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Into the Groove

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"Into the Groove"
Two blond females standing side-by-side. They are wearing black trousers and black-and-white tops, with a number of junk jewelry around their neck and hand. The woman on the right crosses her legs and looks towards the image, while the one of the left, looks on her far left. The image is surrounded by a black border, the right of which has the words "Madonna" and "Into the Groove" written in white capital letters.
Single by Madonna
from the album Like a Virgin
ReleasedJuly 15, 1985
StudioSigma Sound Studios (New York City)
  • Madonna
  • Stephen Bray
Madonna singles chronology
"Into the Groove"
"Dress You Up"
Music video
"Into the Groove" on YouTube

"Into the Groove" is a song by American singer Madonna from the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan. It was featured on the re-issue of her second studio album, Like a Virgin (1984), outside North America. Sire Records released it as a single on July 15, 1985. Madonna's inspiration behind the song was the dance floor and she wrote it while watching a handsome Dominican man, across her balcony. Initially written for her friend Mark Kamins, Madonna later decided to use it as the soundtrack of the film Desperately Seeking Susan.

"Into the Groove" consists of instrumentation from synthesizers and drum machines. Madonna's voice is double tracked in the chorus; the song also consists of musical contrasts, overdubs and Madonna's voice in lower register during the bridge. The lyrics of the song are simple, written as an invitation to dance with the singer. However, it carries sexual innuendos and undertones in the meaning. The song received positive reviews from music critics and was a commercial success. "Into the Groove" topped the record charts in Australia, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, and became her first number-one song in the United Kingdom. The song was only available as the B-side of the 12-inch single of "Angel" in the United States, therefore it was ineligible to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time. "Into the Groove" has appeared on three Madonna compilations: in a remixed form on You Can Dance (1987), The Immaculate Collection (1990), and in its original form on Celebration (2009).

A music video, consisting of clips from the film, was released to accompany the song. The song has been performed by Madonna in most of her concert tours, most recently on the Rebel Heart Tour in 2015–16. "Into the Groove" has been covered by a number of artists, including Australian singer Dannii Minogue, who combined the song with her single "Don't Wanna Lose This Feeling". By the end of the 1980s, "Into the Groove" was honored by Billboard magazine as the Dance Single of the Decade. In 2021, Rolling Stone listed "Into the Groove" as one of the "500 Best Songs of All Time", at number 161.[1]


"Into the Groove" was written and produced by Madonna and her then-boyfriend Stephen Bray.[2] The singer had initially written the song for her friend Mark Kamins' protégée, Cheyne, and recorded a demo which Kamins intended to modify later. However, Madonna believed that the song would be more suitable for her film Desperately Seeking Susan, and recorded it with Bray for the film's soundtrack.[3] When Kamins found out he was furious that Madonna did not inform him that she would use the song for the film. The singer retorted: "I'm tough, I'm ambitious and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, that's okay."[3] "Into the Groove" ultimately did not appear on the soundtrack album of the film, but was released on the 1985 worldwide re-issue of Madonna's second studio album, Like a Virgin.[2][4] During an interview with Time, Madonna said that she wrote the song while watching a Latin boy across her balcony.[5] Describing the song as "dorky", Madonna further explained:

When I was writing it, I was sitting in a fourth-floor walk-up on Avenue-B, and there was this gorgeous Puerto Rican boy sitting across me that I wanted to go out on a date with, and I just wanted to get the song over with. I ultimately did go out with him and the song was finished just before my last date with him, which I'm kinda happy that it did not continue... The dance floor was quite a magical place for me. I started off wanting to be a dancer, so that had a lot to do with the song. The freedom that I always feel when I'm dancing, that feeling of inhabiting your body, letting yourself go, expressing yourself through music. I always thought of it as a magical place – even if you're not taking ecstasy. Hence that came to me as the primary inspiration for 'Into the Groove'.[6][7]

