Today in Madonna History: December 5, 1994

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On December 5 1994, Madonna began filming the music video for Bedtime Story at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, CA.

The video marked her second collaboration with director Mark Romanek and featured cinematography by Harris Savides. To assist in the process of developing her ideas for the video into something more tangible, Madonna again turned to storyboard artist Grant Shaffer, who had previously collaborated on her videos for Deeper And Deeper and Rain.

Madonna recalled the inspiration for the video in an interview with Aperture magazine:

“My Bedtime Story video was completely inspired by all the female surrealist painters like Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo. There’s that one shot where my hands are up in the air and stars are spinning around me. And me flying through the hallway with my hair trailing behind me, the birds flying out of my open robe – all of those images were an homage to female surrealist painters; there’s a little bit of Frida Kahlo in there, too.”

The effects-laden video was shot over six days and has been noted by Madonna as being one of the more grueling video shoots of her career. Filming of a scene that featured Madonna bathing in blue-coloured water yielded unexpectedly colourful results; when Madonna emerged from the water, she later recounted, it quickly became apparent that her skin had been temporarily stained blue.

Fortunately any on-set difficulties were not evident in the final product. Following several months of post-production work, the video’s stunning surrealist imagery was enthusiastically received by viewers upon its release in March, 1995.

A very special thank you to artist Grant Shaffer for generously sharing a selection of his original storyboards used in the development of the Bedtime Story video! We’d like to invite readers to check out more of Grant’s art on his official website – including his sketches for Deeper And Deeper, Rain and Madonna’s Japanese Takara commercial.

Today in Madonna History: November 30, 1994

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On November 30 1994, Madonna’s second music video release from Bedtime Stories, Take A Bow, was released. The award winning music video (Best Female Video at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards) was directed by Michael Haussman in Ronda and Antequera, Spain.

The bullfighter in the video was played by real-life Spanish bullfighter Emilio Muñoz. Muñoz reprised his role with Madonna in the You’ll See music video, also directed by Haussman in 1995.

Today in Madonna History: November 12, 1994

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On November 12 1994, Madonna’s Bedtime Stories was the week’s highest debut on the Billboard 200 album chart, peaking at #3 with sales of 145,000 units.

While the figure represented a 15% drop in first-week sales from her previous long player, Erotica, the album proved to be a commercial grower in America – where the runaway success of its second single, Take A Bow, would push its overall U.S. sales tally well beyond that of its predecessor.

Illustrating urban/r&b’s U.S. chart domination at the time, Bedtime Stories was held back from the top spot by the Murder Was The Case soundtrack (performed by Snoop Doggy Dogg) and Boyz II Men’s II.

Today in Madonna History: November 5, 1994

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On November 5 1994, Madonna’s Secret hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.

Here’s what Larry Flick from Billboard had to say about Secret:

“The lushly layered album mix simmers with a strumming acoustic intro that breaks into a languid funk/R&B beat. As Madonna delivers a solid performance that emphasizes her increasingly strong lower vocal range, a meticulously woven arrangement of quasi-psychedelic colors and raw hip-hop elements percolates. Naturally, the hook is pure pop candy, sticking to the brain after one spin.”

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Today In Madonna History: October 25, 1994

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On October 25 1994, Madonna’s sixth studio album, Bedtime Stories was released by Maverick Records. The album was produced by Madonna with co-producers Nellee Hooper, Dave Hall, Dallas Austin and Babyface.

When the self-orchestrated media onslaught that accompanied the release of her previous album Erotica largely overshadowed the brilliant work it contained, Madonna took a decidedly subdued approach when it came to promoting Bedtime Stories. Interviews conducted for its release were mostly in print with a greater emphasis being placed on music – it seemed as though Madonna had little patience at the time for interviewers who insisted on turning her private life into headlines. 

Both a sense of defiance and a hint of impatience with society’s intolerance to her boundary-pushing provocations carried over into the work itself, most notably with album opener, Survival and the sardonically biting Human Nature. But such sentiments were balanced with songs that were perhaps more personal and more poetic than she had offered on previous albums, with the possible exception of Like A Prayer. Feelings of longing, loneliness and loss – along with early glimpses into spiritual rediscovery – are at the emotional heart of the record, with songs like Love Tried To Welcome Me and Sanctuary containing some of her most ambitiously inspired lyrics, expanding on written works by George Herbert, Carson McCullers and Walt Whitman. 

Perhaps the album’s most notable triumph is for Madonna as record producer, as she successfully manages to design an overarching flow that seamlessly bridges the styles of her various collaborators and co-producers. Indeed, Bedtime Stories is a body of work that is much more successful as a whole than it is broken down into individual tracks, which may explain why it is frequently overlooked in comparison to her more singles-driven albums of the previous decade. Even the record’s mega-hit, Take A Bow hasn’t maintained the traction in the realm of public consciousness that some of her earlier and later hits have managed to do. But when played from start to finish, Bedtime Stories remains surprisingly relevant through its subtleties and nuances – aptly demonstrating that even for Madonna, sometimes less is more.

“So here’s my question –
Does your criticism have you caught up
In what you cannot see?”

Today in Madonna History: September 14, 1994

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On September 14 1994, the lead single from Madonna’s Bedtime Stories album, Secret, was made available for download on the internet through America Online (AOL) and CompuServe.

Before the single was made available, Madonna posted this message for her fans:

Hello, all you Cyberheads! Welcome to the 90’s version of intimacy. You can hear me… You can even see me… But you can’t touch me… do you recognize my voice?… It’s Madonna. Often imitated, but never duplicated. Or, should I say, often irritated? If you feel like it, you can download the sound file of my new single Secret, from my new album, Bedtime Stories, which comes out next month. I just shot the video in New York, and will be premiering an exclusive sample of it online. So check back soon. In the meantime, why don’t you post me a message and let me know what you think of my new song. And by the way, don’t believe any of those online imposters pretending to be me… ain’t nothing like the real thing. Peace out.

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Today in Madonna History: September 8, 1994

On September 8 1994, Madonna presented the award for Video of the Year at the MTV VMA’s. She was escorted onstage by David Letterman, poking fun at their supposed feud following Madonna’s infamous profanity propelled appearance on Letterman earlier that year.

The appearance was intended to generate buzz for her soon-to-be-released single, Secret and its accompanying album, Bedtime Stories.

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