Holiday

Album: Madonna (1983)
Charted: 2 16

Songfacts®:

  • This buoyant musical celebration was Madonna's first hit. Released on her first album, it's one of her favorites, and the song she has performed most often in concert.

    In America, it was her third single, following "Everybody" and "Burning Up."

    "Everybody," released ahead of the album, bubbled under on the Hot 100 at #107 on January 22, 1983. Over the next year, Madonna slowly gained momentum, thanks in large part to club play and MTV exposure. "Burning Up" didn't chart, but "Holiday" hit its peak of #16 on January 28, 1984, setting the stage for her unprecedented chart domination.
  • This was written by Curtis Hudson and Lisa Stevens, who were members of Pure Energy, a dance/pop group from East Orange, New Jersey. Stevens came up with the chords on a keyboard, then a few days later, Hudson added the bassline and the "Holiday... Celebrate" part. They fleshed out the song and recorded a demo with Stevens singing.

    They shopped the song around but couldn't find any takers - Mary Wilson of The Supremes is among those who turned it down. Then their friend John "Jellybean" Benitez, a club DJ they had worked with, asked if they had anything for a new artist he was producing on the Warner Bros. label who needed one more song for her album. They gave him "Holiday," and Benitez produced it for Madonna, sticking close to the original demo. Benitez, who was dating Madonna at the time, became a top producer known for his dance remixes.
  • A very basic video was made for this song showing Madonna dancing to it, flanked by her brother, Christopher Ciccone, and friend, Erika Belle. It didn't have enough production value for MTV, but Madonna's next two videos - "Lucky Star" and "Borderline" - were huge hits on the network.
  • In the UK, this was released after "Everybody" and "Lucky Star," and after Madonna performed it on the TV show Top Of The Pops, it became her first charting single in Britain, going to #14 in February 1984. With newfound momentum, "Lucky Star" was re-released and became her second hit, going to #14 in April.

    In 1985 "Holiday" was re-released in the UK, this time going all the way to #2, kept out of the top spot by her song "Into The Groove."

    In 1991 "Holiday" was released for the third time in the UK, this time reaching #5.
  • Madonna performed this regularly in her concerts until the 2006 Confessions tour, but then she put it back in for her 2008 Sticky & Sweet tour.
  • Fred Zarr, who also worked with Sheena Easton and Jody Watley, is credited on this track for drums, piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Moog Bass and Oberheim OB-Xa synthesizer. Raymond Hudson added bass, Bashiri Johnson contributed percussion, and the song's co-writer Curtis Hudson added guitar.
  • Two different "Jellybean" Benitez mixes of "Holiday" are included on the 1987 You Can Dance album.
  • The song's writers, Curtis Hudson and Lisa Stevens, also wrote the song "Spotlight," which was released in 1987 on Madonna's 1987 You Can Dance album. "Holiday" remains their mealticket. "The song still generates money," Hudson told Blogcritics in 2015. "If we did nothing else, the royalties from 'Holiday' could support us."
  • In 1986 the Dutch duo MC Miker G & DJ Sven reworked this for a song called "Holiday Rap," which was in turn sampled in 2000 by the Australian electronic music group The Avalanches for their track "Stay Another Season." It's likely that Miker and Sven never got the rights (standard procedure in 1986), but The Avalanches had to clear it. According to EMI, it was the first time Madonna OK'd a sample of one of her songs.
  • This is cute: In the original liner notes, Madonna is credited for playing "cowbelle" on this track.
  • The cast of Will & Grace revamped this song as "He's Hot," which includes samples of Madonna's vocals, for the sitcom's soundtrack in 2004. "Holiday" was also featured in the 2001 Thanksgiving episode, "Moveable Feast."
  • Jessica Simpson was accused of being a rip-off artist when she released the similar-sounding "A Public Affair," which samples the "Holiday" melody. She told MTV in 2006: "I think people are ready to hear something that Madonna used to do. We all need to hear that every now and again. It wasn't a sample or something I meant to do, but she did influence me and still does today."
  • This song was featured in the 2005 comedy Cheaper by the Dozen 2, starring Steve Martin. It also shows up in these films:

    The Wedding Singer (1998)
    Rugrats Go Wild (2003)
    Office Christmas Party (2016)

    And these TV shows:

    Queer as Folk ("Episode #1.2" - 1999)
    Grey's Anatomy ("Go It Alone" - 2014)

