Borderline (Madonna song)
Artwork for most 7-inch vinyl singles
|Single by Madonna|
|from the album Madonna|
|B-side||"Think of Me"
|Released||February 15, 1984|
|Madonna singles chronology|
"Borderline" is a song by American singer Madonna from her eponymous debut studio album Madonna (1983). It was released on February 15, 1984 by Sire Records as the album's fifth single. Written and composed by producer Reggie Lucas, the song was remixed by Madonna's then-boyfriend John "Jellybean" Benitez. She used a refined and expressive voice for the song. Its lyrics dealt with the subject of a love that is never fulfilled.
Contemporary critics and authors applauded the song, calling it harmonically the most complex song from the Madonna album and complimenting the dance-pop nature of the song. "Borderline" became Madonna's second top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number ten. In the United Kingdom it reached number two after it was re-released as a single in 1986. Elsewhere, the song reached the top 10 or top 20 of a number of European nations while peaking the singles chart of Ireland. The song was placed at 84 on Blender magazine's "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born", while Time included it on the critic list "All-Time 100 Songs".
The accompanying music video portrayed Madonna with a Latin-American man as her boyfriend. She was enticed by a British photographer to pose and model for him, but later returned to her original boyfriend. The video generated interest amongst academics, who noted the use of power as symbolism in it. With the video, Madonna was credited for breaking the taboo of interracial relationships and was considered one of her career-making moments. The release of the video on MTV increased Madonna's popularity further. Madonna has performed the song on her Virgin Tour (1985) and the Sticky & Sweet Tour (2008), where a punk-rock version of the song was performed. "Borderline" has been covered by a number of artists, including Duffy, Jody Watley, Counting Crows, and The Flaming Lips.
- 1 Background
- 2 Composition
- 3 Critical reception
- 4 Commercial performance
- 5 Music video
- 6 Live performances and covers
- 7 Track listings and formats
- 8 Credits and personnel
- 9 Charts and certifications
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
In 1982, Madonna was working with producer Reggie Lucas on her debut album. She had already composed three songs, when Lucas brought one of his own compositions to the project and called it "Borderline". However, 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 song. This led to a dispute between the two. After finishing the album, Lucas left the project without altering the songs to Madonna's specifications. Hence, Madonna brought her then boyfriend John "Jellybean" Benitez to remix "Borderline" and some of the other recorded tracks. On hearing the final version, Seymour Stein, head of Sire Records declared, "I dared to believe this was going to be huge beyond belief, the biggest thing I'd ever had, after I heard 'Borderline'... The passion that she put into that song, I thought, there's no stopping this girl."
"Borderline" was recorded in February 1983 and ushered a change from the normal vocal tone expressed by Madonna in her songs. A sentimental track, the song talks about a love that is never quite fulfilled. According to author Santiago Fouz-Hernández in his book Madonna's drowned worlds, the lyrics of the song like "Something in way you love me won't let me be/I don't want to be your prisoner so baby won't you set me free" depicted a rebellion against male chauvinism. Madonna used a refined and expressive voice to sing the song, backed by Lucas's instrumentations. Considered as the best example of the working relationship between Lucas and Madonna, he pushed her to find emotional depth in the song. Although sounding icy, the chorus is contemporary in style and the vocal range for this song, was later used by Madonna as her own personal range through her whole music career. It opens with a keyboard rich intro played on a Fender-Rhodes Electric Piano and a catchy synth melody provided by Fred Zarr. Bass player Anthony Jackson doubled Dean Gant's synth bass to provide a solid and more complex texture.
The chords in the song were inspired by Seventies disco sound in Philadelphia as well as Elton John's musical style during the mid-seventies. The chord sequences cite from Bachman-Turner Overdrive's song "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" while the synth phases display her typical musical style. The song is set in common time with a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of D major with Madonna's vocal range spanning from F♯3 to B4. The song follows in the chord progression of D–C–G in the first verse to Bm–Em–A–F♯ in the pre-chorus, changes to A–F♯–Bm–A–E and G–D–A in the chorus.
