song's release, Madonna's style of dress was catching on as a fashion statement among club kids and her fans.[31] The most prominent among her fashion accessories were the crucifixes she wore as earrings and necklaces. Madonna commented that wearing a rosary and a crucifix is "kind of offbeat and interesting. I mean, everything I do is sort of tongue-in-cheeks. Besides, the crucifixes seem to go with my name."[31] In reality, she was trying to find a separate image for herself, being inspired by then artists like Boy George, Cyndi Lauper and David Bowie, and their constantly shifting image and persona.[31] Madonna realised the importance of her music videos and its popularity via MTV – launched in 1981 – was instrumental in popularising her image.[32]

The rush for Madonna's fashion started with the music video for "Lucky Star". In the video, Madonna wore an all-black outfit with leggings, ankle boots, and belly button, with her tangled hair tied in a floppy black ribbon. This was coupled with a shiny black miniskirt, an earring on her right ear, cut-off gloves and rubber bangles. Madonna's friend Erika Belle was credited with designing the outfit, although biographer Mary Cross noted that Madonna was after all wearing her day-to-day outfit.[32] Mary Lambert, then a Rhode Island School of Design graduate, was decided for directing the video. However, Arthur Pierson replaced her as the director.[33] Warner Bros. gave Pierson a small budget to make the video, shot in an afternoon.[33] Madonna's brother, Christopher Ciccone, is a back-up dancer in the video. In his book Life with My Sister Madonna he says that although he was only paid $200 to dance in the video, at the time he was "just happy to be part of it."[34] The video starts with the close-up of Madonna's face, as she slides her sunglasses down her nose. This scene was a reference to the character of Lolita in Stanley Kubrick's 1962 film of the same name, and Audrey Hepburn in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961).[35] The image then fades to white, denoting the celestial stars dazzle, and then resumes itself in color. Madonna is shown dancing against a stark white background, along with closeups of her mesmerised gaze. She is accompanied by Belle and brother Christopher, as backup dancers.[32] The video ends with the initial black-and-white image repeated, but in retrograde, as Madonna puts back on the sunglasses. The taking down and putting up of those sunglasses provided a frame to contain the song, functioning like a curtain that marks the opening and closing of a stage performance.[35]

Dance historian Sally Banes, in her book Before, between, and beyond: three decades of dance writing, noted that the video portrayed Madonna as both the subject and the object of the song.[35] She believed that in the video, Madonna taking off her sunglasses symbolised herself as a movie star, thus creating an ambiguous characterization of herself, and a narcissistic theme.[35] Author Peter Goodwin, in his book Television under the Tories: Broadcasting Policy 1979–1997, commented that although "Lucky Star" is not a narrative video, in the clip Madonna plays at least four characters:—the person in sunglasses looking; a break-dancing girl; an androgynous social dancer; and a seductress.[36] The juxtaposition of all these characterizations portray Madonna as a narcissistic self-lover. Images of Madonna's body writhing against the white background generates the question whether she is addressing her lover or herself in the song.[36] According to Goodman, Madonna creates an eroticized woman for her own pleasure only. Time noted that "[s]he's sexy, but she doesn't need men [...] she's kind of there all by herself."[37]

Live performances[edit]

A blond woman in a white and purple leotard and a cape, which she opens up towards audience in front of her. She is flanked by two similarly dressed women.
Madonna, in a white-purple leotard displaying the inside of her cape, while performing "Lucky Star" on the Confessions Tour.

Madonna has performed "Lucky Star" during three of her concert tours, namely "The Virgin Tour" (1985), the "Who's That Girl World Tour" (1987), and the "Confessions Tour" (2006). In The Virgin Tour, Madonna performed the song wearing a blue see-through crop top revealing her trademark black bra, a purple skirt, lacy leggings and a brightly patterned jacket. She also wore her crucifixes on her jacket and around her neck.[38] Madonna sang the original version of the song, and pranced around the stage while showing her stomach.[39] The performance was included in the Live – The Virgin Tour VHS, released in 1985.[40] At the Who's That Girl World Tour, "Lucky Star" was performed as the second song of the set list. Madonna wore a black bustier like the music video to her single "Open Your Heart" (1987). Her hair was platinum blond and in a big bushy shape.[41] The performance of "Lucky Star" included a disco ball spinning above the stage, as Madonna and her dancers moved around it as the light from the ball flickered on them like a star.[41] Two different performances are found in Ciao, Italia! – Live from Italy tour video filmed at Stadio Communale in Turin, Italy on September 4, 1987[42] and the Who's That Girl – Live in Japan tour video filmed at Korakuen Stadium in Tokyo, Japan on June 22, 1987.[43]