"Into the Groove" had an accompanying music video, made up of clips from the film, with the lyrics often matching the images. Doug Dowdle of Parallax Productions, a company that pioneered in movie tie-in music videos during the 1980s, created this video from edited footage of the movie, directed by Susan Seidelman. This was done because there were five Madonna videos already on power rotation on MTV, and Warner Bros. did not want the audience to be saturated with any new video. Hence, they decided to use the shots from the film and made a music video.[8] During a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, Madonna commented: "'Into the Groove' is another song I feel retarded singing, but everybody seems to like it."[9]


Madonna and Bray started on the re-recording and changed some portion of the lyrics. Bray commented on the recording sessions as: "I've always kind of made the rib cage and the skeleton [music] of the song already – she's there for the last things like the eyebrows and the haircut [lyrics]. She writes in a stream of mood really."[3] "Into the Groove" was recorded at Sigma Sound Studios. Madonna's friend Erika Belle was present during the recording and watched the whole process. In Andrew Morton's Madonna biography, she noted that at one point of the recording, Bray was facing difficulties with the bridge of the song, as the melody thought by him was not syncing with the rest of the composition.[3] Undeterred by his obvious difficulties, Madonna stepped up to the microphone and sang the words "Live out your fantasy here with me". Bray's problem was solved; Belle remembered the experience as: "[The song] seemed to come out of her, I was awestruck."[3]

Madonna re-tailored the song in 2003, and developed a remix called "Into the Hollywood Groove", which replaced the first verse of "Into the Groove" with the first verse of Madonna's single "Hollywood" (2003). The lyrics of the chorus were also slightly altered and it featured a rap by Missy Elliott. This version of the song was used for a Gap commercial in the summer of 2003, featuring Madonna and Elliot wearing Gap jeans.[10] Another remix version was created by Josh Harris and Omar Galeano as "The Passengerz", and was included in Madonna's remix album, Remixed & Revisited (2003).[11]


A dance-pop song,[12] "Into the Groove" begins with a spoken introduction by Madonna, and the sound of drums and synth bassline being heard. This is followed by the chorus, where Madonna's voice is double tracked and the treble is increased by a notch. A synth line counterpoints the main tune, adding a contrast.[6] The bridge, where Madonna sings the line "Live out your fantasy", features her vocals in a lower register alongside the main ones.[6] According to the sheet music published in by Alfred Publishing Co. Inc., the song is set in the time signature of common time with a medium tempo of 116 beats per minute. The song is set in the key of C minor with Madonna's voice spanning from the low-tone of C4 to the high-tone of D5. It has a basic sequence of Cm7–B/C–Cm7–A as its chord progression.[13]

The song was remixed by Shep Pettibone for Madonna's remix compilation You Can Dance (1987).[14] In the remixed version, overdubs are present with the continuous repetition of the phrase "c'mon". The first verse does not start until about ninety seconds into the remix. After the first "Now I know you're mine" line is sung, there is a percussion break, and repetition of the phrases "step to the beat" and "c'mon". The last verse incorporates echoing on the vocals, causing overlap of the phrases. The remix ends with instrumentation from congas, whistles and timbales, giving it a Mexican ending.[15] Pettibone also remixed the song alongside Goh Hotoda for The Immaculate Collection (1990) compilation.[16]

The lyrics of the song are simple, written as an invitation to dance with the singer. Despite the simple lyrics, it carries sexual innuendos and undertones in the meaning.[6] Similar to Madonna's previous single "Like a Virgin" (1984), a lyrical hook is also present in "Into the Groove", directed at shy girls. The line "At night I lock the door so no-one else can see" implied that Madonna was not as brazen as her provocative image suggested.[6] According to Barker, the nostalgic people would instantly recognize the song's lyrics at night clubs. He added that the line, "Only when I'm dancing can I feel this free," expresses the freedom that a dance floor brings about, with the dancers happy to find freedom in the music.[17] A neume is visible in the line "Live out your fantasy here with me", which Barker believed, blurred the boundaries of reality and brought one closer to the world of fantasy.[17]

Critical reception[edit]