Author J. Randy Taraborrelli, in his biography of Madonna, called "Borderline" along with "Holiday" the two key records which helped in establishing Madonna's base in the music industry. He added that Madonna's sober voice made the track "as close to an old Motown production as a hit could get in the dance-music-driven eighties." Author Maury Dean in his book Rock 'n' Roll Gold Rush called the song "echoey boogie" with "saucy-style and come-hither magnetism." Author Rikky Rooksby in his book, The Complete Guide to the Music of Madonna called it harmonically the most complex track of her debut album. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic called the song effervescent. Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called the song soulful. Commentator Dave Marsh in his book The Heart of Rock & Soul said that the "music's too damn good to be denied, no matter whose value system it disrupts."
Journalist Roxanne Orgill in her book, Shout, Sister, Shout! commented that "Borderline" was the song which made Madonna the star she is. Thom Duffy of Orlando Sentinel commented that "Borderline" was a song "introduced Madonna, the helium-induced pop star, and a siren kitten." The song was placed at number 84 on Blender Magazine's "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born." Time also included it on the critic list "All-Time 100 Songs", stating that "Madonna went on to sing more-clever songs ('Material Girl'), more-showy songs ('Like a Prayer'), more-sexy songs ('Justify My Love'). But 'Borderline,' her first top-10 hit, captures the essence of her pop appeal, its freshness, simplicity and vitality."
At the 1984 Billboard Music Awards, "Borderline" received two nominations, in the categories of Best New Artist and Best Choreography in a Music Video, but did not win either. In September 2014, the song was placed at number two on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Best Singles of 1984". Carrie Grant from the magazine described the track as a "melodic synth-a-palooza with the plunky low end", and also noting that Madonna's vocals were restrained on the song, but sounded emotional. "The radio remix, which trims nearly three minutes from the tune, boasts one of Madge's most iconic fade-outs, standing by as she "la la la"s into the void."
In the United States, the song became Madonna's first top ten hit when it reached position ten on the Billboard Hot 100 on June 16, 1984. The song reached a peak of two on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. It also became a crossover success by charting on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart at 23. On October 22, 1998, the song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of one million copies. In Canada the song debuted at number 56 on the RPM issue dated August 4, 1984 and reached a peak of number 25 on September 15, 1984. The song was on the chart for 14 weeks.
In the United Kingdom, with the original release of the song on June 2, 1984, it was able to reach a peak of only 56. However, upon re-releasing the song on January 1, 1986, it reached a new peak of two on the chart and was present for a total of nine weeks. The song was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on February 1986, for shipment of 500,000 copies of the single. According to the Official Charts Company, the song has sold 310,000 copies there. Across Europe the song topped the chart in Ireland and entered the top ten of Belgium and Netherlands. It also peaked at number 23 in Switzerland and number 12 in Australia.
"Borderline" was filmed on location in Los Angeles, California from January 30 to February 2, 1984 and was the first video that Madonna made with director Mary Lambert, who would later also direct the videos "Like a Virgin", "Material Girl", "La Isla Bonita" and "Like a Prayer". Author Allen Metz noted how the video portrayed Madonna's then "burgeoning star quality". It is regarded as one of her career-making moments when the video was started to be shown on MTV. She acted as the girlfriend of a Hispanic street guy who is picked up by a British photographer who publishes her picture on a magazine cover. The portrayal of the street life and high-fashion scene in the video was a reference to Madonna's life in the gritty, multiracial streets and clubs that she used to haunt while her career was beginning as well as the world of popularity and success she was experiencing at that moment. The storyline involved her being emotionally torn between the photographer and her boyfriend. Madonna's boyfriend in the video is portrayed as Latino and her struggles with this relationship depicted the struggle Hispanic women faced with their men. Lambert said that there was "no formula" used when making the 'Borderline' video and that they were "inventing it as we went along." In the January 1997 issue of Rolling Stone, Lambert described the video and its plot as, "Boy and girl enjoy simple pleasures of barrio love, girl is tempted by fame, boy gets huffy, girl gets famous, but her new beau's out-of-line reaction to a behavioral trifle (all she did was to spray-paint his expensive sports car) drives her back to her true love."
