On June 23 1998, the music video for Ray of Light was released by Warner Reprise Video as a limited edition video single of 40,000 VHS copies. It sold 7,381 copies within its first month of release, becoming one of the best-selling video singles of the Nielsen SoundScan era. Madonna’s previous video single release, Justify My Love, which predated SoundScan, was certified quadruple-Platinum by the RIAA (for shipment of over 200,000 copies).
The reason behind Ray of Light being issued as a video single were twofold. Madonna was very pleased with the outcome of her first collaboration with director Jonas Åkerlund and her record company felt that there would be enough interest to warrant its commercial release. Secondly, Warner’s marketing team correctly sensed that the song’s then-experimental sound would be a tough sell at radio, so the decision was made to pull out all the stops to ensure the release outperformed on the sales chart. Another prong in this strategy was the inclusion of album outtake Has To Be as the b-side to the two-track single, while excluding it from the maxi-single in an attempt to persuade fans to purchase the single in multiple formats. The strategy proved successful, with the song’s number-five debut and peak on the Billboard Hot 100 mainly due to its sales strength. According to Billboard, the music video single boosted its first-week sales by roughly 7%, helping it to secure its place in the top-five.
Shortly after Ray of Light‘s release as a video single, Billboard magazine published an article musing on whether renewed interest in the relatively obscure format could ever prove lucrative for the music industry. A video buyer for a major retail chained remarked:
“Madonna’s Ray of Light video single is a success because she has a fervent fan base. There are very few artists with videos that consistently get people’s attention, but Madonna is one of those artists. It’s too early to tell if there’s a true market for video singles. Right now, it seems like record companies are trying video singles to see what happens. I think we’re going to see the lines becoming more blurred in how audio and video singles are marketed.”
Indeed. Within the next five years (and two Madonna video singles later), the emergence of online file sharing would obliterate the physical singles market in North America, and video streaming sites would soon spell an end to the prospect of marketing music video singles as a physical format. In digital form, however, music video singles may be selling in larger numbers than ever due to increased availability through iTunes. Strangely, however, sales of music videos through iTunes are not reported to Billboard and no longer count towards a single’s chart position (reportedly due to iTunes’ monopoly on digital sales of the format), while streams of music videos through sites like YouTube and Vevo are used in Billboard’s chart methodology.
On June 11 1998, Ray of Light became Madonna’s highest debuting single, peaking at number-five in its first week on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.
The title-track from her seventh studio album was present for a total of twenty weeks on the Hot 100, and placed at number seventy-five on the year-end chart. Much of its chart success was due to strong sales, while on the Airplay chart it fizzled out at number twenty-six. The remixes earned Madonna another number-one on the Hot Dance/Club Play chart, spending four weeks at the top spot and seven weeks in the top-five.
Outside the U.S., the Ray of Light single reached number-three in Canada, number-two in the UK, Italy and Finland, and number-one in Spain.
On June 4 1983, Burning Up/Physical Attraction spent its third and final week at its peak position of number-three on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the U.S.
Available only on 12″ single in the U.S., the release charted as a double A-side single. Its run on the Dance/Club chart spanned a total of sixteen weeks, seven of which were spent in the top-five. In a rather strange marketing twist, a music video was produced for Burning Up while only Physical Attraction was promoted to radio – with an edited version of the latter being featured on both sides of the rare 7″ promo.
To further confuse matters, the version of Burning Up that was featured on the 12″ was in actuality not a remix, but rather the original Reggie Lucas production of the song. Instead, the two distinct versions of the song that later turned up at separate times on her debut album were in fact remixes by John “Jellybean” Benitez. Physical Attraction was also remixed by Benitez, although his version appears on both the single and the album.
On May 18 2015, the remix EP for Ghosttown was released by digital retailers. The release followed the news that song had hit the number-one position on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Club chart. It became her 45th song to top the dance chart – the most number-ones for any artist on any Billboard chart.
01 – Ghosttown (Offer Nissim Drama Remix) – 07:17
02 – Ghosttown (Armand Van Helden Remix) – 06:16
03 – Ghosttown (S-Man Mix) – 06:08
04 – Ghosttown (Razor N Guido Remix) – 07:46
05 – Ghosttown (Mindskap Remix) – 05:35
06 – Ghosttown (Don Diablo Remix) – 04:47
07 – Ghosttown (Dirty Pop Intro Remix) – 05:20
08 – Ghosttown (DJ Mike Cruz Mix Show Edit) – 07:05
09 – Ghosttown (THRILL Remix) – 06:27
10 – Ghosttown (DJ Yiannis String Intro Mix) – 01:40
On April 13 1995, Bedtime Story was released as a single in North America by Maverick/Sire as the third single from the album Bedtime Stories. The song was written by Björk, Nellee Hooper & Marius DeVries and was produced by Madonna & Nellee Hooper.
The commercial maxi-single featured remixes by Junior Vasquez and Orbital. Additional promo-only remixes by
Bedtime Story was released in Europe in February but the release was delayed for several months in North America due to the prolonged chart reign of her previous single, Take A Bow.
On April 3 1993, Fever entered the UK Singles Chart at its peak position of number-six. Without the support of a proper music video at the time of its release (Warner UK instead issued a rarely seen compilation video of previous clips), the single spent only six weeks on the UK charts, dropping to number-seven the following week.
Strangely, Madonna did eventually decide to film a video for the song in late April – nearly a month after its release in Europe. By the time the video premiered during the second week of May, Fever was spending its final week on the UK Singles Chart.
In North America the remixes for Fever had been issued commercially on Madonna’s previous international single, Bad Girl. Fever was also serviced to clubs as a promotional single in its own right, but it was not promoted to radio despite the video being added to into rotation on MTV and MuchMusic. While the release of the music video managed to coincide with Fever’s single week atop the Hot Dance/Club Play chart, its number-one status had already been confirmed several days prior to the clip’s debut, making the video’s intended purpose and the timing of its release all the more puzzling.
On March 17 1994, the music video for I’ll Remember (Theme From With Honors) premiered on BBC1-TV’s Top Of The Pops in the UK.
I’ll Remember began as a collaboration between Richard Page (of 80’s band Mister Mister) and Patrick Leonard. Leonard had been asked by Madonna to score Alek Keshishian’s film With Honors, and had also been collaborating with Page on an upcoming Toy Matinee album. When Leonard played an early demo of I’ll Remember for Madonna, she loved it and decided to record it with new lyrics she had written. The song was produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard, with Page providing additional backing vocals.
Madonna had previously crossed paths with Richard Page when he presented her with a trophy at the 1987 American Music Awards.