Meaning of “Toy Soldiers” by Martika

“Toy Soldiers” is the title of a song performed by American singer and songwriter Martika. The lyrics of this song were written about a friend of Martika’s who was struggling intensely with drug addiction. Below are Martika’s exact words about the meaning of the track:

Martika talks about "Toy Soldiers"

In the song, Martika tries to warn her listeners of how dangerous drugs can be. In doing so, she lets us know that drugs can control a user in a similar fashion that kids control the toys that they play with.

Toy Soldiers lyrics

But what addiction was Martika’s friend suffering from? And did he/she ever get clean?

Martika’s friend was suffering from a serious addiction to cocaine. Fortunately for her friend, they ended up getting clean.

That being said, it’s noteworthy to mention that Martika has never revealed the identity of the person behind the song’s lyrics. While some claim it was one of her producers, others believe that the person might have been indeed none but Martika herself.

Facts about “Toy Soldiers”

  • “Toy Soldiers” was written by Martika alongside songwriter and producer Michael Jay (who also produced it).
  • In the United Kingdom, this track was released on 21 January, 1989. It was later released in May of that same year in the United States.
  •  “Toy Soldiers” was released as a single from Martika’s self-titled debut album (Martika).
  • When “Toy Soldiers” came out, many initially thought it was a break-up ballad. But like we all know today, the song is about the dangers of drug addiction.
  • “Toy Soldiers” reached number 1 in US Billboard Hot 100 (making it Martika’s first song to reach number 1 in the United States). In the UK, it reached number 5. To date, this is Martika’s biggest hit in the United States.
  • In 2004, American rapper made this song even more famous when he sampled it in his hit single also titled “Toy Soldiers”.

Was “Toy Soldiers” released as a single?

Yes. It was one of the four singles from Martika’s debut studio album.

Who sings the background vocals on “Toy Soldiers”?

At least 9 famous people sing the backing vocals on this track, including actress Jennifer Love Hewitt and singer/actress Fergie. The others are: Renee Sands, Kimberly McCullough, Devyn Puett, Marlen Landin, Alitzah Wiener and Rasha Patterson.

Did “Toy Soldiers” win a Grammy?

No. As a matter of fact, Martika is yet to win a Grammy.

24 Responses

  1. Street Kid says:

    Thank you very much! Is she still a live? If she’s, how old ?

  2. Marisa Ledesma says:

    I find it so cool that she used quite a few kids from Kids, Incorporated. Renee Sands, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Devyn Puett and Fergie. Renee Sands, Fergie, and Martika were in the original cast and Fergie was in the show for almost the entire run.

  3. PP says:

    I can’t help but feel that the literal explanation of this song (drug addiction battle) has overshadowed many important bits and pieces Martika threw into it maybe without realizing their importance. Because beyond the drug addiction, the lyrics allude to a number of things: the futility of many battles we wage in life (we never win), feelings of hopelessness and the fact that ultimately, “only emptiness remains” as a legacy for people as their lives come to an end.

    It is an absolutely stunning piece of songwriting for someone this young at the time, not even out of her teenage years yet.

    • NobbyHoldersMagicKitchenExplosion says:

      I think the “only emptiness remains” lyric refers to the emptiness that addicts feel when the conquer their addiction – a kind of false win – on the one hand you get rid of your addiction but on the other you re-discover the very reason you became addicted in the first place – a vacuous existence.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think the emptiness that remains is after the addict takes the drug and is emotionally anesthetized. The pain is replaced. But it is hard to live life when you cannot experience feelings. That was my personal experience with addiction. I haven’t used drugs in years. Recovery is possible. The battle waging on for “toy soldiers” might be how it seems in early recovery, going back and forth, the relapses, but through prerserverance, and with great moral support, I got clean. So anyone can.

      • Mike Tarquini says:

        That’s so damn true!

  4. Renee Maldonado says:

    whom ever the song is about thank God they were able to win over their addiction

  5. Sophie von Plomgren says:

    I think this song so accurately depicts how the population is nothing but a bunch of brain washed followers when caught in vulnerability and in the masses! Recipes for war!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I just heard this on the radio this morning. A beautifully crafted song by a talented sing. Today I really listened. We all have Demons to battle: Drugs, Loneliness, Aging , Breakups and Health. Thank you Martika.

  7. Margaret Hutchins says:

    Beautiful insight into pain, loneliness and addiction.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Never heard this message before or never looked but now I do bc resonates differently for me . It’s more of child of trauma wages on torn apart like soldiers yet we become better

  9. Robyne says:

    I think it’s a brilliant piece, written for even todays situation. Brilliance in itself.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Excellent song, haunting words & melody, it’s as relevant today as it was in 1989. I just heard it on the radio a few min. ago.

  11. Anonymous says:


  12. anonymous says:

    I have battled drug addiction my whole life and it has brought nothing but misery to me. As I write this through my tears, my brother has threatened to kick me out of the house. I have suffered through three heart attacks and congestive heart failure, I still am doing drugs. I don`t sleep or eat for days, hallucinate and my complexion is grayish in color. I`m trying hard to stay off the drugs, today is only day 4. I lost my mother and father recently and drugs was an escape from reality of feeling the pain, agony and grief . I`m so lonely. Please pray for me .

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your pain in your addiction I to know it all too well it’s a vicious cycle and I’m praying to God that he will give you the strength to make it through this

    • MMC says:

      No one can do it for you. Only you can do it for yourself. You CAN do it and I am rooting for you.

    • Anonymous says:

      I get it. I am currently (still) im my heroin addiction which ive struggled w for goin on 20 years. And ive been asked to get out and stax away because im an addict and all that entails….it sucks and its scary. For me….drugs was how i coped and numbed all the bad stuff. But what ive learned is how even with being sober the trauma will nevrr leave. Even after therapy and meds and etc etc….we can only find ways to deal with it. I beleive that trauma is a gateway drug and it like the addiction cant be cured

    • Bosko says:

      Please, please, please, please write to me! I went through the same and survived to tell, please write to me on, I am giving away my E-mail publicly, please make the spam I now will most certainly receive worthwhile. Reach out to me, God is good, you WILL find the light, comfort and save yourself! God loves you even if you don’t!!!

    • Mike Tarquini says:

      I pray for you ! I know the feeling. I’m clean now. But understand

  13. Anonymous says:

    great concert at popular creek with rick. mom is also a nice person. also a shout out to micheal j. alan s from chicago

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