In the Confessions Tour, "Lucky Star" was performed with Madonna dressed in a purple and white leotard, designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier.[44] As the performance of "La Isla Bonita" ends, Madonna lies face-down on the stage. Her dancers wrap a cape around her that proclaim the word "Dancing Queen" at the back.[45] As the familiar music of the intro to "Lucky Star" is heard, Madonna gets up and faces the audience. Suddenly the lights go off and Madonna opens the cape to reveal thousands of small shapes made by tiny lights, on the inside of the cape.[45] Her backup singers join her and together they move around the stage, while singing the song. Madonna sometimes moves the cape around her and occasionally flaps it.[45] Towards the end of the song, Madonna asked the audience if they want to hear more of her singing. After their affirmative response, Madonna sings the first line of the chorus of "Hung Up". The backdrops start changing and display stars and planets flashing across the screens amidst white lasers.[46] The music in the song is modernized using a techno beat that slowly morphed into the synth ABBA intro of "Hung Up" (2005) when the screens also change to display disco balls.[47][48] The performance was included on both the CD and the DVD version of The Confessions Tour, released in 2007.[46] Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine compared Madonna's performance of "Lucky Star" as "emerging as a soul butterfly fluttering to the disco heavens during a remix of [the song] that actually makes [it] sound good."[49] Thomas Inskeep from Stylus called the performance fresh.[50] Christian John Wikane from PopMatters.com was not impressed with the performance; he felt that singing the song over the newly arranged chord progression, is cold and pairing the original arrangement with the ABBA sample is "[a] match not made in heaven, though Madonna’s skin-tight, ABBA-esque jump suit is an amusing intertextualization."[51]

Covers and media appearances[edit]

The 2000 album Virgin Voices: A Tribute To Madonna, Vol. 2 included a trip hop cover of the song by Switchblade Symphony. Heather Phares of Allmusic called it as one of the album's finest moments.[52] A folk music cover of the song by Alexandra Hope, was included on the 2007 Madonna tribute compilation Through the Wilderness.[53]

"Lucky Star" was featured in the 1988 movie Running on Empty in the scene where River Phoenix's character is in music class.[54] It was used in the 2000 British movie Snatch, directed by Guy Ritchie who fathered a child with Madonna during the making of the film.[55] The music video of "Lucky Star" was referenced in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction in the scene where Maria de Medeiros' character (Fabienne) tells her boyfriend (played by Bruce Willis) that she wants a tummy "like Madonna when she did Lucky Star."[56][57]

Track listing and formats[edit]

Note: This song was released as a Maxi-Single only in the E.U.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the Madonna album liner notes.[2]