The video narrative weaved the two relationship stories in color and black and white. In the color sequence, Madonna sings, flirts and seduces the Hispanic guy (Louie Louie) who becomes her boyfriend. In the black-and-white sequence she poses for the photographer, who also courts her. The video had Madonna in her usual sense of style in those years and wore her hair in a haystack, lace gloves, high heeled boots with thick socks and her trademark boy-toy belt. She changes from one shot to another in color as well as black and white while wearing an unusual array of clothes including crop-tops, T-shits, vests and sweaters coupled with cut-off pants and jeans as well as a couple of evening gowns. Posing for the photographer, Madonna looks towards the camera with challenge in her eyes thus depicting sexual aggression. At one moment in the video, she starts spraying graffiti over some lifeless classical statues thus portraying herself as a transgressor who breaks rules and attempts at innovation. With the video Madonna broke the taboo of interracial relationships. Although at first it seems that Madonna denies the Hispanic guy in favour of the photographer, later she rejects him thus implying her desire to control her own sexual pleasures or going over the established pop borderlines with lyrics like "You just keep on pushing my love, over the borderline". The contrasting image of Madonna, first as a messy blonde in the Hispanic sequence and later as a fashioned glamorous blonde, suggested that one can construct one's own image and identity. Portraying herself as a Hispanic also had the clever marketing strategy of appealing herself to Hispanic and black youths thus breaking down racial barriers.
After its airing "Borderline" attracted early attention from academics. They noted the symbolism of power in the two contrasting scenes of the video. The British photographer and his studio is decorated with the classical sculptures and nude statues holding spears in a phallic symbol. In contrast, phallic symbols portrayed in the Hispanic neighborhood included a street lamp which Madonna embraces and a pool cue held erect by Madonna's boyfriend. Author Andrew Metz commented that with these scenes, Madonna displayed her sophisticated views on the fabrications of feminity as a supreme power rather than the normal views of oppression. Author Carol Clerk said that the videos of "Borderline" and "Lucky Star" established Madonna not as the girl-next-door, but as a sassy and smart, tough funny woman. Her clothes worn in the video were later used by designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Lacroix in Paris Fashion week of the same year. Professor Douglas Kellner in his book Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity, and Politics Between the Modern and the Postmodern commented that the video depicted motifs and strategies which helped Madonna in her journey to become a star.
Live performances and covers
The song has been performed by Madonna on The Virgin Tour (1985) and the Sticky & Sweet Tour (2008). In the Virgin Tour, Madonna performed the song wearing a black, fringed micro-top and similar skirt, with her belly-button exposed, and a number of crucifixes in different sizes, hanging from different parts of her body. Madonna performed the song in its original version. She appeared from behind a silhouette, and descended the steps, while waving her hands and singing. The performance was not included in the Madonna Live: The Virgin Tour VHS in 1985.
"Borderline" was added to the set list of the first leg of her Sticky & Sweet Tour in 2008 during the Old School section of the performance. Madonna wore a pair of gym shorts in this section while wearing sneakers and long socks on her feet. The outfit was designed by Jeremy Scott and was a reference to Madonna's old days in New York. A punk-pop version of the song was performed by Madonna while playing a purple electric guitar on a microphone as the backdrops displayed Keith Harring's cartoons and graphical imagery. Jon Pareles of The New York Times called the performance enthusiastic and punk-pop. Nekesa Mumbi Moody of USA Today called it a "rocked out performance". Caryn Ganz of Rolling Stone called it a "Cheap Trick-style power pop song [performance]." The song was not included in the 2009 leg of the tour and was replaced by a rock version of Madonna's other song "Dress You Up."
