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A blond woman wearing a black pant and top, with a crucifix around her neck. Her blond hair is unkempt and a part of it is tied at the top of her head. She also wears black gloves on her hands. Beside the image, the words "Madonna" and "GAMBLER" are written in slant, with the first being in pink color, the latter in red.
Single by Madonna
from the album Vision Quest
Released October 3, 1985
Format 7", 12", CD single
Recorded 1984
Genre Pop
Length 3:55
Label Geffen, Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Madonna
Producer John "Jellybean" Benitez
Madonna singles chronology
"Dress You Up"
"Live to Tell"

"Gambler" is a song by American recording artist Madonna. It was the second single released from the soundtrack album of the motion picture Vision Quest, and was released on October 3, 1985, by Geffen Records. Remaining as the only self-written single by Madonna, "Gambler" was produced by John "Jellybean" Benitez at Madonna's request. It was later included in the soundtrack of the film. "Gambler" was never released in the United States, at the request of Madonna's own Sire Records. The music video of the song is an excerpt from the film itself.

Musically, "Gambler" is an upbeat synth-disco song, featuring instrumentation from drums, electronic handclaps and percussion, which is accompanied by a bass synths and keyboards. The lyrics talk about Madonna asserting her self-independence. Critics gave a mixed review of the song, but it was commercially successful, reaching the top-ten in the charts of Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. Madonna has performed the song only once, on her 1985 The Virgin Tour.



After the recording of "Crazy for You", the soundtrack single for the 1985 coming of age drama Vision Quest, Madonna approached John "Jellybean" Benitez to produce another of her self-written songs called "Gambler".[1] Subsequently, the song was added to the soundtrack of the film, as music producer Phil Ramone felt that it would be appropriate for using in the beginning shots of the flim.[1] As the song was recorded on the Geffen label, a commercial issue of the single, in the United States was suppressed, at the request of Madonna's Sire Records management. They feared that commercial availability of another Madonna single would have been detrimental to the other singles from the Like a Virgin album, and the already available, Geffen-distributed, "Crazy for You". Hence "Gambler" was never released, or send for airplay in the United States.[1] The UK 12" single, contained the Extended Dance Mix, Instrumental Remix, and the song "Nature of the Beach" by Black 'n Blue. The 7" single had the original version, and "Nature of the Beach".[2] The video for "Gambler" is similar to "Crazy for You", with Madonna singing the song along with clips culled from Vision Quest. Madonna filmed her performance on November 22, 1983, at the Big Foot Tavern in Spokane, Washington.[3] To date, "Gambler" remains the last self-written Madonna single.[4]


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Musically, "Gambler" is an upbeat synth-disco song, composed in the style of the songs in Madonna's self-titled debut album. The song features instrumentation from drums, electronic handclaps and percussion, which is accompanied by a bass synths and keyboards.[2] The song stars with an initial four-chord chorus, and a brief three-chord verse, eventually reaching a middle eight, where Madonna's voice is in echoes.[2] Near the end, the coda of the song uses a new musical sequence, with some whistling, and the line "You can't stop me now" ending echoes.[2] According to the sheet music published at by Alfred Publishing, the song is set in the time signature of common time, with a tempo of 100 beats per minute. Madonna's vocal range spans from Bb3 to E5. "Gambler" is composed in the key of E major and has a basic sequence of D–G–D–G–D–G–A as its chord progression.[5] The lyrics have Madonna asserting her independence, and daredevil attitude towards life to a lover, who, according to her, would not be able to understand or put up with her speed.[2]

Critical response

Rikky Rooksby, author of The Complete Guide to the Music of Madonna, compared the song to the music of the band Blondie, and said: "The rapid movement through the various sections, can't save the song from being fairly ordinary, but it passes quick enough. Bit like 24-hour flu, really."[2] Alex Henderson from Allmusic called the song "an ultra-infectious gem that, unfortunately, isn't on any of the Material Girl's [Madonna's] CDs" and felt that "'Gambler' is one of those songs that should have been a major hit but wasn't, whereas 'Crazy for You' soared to the top of the pop charts."[6] Alfred Soto of Stylus Magazine, described "Gambler" as a "disco-punk, Flashdance edition" and called it "the most aggressive track of Madonna's career." Soto added, "'Gambler' is the only possible response to a slow dance in which you were left as unfulfilled as you were five minutes earlier. It deserves immortality beside 'Into The Groove' [...] The music is keyed to her vocals—insistent, strident, hip-thrusting; she slurs the line "You're just jealous 'cuz you can't be me" like it's a shot of Rumplemints; meanwhile Animotion synths blow up her skirt.[4] Robert Christgau gave a mixed review of the song.[7] R. Serge Denisoff and William D. Romanowski, authors of Risky business: rock in film, felt that the song seemed "jammed into the movie with a plunger and little thought to appropriateness."[8] The Motion Picture Guide of 1986, included the song as one of the stand-out tracks from the soundtrack.[9]