A blond woman stands atop a rectangular black box. She wears red shorts and sings into a microphone, while holding a pole atop the box, with her right hand. A man is seen beside her, wearing a cap. The backdrop behind them display light blue patterns.
Madonna performing "Into the Groove" during the Sticky & Sweet Tour (2008–09), while dancing on top of a DJ's station

Ever since its release, "Into the Groove" has received critical acclaim. J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of Madonna: An Intimate Biography, said that the song demonstrated Madonna's ability to create infectious dance music.[5] Rikky Rooksby, author of Madonna: the complete guide to her music, said that "'Into the Groove' will make you feel like you're a winner either way. And that's one of the best things pop music can do for ya. [It's] Madonna's first great single."[6] Clive Barker and Simon Trussler, authors of New Theatre Quarterly, felt that the song was the first disco-anthem of the 1980s.[17]

Toby Cresswell, author of 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time and the Artists, Stories and Secrets, said that the song is a "sweet, limited white tune on the top, and there's Madonna – all the right-shop chic – dragging the straight world into this subterranean paradise. All the magic of the eighties is right here."[7] Matthew Rettenmund, author of Totally Awesome 80s: A Lexicon of the Music, Videos, Movies, TV Shows, Stars, and Trends of that Decadent Decade, declared "Into the Groove" as the ultimate 1980s song and felt that it "cemented Madonna's place as the dancing queen of the era".[18] Dawn Keetley and John Pettigrew, authors of Public Women, Public Words: A Documentary History of American Feminism, called it a "mesmerizing theme song".[19]

Santiago Fouz-Hernández and Freya Jarman-Ivens, authors of Madonna's drowned worlds: new approaches to her cultural transformations, commented that the song "taunted playfully".[20] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine ranked it at twenty-nine on the list of "100 Greatest Dance Songs". He commented: "It's hard to imagine the most famous woman in the world dancing alone in her bedroom at night, locking the doors so 'no one else can see' (as she sings on 'Groove'), even 20 years ago, but you can't help but believe her. The song—and Madonna's performance—are that good."[21] Alfred Soto from Stylus commented that "'Into the Groove' itself is as much wish-fulfillment as 'Crazy For You'.[22] Austin Scaggs from Rolling Stone commented that the song had "an amazing bassline".[9]

By the end of the 1980s, "Into the Groove" was honored by Billboard magazine as the "Dance Single of the Decade".[23] In 2003, Madonna fans were asked to vote for their top-twenty Madonna singles of all-time by Q magazine; "Into the Groove" was allocated the number-three spot.[24] In 2009, the song was ranked at ninety on Blender magazine's "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born".[25] Billboard ranked the song number three on a 2015 list of Madonna's top 15 best songs, calling it "the Madonna club track."[26] In 2015 the song was voted by the British public as the nation's 19th favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.[27] In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked the song number two on its list of the 50 greatest Madonna songs and at number 161 in the list for the "500 Best Songs of All Time" in 2021.[28] Pitchfork named "Into the Groove" the 17th best song from the 1980s,[29] while Classic Pop placed the song at number three among their Top 100 Singles of the 1980s.[30]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, due to similar problems with "Crazy for You" and "Material Girl" being released at the same time and competing with each other, it was decided against releasing "Into the Groove" as a 7" single so it would not compete with "Angel", the third single from the Like a Virgin.[6] "Into the Groove" was eventually released as the B-side to the 12" maxi-single of "Angel", therefore it was ineligible to enter the Billboard Hot 100 or Hot Singles Sales charts.[31][32] The song debuted at number 40 on Hot Dance Club Songs chart, as a double A-side with "Angel", on the issue dated June 1, 1985.[33] After four weeks, it reached the top of the chart and also reached number 19 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[34] On July 30, 1985, "Angel/Into the Groove" was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of one million copies across the US—the requirement for a gold single prior to 1989.[35][36] It was the first 12-inch single to be certified gold since Frankie Smith's "Double Dutch Bus" (1981).[37] The song placed at number 12 on the Dance year-end charts and sold approximately 600,000 copies of the 12"; it also reached number-one on the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart.[38][39]

