Today in Madonna History: January 28, 1984

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On January 28 1984, Madonna’s single, Holiday hit #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.

Holiday was released on September 7, 1983, and became Madonna’s first hit single and remained on the charts from Thanksgiving to Christmas in 1983. It was Madonna’s first song to enter the Billboard Hot 100, at 88 on the issue dated October 29, 1983 and reached a peak of 16 on January 28, 1984 and was on the chart for 21 weeks. The song debuted at eight on the Hot Dance Club Play chart on the issue dated November 2, 1983 and was Madonna’s first number one single on the Hot Dance Club Play chart remaining at the top for five weeks.

In the United Kingdom, Holiday has been released three times as a single; in January 1984, reaching number six, and in August 1985 reaching number 2 (only being kept from number one by her own Into the Groove single). Its third release in 1991 included new artwork to promote The Immaculate Collection with a limited edition EP titled The Holiday Collection, which contained tracks omitted from the compilation; this version peaked at number five.

The photos for this post are from Madonna’s Solid Gold performance of Holiday.

Today In Madonna History: January 26, 1984

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On January 26 1984, Madonna performed Holiday on BBC1-TV’s Top Of The Pops in London, England during a promotional visit to the UK. She was also interviewed by Number One, The Face and Record Mirror magazines.

With no original music video produced for Holiday, Warner serviced the Top Of The Pops performance to music video stations in some countries, including Canada.

Blogcritics contributer Justin Kantor interviewed Holiday songwriters Curtis Hudson & Lisa Stevens of the group Pure Energy in 2012 about the writing and recording of Madonna’s first pop cross-over hit:

Tell me how you came up with “Holiday.”

Lisa Stevens: I woke up, got on the keyboard and started playing those beginning chords over and over for a day or two. I couldn’t come up with anything else. I just kept hearing those chords. Curt said, “Lisa, I hear something with that.” At first, I said, “Wait a minute. Let me sit with this for awhile.” And then, I didn’t come up with anything. He came up with the hook—”Holiday, celebrate”—and that funky bassline. We just kicked it back and forth.

Curtis Hudson: Lisa wanted to go in a different direction. I was inspired by those first two chords. It kind of sticks in your gut. I wanted to write to it while I had that initial feeling. Maybe a week went by. By the time she said “Go ahead, you can write,” I pretty much had the whole song in mind. I had been feeling it, so it poured out of me.

LS: When I heard that bassline, I said, “Whoa, Curtis! You’re the man.”

What about the verses?

CH: I did most of the lyrics.

LS: I threw in a couple. Curt was looking for a line when I said, “How about, ‘It would be so nice’?”

CH: I pretty much wrote it from my head in 30 minutes. I did most of the lyrics and arrangements back then.

Do you usually have a concept before you start writing?

CH: It just comes together. The music inspires the feeling of the lyrics. At that time, I remember watching the news and thinking, “Wow, things are so depressing. We need to take a universal holiday—just that one day we could get away. That would be a great thing for this world.”

Curtis, you played on the actual recording of Madonna’s version.Tell me about the sessions.

CH: It was a complete arrangement with vocals, percussion, and everything. We took the demo into the studio and matched the new tracks to it. Fred Zarr played keyboards. My brother, Raymond, played bass. I played guitar. We pretty much did the same things we did on the demo.

LS: Fred added a lick in there, the piano solo at the end of the song. Everything else is exactly like we did it for them to follow; except, I sang all the backgrounds on the demo, and Madonna had the vocalists she was going to use—Norma Jean Wright and Tina Baker.

CH: We cut the rhythm track in a day and got the song really poppin’. Everybody was really happy. Madonna was in the studio throughout the recording of the rhythm tracks. She’s a very hands-on type of person. But matching the demo was a big concern for us—down to the string sounds. I didn’t want to get away from that, because Jellybean and Madonna felt the demo had a certain magic. On the demo, I played Rhodes, [programmed] strings, and drums. It was pretty much transferring what we did to a bigger studio. We had used a Linn drum, but Fred Zarr brought in his Oberheim.

However, I didn’t get a production credit on the record. Jellybean presented the song to the label. They had slated him to produce it, as he had an existing relationship with Madonna. It came with the territory that he would be credited as a producer. We debated amongst the group. I wanted a production credit. But we said, “It’s one song. Let that song be the way to get us out there.”

LS: I was there for the recording of the rhythm tracks; but Madonna wanted to do her own thing on the vocals and backgrounds—with no one else in there. She wanted to get her vibe, and she did a great job.

CH: The vocals are one of the major differences between the demo and the master for Madonna. Lisa’s were more soulful, had more of a gospel flavor and were a bit more energetic. Madonna’s style made it more poppish.

LS: But she got some of that soul in there. That’s what the public was saying. I was real happy with the way it turned out.

