Should Have Been Bigger: Madonna’s “Ghosttown” Deserved More
In this franchise, we look back on songs that deserved a little more love and attention.
The odds were against Madonna during the Rebel Heart era. The Queen of Pop was plagued by a series of leaks in the lead-up to her 13th album. Despite taking measures to mitigate the effects of having material online months ahead of schedule, the damage was already done. Which is a shame because the music deserved so much more. We’ve already said lead single “Living For Love” should have topped the Billboard Hot 100 for weeks on end. And there were no shortage of hidden gems left to linger on the tracklist. A personal favorite of those being “Hold Tight.” Today I’d like to turn your attention to the LP’s second underrated single “Ghosttown.”
After the electrifying pop beats of “Living For Love,” Madonna switched things up for the album’s follow-up. An apocalyptic love song, “Ghosttown” is a steadily unfurling ballad with a powerful message of resilience. On it she paints unfathomable images of destruction but refuses to lose hope for her and a partner. “When it all falls, when it all falls down, I’ll be your fire when the lights go out. When there’s no one, no one else around, we’ll be two souls in a ghost town,” the living legend vows. “This world has turned to dust. All we’ve got left is love. Might as well start with us. Singing a new song, something to build on.”
Madonna brought the single to life courtesy of a video directed by Jonas Åkerlund. Featuring a cameo from Terrence Howard and a delightfully witchy look (perfect for a post-apocalyptic wasteland), it was a cinematic blockbuster worthy of the gorgeous anthem. However, the stars did not align for “Ghosttown.” Despite receiving rave reviews as one of the highlights on Rebel Heart, it failed to pick up on the charts. In fact, it didn’t even make a dent on the Billboard Hot 100. Talk about a supreme lack of taste. Revisit the should-be hit below and weigh in on what you think went wrong.