Big announcement last night that Madonna has “turned over her entire catalog” to the show “Glee” for covering.
Okay, that’s nice. Only one thing. Madonna didn’t write all her songs. The “entire catalog” does not include “Like a Virgin,” “Dress You Up,” “Borderline,” “Holiday,” or “Material’ Girl,” for example.
Most of the others that “Glee” would want to cover were “co-written” by Madonna with either Patrick Leonard, Steven Bray’or William Orbit. “Ray of Light.” for example, was, ahem, sampled from a song by Christine Leach and two partners, then “reworked” by Madonna and her composer at the time, William Orbit.”Celebration,” her latest release, comes from Paul Oakenfold’s catalog with two other writers and Madonna tagged on. “Justify My Love” is a Lenny Kravitz song. “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” was written for the group Rose Royce by Miles Gregory in 1978. There’s still some question about who wrote “Lucky Star.” And so on.
Madonna operates like a lot of today’s singers. When she’s ready to make an album, a call goes out to songwriters and producers to send in their best stuff. Madonna sifts through it with a producer, picks out what she likes, and then adds her own sensibility ‘ and her byline ‘ to it. Really, the only top singer of this generation who doesn’t do that is Whitney Houston. If she had done that from the start, she’d be a lot wealthier now.
So it’s lovely that Madonna is bestowing her songs on “Glee,” but in reality, they are not just her songs, they belong to lots of other people. And in some cases, they aren’t her songs at all.
Don’t get me wrong: Madonna is a spectacular, hard working performer and a force of nature. She’s a fashion icon and she knows how to cause a commotion. So let’s give the credit where it’s due, but let’s not pretend she’s Lennon and McCartney. “Glee” will be gleeful for a lot of songwriters if they use Madonna’s hits in the show.