Today in Madonna History: May 1, 1999

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On May 1 1999, the music video for Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger was shot at Universal Studios in Universal City, California.

Beautiful Stranger was directed by Brett Ratner, and went on to win an MTV Video Music Award for Best Video from a Film.

Today in Madonna History: April 8, 1999

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On April 8 1999, American TV newsmagazine Entertainment Tonight (aka ET) revealed the title of the new song Madonna had recorded for the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack: Beautiful Stranger.

Beautiful Stranger launched to radio in mid-May and quickly became a sizeable summertime hit along with the Maverick Records-issued soundtrack album which landed in North American record stores on June 1st, 1999.

Today in Madonna History: March 17, 1999

On March 17 1999, CBS-TV’s news magazine, 60 Minutes II, aired a Madonna interview conducted by Charlie Rose. The segment was titled “Madonna at 40”.

“I refused to wear makeup – and that’s when girls are, sort of, going out of their way to be attractive and please boys at school. I said, ‘Well I’ll be damned! They’re going to have to like me with hairy armpits or they’re not worthy of me!'”

Today in Madonna History: March 13, 1999

On March 13 1999, Nothing Really Matters spent the first of two weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Club Play chart in the U.S.

Despite being a successful club hit, many have cited Warner’s unusual marketing choices for the single as the primary reason for its poor placement on the Hot 100, where its peak of #93 remains the lowest of her charting singles.

The delayed release of the commercial single – which came long after the song had peaked at radio – was clearly a blunder, while other aspects of the song’s promotion seemingly started too early. After declining to release the experimental remixes for The Power Of Good-Bye in the U.S. (the remixes were issued commercially in Canada & abroad), Warner jumped the gun by beginning to service remixes of Nothing Really Matters promotionally to clubs as early as September of 1998 – over six months ahead of the maxi-single release.

An alternative might have been to service the Sky Fits Heaven remixes promotionally in the U.S. during the interim, considering that it managed to enter the Dance/Club Play chart based solely on spins from the imported Drowned World/Substitute For Love single, with no push from the label domestically.

Chart positions and marketing decisions aside, the maxi-single for Nothing Really Matters, with its wonderfully varied set of remixes by Peter Rauhofer, Kruder & Dorfmeister and Talvin Singh, remains one of Madonna’s best, in our opinion. Together with its visually stunning music video, the single marked an artistically pleasing closing chapter to the epic Ray Of Light era.

Today in Madonna History: March 9, 1999

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On March 9 1999, the concert film for Madonna’s Who’s That Girl World Tour, Ciao Italia, was released on DVD.

Dennis Hunt from the Los Angeles Times gave Ciao Italia a positive review:

“A festive Italian stadium show featuring the Material Girl, who’s turned into a first-rate entertainer, strutting and singing in flashy production-number renditions of her most recent Billboard topping songs, is indeed a delight. The video captures the enormity of Madonna as a performer, and her theatrics, oomph and chutzpah.”

Today in Madonna History: February 24, 1999

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On February 24 1999, Madonna performed Nothing Really Matters at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards. Madonna also took home 4 Grammies:

  • Best Pop Album – David Reitzas, Jon Ingoldsby, Pat McCarthy (engineers/mixers), William Orbit (producer) and Madonna (producer & artist) for Ray Of Light
  • Best Dance Recording – Pat McCarthy (mixer), William Orbit (producer) and Madonna (producer & artist) for Ray of Light
  • Best Short Form Music Video – Jonas Åkerlund (video director) and Madonna for Ray of Light
  • Best Recording Package – Kevin Reagan (art director) for Ray of Light performed by Madonna

Today in Madonna History: February 13, 1999

On February 13 1999, Madonna’s Nothing Really Matters single was reviewed by Billboard magazine.

The North American two-track single for Nothing Really Matters included the album version of To Have And Not To Hold as its b-side.

Prior to the release of the Ray Of Light album, it was reported that Madonna had fourteen tracks mastered but wanted to cut one, as she felt that thirteen was a lucky number. According to the article, Madonna’s final selection was between two songs: To Have And Not To Hold or Has To Be.

As we all know, Has To Be ended up being cut from the final track list (except in Japan, where it was included as a bonus track).

If you had to choose between including To Have And Not To Hold or Has To Be on Ray Of Light, which song would you include? Keep in mind, your selection should not simply be which individual track you prefer – Madonna would also have had to consider how her choice would affect the overall flow and emotional arc of the album, both musically and lyrically.

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