CH: I think Madonna doing the song is part of the magic of it doing what it did. It was a timing situation. Madonna was ready to happen. Pure Energy needed that one song to legitimize us, to say we can write hit songs. It was a perfect match for Madonna. She’s a hardworking artist. She did justice to it. She stayed true to the melody of the song. She didn’t take anything away from it.

LS: She added her thing to it. I like the fact that she didn’t try to copy me. She put herself into it. She’s a songwriter herself, and a great artist.

Did you know that the song was going to be released as a single?

LS: We didn’t know. “Lucky Star” was supposed to come out first. But the radio stations picked up “Holiday” and started putting it in regular rotation. The song just took off after that. We were happily surprised. It didn’t even have a music video to support it, because Warner Bros. wasn’t prepared.

CH: We would get calls from radio stations that people knew it was a Pure Energy song. They knew our vibe. At that time, a lot of people also thought Madonna was a black artist. When we’d go around doing radio promotions of our own records, people often would tell us that they sensed “Holiday” was our production, even though they saw Jellybean’s name on it. They could hear our stamp all over the song, and they asked, “How could you just give that way?” That could be your number-one song.

Madonna has cited “Holiday” as one of her favorite songs she’s recorded. What do you think makes it stand out to her?

CH: When the song was starting to chart and everybody was buzzing, we would run into her at airports. We were performing in some of the same places. She told us, “Thank you for writing this song. You guys don’t know what you did!” She was really excited about it. I think that might be why it’s a favorite, because the song really put her out there and made her a legitimate artist.

Warner Bros. didn’t produce a music video for it at a time when music videos really started to make songs. Had they done a video, then “Holiday” probably would’ve been a much bigger song than it was at the time; probably #1 pop.

What memories do you have of working with Madonna? Any thoughts on her impact on the music industry?

CH: She definitely knows what she wants—what works for her, what doesn’t work for her. I’ve heard a lot of people criticize her vocals; but she knows what works for her range and how to get the best out of her sound.

LS: You know it’s Madonna when you hear her. She’s got her own sound, her own look. She’s a great businesswoman and very talented individually.

CH: We felt she was going to be a big artist. I remember when she came into the studio: her style of dress was so different. She had these rags and pieces of material attached to her clothes. There was something about her. I remember telling her, “I think you’re going to be a big star next year at this time,” and she said, “You really think so?” At the time, it seemed like she was going through a whole lot of stuff with her management and career.

She knew how the business worked early on. Some people complained that she uses you up; but I never felt that way. I felt that she, being a woman in the industry, knew how difficult it would be. And she wasn’t in a group; she was by herself. She knew the games people play; so she said, “I’m gonna play this game for me to come out on top.” I respected that about her. She wasn’t going in like some artists, who let people take total control of them—what to do, when to do it, how to do it. They don’t know anything about the business; and once their time is up, they’re thrown aside for another artist.

She’s a very hands-on person. I remember when I was cutting the guitar track for “Holiday,” there was a little something I do in the rhythm where she was, like, “Do you have to do that?” I told her that it was part of the funk in the rhythm. She said, “Are you sure you have to do that?” She picked up just that little part in the guitar rhythm and really wanted me to play it another way. I assured her that it was best the way I was doing it. But I was impressed; a lot of times singers don’t notice stuff like that.

Nowadays, we’re missing that element of everybody going in there and doing it. Many times, artists don’t do anything but go in and learn the song from the songwriter’s demo. They then cut it phrase by phrase to the track. That’s it. They have no input. It’s whatever the writer hears. That’s why most writers now are very good singers. Most of the top ones are artists who didn’t get signed. But the artists don’t have any real work to do. They just copy everything, even the ad-libs.

LS: Being a songwriter and producer, she handles things. She was there from beginning to end of the recording session. She’s an on-point performer. A lot of singers can’t get up there and dance and sing at the same time—they go flat. But she stays strong.

CH: A lot of people compare Lady Gaga to her. But there was no Madonna before Madonna. She had no blueprint to go by when she came out. So you really can’t compare the two. Madonna created so many different things that young people can draw from now.

Thanks to blogcritic contributer Justin Kantor for the interview excerpt. Check out the complete interview here.

Today in Madonna History: January 23, 1988

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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.

Today in Madonna History: December 13, 1990

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On December 13 1990, Blond Ambition World Tour Live was released exclusively on laserdisc by Pioneer Artists. It featured the final tour date, recorded on August 5th in Nice, France, which had been previously broadcast live on HBO.

The release was part of a special arrangement with Blond Ambition Tour sponsors Pioneer Artists as a means of promoting their struggling laserdisc format. The laserdisc went on to win a Grammy for Best Music Video – Long Form at the 34th Grammy Awards, which is notable for being Madonna’s first-ever Grammy win.

