Today in Madonna History: February 25, 1995

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On February 25 1995, Madonna’s Take A Bow hit #1 in the USA on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  The hit single remained #1 for 7 weeks, and became Madonna’s 11th single to top the charts in the USA.

Billboard called the song a “plush pop ballad” that was “as close to perfect as top 40 fare gets”. Adding that the lead vocal was “both sweet and quietly soulful”.

 

Today in Madonna History: December 6, 1994

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On December 6 1994, Madonna’s Take a Bow was released (as a physical single).  Take A Bow was selected to be the second single from Madonna’s sixth studio album Bedtime Stories.

The ballad was written and produced by Madonna and Babyface.

Billboard Single Reviews gave the song a very positive review:

The follow-up to the top five smash Secret is a plush pop ballad that pairs La M with the red-hot Babyface, who has become best friend to many a diva in recent times. As close to perfect as top 40 fare gets, this single has a delightful, immediately memorable melody and chorus, engaging romance-novel lyrics, caressing live strings, and a lead vocal that is both sweet and quietly soulful. A lovely way for the singer to close ’95 — and one more good reason to investigate her essential Bedtime Stories collection.

Today in Madonna History: December 5, 1994

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On December 5 1994, Madonna began filming the music video for Bedtime Story at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, CA.

The video marked her second collaboration with director Mark Romanek and featured cinematography by Harris Savides. To assist in the process of developing her ideas for the video into something more tangible, Madonna again turned to storyboard artist Grant Shaffer, who had previously collaborated on her videos for Deeper And Deeper and Rain.

Madonna recalled the inspiration for the video in an interview with Aperture magazine:

“My Bedtime Story video was completely inspired by all the female surrealist painters like Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo. There’s that one shot where my hands are up in the air and stars are spinning around me. And me flying through the hallway with my hair trailing behind me, the birds flying out of my open robe – all of those images were an homage to female surrealist painters; there’s a little bit of Frida Kahlo in there, too.”

The effects-laden video was shot over six days and has been noted by Madonna as being one of the more grueling video shoots of her career. Filming of a scene that featured Madonna bathing in blue-coloured water yielded unexpectedly colourful results; when Madonna emerged from the water, she later recounted, it quickly became apparent that her skin had been temporarily stained blue.

Fortunately any on-set difficulties were not evident in the final product. Following several months of post-production work, the video’s stunning surrealist imagery was enthusiastically received by viewers upon its release in March, 1995.

A very special thank you to artist Grant Shaffer for generously sharing a selection of his original storyboards used in the development of the Bedtime Story video! We’d like to invite readers to check out more of Grant’s art on his official website – including his sketches for Deeper And Deeper, Rain and Madonna’s Japanese Takara commercial.

Today in Madonna History: November 24, 2003

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On November 24 2003, Madonna’s Remixed & Revisited remix album was released by Maverick Records and distributed by Warner Bros. Records. The album contains four songs, in remixed form, from her 2003 ninth studio album American Life and a previously unreleased song, Your Honesty originally written for her 1994 sixth studio album Bedtime Stories. The other tracks included are the live performance of Like a Virgin and Hollywood from the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards—which ended with Madonna kissing co-performers Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera—and a remix of the 1985 single Into the Groove.

Tracks listing:

Nothing Fails (Nevins Mix)
Love Profusion (Headcleanr Rock Mix)

Nobody Knows Me (Mount Sims Old School Mix)

American Life (Headcleanr Rock Mix)

Like a Virgin / Hollywood Medley (2003 MTV Video Music Awards Live)

Into the Hollywood Groove (The Passengerz Mix)

Your Honesty

Today In Madonna History: October 25, 1994

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On October 25 1994, Madonna’s sixth studio album, “Bedtime Stories” was released by Maverick Records. The album was produced by Madonna with co-producers Nellee Hooper, Dave Hall, Dallas Austin and Babyface.

When the self-orchestrated media onslaught that accompanied the release of her previous album “Erotica” largely overshadowed the brilliant work it contained, Madonna took a decidedly subdued approach when it came to promoting “Bedtime Stories.” Interviews conducted for its release were mostly in print with a greater emphasis being placed on music – it seemed as though Madonna had little patience at the time for interviewers who insisted on turning her private life into headlines. 

Both a sense of defiance and a hint of impatience with society’s intolerance to her boundary-pushing provocations carried over into the work itself, most notably with album opener, “Survival” and the sardonically biting “Human Nature.” But such sentiments were balanced with songs that were perhaps more personal and more poetic than she had offered on previous albums, with the possible exception of “Like A Prayer”. Feelings of longing, loneliness and loss – along with early glimpses into spiritual rediscovery – are at the emotional heart of the record, with songs like “Love Tried To Welcome Me” and “Sanctuary” containing some of her most ambitiously inspired lyrics, expanding on written works by George Herbert, Carson McCullers and Walt Whitman. 

Perhaps the album’s most notable triumph is for Madonna as record producer, as she successfully manages to design an overarching flow that seamlessly bridges the styles of her various collaborators and co-producers. Indeed, “Bedtime Stories” is a body of work that is much more successful as a whole than it is broken down into individual tracks, which may explain why it is frequently overlooked in comparison to her more singles-driven albums of the previous decade. Even the record’s mega-hit, “Take A Bow” hasn’t maintained the traction in the realm of public consciousness that some of her earlier and later hits have managed to do. But when played from start to finish, “Bedtime Stories” remains surprisingly relevant through its subtleties and nuances – aptly demonstrating that even for Madonna, sometimes less is more.

“So here’s my question –
Does your criticism have you caught up
In what you cannot see?”