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Spotlight (Madonna song)

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Madonna with short blond hair puts her right hand above her head and looks back. She wears a red dress.
Single by Madonna
from the album You Can Dance
B-side "Where's the Party"
Released April 25, 1988
Genre Dance-pop
Length 6:23
Producer(s) Steve Bray
Madonna singles chronology
"The Look of Love"
"Like a Prayer"

"Spotlight" is a song by American singer Madonna from her first remix album You Can Dance (1987). It was released as a single in Japan on April 25, 1988 by Sire Records and Warner-Pioneer Japan. Initially rejected during her True Blue album recording sessions, the song was written by Madonna, Stephen Bray and Curtis Hudson who had presented the original to the singer. It was inspired by the song "Everybody Is a Star" (1970), by American rock band Sly and the Family Stone. The song was remixed by Shep Pettibone, with additional mixing done by John "Jellybean" Benitez.

"Spotlight" features instrumentation from drums, bass synths and handclaps, accompanied by vocal echos, a piano segment and violin phrases in the musical interlude. The lyrics talk about how one can be famous if one sings about it. The song received mixed reviews from critics. After its release, it reached number 68 on the Japanese Oricon weekly singles chart, as well as number three on its international singles chart. Although not released in the United States, the song managed to chart on Billboard's Airplay chart in early 1988. The song was used in a Mitsubishi VCR commercial, in which she appeared.


By the mid-eighties, post-disco dance music was extremely popular and the concept of remix was widely regarded as a new direction of music. Several artists were remixing their tracks and compiling them to create new albums. Hence Madonna, who was the most popular dance artist of that era, decided to create a similar remix compilation album, later titled You Can Dance, which included seven of her up-tempo songs.[1] Along with the pre-released tracks in remixed form, "Spotlight" was included as a new track. Madonna said that she was inspired by the song "Everybody Is a Star" (1970), by American rock band Sly and the Family Stone.[2]

In 1983, Curtis Hudson and Lisa Stevens of the group Pure Energy had written the song "Holiday", which Madonna recorded and released as the third single from her self-titled debut album.[3] After the single's commercial success, Hudson wrote a song sounding like "Holiday", in case Warner Bros., Madonna's record company, wanted to release a similar sounding single.[4] He named it "Spotlight" and offered it to Madonna, who recorded the song for her 1986 album True Blue but did not include it because of its similarity to "Holiday".[1]


When Madonna decided to create You Can Dance, she and Stephen Bray reworked the demo composed by Hudson and Madonna asked Shep Pettibone, who had remixed her songs from True Blue, to remix "Spotlight" and included it on the album.[4][1] John "Jellybean" Benitez, who had recorded the original demo during the True Blue sessions, assisted Pettibone in remixing the song.[2] Hudson, who was given credit as a songwriter since he had the demo copyrighted, recalled that much of the demo's production was changed in the final version, including the rhythm and the basic groove.[4]

"Spotlight" begins with the sound of drums, bass synths and handclaps, followed by Madonna uttering the words "Spotlight, shine bright". After the first verse, the sound of keyboard is heard during the effect.[5] It continues like this through the second verse, which is followed by an interlude featuring vocal echos, a piano segment and violin phrases. Madonna follows the music played by the piano and utters the words "Pa-da-pa-da-pappa pappa pa pa" in the same melody.[5] The lyrics deal with Madonna making the listener remember that "Everybody is a Star" and that if one wants to be famous and be under the "Spotlight", the person should sing about it and reality may catch up with him or her.[5] According to the sheet music for the song, is set in the time signature of common time, with a tempo of 100 beats per minute. It is set in the key of F major with Madonna's voice spanning from the notes of C5 to B5. "Spotlight" has a basic sequence of Am–C–Am–C–G–F as its chord progression.[6]

Critical response

Mark Bego, author of Madonna: Blonde Ambition wrote that "Spotlight" was a "typical Madonna 'look-at-me' dance routine, that sounds flat besides the heavy remixes in You Can Dance."[7] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic said that the song "sounds dated—this is quite clearly extended mixes from the mid 80's—but that's part of the charm."[8] Dave Barry from The Miami Herald commented that although You Can Dance sounds like "old Madonna", "Spotlight" sounds surprisingly fresh to his ears.[9] Joe Brown from The Washington Post commented that the song should have been a "flat reject".[10] Don McLeese from Chicago Sun-Times called the song "exuberant".[11] From the Dallas Observer, Hunter Hauk deemed it "the bastard brother of 'Into the Groove'. It's just as infectious, but it didn't get the support it deserved".[12]

Dennis Hunt from Los Angeles Times commented that "[You Can Dance] is an attractive package for dance fans—particularly with the inclusion of a new cut, 'Spotlight'". He went on to add that the "lyrics of 'Spotlight' aren't great, but they're still more interesting than the others. Still, the words, like those of most dance songs, are just window dressing that's secondary to the beat. The big attraction of 'Spotlight' is a long, hard-driving, closing passage that's guaranteed to turn dancers on."[13] Jan DeKnock, while writing for Orlando Sentinel, noted that the song was already receiving airplay from radio stations.[14] Billboard's Joe Lynch called it a "lyrically simplistic affair that’s elevated by a pounding opener, sparkling keys and a charmingly earnest vocal that makes even the silliest sentiment sound like a viable philosophy for conquering the world".[15]

