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.

Today in Madonna History: April 22, 1995

On April 22 1995, Bedtime Story debuted at number 72 on the US Billboard Hot 100, on the issue dated April 22, 1995. One week later, the song peaked at number 42, becoming the first Madonna single since Burning Up (1983) to miss the top 40.

Today In Madonna History: March 15, 1995

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On March 15 1995, Madonna signed on to star as the late Eva Peron in film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway musical Evita.

Today In Madonna History: March 1, 1995

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On March 1 1995, Madonna began to appear in a series of promotional ad campaigns in various North American magazines for Gianni Versace fashions. Photographs by Steven Meisel.

Today in Madonna History: February 20, 1995

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On February 20 1995, Madonna performed Bedtime Story live for the first and only time at the Brit Awards. The performance was set to a remix of the song by Junior Vasquez. Madonna wore a white Versace dress and long hair extensions, an image similar to her 1995 Versace advertisement campaign spread.

Madonna invited Björk to feature in the performance but Björk declined the offer, later stating: “I was supposed to get [Madonna’s] personal number and call her up, but it just didn’t feel right. I’d love to meet her accidentally, really drunk in a bar. It’s just all that formality that confuses me.”

Today in Madonna History: February 13, 1995

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On February 13 1995, Madonna made a surprise appearance on CBS-TV’s Late Show with David Letterman.

In her first visit back to the Ed Sullivan Theater after her controversial 1994 appearance, Madonna presented Letterman with a Valentines Day gift.

And no, it was not her underpants…

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.

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