"Into the Groove" debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number four, on the chart dated July 27, 1985, becoming the highest debuting single for any female artist in the history of the chart at that time.[40] It reached the top of the chart and stayed there for four weeks, and was present for a total of 14 weeks on the chart. The song was Madonna's first number-one single in United Kingdom.[41] During its stay at number-one, the re-released version of Madonna's first UK hit "Holiday" was at number-two position. This made her the first female artist in UK chart history to hold the top-two positions of the chart simultaneously.[42] "Into the Groove" was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 500,000 copies of the single.[43] "Into the Groove" was third best selling single of 1985 with 793,000 sold copies in United Kingdom.[44] It has sold 957,000 copies there as of August 2018, and is Madonna's biggest selling song in the country.[45] The song was the third biggest selling UK single of 1985, behind Jennifer Rush's "The Power of Love" and Elaine Paige's and Barbara Dickson's "I Know Him So Well".[42] In Australia, "Into the Groove" charted as a combined single with "Angel" and reached the top of the Kent Music Report chart. It was the second-highest selling single of 1985 in Australia.[46] Across Europe, Oceania and Africa, the song was able to reach the top of the charts in Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain, and inside the top five in France, Germany, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and European Hot 100 Singles chart.[47][48][49][50] In Italy alone, the song spent 9 consecutive weeks at the top.[51] According to Music & Media magazine the song had sold around 1.5 million copies in Europe by September 1985.[40] It also became in one of the fastest selling singles in WEA's history.[52]

Live performances[edit]

Refer to caption
Madonna performing "Into the Groove" on the 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour

"Into the Groove" was performed as the third song during The Virgin Tour in 1985. Madonna wore a blue see-through crop-top, revealing her characteristic black bra. She had lacy leggings and crucifixes around her ear and her neck. Her hair was tied at the top and fell in unkempt manner around her ears.[53] She had a tambourine in her hand like her two male dancers, and together they sang the song while standing in front of a microphone, in tandem.[54] The performance was included on the video release titled Madonna Live: The Virgin Tour, shot in Detroit.[55] She also performed it on her Live Aid concert on July 13, 1985.[56]

In the Who's That Girl World Tour of 1987, "Into the Groove" was the second-to-last song before the encore. The outfit she wore during the performance was inspired by artist Andy Warhol. It consisted of a loose pant with a tin of Campbell's soup on the side, the letter U in the front and the word DANCE in the back; it was designed so that when she turned, audience were able to read 'U [Can] Dance]'.[57] In the middle of her singing, a young boy joined her on stage to dance alongside. Madonna then wore a pink bolero jacket. At the end she is joined by her backup singers and dancers. Together they take a bow to the audience and finish the performance.[58] 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 on June 22, 1987,[59] and Ciao Italia: Live from Italy, filmed in Turin on September 4, 1987.[60]

Madonna wearing a white T-shirt and a black-and-white patterned skirt, holding a microphone. She is surrounded by dancers in similar attire, carrying long poles.
Madonna performing "Into the Groove" on the Re-Invention World Tour, while wearing a kilt

Three years later on the Blond Ambition World Tour, "Into the Groove" was again performed before the encore. Madonna, her backup singers Niki Haris and Donna De Lory were portrayed as being seduced by three macho guys in leather jackets. The girls asked the guys to "prove their love to them" and wondered if they would wear a condom when necessary. After that, they sing the Shep Pettibone extended remix of "Into The Groove".[61] Two different performances were taped and released on video, the Blond Ambition – Japan Tour 90, taped in Yokohama on April 27, 1990,[62] and the Blond Ambition World Tour Live, taped in Nice, France, on August 5, 1990.[63] In the Re-Invention World Tour of 2004, Madonna included the song at the start of the final segment, which started with Scottish bagpiper players parading around the stage in kilts and playing drums and pipes. Madonna appeared onstage in similar long kilts and a white sleeveless T-shirt to perform "Into the Groove" with Scottish bagpiper group Lorne Cousin. Rapper Missy Elliott appeared on the video screen for a rap interlude.[64]