Chart performance

"Gambler" was released in October 1985 in the United Kingdom, and debuted at position twenty on the UK Singles Chart.[10] After two weeks, it peaked at four on the chart, and was present for fourteen weeks on the chart.[11][12] The song was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 200,000 copies of the single.[13] In Australia, the song debuted on the Kent Music Report chart at fourteen, and reached a peak of ten.[14][15] In Germany, the song debuted at thirty-nine on the Media Control Charts, and reached a peak of twenty-five after five weeks, being present on the chart for twelve weeks.[16] Across Europe, the song reached the top-ten of the charts in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and Norway.[17][18][19][20] It peaked at twelve in Japan, twenty-three in Switzeland and forty-five in New Zealand.[21][20]

Live performance

Madonna has only performed this song live once, on her 1985 The Virgin Tour. It was the first song, of the second act of the show. Madonna wore a black, fringed micro-top and similar skirt, with her tummy-button exposed, and a number of crucifixes in different sizes, hanging from different parts of her body.[22] As the guitar intro of the song started, Madonna appeared on the side-stage and started dancing energetically, while flashlights fell on her. While singing the song, she sometimes opened her jacket and sometimes straddled the steel structure present on the stage. The performance ended with Madonna jumping off the side stage, onto the main stage.[22] It was included on the video release, titled Live – The Virgin Tour, which was shot in Detroit.[23]

Track listing and formats

  1. "Gambler" – 3:54
  2. "Nature of the Beach" (Black 'n Blue) – 3:45
  1. "Gambler" (Extended Dance Mix) – 5:34
  2. "Gambler" (Instrumental Remix) – 3:55
  3. "Nature of the Beach" (Black 'n Blue) – 3:45

Credits and personnel


Chart (1985/1986) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[15][24] 10
Belgian VRT Top 30[17] 10
Dutch Top 40[20] 7
German Singles Chart[16] 25
Irish Singles Chart[18] 3
Italian Singles Chart[19] 8
Japanese International Singles Chart[21] 12
Norwegian Singles Chart[20] 9
New Zealand Singles Chart[20] 45
Swiss Singles Chart[20] 23
UK Singles Chart[11] 4


  1. ^ a b c Fouz-Hernández & Jarman-Ivens 2004, p. 78
  2. ^ a b c d e f Rooksby 2004, p. 67
  3. ^ Metz & Benson 1999, p. 200
  4. ^ a b Soto, Alfred (2007-10-23). "Madonna – Like a Virgin / The Immaculate Collection". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  5. ^ "Digital sheet music – Madonna – Gambler". Alfred Publishing. 
  6. ^ Henderson, Alex (1985-09-08). "allmusic ((( Vision Quest [Original Soundtrack] > Overview )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (1985-10-09). "Playboy Music: Vision Quest (Geffen)". Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  8. ^ Denisoff & Romanowski 1991, p. 483
  9. ^ Nash & Ross 1987, p. 207
  10. ^ "Chart Stats – Singles Chart For 12/10/1985". The Official Charts Company. 1985-10-12. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  11. ^ a b "Chart Stats – Singles Chart For 26/10/1985". The Official Charts Company. 1985-10-26. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  12. ^ "Chartstats – Madonna – Gambler". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  13. ^ "BPI Certified Awards - Search". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  14. ^ "Australian Kent Music Report". Billboard (New York: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (41). 1985-10-12. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  15. ^ a b "Australian Kent Music Report". Billboard (New York: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 97 (43). 1985-11-02. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  16. ^ a b "Chartverfolgung – Madonna – Gambler" (in German). Media Control Charts. 1985-12-02. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  17. ^ a b "Madonna – Gambler – Song details" (in Dutch). VRT Top 30. 1985-11-16. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 
  18. ^ a b "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. 1985-09-05. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  19. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Search for 'M'" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. 1967-2010. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h "Madonna – Gambler (Chanson)". Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. 1985. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  21. ^ a b "ライク・ア・ヴァージ Japanese Singles Chart" (in Japanese). Oricon. 1985-11-08. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  22. ^ a b Clerk 2002, p. 49
  23. ^ Madonna. (1985) (VHS). Live – The Virgin Tour. Warner Home Video. 
  24. ^ Kent, David (1993) (doc). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 


  • Clerk, Carol (2002), Madonnastyle, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0711988749 
  • Denisoff, R. Serge; Romanowski, William D. (1991), Risky business: rock in film, Transaction Publishers, ISBN 0887388434 
  • Fouz-Hernández, Santiago; Jarman-Ivens, Freya (2004), Madonna's Drowned Worlds, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., ISBN 0754633721 
  • Metz, Allen; Benson, Carol (1999), The Madonna Companion: Two Decades of Commentary, Music Sales Group, ISBN 0825671949 
  • Nash, Jay Robert; Ross, Stanley Ralph (1991), The Motion Picture Guide 1986 Annual: The Films of 1985, University of Virginia, ISBN 0933997140 
  • Rooksby, Rikky (2004), The Complete Guide to the Music of Madonna, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-9883-3 

External links

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