Today in Madonna History: August 26, 2001

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On August 26 2001, Madonna Live! Drowned World Tour 2001 was broadcast live on HBO and The Movie Network in Canada from The Palace Of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI. It was seen by 5.7 million viewers – the network’s third highest rated prime-time concert special since 1997.

The broadcast marked the second time Madonna had selected her hometown as a location to record one of her shows, the first being The Virgin Tour home video/laserdisc release, filmed in 1985 at Cobo Arena in Detroit.

With the Drowned World Tour itinerary not including any dates in Canada, many Canadian fans who purchased tickets for one of the two shows in Detroit were pleasantly surprised when it was announced that the second show would be broadcast live in both countries. Madonna’s previous HBO specials for the Blond Ambition and Girlie Show tours did not receive a live broadcast in Canada, although the latter did air on MuchMusic at a later date.

Today in Madonna History: August 25, 1987

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On August 25 1987,  “Causing a Commotion” was released as the second single from the soundtrack album “Who’s That Girl“, by Sire Records. “Causing a Commotion” was written and produced by Madonna and Stephen Bray, the song was inspired by Madonna’s relationship with then husband Sean Penn, and his abusive and violent nature.

Today in Madonna History: August 24, 1998

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On August 24 1998, “Drowned World/Substitute For Love” was released as the third single from Ray Of Light in most major markets outside North America. The song was written by Madonna, William Orbit and David Collins (Rod McKuen and Anita Kerr were also credited for sampled use of their composition “Why I Follow The Tigers” performed by The San Sebastian Strings) and was produced by Madonna and Orbit.

With the album’s title track being issued as the second single in North America a month after its release in other markets, it was decided to release “Drowned World/Substitute For Love” to fill the gap until her next international single release, “The Power Of Good-bye.” The single peaked at number-ten in the UK, at number-five in Italy and at number-one in Spain. Despite not being released in Canada, the song managed to reach number eighteen on the Canadian singles chart based solely on sales of the European import single, and without any promotion from radio or music video stations. Club play of the imported single, which featured remixes of both “Drowned World/Substitute For Love” and its b-side, “Sky Fits Heaven,” prompted a brief appearance by the latter on the U.S. Hot Dance/Club Play Chart, peaking at number forty-one.

The music video, filmed in London by director Walter Stern, caused a minor controversy due to scenes of Madonna’s car being chased by paparazzi on motorcycles, an image still fresh in the public’s mind at the time due the circumstances surrounding the death of Princess Diana. Liz Rosenberg denied that the scene had anything to do with the late Princess, adding that the video was about Madonna’s own experience and relationship with fame.

The song is often ranked as a fan favorite and seems to be highly-regarded by Madonna as well, considering her 2001 concert tour was named after the song and it was used as the show’s opening number. It was also performed during 2006’s Confessions Tour and appeared on her second greatest hits collection, GHV2. An early demo version of the song believed to be produced with Patrick Leonard titled “No Substitute For Love” leaked online in the early 2000’s. The demo contains similar lyrics but a completely different musical backing track and melody. The music that was used on the final version of the song was a previously composed instrumental track by William Orbit.

Famous faces, far off places
Trinkets I can buy
No handsome stranger, heady danger
Drug that I can try
No ferris wheel, no heart to steal
No laughter in the dark
No one-night stand, no far-off land
No fire that I can spark

Today in Madonna History: August 22, 1987

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On August 22 1987, Madonna’s “Who’s That Girl” single (from the soundtrack album of the same name) went to number-one on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Regarding the development of the music for the film, Madonna explained:

 “I had some very specific ideas in mind, music that would stand on its own as well as support and enhance what was happening on screen and the only way to make that a reality was to have a hand in writing the tunes myself.  The songs aren’t necessarily about Nikki [her character name in the movie] or written to be sung by someone like her, but there’s a spirit to this music that captures both what the film and the characters are about, I think.”

Today in Madonna History: August 21, 2000

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 “Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on, I want to dance with my baby.”

On August 21 2000, Madonna’s “Music” single was released.  “Music” was the lead single from her eighth studio album of the same name.  It was written and produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï.

Music” peaked number one in 22 other countries, including Australia, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.  The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. “Music” was the longest running number-one single on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart for the decade (five weeks).  The song was the second most successful dance single of the decade in the United States, behind Madonna’s own “Hung Up” (2005). “Music” was the last number one hit on the Canadian RPM singles chart.

Today In Madonna History: August 20, 2012

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On August 20 2012, a law suit was filed by nine Russians who were offended that Madonna had asked fans to raise their hands to show their support for the Russian LGBT community during a concert stop in St. Petersburg, Russia—where it is illegal to promote homosexuality to minors.

In her speech during the concert, Madonna called for members of Russia’s LGBT community to be “treated with dignity, with respect, with compassion, with love,” and took the country to task for crackdowns on those who expressed opposition against the country’s oppressive laws.

“I feel people are becoming more and more afraid of people who are different; people are becoming more intolerant,” she said. “It’s a very scary time, but we can make a difference. We can change this. We have the power. And we don’t have to do it with violence; we just have to do it with love.”

Although the suit did make it to trial in November 2012, it was promptly dismissed by the presiding judge after briefly questioning the plaintiffs about the arbitrary nature of the case given the volume of contemporary entertainment which contains “positive references to homosexuality.” The suit had sought damages of approximately $10.5 million from Madonna, the organizer of her concert, and the hall where it was held.