Comments: 13

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 14th 1984, Madonna performed "Holiday" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #25 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and eight days later on January 22nd, 1984 it would peak at #16 for two weeks}...
    Four months earlier on September 18th, 1983 it reached #1 {for 5 weeks} on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play* chart...
    * It was the first of her record-setting forty-three #1s on the Hot Dance Club Play chart.
  • Leo from Westminster 1, MdHoliday is a brilliant save-the-world anthem of someone-Madonna is her name-who cries "Let's all make our lives better and have Peace and Love!" Easily the most enduring of her First/Virgin early Zohar/Kabbalah hits. After Holiday, Michigan was never again the same!
  • Kevin from Mobile, AlThis song is part the soundtrack of my childhood. I grew up in the projects, but during that time you could hear songs like this one on Black radio stations.
  • Jeff from Long Island, NyThis is in my opinion the best of Madonna's early dance pop. The jazzy piano solo in the outro by Fred Zarr definitely made it stand out compared to other songs of the type (and time).
  • Jason from Tampa, FlWednesday, 19 January 2005

    Legendary pop singer Madonna is reportedly suing R&B songstress Mary J. Blige, Aftermath producer Dr. Dre and rapper Eve for copyright infringement.

    A publishing company claims that Blige's recent song "Not Today," featuring Eve and produced by Dre, too closely resembles Madonna's classic 1983 hit "Holiday."

    According to court documents, the company alleges that parts of "Not Today," which was featured in the film "Barbershop 2" starring Eve and Ice Cube, includes several obvious instances of reproduction. Legendary pop singer Madonna is reportedly suing R&B songstress Mary J. Blige, Aftermath producer Dr. Dre and rapper Eve for copyright infringement.

    A publishing company claims that Blige's recent song "Not Today," featuring Eve and produced by Dre, too closely resembles Madonna's classic 1983 hit "Holiday."

    According to court documents, the company alleges that parts of "Not Today," which was featured in the film "Barbershop 2" starring Eve and Ice Cube, includes several obvious instances of reproduction.

    New York musicologist Judith Finell, an expert witness on copyright infringement, compared the two songs and concluded that "Not Today" is similar enough to "Holiday" and warrants further investigation.

    "Both the pitches and the rhythms sound closely related," Finell told the Associated Press. "I don't think they're identical, because Madonna's song is in what we call 'major key' and Mary J Blige's song is in a �minor key.�"

    The publishers of Madonna's song could receive at least $15 million if the case goes to trial and jurors determine that "Not Today" sounds notably similar to "Holiday."
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnVery much a disco song, still holds up today.
  • Soutiman from Mumbai, IndiaThe Holiday Rap was very very good actually and more danceable than Madonna's Holiday
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesXavier: I loved the rap version by MC Miker G and Deejay Sven - absolutely hilarious! Using exactly the same music but with radically altered lyrics, "Holiday Rap" was an unlikely No.2 hit in the UK in September 1986 and became a huge hit all over Europe. Don't think Madonna herself was that impressed with it though...
  • Jake from San Mateo, CaShe performed "Holiday" on Solid Gold when it popular then at the time...
  • Marto from Sydney, AustraliaMadonna performed this during live aid
  • Xavier from Noisy Le Sec, FranceA rap version by MC Miker G and Deejay Sven was an European hit in 1986, topping the charts in France, Germany, Italy Netherlands and Switzerland.
  • Connor from Woodbridge, VaA commercail plays this song, sang my madonna, to get peopel to come to their beach resort. Madonna still makes money off this song
  • Ross from Brisbane, AustraliaThis song has charted in the UK on 3 seperate occasions, reaching number 6 in 1984, number 2 in 1985 and number 5 in 1991.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss): A History Of Abuse PopSong Writing

Songs that seem to glorify violence against women are often misinterpreted - but not always.

Neal Smith - "I'm Eighteen"They're Playing My Song

With the band in danger of being dropped from their label, Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith co-wrote the song that started their trek from horror show curiosity to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Ben Kowalewicz of Billy TalentSongwriter Interviews

The frontman for one of Canada's most well-known punk rock bands talks about his Eddie Vedder encounter, Billy Talent's new album, and the importance of rock and roll.

Jethro TullFact or Fiction

Stage urinals, flute devices, and the real Aqualung in this Fact or Fiction.

Evolution Of The Prince SymbolSong Writing

The evolution of the symbol that was Prince's name from 1993-2000.

Colin HaySongwriter Interviews

Established as a redoubtable singer-songwriter, the Men At Work frontman explains how religion, sobriety and Jack Nicholson play into his songwriting.