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Liam.k.
post Apr 24 2019, 09:24 AM
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Madonna's lead singles ranked
24 April 2019 | By Justin Myers

As Madonna returns with Medellín, the first cut from her 14th studio album, we rank her other lead singles.

Madonna is back, not that she ever went away. After four years without new music, Madonna's fourteenth studio album, Madame X, is imminent.

The first single, Medellín, features Colombian singer Maluma and joins an array of classic hits given the honour – and huge responsibility – of launching a new Madonna album.

Everybody has their favourites, of course, and fans worldwide have been posting their own rankings of the big launch singles. But when we push aside taste and make it all about the numbers, which comes out on top? We looked at combined physical and download sales, audio and video streaming figures to count down the definitive list of Madonna's lead hits.

To make things a bit more interesting, we include her soundtracks to Who's That Girl and Evita, plus Dick Tracy tie-in I'm Breathless – featuring the earliest release to appear on an album for the first time – and the first (new material) singles off her greatest hits. Why? Well, you can never have too many hits in a countdown, can you? See all Madonna's hit singles, including 13 Number 1s, in her Official Chart archive

The biggest lead single of them all goes to Like A Virgin, the provocative title track of Madonna's second album. While it reached only Number 3 in January 1985, it's amassed 925,000 combined sales – although it was another eight months before the parent album would make it to Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart.

Next is another title track, and a very similarly titled one at that, Like A Prayer. Cruising to Number 1 in early 1989, the euphoric gospel pop banger has a tally of 850,500 and its parent album topped the charts too. In third place is the mighty ABBA-sampling Hung Up, with 730,000 combined sales to its name. Heading up the campaign for Confessions on a Dance Floor – Madonna's longest album title FYI – the song spent three weeks at Number 1 and helped its parent album rack up over 1.35 million sales.

Perhaps a controversial choice, given it felt more tacked onto the end of its mothership album rather than a part of it, Vogue is fourth, with 663,000, coming from I'm Breathless, which was inspired by the movie Dick Tracy, and featured the underrated Hanky Panky. Hard Candy's 4 Minutes, featuring Justin Timberlake and Madonna's most recent chart-topper, is next on 627,000, and Madonna's huge comeback in 1998, Frozen, from the seminal Ray of Light, is next on 602,200 – it was the first Madonna song ever to debut at the top of the Official Singles Chart.

True Blue is Madonna's top selling studio album in the UK, but, rather surprisingly, its first single Live To Tell is in 10th spot, with 331,000. Live To Tell was originally recorded for movie At Close Range, and in early 1986 Madonna said the album would be called Live To Tell, later changing it to the True Blue we all know and love. Just behind Live To Tell is another ballad, heading up a whole album of ballad greatest hits – You'll See is in 10th place on 322,000.

The Immaculate Collection, Madonna's greatest hits from 1990, is her biggest selling album overall in the UK, with 3.76 million combined sales, but its flagship song, the "filthy for the time but pretty tame now" Justify My Love, is only her 12th biggest lead. It might have something to do with the fact radio stations were scared to death of it, and its raunchy video was only on late night TV. Plus, the album came out the week after the single and literally everyone raced to buy that instead.

Madonna's lead singles ranked in combined sales order:

SONG SONG PEAK ALBUM YEAR
1 LIKE A VIRGIN 3 LIKE A VIRGIN 1984 925k
2 LIKE A PRAYER 1 LIKE A PRAYER 1989 850k
3 HUNG UP 1 CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR 2005 730k
4 VOGUE 1 I'M BREATHLESS 1990 663k
5 4 MINUTES 1 HARD CANDY 2008 627k
6 FROZEN 1 RAY OF LIGHT 1998 602k
7 MUSIC 1 MUSIC 2000
8 WHO'S THAT GIRL 1 WHO'S THAT GIRL OST 1988
9 LIVE TO TELL 2 TRUE BLUE 1986 331k
10 YOU'LL SEE 5 SOMETHING TO REMEMBER 1995 322k
11 EROTICA 3 EROTICA 1992
12 JUSTIFY MY LOVE 2 IMMACULATE COLLECTION 1990
13 CELEBRATION 3 CELEBRATION 2008
14 SECRET 5 BEDTIME STORIES 1994
15 YOU MUST LOVE ME 10 EVITA 1996
16 AMERICAN LIFE 2 AMERICAN LIFE 2003
17 LIVING FOR LOVE 26 REBEL HEART 2015
18 GIVE ME ALL YOUR LUVIN 37 MDNA 2012
19 EVERYBODY N/A MADONNA 1982

©2019 Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.
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Tawdry Hepburn
post Apr 24 2019, 09:52 AM
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It seems really bizarre to me that 'Like A Virgin' would be ahead of 'Like A Prayer'.
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M4NGO
post Apr 24 2019, 10:04 AM
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It's actually criminal how 'low' the sales are for some of those classics - Frozen, Vogue & Like A Prayer especially. Is 'Into The Groove' still her only million seller?
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Bjork
post Apr 24 2019, 10:08 AM
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^I thought Madonna was notorious for not having any million seller
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M4NGO
post Apr 24 2019, 10:22 AM
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Oh yeah you might be right actually, 'Into The Groove' is her biggest seller isn't it? Maybe that's what I was thinking of.
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Bjork
post Apr 24 2019, 10:44 AM
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wiki says Into the Groove is on 957K

