On March 6 1998, Madonna spent the day in Toronto, Canada conducting a press conference and various print interviews to promote her new album, Ray Of Light, released earlier that week. She ended the day with a live, hour-long interview on Much Music hosted by VJ’s Master T (personally selected by Madonna herself after viewing reels of the station’s on-air personalities) and Geneviève Borne (a self-proclaimed Madonna fan and VJ from Much Music’s French-language sister station, Musique Plus).
The much-hyped event, which marked Madonna’s first and only visit to the Much Music studios, was prefaced by the Canadian music video channel’s second Madonnathon – a day of all-Madonna programming. The first, which featured her 1992 interview with Jonathan Ross and a then-recent press junket interview with The New Music’s Jana Lynne White (and all of her music videos), aired in January of 1993 at the height of the Sex/Erotica/Body Of Evidence backlash.
After the appearance was announced, fans seeking a limited hot spot inside the studio for the interview were asked to call in and were queried a series of Madonna-related trivia questions to prove their worthiness, while others who didn’t make it inside lined the streets of the Queen St W studios on the day of the event to welcome the Queen of Pop to Toronto.
On March 1 1998, Madonna’s Ray Of Light album was featured in an episode MTV’s Ultrasound.
Kurt Loder visited Madonna in the studio during the recording of the Ray Of Light album in late 1997 for an exclusive chat and behind-the-scenes look into her recording process. He later joined her on the set of the Frozen video to conduct an additional interview for the episode. Madonna chatted about motherhood, her recent spiritual awakening, and the inspiration behind the album. Kurt also conducted interviews with collaborator William Ørbit, Guy Oseary and the director of the Frozen video, Chris Cunningham.
On February 16 1998, the music video for Frozen premiered on MTV at 4 p.m. Directed by Chris Cunningham, the video was filmed in the Mojave Desert in California from January 7th to 10th.
Initially Madonna had considered filming the video in Iceland but decided that a barren desert would create a similarly desolate backdrop, without the added difficulty of filming in extreme cold temperatures. As it turned out, filming in the desert at dusk in January was far from the warm location she had envisioned; low temperatures and an accompanying rainstorm left much of the crew under the weather.
In an interview with MTV News, Cunningham stated that Madonna became interested to work with him after seeing his Aphex Twin-directed music video, “Come to Daddy” (1997). The black goth gown outfit Madonna wears in the video was designed by Olivier Theyskens, and provided by then-new collaborator, designer Arianne Phillips.
On November 7 1998, The Power of Good-Bye advanced one position to #13 in what would be its final bulleted week on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. The single would nonetheless manage to sneak its way up to #11 on November 28th, sans bullet. It is worth noting that one of the most significant changes to eligibility rules in the Hot 100’s history at the time took effect during the single’s initially rapid ascent, causing an immediate rush of non-commercially released radio hits to storm the chart and seemingly disrupt the ballad’s momentum.
A decision by Warner Bros. to withhold a maxi-single release for The Power Of Good-Bye in the U.S., compounded by the lack of any non-album content on the standard single despite earlier reports, suggests that the changes to the Hot 100 may have created a larger ripple than Warner had anticipated. Including the Oprah performance of Little Star, as previously reported in Billboard, or even the Dallas Austin remix of The Power Of Good-Bye on the b-side certainly would have given fans more incentive to pick up the 2-track single in the U.S.
It’s difficult to fully frown on Warner’s seemingly uncontainable enthusiasm for the brilliant remixes of Ray Of Light‘s fourth single, Nothing Really Matters, however, despite its unconventional timing.