Ah, “Material Girl” – the famous Madonna tune that we all know and love. It was released way back in 1985 on her second album, Like a Virgin. The song, written by Peter Brown and Robert Rans and produced by Nile Rodgers, is all about Madge’s desire for a rich and lavish lifestyle. She sings about only wanting to date men who can provide that for her, and let’s face it – who doesn’t love a bit of luxury?
The lyrics are accompanied by synth arrangements and a robotic-sounding voice chant that will have you singing along in no time. It’s no surprise that this track was a commercial success, reaching the top-five in several countries, including the US.
Over the years, “Material Girl” has become a staple in Madonna’s live shows, and it has been covered by several other artists, including Britney Spears and the Duff sisters. While many have labeled the song as an empowering influence for women, Madonna has expressed regret for recording it because its title became a nickname for her in the media.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the lyrics of “Material Girl” and analyze the meaning behind them.
Before we delve into the story behind this song, let’s take a closer look at each verse of the lyrics.
Verse 1: The Allure of Money and Status
“Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me
I think they’re OK
If they don’t give me proper credit, I just walk away
They can beg and they can plead
But they can’t see the light, that’s right
‘Cause the boy with the cold hard cash is always Mister Right”
The opening verse of “Material Girl” introduces us to the central theme of the song: the importance placed on material wealth and the role it plays in relationships. Madonna portrays a character who is only interested in men who have money, as she believes they are the only ones worth her time.
The lyrics suggest that the singer values the material aspects of life over love, romance, and other emotional connections. The phrase “proper credit” can be interpreted as not only monetary value but also the recognition and appreciation the singer expects in return for her attention.
Chorus: Embracing the Material World
“‘Cause we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl”
The chorus is a bold declaration of the singer’s identity as a “material girl,” someone who unabashedly values material possessions and the lifestyle they represent. Madonna acknowledges the world we live in as a “material world,” where status and wealth are often prioritized over emotional connections and personal growth. This repeated affirmation serves as a reminder of the pervasive influence of consumerism and materialism on society.
Verse 2: The Importance of Financial Security
“Some boys romance, some boys slow dance
That’s all right with me
If they can’t raise my interest, then I have to let them be
Some boys try, and some boys lie
But I don’t let them play, no way
Only boys that save their pennies make my rainy day”
In this verse, Madonna further explores the idea of prioritizing financial stability in a relationship. While she acknowledges the importance of romance and emotional connection, her focus remains on the material aspects of a relationship.
The lyrics suggest that the singer is not easily swayed by false promises or deceitful intentions. Instead, she values financial security and is drawn to those who can provide it. The phrase “make my rainy day” can be interpreted as ensuring financial stability in times of need, further emphasizing the importance of material wealth in the singer’s life.
Bridge: Rich in Experience
“Boys may come, and boys may go
And that’s all right, you see
Experience has made me rich, and now they’re after me”
The bridge shifts the focus from the singer’s materialistic pursuits to her personal growth and experiences. She claims that her experiences have made her “rich,” suggesting that her life has been enriched not only by material possessions but also by the knowledge and wisdom gained from her relationships. This newfound richness has made her more attractive to potential suitors, who now pursue her with greater enthusiasm.
Outro: A World Obsessed with Materialism
“Living in a material world (material)
Living in a material world
Living in a material world (material)
Living in a material world”
The outro serves as a final reminder of the world’s obsession with materialism. By repeating the phrase “living in a material world,” Madonna emphasizes the pervasiveness of consumer culture and the pressure to conform to its values.
True Meaning Behind “Material Girl”
Madonna’s hit song “Material Girl” was released in 1985 and quickly became a classic. Despite not having a hand in writing or creating the song, Madonna has shared her thoughts on the lyrical meaning and concept in multiple interviews over the years.
In a 1986 interview with Company magazine, Madonna explained that although she’s not a materialistic person, she was drawn to men who have material things because of the security it provided. She stated, “You are attracted to men who have material things because that’s what pays the rents and buys you furs. That’s the security. That lasts longer than emotions.”
In the song, Madonna proudly declares herself as a “material girl” who won’t settle for anything less than luxury. She sings that she needs a man who can provide her with the finer things in life, and she’s not afraid to show it.
During a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, Madonna was asked about her initial thoughts on the demos for “Material Girl” and “Like a Virgin.” Madonna responded by stating that she liked both songs because they were ironic and provocative, even though they were unlike her. She found the play on words clever and described the songs as “geeky, cool.”
It’s clear that although Madonna didn’t write “Material Girl,” she has a unique perspective on its meaning and relevance to her own life.
Interestingly, academics have analyzed the term “material” as odd, but Madonna and the songwriter used it to avoid problems with the song’s structure.
Originally, the song’s meaning was about a tangible and accessible girl, but it soon took on a broader meaning and became synonymous with independent women. The impact of “material girl” was no longer limited to the music video and influenced various groups.
In fact, a conference at the University of California even pondered Madonna’s feminism and whether she was a feminist icon or just a “material girl.” However, as New Age spirituality became popular in the late 1990s, Madonna tried to shed the “material girl” label and embarked on a spiritual journey.
All in all, Madonna’s “Material Girl” song continues to be a significant part of her legacy, but the label has also been a double-edged sword for her. While the song brought her success and recognition, it also gave her a nickname that has stayed with her throughout her career.
The legendary “Material Girl” music video was directed by Mary Lambert and inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” performance. In the video, Madonna shows off her acting skills and offers a commentary on the song’s lyrics and her own image.
The video features Keith Carradine as Madonna’s wealthy love interest, and it’s said that she met Sean Penn on set, who she ended up marrying just eight months later. Madonna pays homage to Monroe with her use of gloves and fans, but she also creates her own unique identity as a feminist post-modern icon.
Fun fact: the “Material Girl” video was nominated for Best Female Video at the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards and has amassed over 100 million views on YouTube. It’s safe to say that this video will forever be an essential part of Madonna’s legacy.
In conclusion, “Material Girl” is a commentary on the importance placed on material wealth and the role it plays in relationships and society as a whole.
While the lyrics may initially seem to celebrate a superficial lifestyle, the song can also be interpreted as a critique of the societal norms that prioritize material possessions over emotional connections and personal growth.
The catchy tune and provocative lyrics serve as a reminder of the ever-present influence of consumerism and materialism in our lives. By acknowledging and embracing her identity as a “material girl,” Madonna invites us to reflect on the values we hold and the choices we make in our pursuit of happiness and fulfillment.