United Kingdom (BPI)[39] Gold 957,000[40]
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Liam.k.
post Apr 24 2019, 10:47 AM
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This was what Madonna's Top 20 best sellers looked like in August 2018:

1 Into The Groove 1 1985 957k
2 Like A Virgin 3 1984 892k
3 Holiday 2 1984/1985/1991 878k
4 Like A Prayer 1 1989 792k
5 Crazy For You 2 1985/1991 766k
6 Papa Don't Preach 1 1986
7 Hung Up 1 2005 697k
8 Vogue 1 1990
9 True Blue 1 1986
10 4 Minutes (feat. Justin Timberlake) 1 2008 597k
11 Frozen 1 1998
12 Beautiful Stranger 2 1999
13 La Isla Bonita 1 1987
14 Material Girl 3 1985
15 Music 1 2000
16 American Pie 1 2000
17 Who's That Girl 1 1987
18 Don't Cry For Me Argentina 3 1996
19 Borderline 2 1984/1986
20 Ray Of Light 2 1998

Sales increases since August 2018:

58,000 Like a Prayer
33,000 Like a Virgin
33,000 Hung Up
30,000 4 Minutes

We didn't get a sales update for 'Vogue' but, going off these figures, it should have been on ~630k. Last sales total given was 530k in March 2015, but that total didn't include streams. Last total for 'Live to Tell' was 280k (+51k) and 'You'll See' was 305k (+17k) in September 2010.

I reckon 'Live to Tell' is Madonna's 21st best seller, now and back in August 2018, so we know 'Ray of Light' is over 330k.

'Erotica' continues to be overestimated by the OCC although they're at least consistent.
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Rob
post Apr 24 2019, 11:17 AM
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Honestly her lead singles in the 2000's, outside of Hung Up, have been truly dire.
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M4NGO
post Apr 24 2019, 11:24 AM
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I actually just finished listening to every Madonna album (and non-album songs) in order and honestly it was such an enjoyable listen. Even her worst albums have some gems hiding in them. How she's never had a million selling single I'll never understand, but at least she holds the record for most consecutive Top 10 hits which I doubt anyone is likely to touch.
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Liam.k.
post Apr 24 2019, 11:41 AM
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'Into the Groove' will probably be a million seller by the end of the year. Must be on 980k-990k now.
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vibe
post Apr 24 2019, 12:26 PM
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Her classics were released when sale climates were low (LAP, Vogue, Hung Up) . A lot of the million sellers didn’t come from huge albums either.

LAV prob will overtake ITG as it will stream more ?

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365
post Apr 24 2019, 12:31 PM
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QUOTE(Tawdry Hepburn @ Apr 24 2019, 10:52 AM) *
It seems really bizarre to me that 'Like A Virgin' would be ahead of 'Like A Prayer'.


I always think Like A Virgin is in many ways her most known song. I know lots think it's Like a Prayer, but when I was young it was the first/only Madonna song I knew for a while. I think it's because the casuals love it a lot, even though Like a Prayer is largely regarded as her best.
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Bjork
post Apr 24 2019, 12:43 PM
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Surprised Music is so low
And that came at the peak of downloads
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girlsaloudjunkie
post Apr 24 2019, 01:13 PM
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QUOTE(Bjork @ Apr 24 2019, 10:13 PM) *
Surprised Music is so low
And that came at the peak of downloads


Music came nowhere near the peak of downloads, the peak of downloads was the end of the 00's/beginning of the 10's.
Music came in the peak of album sales particularly in the US where Britney/*NSYNC/BSB were shifting millions of albums in a single week!
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Bjork
post Apr 24 2019, 01:26 PM
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I meant the peak of cd singles
I remember Sonique, AtB etc doung crazy numbers
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Ne Plus Ultra
post Apr 24 2019, 01:39 PM
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QUOTE(Bjork @ Apr 24 2019, 01:26 PM) *
I meant the peak of cd singles
I remember Sonique, AtB etc doung crazy numbers


There was no million selling single in 2000 though.

Into The Groove must be at a million by now? Or are they waiting for a special announcement?
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Gezza
post Apr 24 2019, 02:43 PM
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QUOTE(Bjork @ Apr 24 2019, 02:26 PM) *
I meant the peak of cd singles
I remember Sonique, AtB etc doung crazy numbers

Singles peaked in 1997 and held up nicely in 98 but started to decline in 99 and 00
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jlj
post Apr 24 2019, 03:35 PM
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Looking at that that list I think I must prefer her follow up singles to her leads.

Like A Prayer, Hung Up and Frozen her best leads in my opinion.
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Hallucinate
post Apr 24 2019, 11:17 PM
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In the OCC Madonna 2017 best sellers list Justify My Love was 23 and Erotica was 41. Surely Erotica hasn’t sold enough in 2 years to outsell Justify.
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Liam.k.
post Apr 24 2019, 11:31 PM
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QUOTE(1990 @ Apr 25 2019, 12:17 AM) *
In the OCC Madonna 2017 best sellers list Justify My Love was 23 and Erotica was 41. Surely Erotica hasn’t sold enough in 2 years to outsell Justify.

They were correct with their 2015-17 lists. This current update works with the figures they gave in 2008 and 2010, which are way overestimated. There was a similar issue with 'This Used to Be My Playground'. I have 'Erotica' on an estimated 140k.
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