In 2000, an electro-industrial cover of the song by Nivek Ogre of OhGr was included on the tribute compilation album, Virgin Voices: A Tribute To Madonna, Vol. 2. Heather Phares of AllMusic said that Ogre's version "missed the mark." Chicago pop punk band Showoff recorded a cover for the 2002 compilation album Punk Goes Pop. In 2006 singer Jody Watley covered the song for her album The Makeover. Watley's downtempo version attained UK release as a single in October 2009. An acoustic folk cover of the song by The Chapin Sisters was included on the 2007 Madonna tribute album Through the Wilderness. In 2008, singer Duffy performed "Borderline" at Radio 1's Big Weekend in Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent, England. The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs recorded a cover of the song for the 2009 Warner Bros. Records compilation, Covered, A Revolution in Sound. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic described the cover recording as turning Madonna's version "inside out". Counting Crows performed the song at the Royal Albert Hall in 2003, an MP3 of the song was released on the band's official website on March 17, 2009. The performance was criticised by ABC News, calling it anticlimatic. In 2010, the TV show Glee covered it in the episode "The Power of Madonna" in a mashup with the song "Open Your Heart", performed by Cory Monteith and Lea Michele.
Track listings and formats
Credits and personnel
- Madonna – lead vocals
- Reggie Lucas – writer, producer, guitars, drum programming
- Fred Zarr – synthesizers, electric and acoustic piano
- Dean Gant – synthesizers, electric and acoustic piano
- Ed Welch – synthesizers
- Anthony Jackson – electric bass
- Ira Siegal – guitars
- Bobby Malach – tenor saxophone
- Gwen Guthrie – background vocals
- Brenda White – background vocals
- Chrissy Faith – background vocals
Credits adapted from the album liner notes.
Charts and certifications
- Taraborrelli 2002, p. 76
- Grant, Carrie (September 16, 2014). "Madonna, 'Borderline' – 100 Best Singles of 1984". Rolling Stone (Jann Wenner). Retrieved September 17, 2014.
- Madonna (LP, Vinyl, CD). Madonna. Sire Records. 1983. 9 23867-1.
- Taraborrelli 2002, p. 78
- Fouz-Hernández & Jarman-Ivens 2004, p. 141
- Cresswell 2006, p. 714
- Rooksby 2004, p. 11
- Rooksby 2004, p. 12
- "Borderline – Madonna Ciccone – Digital Sheet Music". Musicnotes.com. Alfred Publishing. Retrieved May 29, 2009.
- Dean 2003, p. 523
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (September 9, 1983). "Madonna > Overview". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
- Cinquemani, Sal (September 9, 2001). "Madonna: Madonna (Remaster)". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
- Marsh 1999, p. 502
- Orgill 2001, p. 80
- Duffy, Thom (June 21, 1987). "The Many Faces Of Madonna". Orlando Sentinel (Tribune Company). Retrieved November 21, 2010.
- Staff, Blender (April 1, 2009). "X and Y playlist: The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
- Jones, Radhika (October 24, 2011). "All-Time 100 Songs: Borderline". Time. Time Inc. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
- "Billboard's Video Music Award Nominees". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 96 (44): 49. November 3, 1984. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- "American single certifications – Madonna – Borderline". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 10, 2013. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
- "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6797". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
- "Top RPM Singles: Issue 8602." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "Top RPM Singles: Issue 8651". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
- "Madonna: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "British single certifications – Madonna – Borderline". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 10, 2013. Enter Borderline in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
- "Madonna: The Official Top 40". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Borderline". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "Madonna – Borderline – Hoogste notering" (in Dutch). VRT Top 30. June 4, 1984. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Madonna – Borderline" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "Swisscharts.com – Madonna – Borderline". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- Madonna (1990). The Immaculate Collection (VHS). Warner Home Video.
- Metz & Benson 1999, p. 163
- Batchelor & Stoddart 2007, p. 45
- Clerk 2002, p. 36
- Tannenbaum & Marks 2011, p. 15
- Kellner 1995, p. 270
- Kellner 1995, p. 269
- Clerk 2002, p. 41
- Morse, Steve (June 3, 1985). "Madonna Is Naughty, Nice And Talented". Boston Globe (The New York Times Company). Retrieved November 21, 2010.
- Madonna (1985). Madonna Live: The Virgin Tour (VHS). Warner Home Video.
- Odell, Amy (August 25, 2008). "Madonna’s Tour Starts, Costumes Don’t Disappoint". New York (New York Media LLC). Retrieved July 20, 2009.
- Bernstein, Jacob (August 25, 2008). "Madonna's Costumes for Her Sticky and Sweet Tour". Women's Wear Daily (Advance Publications). Retrieved July 22, 2009.
- Mumbi Moody, Nekesa (October 5, 2008). "Madonna gives fans a treat with "Sticky & Sweet"". USA Today (Gannett Company). Retrieved May 5, 2009.
- Pareles, Jon (October 6, 2008). "Madonna: A concert more aerobic than erotic". The New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
- Ganz, Caryn (October 7, 2008). "Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour Rolls Into New York With Reworked Hits, Virtual Britney". Rolling Stone (Jann Wenner). Retrieved May 5, 2009.
- Reporter, Icon (June 27, 2009). "Europe To Turn Sticky & Sweet In 3 days". Icon:Official Madonna website (Madonna.com). Retrieved July 22, 2009.
- Pharst, Heather (March 21, 2000). "Virgin Voices: A Tribute to Madonna, Vol. 2 > Overview". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
- Torreano, Bradley (February 17, 2002). "Punk Goes Pop @ ARTISTdirect.com". Artistdirect. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
- "Jody Watley Video of Borderline". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
- Lewis, Pete (October 3, 2009). "Jody Watley interview". Blues & Soul. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
- "They Say Its Your Birthday Madonna". Covermesongs.com. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
- Blogs, Jo (May 10, 2008). "Duffy performs [sic] a very special version of Madonna's Borderline". Radio 1's Big Weekend. BBC Online. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
- Thomas Erlewine, Stephen (March 24, 2009). "Covered: A Revolution in Sound: Warner Bros. Records > Overview". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
- Raible, Allan (March 25, 2009). "Is Madonna’s "Borderline" The Hip "It-Song" To Cover?". ABC News. American Broadcasting Company. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
- Bentley, Jean (April 21, 2010). "'Glee' Recap: Madonna Invades William McKinley High". MTV (MTV Networks). Retrieved April 21, 2010.
- Borderline (US 7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. 7-29354.
- Borderline (UK Limited Edition Picture Disc Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. W9260P.
- Borderline (UK 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. W 9260T.
- Borderline (European 5-inch CD Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1995. 7599 20218-2.
- Borderline (US 12-inch Maxi Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. 9 20212-0 A.
- Borderline (US 12-inch Promotional Maxi Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. PRO-A-2120.
- Borderline (Australian 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. 0.20220.
- Borderline (German 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984. 920212-0.
- "Ultratop.be – Madonna – Borderline" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "Charts.org.nz – Madonna – Borderline". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "Madonna – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Madonna. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "Madonna – Chart history" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Madonna. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "Madonna – Chart history" Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs for Madonna. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "Billboard 1984 Year End Singles". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 96 (52): 5, 14. December 22, 1984. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- Batchelor, Bob; Stoddart, Scott (2007). The 1980s. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-33000-X
- Clerk, Carol (2002). Madonnastyle. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-8874-9
- Cresswell, Toby (2006). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time and the Artists, Stories and Secrets Behind Them. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-915-9
- Dean, Maury (2003). Rock 'n' Roll Gold Rush: A Singles Un-Cyclopedia. Algora Publishing. ISBN 0-87586-207-1
- Fouz-Hernández, Santiago; Jarman-Ivens, Freya (2004). Madonna's Drowned Worlds. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-3372-1
- Kellner, Douglas (1995). Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity, and Politics Between the Modern and the Postmodern. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-10570-6
- Marsh, Dave (1999). "The heart of rock & soul: the 1001 greatest singles ever made". 030680901X
- Metz, Allen; Benson, Carol (1999). The Madonna Companion: Two Decades of Commentary. Music Sales Group. ISBN 0-8256-7194-9
- Orgill, Roxanne (2001). Shout, Sister, Shout!: Ten Girl Singers who Shaped a Century. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-689-81991-9
- Rooksby, Rikky (2004). The Complete Guide to the Music of Madonna. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-9883-3
- Tannenbaum, Rob; Marks, Craig (2011). I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. Penguin Books. ISBN 9781101526415.
- Taraborrelli, Randy J. (2002). Madonna: An Intimate Biography. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-2880-4