Today in Madonna History: January 5, 1995

On January 5 1995, Madonna’s fabulous Bedtime Stories album was certified platinum (for shipment of 1 million units).

Barbara O’Dair reviewed the album for Rolling Stone magazine:

After the drubbing she has taken in the last few years, Madonna deserves to be mighty mad. And wounded anger is shot through her new album, Bedtime Stories, as she works out survival strategies. While always a feminist more by example than by word or deed, Madonna seems genuinely shocked at the hypocritical prudishness of her former fans, leading one to expect a set of biting screeds. But instead of reveling in raised consciousness, Bedtime Stories demonstrates a desire to get unconscious. Madonna still wants to go to bed, but this time it’s to pull the covers over her head.

Still, in so doing, Madonna has come up with some awfully compelling sounds. In her retreat from sex to romance, she has enlisted four top R&B producers: Atlanta whiz kid Dallas Austin, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Dave “Jam” Hall and Britisher Nellee Hooper (Soul II Soul), who add lush soul and creamy balladry. With this awesome collection of talent, the record verily shimmers. Bass-heavy grooves push it along when more conventional sentiments threaten to bog it down. Both aspects put it on chart-smart terrain.

A number of songs — “Survival,” “Secret,” “I’d Rather Be Your Lover” (to which Me’Shell NdegéOcello brings a bumping bass line and a jazzy rap) — are infectiously funky. And Madonna does a drive-by on her critics, complete with a keening synth line straight outta Dre, on “Human Nature”: “Did I say something wrong?/Oops, I didn’t know I couldn’t talk about sex (I musta been crazy).”

But you don’t need her to tell you that she’s “drawn to sadness” or that “loneliness has never been a stranger,” as she sings on the sorrowful “Love Tried to Welcome Me.” The downbeat restraint in her vocals says it, from the tremulously tender “Inside of Me” to the sob in “Happiness lies in your own hand/It took me much too long to understand” from “Secret.”

The record ultimately moves from grief to oblivion with the seductive techno pull of “Sanctuary.” The pulsating drone of the title track (co-written by Björk and Hooper), with its murmured refrain of “Let’s get unconscious, honey,” renounces language for numbness.

Twirled in a gauze of (unrequited) love songs, Bedtime Stories says, “Fuck off, I’m not done yet.” You have to listen hard to hear that, though. Madonna’s message is still “Express yourself, don’t repress yourself.” This time, however, it comes not with a bang but a whisper.

Today in Madonna History: December 16, 1995

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On December 16 1995, Madonna’s You’ll See hit #6 in the USA.

When You’ll See peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, it made Madonna one of only three artists in the Hot 100 history to have a hit peak at each position from one to ten on the chart. 

Today in Madonna History: December 2, 1995

On December 2 1995, Madonna appeared on the cover of NME (New Music Express) magazine. The cover/interview was part of the Something To Remember promotional plan.

Here are a few questions from the interview:

Is ‘You’ll See’ about revenge?

“No, It’s about empowering yourself. As much as I like a song like ‘Take A Bow’, lyrically it only reflects one side of my personality. I have that side which in completely masochistic and willing to, literally, do anything for love. But there’s another side too which is – ‘Don’t f*** with me, I don’t need anybody. I can do what I want’ and ‘You’ll See’ reflects that.”

Are you getting harder as you get older?

“No, just wiser. I’ve read a couple of reviews that say I’m getting harder in my old age but I don’t think that’s true at all. I think that you can’t help but become a little cynical about life and love but I’m still a romantic, I’m still an idealist. I fall in love quite easily so I don’t think I’ve gotten harder at all. It’s just another thing for people to mention when they want to undermine who I am and what I say. Some people have a really hard time resisting thinking in a one-dimensional way in general.”

For a woman whose first hit was a song about holidays, Madonna implies that she is singularly bad at taking them.

“I despise anyone who looks at me and my lifestyle and thinks – ‘Oh God! Her life is so easy!’ Like I was born into it and it happened overnight. Bullshit! I work so f**ing hard.”

Nor is she deluded about her commercial ranking. Though still one of the most famous women in the world – most people have forgotten more about Madonna than they achieve in their entire lives – her record sales don’t always reflect this.

“I’ve gone from having a huge fan base to losing a huge fan base to having a kind of fluctuating fan base. I’ve always had a core of fans who’ve stuck by me but, depending on the kind of music I do, I end up appealing to certain groups of people and alienating others.”

Does this bother you?

“No. I may not be as popular as I once was but people are starting to pay attention to my music and respect me as an artist more.”

Have you lost your nerve at any point over the years?

“Absolutely!” she laughs. “I panic every time I put out a record. I think every artist does. Every time you have a Number One record you think., ‘Well that was great but I’ll probably never be able to do it again’. It’s never-ending.”

Today In Madonna History: July 15, 1995

On July 15 1995, Madonna’s Human Nature single peaked at #46 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.

The North American Human Nature single was backed with the album version of Sanctuary.

Today in Madonna History: May 29, 1995

On May 29 1995, Alek Keshishian filmed Madonna in a Japanese television commercial for Takara, a shochu or Japanese sake manufacturer. The sake, called Jun Legend, was made by blending two types of alcohol distilled from barley and corn and aging them in charred oak barrels for one to five years. Takara’s claim was that the sake tasted similar to whiskey.

Madonna wrote and sang the commercial’s jingle, which featured the lyrics: “How can I be pure, when all the strength I have is breaking me? How can I be sure, where is this road I’ve chosen taking me? I’m pure. Jun Legend.”

 

Today in Madonna History: May 19, 1995

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On May 19 1995, the music video for Human Nature premiered on MTV.

Madonna had initially planned to have friend and collaborator Alek Keshishian direct the video for Human Nature. Keshishian had even been named as the director in ICON Magazine, but for unknown reasons this shoot was cancelled during pre-production. Madonna later called in another recurring collaborator – Jean-Baptiste Mondino – to direct the clip instead.

The video marked Madonna’s first collaboration with Jamie King, who can be spotted as a dancer in the video.

Today in Madonna History: May 7, 1995

On May 7 1995, Madonna’s Bedtime Story debuted at #40 in New Zealand. The single peaked at #38 the following week and then left the charts after three weeks.

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