On February 15 1984, Madonna’s Borderline single was released in North America. Borderline was the fourth North American single to be released from her self-titled debut album, while in most other markets Lucky Star was released ahead of Borderline. It was written and composed by producer Reggie Lucas, and remixed by Madonna’s then-boyfriend John “Jellybean” Benitez.
In an interview recalling the launch of Madonna’s recording career, Sire Records head Seymour Stein stated, “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.”
In the United States, Borderline became Madonna’s first top-ten hit when it reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 on June 16, 1984. In Canada, it peaked at #25 on September 15, 1984.
On January 25 1986, Borderline re-entered the UK Singles Chart at #15.
The re-release of the single was loosely linked with the promotion of the European reissue of Madonna’s debut album, which was repackaged in September 1985 with new artwork under the title, The First Album.
After reaching an initial peak of #56 on the UK Singles chart in 1984, the re-release of Borderline proved to be much more successful, peaking at #2 on February 15, 1986.
On October 14 1993, Rolling Stone magazine featured Madonna (several times) in an article featuring The 100 Top Music Videos.
Rolling Stone included the following Madonna music videos: Express Yourself at #10, Like A Prayer at #20, Borderline at #24, Vogue at #28, Justify My Love at #43 and Oh Father at #66 – Madonna had more videos on the list than any other artist or group.
On September 14 1984, Madonna performed Like A Virgin and was nominated for Best New Artist Video (Borderline) at the 1st annual MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY.
Madonna recalled the infamous performance in a 2012 interview on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: “I was standing at the top of a wedding cake, as one does, and I walked down these steps, which were the tiers of a wedding cake. And I lost my shoe. I lost my white stiletto. And I thought, ‘Oh god, how am I going to get that? It’s over there and I’m on TV.’ So I thought well, I’ll just pretend I meant to do this and I dove on to the floor and I rolled around and I reached for the shoe. And, as I reached for the shoe, the dress went up. And the underpants were showing and uhm, I didn’t mean to…” To which Leno chided: “And it became the greatest night in television history.”
We’re not too sure about Madonna’s recollection of the performance. Looks like the shoes came off quite intentionally to us. Check out the video and let us know what you think!
On April 10 1985, Madonna’s Virgin Tour opened with 3 sold-out concerts at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington.
During a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, interviewer Austin Scaggs asked Madonna regarding her feelings and emotions during the tour, since it was the first time she was playing in arenas. Madonna replied saying, “That whole tour was crazy, because I went from playing CBGB and the Mudd Club to playing sporting arenas,” she told the magazine. “I played a small theater in Seattle, and the girls had flap skirts on and the tights cut off below their knees and lace gloves and rosaries and bows in their hair and big hoop earrings. I was like, ‘This is insane!’ After Seattle, all of the shows were moved to arenas.”
Madonna had three shows in Seattle – April 10, 12 and 13 – and all three were sellouts by the time she took the stage that first night. The Beastie Boys opened for Madonna and they weren’t well received by the pro-Madonna crowd. The show was a year before “Licensed to Ill” was released.
Their 30-minute set got off to a bad start when one of the Beastie Boys declared himself King of the Paramount, and generally made the pro-Madonna audience feel like a swarm of hillbillies, P-I pop music critic Gene Stout wrote in his review.
“Dressed in what looked like a Boy George outfit, she looked reluctant, almost scared, and kept her eyes on the ground as she and her small entourage swept past a modest gathering of fans,” Stout wrote.
Madonna started the show with Dress You Up, followed with Holiday, and performed Borderline for the first time live as her seventh song. Madonna ended by debuting Material Girl as her encore.
On July 27 1983, Madonna’s eponymous debut album was released by Sire Records. The record was renamed Madonna: The First Album for the 1985 international re-release of the album.
The album was released with 8 tracks (produced by John “Jellybean” Benitez, Mark Kamins and Reggie Lucas):
- Lucky Star
- Burning Up
- I Know It
- Think of Me
- Physical Attraction
Five singles were released from The First Album:
- Everybody (October 6 1982)
- Burning Up (March 9 1983)
- Holiday (September 7 1983 – UK)
- Lucky Star (September 8 1983)
- Borderline (February 15 1984)
“Madonna was unhappy with the whole album, 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 playback ‘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 a groove with her, it was very cool, very creative.”
— John “Jellybean” Benitez talking about Madonna and the album.
“I’ve refrained over the years in addressing aspects of Madonna’s career because I’m not a person who likes negative discussions. But what I will say is that in Madonna’s ascent to fame and fortune, there’s been a pretty vicious competition for credit in being involved. In other words, someone will say, ‘I launched Madonna.’ If I talk to a lot of people today, I will say I was Madonna’s first producer. I produced six of the eight tracks on her first record. I would say nine times out of 10, their response will be, ‘Oh yeah, I thought Jellybean did that.’ But Jellybean didn’t do that. Jellybean was a remixer, and we didn’t have time to remix records. It wasn’t something that I was interested in doing. Somewhere in this process of publicists and personal relationships, somehow he came out as the guy. Just for the record, one tires in a lifetime of hearing someone taking credit for something that you’ve done. Jellybean produced ‘Holiday’ and he remixed a couple of tracks, but remixing tracks for radio isn’t the same thing as producing one of the major breakout pop stars of the 1980s…it’s almost like I was fired or something. I wasn’t fired. I finished the record…and they put it out and sold a bunch of records. And everybody else ran around trying to take credit for it because it was so big that they couldn’t help themselves. … I must say, Madonna was great to work with in the studio. She really put in the work. She was a creative person.”
— Reggie Lucas, producer of Madonna’s first album.