Today in Madonna History: November 23, 2002

On November 23 2002, Madonna’s Die Another Day single peaked at #1 on the Canadian Soundscan Singles Sales chart where it would stay for an impressive seven (non-consecutive) weeks.

Today in Madonna History: November 22, 2002

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On November 22 2002, the twentieth James Bond film,  Die Another Day,  was released by MGM.  Die Another Day was the fourth and last film to star Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.

Die Another Day was directed by Lee Tamahori.  The film marks the James Bond franchise’s 40th anniversary.  The series began in 1962 with Sean Connery.

The title song for Die Another Day was written and produced by Madonna & Mirwais. Madonna also had a cameo in the film as Verity, a fencing instructor.

Today in Madonna History: November 21, 1992

On November 21 1992, Madonna’s Erotica peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart in the USA.

Scott Kearnan (Boston.com) had this to say about the controversial hit single when reflecting on Madonna’s best songs:

“No pop star of her fame has been this sexually transgressive before or since… Rihanna sings about “S&M” like it’s a song about My Little Pony, but Madonna dishes on pain, pleasure, and power with the conviction of a whip crack”.

Today in Madonna History: November 20, 1993

On November 20 1993, Madonna – Live Down Under: The Girlie Show (taped November 19th at Sydney Cricket Ground) was broadcast on HBO-TV. In Australia, Madonna postponed a scheduled concert at the Sydney Cricket Ground due to severe rain.

Recording of the November 19th show had been intended to serve as both a practice run for the following night, and as a safety recording in the event of technical difficulties or cancellation of the November 20th concert. With Madonna apparently satisfied with the safety footage captured on the 19th, neither the December 3rd show at the Cricket Ground nor the rescheduled date (December 4th) served to provide supplemental footage for the eventual VHS/laserdisc release. The only notable differences between the HBO broadcast and the released version were some alternate camera angles and additional audio mixing.

Today in Madonna History: November 19, 1993

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On November 19 1993, the movie Dangerous Game premiered in New York City. Madonna shared top-billing with co-stars Harvey Keitel & James Russo in director Abel Ferrara’s gritty and experimental film about film-making. It was one of the first productions by Maverick Pictures, the film arm of Madonna’s multimedia company that was born in partnership with Warner Bros. the previous year. In some countries, the film was released under its original title, Snake Eyes, which could not be used in the U.S. due to a previous trademark on the name.

Given Maverick’s production involvement, it is perhaps unsurprising that the film’s credits include some names that should be familiar to many Madonna fans:

  • Madonna’s longtime manager and founding partner in Maverick, Freddy DeMann, as executive producer
  • Madonna’s assistant at the time, Missy Coggiola
  • her frequent costume designer, Marlene Stewart
  • her stylist, Hiram Ortiz–who not only styled her for the film but also appears as her stylist onscreen
  • Madonna’s then-future manager, now the late Caresse Henry–at the time an assistant to DeMann
  • songs by Maverick-signed music groups Proper Grounds & UNV
  • Madonna’s eldest brother, Anthony Ciccone, as locations production assistant

Unhappy with Ferrara’s final cut of the film–which was reported to have been drastically altered from the movie that had been pitched to the actors–Madonna did not attend the premiere and, in Ferrara’s view, killed the movie’s shot at achieving wider distribution after badmouthing it in the press. Ironically, Ferrara noted, the reviews of Madonna’s strong performance in the film (which was certainly more natural, raw & vulnerable than any of her previous big-screen appearances) are among the best she had received as an actress at the time.

Dangerous Game was re-released on Blu-ray in North America on November 17, 2015 by Olive Films. It includes both the theatrical and the “unrated” versions of the movie.

(Note: the clips used in the short preview above are from a low-resolution, compressed rip from DVD and do not represent the superior quality of the new high definition Blu-ray edition of the film.)

Today in Madonna History: November 18, 1986

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On November 18 1986, Madonna’s True Blue album was certified 3x platinum, for sales of 3 million units in the United States.  The album was released on June 30 1986.

Here’s what Madonna had to say about the album track, Where’s The Party?

“It’s my ultimate statement about what it’s like to be in the middle of this Press stuff with everybody on my back, my world about to cave in. Whenever I feel like that – and it does get to me sometimes – I say ‘Wait a minute, I’m supposed to be having a good time here, so where’s the party?’ It doesn’t have to be this way. I can still enjoy life.”

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Today in Madonna History: November 17, 1984

On November 17 1984, the title-track and lead single from Madonna’s Like A Virgin album entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #48 – the week’s highest debut – hot on the heels of its commercial release as a 7-inch single in the preceding sales week. A commercial 12-inch single was also issued in North America during the chart week ending November 17th, with Like A Virgin pouncing onto the Hot Dance/Disco Sales chart at #26 in the November 24th issue of Billboard.

Created by the successful pop songwriting team of Tom Kelly & Billy Steinberg and produced by Nile Rodgers, the demo of Like A Virgin – sung by Kelly – was initially introduced to Madonna by Warner Bros. Records’ A&R rep Michael Ostin (son of then-CEO of Warner, Mo Ostin).

In a 2009 interview for Rolling Stone magazine, Madonna recalled her impressions upon first listening to the demos of Like A Virgin and its follow-up single, Material Girl:

“I liked them both because they were ironic and provocative at the same time but also unlike me. I am not a materialistic person, and I certainly wasn’t a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be like a virgin? I liked the play on words; I thought they were clever. They’re so geeky, they’re cool. I never realized they would become my signature songs, especially the second one.”

As audio engineer Jason Corsaro noted in a 2007 interview with Sound On Sound magazine, although she officially ceded production credit to Rodgers, Madonna was actively engaged in all aspects of the recording sessions for the album and title-track:

“Nile was there most of the time, but she was there all of the time. She never left.”

Like A Virgin made a high-profile debut via live performance during the first annual MTV Video Music Awards on September 14th, 1984.

With previous single Lucky Star still ascending the North American charts, however, the official release of Like A Virgin was held back by Warner Bros. Records in a bid to allow the former (along with its parent album) to reach its full chart potential. This strategy proved successful, with Madonna earning her first U.S. Top-5 single with Lucky Star in the October 20th issue of Billboard, while Like A Virgin would reach #1 in the December 22nd issue.

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