With the eventual demise of the laserdisc format, this landmark tour has never received a proper release on DVD or Blu-ray. Although widely bootlegged (in varying degrees of quality), it is currently unavailable to purchase in its entirety in any official form, much to the disappointment and frustration of fans. A 2012 Blu-ray release of the accompanying tour documentary Truth or Dare – which features a select number of performances from the tour filmed in stunning technicolour during her shows in Paris – failed to offer up any additional performances not already included within the documentary (a previous VHS release of Truth or Dare had included bonus performances of Hanky Panky and Like A Prayer).

Madonna’s current manager, Guy Oseary, and even Madonna herself, have acknowledged fans’ very vocal requests that the tour be properly released on an accessible format. Guy confirmed through his Twitter account in 2011 that a recent meeting with Warner had taken place concerning the reissuing of Madonna’s tours on DVD and that the talks were “a start”, but he also noted that the process would take time, as they did not know what footage remained available for a potential release, nor its condition. During a 2013 fan chat on Reddit when Madonna was asked about the possibility of a Blond Ambition Tour DVD release, she offered the terse response: “when I can find the tapes in the archives.”

Meanwhile, seemingly remastered audio/video footage of the Nice show mysteriously turned up on YouTube in 2013, along with the caption “Master submitted to Reliance Mediaworks in 2011. Full digital remaster, error correction, frame by frame color grading (RELM.NS) DTS-HD master audio from original stems (Nasdaq:DTSI).” The user uploading the footage appears to have created a YouTube account for the sole purpose of streaming the tour and does not reply to comments requesting further information on the source of the footage, making it difficult to ascertain its legitimacy. While there are noticeable signs of improvement in the audio mix, the video quality is inconsistent, with some shots showing improved colour grading and others appearing excessively dark and overly filtered. Whether the quality issues are the result of a highly compressed upload file or if they are evidence of its possible inauthenticity as an officially commissioned remaster are a matter of speculation.

Incidentally, Reliance MediaWorks’ parent company, Indian conglomorate Reliance ADA Group, is the major shareholder of IM Global, which provided financial backing and acquired international distribution rights for Madonna’s film W.E. in 2011.

The saga continues…

Today in Madonna History: October 29, 1983

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On October 29 1983, Madonna’s “Holiday” entered the Billboard Hot 100 US singles chart at #88.

Holiday” was released on September 7, 1983, and became Madonna’s first hit single, reaching a peak of #16 on January 18, 1984.

Since arriving on the Hot 100 with “Holiday,” Madonna has earned a total of 56 chart hits (so far), including a record 38 top 10 singles. Madonna has more top 10 hits than any other artist in the 55-year history of the chart. The Beatles are in second place, with 34 top 10 hits.

Lyrics:

Holiday
Celebrate
Holiday
Celebrate

If we took a holiday
Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life
It would be, it would be so nice

Everybody spread the word
We’re gonna have a celebration
All across the world
In every nation

It’s time for the good times
Forget about the bad times, oh yeah
One day to come together to release the pressure
We need a holiday

If we took a holiday
Took some time to celebrate
(Come on, let’s celebrate)
Just one day out of life
(Holiday)
It would be, it would be so nice

If we took a holiday
(Oo yeah, oo yeah)
Took some time to celebrate
(Come on, let’s celebrate)
Just one day out of life
(Just one day out of life)
It would be, it would be so nice

You can turn this world around
And bring back all of those happy days
Put your troubles down
It’s time to celebrate

Let love shine
And we will find
A way to come together
Can make things better
We need a holiday

If we took a holiday
(Holiday)
Took some time to celebrate
(Come on let’s celebrate)
Just one day out of life
(Just one day out of life)
It would be, it would be so nice

Oo yeah, oo yeah
Come on, lets celebrate
We have got to get together

Holiday
Celebrate
Holiday
Celebrate

If we took a holiday
(Oh yeah, oh yeah)
Took some time to celebrate
(Come on, let’s celebrate)
Just one day out of life
(Holiday)
It would be, it would be so nice

Holiday
(Oo yeah, oo yeah)
Celebrate
(Come on, let’s celebrate)
Holiday
(Just one day out of life)
Celebrate
(It would be so nice)

Holiday
(Holiday, celebration)
Celebrate
(Come together in every nation)
Celebrate
(Holiday, celebration)
Holiday
(Come together in every nation)

Holiday
Celebrate
Holiday
Celebrate

Holiday
(We got to get together)
Celebrate
(Take some time to celebrate)
Holiday
(Just one day out of life)
Celebrate
(It would be so nice)
Holiday
(Holiday, celebration)
Celebrate
(Come together in every nation)
Holiday
(Holiday, celebration)