Chart performance

"Spotlight" was not officially released as a single in the United States; therefore it was not eligible at the time to appear on Billboard's Hot 100. Even so, it managed to garner enough airplay to appear on the publication's Hot 100 Airplay survey in early 1988. It debuted on the Airplay chart at 37 on the issue dated January 16, 1988.[16] After three weeks, "Spotlight" reached a peak of 32, but fell to 40 the next week before exiting the chart.[17][18] It had also reached the Hot Crossover 30 chart beginning on the issue dated December 12, 1987, peaking at 15 for two consecutive weeks beginning January 9, 1988 and spending eight total weeks on the chart.[19][20][21][22] The song was released commercially in Japan on April 25, 1988.[23] "Spotlight" peaked at number 68 on the Oricon weekly singles chart, remaining on the chart for five weeks.[23] It also charted on the Oricon international singles chart, reaching a peak of three on May 19, 1988, staying on the chart for ten weeks.[24]

Media appearance

"Spotlight" was featured in the last of a series of Japanese TV commercials Madonna filmed for electronics company Mitsubishi. The commercial promoted their VCR model F-5.3.[25] In the commercial, Madonna was featured as coming out of a car and sitting down on a sofa, while watching a film on the VCR, as "Spotlight" is played in the background. The song was also used as cross-promotion for the Japanese leg of her 1987 Who's That Girl World Tour under the campaign name of "Dreams Come True".[26]

Track listings and formats

  • Japanese 7" single, 3" Mini CD single[27][28]
  1. "Spotlight" (Single Edit) – 4:32
  2. "Where's The Party" (Remix Single Edit) – 4:13
  • US 12" Vinyl Promo[29]
  1. "Where's The Party" (Extended Remix) – 7:11
  2. "Where's The Party" (Dub) – 6:22
  3. "Spotlight" (Extended Remix) – 6:34
  4. "Spotlight" (Dub) – 4:49

Credits and personnel

Credits adapted from You Can Dance liner notes.[30]


Chart (1988) Peak
Japanese Singles (Oricon)[23] 68
Japanese International Singles (Oricon)[24] 3
US Radio Songs (Billboard)[17] 32
US Hot Crossover 30 (Billboard)[20] 15


  1. ^ a b c Taraborrelli 2002, p. 129
  2. ^ a b Rooksby 2004, p. 28
  3. ^ Howe, Sean (July 29, 2013). "Madonna's Debut Album at Thirty: An Oral History". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Kantor, Justin (February 3, 2012). "Interview: Curtis Hudson & Lisa Stevens, Songwriters of Madonna's 'Holiday'". Blogcritics. p. 2. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Rooksby 2004, p. 29
  6. ^ "Madonna: You Can Dance (songbook)" (1 ed.). Amazon, Warner Brothers Publications Inc. January 1, 1988. ASIN B000XPVK4C. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ Bego 2000, p. 155
  8. ^ Erlewine, Bogdanov & Woodstra 2002, p. 686
  9. ^ Barry, Dave (March 4, 1988). "Madonna's New LP is Mostly Old Madonna". The Miami Herald. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  10. ^ Brown, Joe (December 18, 1988). "Angst You Can Dance To". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  11. ^ McLeese, Don (November 23, 1988). "The Chain evokes a numbing reaction". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on February 20, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  12. ^ Huk, Haunter (February 3, 2012). "The 20 Best Madonna Songs You Won't Hear at the Super Bowl". Dallas Observer. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  13. ^ Hunt, Dennis (November 29, 1987). "Great Balls of Fire — Good Vibrations — Maybe Baby Running on Empty Madonna's Mixology". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  14. ^ DeKnock, Jan (November 22, 1987). "Idol Lets 'Mony' Do Talking All The Way To Top Of Chart". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  15. ^ Lynch, Joel (August 15, 2018). "The 100 Greatest Madonna Songs: Critics' Picks". Billboard. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  16. ^ "Hot 100 Sales & Airplay" (PDF). Billboard. 100 (3): 69. January 16, 1988. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  17. ^ a b "Hot 100 Sales & Airplay" (PDF). Billboard. 100 (6): 73. February 6, 1988. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  18. ^ "Hot 100 Sales & Airplay" (PDF). Billboard. 100 (7): 73. February 13, 1988. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  19. ^ "Hot Crossover 30" (PDF). Billboard. 99 (50): 14. December 12, 1987. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  20. ^ a b "Hot Crossover 30" (PDF). Billboard. 100 (2): 16. January 9, 1988. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  21. ^ "Hot Crossover 30" (PDF). Billboard. 100 (3): 16. January 16, 1988. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  22. ^ "Hot Crossover 30" (PDF). Billboard. 100 (5): 16. January 30, 1988. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  23. ^ a b c スポットライト (in Japanese). Oricon. April 25, 1988. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  24. ^ a b Schilling 1997, p. 149
  25. ^ Rooksby 2004, p. 201
  26. ^ Rooksby 2004, p. 203
  27. ^ Spotlight (Japanese 7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1987. 7-14727.CS1 maint: others (link)
  28. ^ Spotlight (Japanese 3-inch Mini CD Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1987. 7-19985-0.CS1 maint: others (link)
  29. ^ Spotlight (US 12-inch Vinyl Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1987. 4-84328.CS1 maint: others (link)
  30. ^ You Can Dance (Liner notes). Madonna. Warner Bros. Records. 1987.CS1 maint: others (link)


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