Few singles made three separate trips into the UK Top 10 before the age of seasonal Christmas streaming, but Madonna’s third release, Holiday, is part of that very select list – joining classics such as The Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ and Rock Around The Clock, by Bill Haley And His Comets.
Of course, Holiday is also notable for being the “Queen Of Pop”’s breakthrough hit, becoming her first Billboard Hot 100 entry in the US, where it peaked at No.16, and making No.6 in the UK in early 1984. Now hailed as one of the best Madonna songs, it had been written by Curtis Hudson and Lisa Stevens, from the band Pure Energy, and originally offered to soul singers Mary Wilson and Phyllis Hyman – but, luckily for Madonna, both rejected it.
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A decisive move that changed her career
While finishing sessions for her self-titled debut album, Madonna seized on the demo of Holiday, enlisting then boyfriend John “Jellybean” Benitez to produce it and add it to the collection of songs she had already cut with producer Reggie Lucas. It was the first of many decisive moves that would change the direction of her career. “The songs on Madonna were pretty weak and I went to England during the recording, so I wasn’t around for a lot of it,” the singer later reflected. “I wasn’t in control.”
Issued in July 1983, the album proved a slow burn – Everybody and Burning Up had already been released in some markets, gaining traction on the dance listings. With no video being filmed for Holiday, which was issued in the US on 7 September 1983 (its UK release would follow in January 1984), Madonna’s promotion of the track was gruelling: scores of lip-synching appearances on TV shows of the day, including American Bandstand, the UK’s Top Of The Pops and Discoring in Italy. As the single climbed the charts in Great Britain, she made a legendary appearance on The Tube, performing Holiday, Everybody and Burning Up at the Factory Records-owned Haçienda nightclub in Manchester, alongside backing dancers Erica Bell and her brother Christopher Ciccone, who would go on to be the art director on Madonna’s classic Blond Ambition Tour of 1990.