The song was again added to the setlist of 2008–09 Sticky & Sweet Tour. Elements of Cassius's "Toop Toop", Frankie Smith's "Double Dutch Bus", The Sugarhill Gang's "Apache (Jump On It)" and Madonna's own "Jump" were added to the performance.[65] "Into the Groove" marked the beginning of the second segment titled Old School.[66] It began with Madonna appearing on the stage in shorts and T-shirt, while skipping to a DJ station. She started singing the song while cartoon characters from late artist, and Madonna's friend, Keith Haring dance on the backdrops. Near the end of the song, Madonna performed a Double Dutch dance interlude.[65] In 2015, "Into the Groove" was included in the set list of the Rebel Heart Tour, performed in a flamenco-style medley with "Dress You Up", "Everybody" and "Lucky Star". During the sequence the singer dressed by in a Latin and gypsy inspired dress, created by Alessandro Michele for Gucci consisting off a shawl, flamenco hat, lace, skirts and jacquard bodysuit.[67][68]

Cover versions and samples[edit]

The song was covered by alternative rock band Sonic Youth under the pseudonym Ciccone Youth for a 1986 single, and re-titled "Into the Groove(y)"; this recording also appears on the 1988 release The Whitey Album.[69] Dale Bozzio, former lead singer of new wave band Missing Persons, covered the song for the Madonna tribute album Virgin Voices: A Tribute To Madonna, Vol. 2 from 2000.[70] Alternative pop singer Jeremy Jay covered the song in 2007; it was also included on Through the Wilderness, a psychedelic-folk tribute album to Madonna.[71] French pop/rock group Superbus covered "Into the Groove" for their 2002 album, Aéromusical. It was the third and final single from the album.[72]

In 2003, the song was combined with the vocals of Dannii Minogue's "Don't Wanna Lose This Feeling", the fourth and final single from her album Neon Nights. "Into the Groove"'s instrumentation and a small Madonna vocal sample were added to Minogue's vocals, though Minogue's pitch was altered to fit the tempo of the song.[73] In 1985 and 2017, Hong Kong singer Anita Mui and Priscilla Chan covered this song in Cantonese.

In 2021, the song was sampled in Canadian rapper Tory Lanez's "Pluto's Last Comet", from his sixth studio album Alone at Prom. However, the sample was not used with permission from Madonna, and she did not receive songwriting credit on the track.[74] Madonna reached out to Lanez through Instagram, and later stated to Rolling Stone that she was "tired of being taken advantage of".[75][74]

Track listing and formats[edit]

  • UK 7" single / UK 7" Limited Edition Picture Disc[76][77]
  1. "Into the Groove" (Single Version) – 4:43
  2. "Shoo-Bee-Doo" (LP Version) – 5:16
  • Japanese 7" single[78]
  1. "Into the Groove" (Single Version) – 4:43
  2. "Physical Attraction" (Single Edit) – 3:55
  • German 3" CD single (1989)[79]
  1. "Into the Groove" (Single Version) – 4:43
  2. "Who's That Girl" (Extended Version) – 6:29
  3. "Causing a Commotion" (Silver Screen Mix) – 6:39
  1. "Into the Groove" (Extended Remix) – 8:31
  2. "Into the Groove" (Remix Dub) – 6:22
  3. "Everybody" (Extended Remix) – 7:06
  1. "Into the Groove" (Single Version) – 4:43
  2. "Everybody" (LP Version) – 4:52
  3. "Shoo-Bee-Doo" (LP Version) – 5:16

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the Like a Virgin (1985 re-issue) and You Can Dance album's liner notes.[2][83]


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada 100,000[112]
France (SNEP)[114] Gold 533,000[113]
Greece (IFPI Greece) 4,000[40]
Italy (FIMI)[115] Gold 300,000[115]
Japan (Oricon Charts) 152,440[116]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[117] Gold 10,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[43] Gold 957,000[45]
United States (RIAA)[35] Gold 1,000,000^
1985 sales

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


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General references[edit]