On August 30 2012, “Turn Up The Radio” jumped to the top position on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play Chart, earning her a record-extending 43rd number-one single on the chart.
Marking a sign of the times, the single and remixes were sold exclusively to digital retailers and were sadly not given a physical release on any format (aside from scarce promotional copies), in any country. This was the first time in Madonna’s career that an international commercial single was unavailable to record shops and collectors either through domestic distribution or as an import.
We hope that Interscope realizes that there are many old-school Madonna fans who still enjoy collecting physical releases – and we’re willing to pay for them. So what will it be Interscope? Would you like to earn some extra bucks with the singles from Madonna’s next album, or are you going to leave collectors with padded pockets?
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
On July 26 1986, “Papa Don’t Preach” spent its third and final week at number-one on the UK singles chart. It was certified Gold by BPI on August 1st, 1986 for shipment of over 500,000 copies, based on certification thresholds at that time. With a chart run extending for 15 weeks, the single ranked #8 overall in the UK’s year-end charts tally.
The song was a massive hit across Europe, topping the Eurochart for an incredible eleven week stretch from August 2nd through October 11th, 1986 when it was finally overtaken by none other than Madonna herself with the follow-up single, “True Blue.“
Although “Justify My Love” is often cited as being the first-ever video single, it is interesting to note that it was actually not the first Madonna music video to be marketed commercially as a single. Possibly an attempt to cash-in on the success and controversy surrounding “Papa Don’t Preach” or more likely as a means of testing out new marketing possibilities for a hybrid laserdisc/cd format, Warner issued limited quantities of “Papa Don’t Preach” as a CD Video in the US, UK and Japan containing three audio tracks along with the music video. Perhaps anticipating the limited appeal of the format, Warner did not bother modifying the track-listing to include the appropriate b-sides in either the UK (“Ain’t No Big Deal“) or Japan (“Think Of Me“), instead opting to issue the US b-side (“Pretender“) on all three pressings. Stranger still was the release date – 1988 – two years after the standard single hit stores. Needless to say, this early attempt to market a music video single did not stir public interest the way it would in 1990, and the concept went into hibernation mode until Madonna gave audiences a video single they were willing to pay for.
On July 24 1999, “Beautiful Stranger” reached its peak position of #19 on the Billboard Hot 100. This was based on the strength of airplay alone, as Maverick Records opted to boost sales of the “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” soundtrack album by not releasing the song as a physical single in the US. Had it been issued commercially, it would have easily given Madonna another Top 10 hit. The single was released in most major markets outside the US including Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan.
On July 23 1988, “Madonna – Ciao Italia: Live From Italy” hit #1 on the Top Music Videos chart in the US.
On May 16, 1994, Madonna’s “I’ll Remember (Theme From With Honors)” became the number-one single in Canada. The song remained at the top of the Canadian singles chart for five weeks before finally being dislodged on June 20th by All-4-One’s hit, “I Swear”. Incidentally, it was the same song that blocked “I’ll Remember” from reaching the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., where it spent four weeks in its peak position of number-two.