Today in Madonna History: May 24, 2004

On May 24 2004, Madonna launched her sixth concert tour – the Re-Invention World Tour – with the first of three sold-out concerts at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Madonna was scheduled to perform at The Forum on May 24th, 25th and 27th, however the May 25th show was rescheduled to May 26th due to illness. A brief statement posted on Madonna’s website on May 25th read:

“Madonna has the stomach flu and was ordered by her doctor to rest this evening. She will be back at 100% [on May 26th] and can’t wait to entertain her fans.”

All subsequent dates on the Re-Invention World Tour proceeded as scheduled.

Today in Madonna History: May 20, 1996

On May 20 1996, Madonna’s Take A Bow was honored as one of the Most Performed Songs of 1995 at the 13th annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

Ironically, Madonna herself has rarely performed the song live. It had only a single live vocal performance at the American Music Awards in 1995, a handful of mimed television performances during the same period, and was not performed on tour until being added on select dates towards the end of the Rebel Heart Tour.

Today in Madonna History: May 19, 2019

On May 19 2019, Madonna was scolded in the international press for “making a political statement” during her performance at the Eurovision Song Contest held the previous day, which ended with performers wearing Israeli and Palestinean flags on their backs with arms interlocked in embrace and the words “wake up” appearing on a stage screens.

Madonna’s camp responded with what should be (but is apparently not) obvious: “A message of peace is not a political statement.”

Here is the common definition of the term political statement:

The term political statement is used to refer to any act or non-verbal form of communication that is intended to influence a decision to be made for or by a political party. A political statement can vary from a mass demonstration to the wearing of a badge with a political slogan.

How exactly Madonna’s performance constitutes a political statement in the eyes of the media is puzzling. She did not endorse the political advancement or agenda of either side; she simply reiterated her longstanding and widely expressed wish for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

A more reasonable argument would be that had she not included this symbolic gesture in her performance, it may have been construed as muted political support for Israel’s position. By making the gesture she did, she instead reiterated her political neutrality and her wish for peace.

Equally telling was the network’s response that its desire was to broadcast an entertainment special that essentially whitewashed the realities of the conflict. Clearly, they would have us believe that ignoring the conflict is the acceptable, non-partisan stance, while acknowledging the conflict and expressing one’s hope for its peaceful resolution should be viewed as provocational or controversial.

The irony is that it is only those who are trying to frame Madonna’s actions as a political statement that are, in fact, making one.

Today in Madonna History: May 18, 2005

On May 18 2005, Madonna issued a statement in support of fellow pop singer Kylie Minogue, wishing her a quick recovery from her battle with breast cancer:

“I was saddened to learn about Kylie Minogue’s breast cancer diagnosis. I’m so grateful that they found it early. (Yet another reminder for all women to have annual mammograms.) Aside from being tremendously talented, Kylie’s a fighter and I know this is a battle she will win. Let’s all pray for her speedy recovery and send all of our best wishes her way. With love and light to you Kylie…Madonna.”

Following her surgery and recovery, Kylie’s 2006 return to the stage was captured in the behind-the-scenes documentary, White Diamond. The film included Kylie’s version of an unreleased Madonna/Rick Nowels collaboration from the Ray Of Light sessions, titled Alone Again. Kylie had recorded the track as a potential b-side to her 2002 single, Come Into My World, but for unknown reasons it remained shelved until its use in the documentary several years later. Madonna received special thanks from Kylie in the film’s closing credits.

Today in Madonna History: May 17, 1991

On May 17 1991, Madonna: Truth Or Dare was released in 538 U.S. movie theatres.

Madonna: Truth or Dare chronicled the life of Madonna during her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour.  The film was well received by critics and was successful at the box office, at that point becoming the highest-grossing documentary of all time with a worldwide gross of $29,012,935.

Outside of North America, where the game that inspired the documentary’s title was not well known at the time, the film was marketed under the title In Bed with Madonna – despite protests from Madonna herself who found the alternate title unoriginal.

A Blu-Ray edition of the documentary was recently announced for the UK market and interestingly it uses the film’s original, Madonna-approved title, Madonna: Truth or DareIf the release pans out as announced, it will be the first domestic UK release of the film to use this title.

Today in Madonna History: May 16, 1998

On May 16 1998, Larry Flick’s glowing review of Madonna’s Ray Of Light single was published in Billboard magazine.

The single would debut at its peak position of #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.

Today in Madonna History: May 10, 1997

On May 10 1997, Gary Barlow’s Love Won’t Wait hit #1 on the UK Singles chart. The track was the lead single from the former Take That singer’s debut solo album, Open Road.

The song was written by Madonna & Shep Pettibone during an early 1994 writing session for what would evolve into Madonna’s Bedtime Stories album.

After recording a handful of demos with Pettibone, Madonna decided to shift musical directions. While some of Madonna’s lyrics from the Pettibone sessions would be reworked into songs that would appear on Bedtime Stories, the excellent Love Won’t Wait remained shelved until it was submitted to Gary Barlow’s manager for consideration.

Strangely, Barlow’s single release credited only Shep Pettibone as the song’s writer, with no mention of Madonna or her publishing company, Webo Girl, Inc. This was subsequently corrected in the liner notes for Barlow’s album, Open Road, with both Madonna & Pettibone receiving credit.

Madonna’s soulfully delivered original demo version of Love Won’t Wait leaked online a few years after Barlow’s version was released.

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