Charts[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Warwick, Kutner & Brown 2004, p. 143
  2. ^ a b Madonna (LP, Vinyl, CD). Madonna. Sire Records. 1983. 9 23867-1. 
  3. ^ a b c Cross 2007, p. 26
  4. ^ a b Rooksby 2004, p. 10
  5. ^ a b c Taraborrelli 2002, p. 76
  6. ^ a b Taraborrelli 2002, p. 77
  7. ^ Tannenbaum & Marks 2011, p. 15
  8. ^ "Music To My Eyes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  9. ^ a b c d Rooksby 2004, p. 11
  10. ^ a b c "Digital Sheet Music – Madonna Ciccone – Lucky Star". Musicnotes.com. Alfred Publishing. 
  11. ^ Gage & Richards 2002, p. 22
  12. ^ Fouz-Hernández & Jarman-Ivens 2004, p. 59
  13. ^ Potter 2000, p. 37
  14. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (2001-09-09). "Madonna: Madonna (Remaster)". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  15. ^ Lamb, Bill (2008-06-05). "Madonna Discography: Annotated list of Madonna's albums". About.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  16. ^ Browne, David (1990-12-14). "The Immaculate Collection: Music Review". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990-08-02). "Consumer Guide Reviews". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  18. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (1983-04-08). "Madonna > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  19. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100: Week Ending August 25, 1984". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1984-08-25. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  20. ^ a b "The Billboard Hot 100: Week of October 20, 1984". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1984-10-20. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  21. ^ a b c d e "Madonna > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  22. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 42, No. 3, September 22, 1984". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1984-09-22. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  23. ^ a b "Top Singles – Volume 41, No. 12, November 24, 1984". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1984-11-24. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  24. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 41, No. 21, February 02 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-02-02. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  25. ^ "Top 100 Singles of '84". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-01-05. Retrieved 2010-08-26. 
  26. ^ a b "Chart Stats – Madonna – Lucky Star". The Official Charts Company. Chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 2012-06-08. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  27. ^ Jones, Alan (2008-08-19). "The Immaculate Guide To 50 Years Of Madonna". Music Week (UBM plc). Retrieved 2011-06-11. 
  28. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". Irish Recorded Music Association. 1984-03-25. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  29. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  30. ^ Madonna (1990). The Immaculate Collection (VHS). Warner Music Vision. 
  31. ^ a b c Cross 2007, p. 28
  32. ^ a b c Cross 2007, p. 29
  33. ^ a b Allen 1987, p. 270
  34. ^ "Life With My Sister Madonna". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  35. ^ a b c d Banes, Harris & Garafola 2007, p. 337
  36. ^ a b Goodman 1992, p. 75
  37. ^ Smith, Cathy (1985-05-27). "Show Business: Madonna Rocks the Land". Time (News Corporation) 47: 58–64. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  38. ^ Clerk 2002, p. 41
  39. ^ Kellner 1995, p. 272
  40. ^ Madonna (1985). Live – The Virgin Tour (VHS). Warner Home Video. 
  41. ^ a b Taraborrelli 2002, p. 272
  42. ^ Madonna (1988). Ciao, Italia! – Live from Italy (VHS). Warner Home Video. 
  43. ^ Madonna (1987). Who's That Girl – Live in Japan (VHS). Warner Home Video. 
  44. ^ Sparks, Jessica (2007-08-01). "Madonna The Confessions Tour DVD/CD". About.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  45. ^ a b c Timmerman 2007, p. 123
  46. ^ a b Madonna (2007). The Confessions Tour (CD/DVD). Warner Home Video. 
  47. ^ Moss, Corey (2006-05-22). "Madonna Hangs On A Cross, Knocks World Leaders In Tour Kickoff". MTV (MTV Networks). Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  48. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2007-01-30). "The Confessions Tour > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  49. ^ Gonzalez, Ed (2006-12-29). "Madonna: Confessions Tour". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  50. ^ Inskeep, Thomas (2007-02-23). "Madonna – The Confessions Tour – Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  51. ^ Wikane, Christian John (2007-01-30). "Madonna: The Confessions Tour < Reviews". PopMatters.com. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  52. ^ Phares, Heather (2000-03-01). "Virgin Voices: A Tribute to Madonna, Vol. 2 > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  53. ^ "Through the Wilderness: A Tribute to Madonna > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. 2007-11-27. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  54. ^ "Running on Empty (1988) – Soundtracks". Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  55. ^ Travers, Peter (2001-01-19). "Snatch: Review". Rolling Stone (Jann Wenner). ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved 2012-02-20. 
  56. ^ Tarantino, Quentin (director) (1995). Pulp Fiction (VOB) (CD/DVD/VHS). Miramax Films. 
  57. ^ Woods 2005, p. 75
  58. ^ Lucky Star (US 7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. 7-29177.
  59. ^ Lucky Star (UK 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. 920149-0.
  60. ^ Lucky Star (US 12-inch Promo Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. PRO-A-2069.
  61. ^ Lucky Star (German CD Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1995. 7599 20149-2.
  62. ^ "Hot 100 Year end issue: 1984". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 96 (51): 14. 1984-12-22. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2013-04-03. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]