People notice Madonna. This would’ve been the case whether or not she ever got famous. There are tons of stories about people meeting Madonna before she ascended to stardom, and that’s because people have always remembered her. Some people radiate self-assurance so powerfully that they change the chemistry of the air whenever they walk into a room. That’s Madonna, and that’s how Madonna has always liked it. If someone does not notice Madonna, it’s a problem. That problem is the story of “Open Your Heart.”
The entire message of “Open Your Heart,” one of the best singles in a career full of great ones, is this: No. Fuck you. You will love me. The song’s narrator seems to be lost, spiraling, because this guy she likes can’t pull his head out of his ass long enough to notice that Madonna is right there, looking at him. That ignorance seems to be a source of great frustration for Madonna’s narrator. It also seems to be a turn-on. “I follow you around, but you can’t see! You’re too wrapped up in your-selllf to no-tiiiice!” This cannot stand.
It’s not that the poor chump in the song doesn’t like Madonna. It’s that he doesn’t even seem to realize he has any kind of a shot. Madonna realizes this: “I think that you’re afraid to look in my eyes/ You look a little sad, boy, I wonder why.” I’ve been this fucking guy so many times in my life, and maybe that’s why “Open Your Heart” strikes such a deep chord for me. “Open Your Heart” is a truly masterful pop song, a glittering example of what you can do with keyboards and congas and funky little guitar-ripples. But it’s also a beautiful image of a determined woman bulldozing her way through someone’s life-killing anxieties. “Don’t try to resist me,” Madonna sings. It’s a command.