Toy Soldiers (song)

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"Toy Soldiers"
Artwork for European releases
Single by Martika
from the album Martika
B-side"Exchange of Hearts"
Released21 January 1989 (UK)
May 1989 (US)
GenrePop rock
LabelColumbia, CBS
Songwriter(s)Martika, Michael Jay
Producer(s)Michael Jay
Martika singles chronology
"More Than You Know"
"Toy Soldiers"
"I Feel the Earth Move"
Music video
"Toy Soldiers" on YouTube

"Toy Soldiers" is a song by American singer Martika appearing on her 1988 eponymous debut album and released in the United States as the second single from it in May 1989. It was a number-one Billboard Hot 100 hit for two weeks in the summer of 1989. An edited version of the song is included in the imported version of the album Toy Soldiers: The Best of Martika.

Song overview[edit]

Martika wrote the song about a friend who was battling a cocaine addiction. "I was a little hesitant because I had only written two songs before and they were light songs. I came up to Michael and said I wanted to write about drugs. It was the first time I got the nerve to write about something that was scary for me to talk about, so I did."[1] According to an episode of VH-1's Pop-Up Video, in which "Toy Soldiers" was featured, the friend-in-question eventually conquered the addiction.


The song is performed in the key of C minor with a tempo of 65 beats per minute in 4
. The song follows a chord progression of A–B–A–B–Cm–B–Cm–Gm–Cm–B.


Martika is the only one who sings throughout the song, although she is joined on the chorus by some of her former castmates from Kids Incorporated, including Renee Sands, Fergie, Rahsaan Patterson, as well as later cast members Jennifer Love Hewitt, Devyn Puett and Kimberly McCullough, as backup vocalists.

Chart success[edit]

The song spent two weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and New Zealand while reaching number five in both the United Kingdom and Australia. On Billboard's year-end chart for 1989, "Toy Soldiers" placed number 29. It was Martika's only number-one single in the U.S., and her highest-ranking single in the United Kingdom. The single was certified Gold in the United States by the RIAA.

In March and April 2009, VH1 ran a countdown of the 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s. "Toy Soldiers" placed at #67 on the countdown despite the fact that Martika had three other top 40 hits: "More Than You Know" (#18); "I Feel the Earth Move" (#25); and "Love... Thy Will Be Done" (#10).

Track listings and formats[edit]

7" single
  1. "Toy Soldiers" – 4:52
  2. "Exchange of Hearts" – 4:15
3" single
  1. "Toy Soldiers" – 4:52
  2. "Exchange of Hearts" – 4:15
  3. "It's Not What You're Doing" – 4:11
12" single
  1. "Toy Soldiers" – 4:52
  2. "It's Not What You're Doing" – 4:11
  3. "Exchange of Hearts" – 4:15

Critical reception[edit]

Bryan Buss of AllMusic retrospectively reviewed the Martika album, stating "the big hit single, 'Toy Soldiers', works with its childlike vocals and lyrics, creating a haunting, effective dichotomy with its subject of drug addiction." Buss also highlighted the song as an album standout by labeling it an AMG Pick Track.[2] Rob Theakston of Allmusic labeled the song as an AMG Pick Track on the 2005 compilation Toy Soldiers: The Best of Martika.[3]

Chart performance[edit]

Cover versions and sampling[edit]

  • Martika herself recorded and produced a Spanish version of "Toy Soldiers" renaming it "Como Un Juguete", though it was not as successful as the original English version. She also recorded the song in Japanese.
  • Eminem's 2004 album Encore features samples from "Toy Soldiers" in a song titled "Like Toy Soldiers". A sample of Martika singing the chorus is used as the chorus of the Eminem version. The subject of the Eminem song is markedly different from the Martika song, concerning violence and murder linked to rap music rather than drug addiction. The sample is also played faster and at a higher pitch than the original version with an added drum beat. The final chorus of Martika's song is used as the chorus of Eminem's version.
  • My Vitriol covered the song for their 2007 EP A Pyrrhic Victory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Martika: An Impatient Star | 1989 Interview". Retrieved 2016-11-09.
  2. ^ Buss, Bryan. "Martika - Martika : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-05-09.
  3. ^ Theakston, Rob (2005-01-11). "Toy Soldiers: The Best of Martika - Martika : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-05-09.
  4. ^ Steffen Hung. "Australian charts portal". Archived from the original on 2008-05-27. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  5. ^ "Ultratop". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  6. ^ a b c "Bienvenue au site Web Bibliothèque et Archives Canada / Welcome to the Library and Archives Canada website". 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  7. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin - levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  8. ^ Steffen Hung. "Dutch charts portal". Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  9. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche". Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  10. ^ Jaclyn Ward (1962-10-01). "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  11. ^ Steffen Hung (2006-06-15). "Norwegian charts portal". Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  12. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002edition=1st. Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  13. ^ Steffen Hung. "Swedish Charts Portal". Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  14. ^ Steffen Hung. "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  15. ^ "ChartArchive - The Chart Archive". Archived from the original on 2004-06-22. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  16. ^ "Martika Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  17. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 151.
  18. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc)|format= requires |url= (help). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-09-07. Retrieved 2017-11-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1989/Top 100 Songs of 1989". Music Outfitters, Inc. Retrieved 2016-02-16.

External links[edit]