On September 26 1988, Madonna began recording the Like A Prayer album in Los Angeles, California with collaborators Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray.
Madonna had begun writing for the album during down time of her Broadway run in David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow, for which she gave her final performance in late August. With her marriage to Sean Penn on the rocks, Madonna found herself at a personal and creative crossroads–with plenty to express.
On April 25 1988, Spotlight was released as a single by Warner-Pioneer. Issued exclusively in Japan, it was the only commercial single release from the remix album You Can Dance. The song was written by Curtis Hudson, Madonna and Stephen Bray and was produced by Stephen Bray. Madonna wasn’t given a co-producer’s credit on the track – odd considering it was a leftover from the True Blue album sessions, for which she co-produced every song. The track was remixed by John “Jellybean” Benitez for its inclusion on You Can Dance.
In a 2012 interview with blogcritics.com writer Justin Kantor, Curtis Hudson recalled the circumstances surrounding the creation and release of Spotlight:
“During the time right after Holiday, when we’d go to her place and write, I presented Spotlight. I gave her a complete song, Spotlight. I had actually written it in case Warner Bros. asked her for another Holiday. She said she loved it and felt spiritual about it. But she didn’t use it or contact me again about it. It sort of popped up out of nowhere when she was getting ready to do You Can Dance. Her lawyer contacted our manager and said we needed to talk. We went over and met with him. She and Stephen Bray had already done the song; but I hadn’t even heard the version they had done.They took the demo I had given her and worked it into a different song. They gave me credit since I had the original song copyrighted. I would’ve collaborated and made changes. But I was told, ‘Well, she’s too busy. She’s overseas doing a movie.’ I was okay with it, though, because they gave me credit. But the original song had a certain magic, and the changes took that essence away. The original Spotlight was another Holiday—the rhythm, the basic groove. I think they were trying to get away from that sound. Sometimes artists don’t want their sound to be identified with specific writers.”
On January 23 1988, Madonna’s You Can Dance remix album hit #14 (and peaked) on the Billboard 200 chart.
Here is Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s review (from AllMusic.com) of You Can Dance:
Released in 1987 as a stopgap, the remix album You Can Dance reworks material from Madonna’s first three albums. Actually, it keeps the spotlight on her first record, adding non-LP singles like “Into the Groove” for good measure, along with a bonus track of “Where’s the Party.” Since it’s a dance album, it doesn’t matter that “Holiday” and “Into the Groove” are here twice, once each in dub versions, because the essential grooves and music are quite different in each incarnation. It is true that some of this now sounds dated — these are quite clearly extended mixes from the mid-’80s — but that’s part of its charm, and it all holds together quite well. Not essential, but fun.
On January 20 1988, Madonna’s You Can Dance remix album was certified platinum in the USA for sales of 1,000,000 copies.
Patrick Leonard had this to say about working on the album:
“Remixing is a form of secondary creativity. Dance music elevates the DJ and the mixer to being almost on a level with the musician. In my opinion this is false. Manipulation of pre-recorded sound sources may be creative in a secondary sense, and may be valid in its own field, but it is pseudo musicianship. That’s why we tried to have a fresh approach to the songs for You Can Dance, as if we were developing and composing them for the first time.
On November 25 1988, Madonna signed a handwritten check to Simone Sable, for $129.05, signed “Madonna Ciccone.” The check was written for a wax. The cheque was number 1107 from Entertainment Industries Division of Mercantile National Bank.
I wonder if she was getting her eyebrows waxed? Madonna has sported some kick-ass out of control eyebrows over the years.
Here are some of our favourite eyebrow photos:
And here she is with almost no eyebrows: