Right On Track

Album: The Breakfast Club (1987)
Charted: 54 7
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Songfacts®:

  • "Right On Track" is a song that is surrounded by surprising facts. Breakfast Club was a new wave band formed in Manhattan, New York, in the late 1970s. They consisted of the brothers Dan and Ed Gilroy on vocals and guitar, Gary Burke on bass, Paul Kauk on keyboard, and Stephen Bray on drums.

    Surprise #1: This was their only charting hit.

    Surprise #2: This was their only album. This is probably why today when you say "Breakfast Club," everybody thinks of the 1985 John Hughes film.

    Surprise #3: Madonna used to play drums and guitar for them. Yes, we mean that Madonna! Bet you didn't even know she could carry a beat! Many fans forget that she was in Breakfast Club and then a band called Emmy & The Emmys before releasing her debut solo album in 1983. Stephen Bray was also her bandmate in Emmy & The Emmys.

    Surprise #4: Many of their music videos, including the one for "Right On Track," were directed by Jeff Stein, who also directed the Who documentary The Kids Are Alright.

    Surprise #5: Dan Gilroy (not to be confused with the screenwriter) also went on to an acting career, playing parts in children's shows such as 1990's Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme and the 1990s TV series Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Both of these projects involved Jean Stapleton and Shelly Duvall.
  • Written by band members Stephen Bray and Dan Gilroy, this song is an intriguing one lyrically, as it's unclear if the dance club is a metaphor or a literal place. Gilroy sings about his attempts to sidle up next to a girl in the club, but despite his very best dancing, she won't acknowledge him. He doesn't get that she's not interested, and keeps trying different moves to no avail. He's definitely delusional, but we're not sure if the club is real or imaginary.
  • The big-voiced soul singer Jocelyn Brown does backing vocals on this track. She can also be heard on the Snap! hit "The Power," where she is sampled for the "I've got the power" line.
  • Jimmy Iovine produced this track. Around this time he was working with some pretty big names, including Bruce Springsteen, U2 and the Pretenders.
  • The Breakfast Club got their name because they would stay up all night rehearsing, then head to a local diner for breakfast. That was in 1979-'80, however, when Madonna was still involved with the group. Around this time, she showed tremendous dedication to both music and fitness, running a three-mile loop with Gilroy most days and practicing drums for hours on end. She parted ways with the group because they wouldn't let her front it. According to a widely circulated but possibly apocryphal story, Gilroy once yelled at her: "You're all naked ambition and no talent!," a line she would later echo with her Blonde Ambition persona.
  • When this song was released, Madonna was red hot, and even though she wasn't in the band, MCA records saw a huge marketing opportunity and backed the group with a huge campaign. To promote the album, they sent it to radio stations and tastemakers in cereal boxes along with VHS copies of the song's music video. By the time the song and album were released, however, the group was already dissolving and they got little attention. The follow-up single, "Kiss And Tell," stalled at #48 US.
  • The music video was a major production, complete with backup singer dressed like chickens and an appearance by game show host Wink Martindale. The director, Jeff Stein, specialized in these big-budget, outrageous affairs. Other videos he directed include "You Might Think" for The Cars and "Family Man" for Hall & Oates.

Comments: 2

  • Jackie from VaStephen Bray was not Madonna's boyfriend. They never dated. At the time of Madonna's departure she was dating Dan Gilroy. Dan and Madonna dated for 18 months. They broke up after she left the band. But Stephen did go on to work with her but they were only friends.
  • John from Ames, IaDid know about the Madonna connection to the band, but did not know some of the other facts discussed here, including Jeff Stein directing the video and Jimmy Iovene producing...or Jocelyn Brown on backup vocals. The backup singers in the video dressed in the chicken costumes deserve major kudos for that. The video breaks the cheese-o-meter, but have always loved this track! Too bad the band wasn't able to stick together long enough after to see what else they could do. However, I've seen a video of a live performance of this song and it's pretty sad. Gilroy jumps all over the stage and is soon so out of breath he can barely sing, let along carry the tune.
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