“Burning Up” by Madonna (1983)

Don’t think Madonna belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because her music isn’t “real rock”? Play “Burning Up”. That should “rock” hard enough for you.

Now, I’m smart enough to know that “rock & roll” includes more than just heavy guitar music. And I’m smart enough to know that Madonna, as the single most important (and successful) female artist in history, belongs in the Rock Hall on merit. And I think “Burning Up” kicks all kinds of ass. It takes the Donna Summer “Hot Stuff”/”The Wanderer” disco-rock aesthetic, sprinkles in a jerky B-52s rhythm, adds some tough Pat Benatar guitar, and rolls around in a film of sleaze that became one of Madonna’s early calling cards (and may have been borrowed from Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl”). “Unlike the others, I’ll do anything/I’m not the same/I have no shame/I’m on fire!” Well, then!

That sleaziness was amplified by “Burning Up”’s video, which literally found Madonna slithering across a road. Caused all kinda weird feelings for me as a 7 year old, lemme tell ya.

While it took a minute for mainstream America to discover this song (it actually didn’t chart), New York radio played this for years like it was a Number One hit. We Big Apple folks generally have good taste.

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