Today in Madonna History: January 16, 2001

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On January 16 2001, Don’t Tell Me was released commercially in North America as the second single from Music.

Written by Madonna, Mirwais & Joe Henry, the song was Madonna’s first collaboration with her brother-in-law, whom she had known since high school. Henry sent a demo (then titled Stop) to Madonna after his wife, Melanie, insisted that her sister would love the song. Madonna & Mirwais drastically altered the music and melody and renamed the song Don’t Tell Me. Henry released his version on his eighth studio album, Scar, in May 2001.

The maxi-single featured remixes by Thunderpuss, Timo Mass, Victor Calderone, Richard “Humpty” Vission and Tracy Young. Don’t Tell Me was the last Madonna release to be issued on cassette single in the U.S. and was also available on 2-track CD single, CD Maxi-Single (enhanced with the music video) and as a double 12″ vinyl set. In Canada, it was released only on CD maxi-single.

Today in Madonna History: December 29, 2001

GHV2 Remixed promo coverGHV2 Remixed promo back coverpromo spotsghv2 megamix promo cover

On December 29 2001, megamixes issued to promote Madonna’s second greatest hits collection, GHV2, made their debut on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the U.S. at #29.

Several promo-only singles were issued by Maverick/Warner featuring megamixes by Thunderpuss, Tracy Young and Johnny Rocks with Mac Quayle and charted collectively under the title Madonna Megamix.

An additional marketing push to club DJ’s came in the form of GHV2 Remixed: The Best of 1991-2001 – a promo-only companion collection issued on CD and vinyl that compiled full-length remixed versions of songs featured on GHV2.

Today in Madonna History: December 9, 2001

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On December 9 2001, Madonna presented the Turner Prize to artist Martin Creed at London’s Tate Britain gallery.

Madonna half-seriously plugged her greatest hits album, GHV2, before explaining her feelings of ambivalence towards the merit of awards in relation to the artistic process.

“Art is always at its best when there is no money, because art has nothing to do with money and everything to do with love. Like love, it can be inspiring, inexplicable, provocative and sometimes infuriating. Nevertheless, we can not live without it, so that is why I’m here – not because I think one artist is better than another, but because I want to support any artist who not only has something to say, but has the balls to say it. In a time when political correctness is valued over honesty, I would also like to say – right on motherfuckers! – everyone is a winner.”

Channel 4 unsuccessfully attempted to censor the speech during the live broadcast, and later issued an apology for Madonna’s choice of words, which aired prior to the 9pm watershed. Madonna later explained that she had not intended to use profanity until the producers asked to review the content of her speech prior to the broadcast, sparking her defiance.

Today in Madonna History: September 13, 2001

Madonna Los Angeles Sept 13 2001 550LA DWT 8 LA DWT 7 550

On September 13 2001, Madonna resumed the final string of dates on her Drowned World Tour after having postponed the September 11th show due to the terrorist attacks in New York. She donated the proceeds from her second Los Angeles concert on the 13th to benefit children who were orphaned following the tragic attacks that killed thousands of parents.

Several changes were made to soften some of the show’s violent theatrics for the final three shows: at the end of the Geisha segment she was lowered from the stage with her arm around the dancer’s shoulder instead of shooting him; her kilt in the opening section was changed to an American flag design; she did not perform The Funny Song but instead took the opportunity to share some more serious thoughts with the audience.

Madonna told the crowd at the Staples Center:

“Any of you who purchased a ticket to the show tonight will be contributing to a fund that will be for children orphaned by this tragedy, so thank you all. Now on a personal note I think that each and every one of us should look inside our own hearts and examine our own personal acts of terrorism, hatred, intolerance, negativity, the list goes on and on, we’re all responsible. If you are homophobic or racist or hate, you contributed to this disaster. It’s not just Bin Laden, it’s all of us, we’ve all contributed to hatred in the world today. And I would like to have one minute of silence to say a prayer for those who have died; to say a prayer for the friends and families of those who have died; to say a prayer for the rescuers who have worked night and day to rescue people from the rubble. And most of all say a prayer for anyone who thinks that it is right to kill in the name of God. Where there is violence, there is no God. Let’s have a moment of silence. Hold hands with those around you. Or stay still and reflect.”

A minute of silence followed before Madonna launched into Secret, which she prefaced by adding:

“One more thing–if you want to change the world, you must first start with yourself!”

Today in Madonna History: August 20, 2001

On August 20 2001, Sal Cinquemani published this review of Madonna’s Music album in Slant magazine:

After her hugely successful and critically-lauded Ray Of Light, Madonna could have gone in one of several possible directions: (1) a more hardcore trance route, enlisting a world-class DJ like Sasha (who remixed a few tracks from Ray Of Light and whom Madonna allegedly dismissed after collaborating on several tracks early in the recording process of this new album); (2) staying in safe territory by writing and recording once again with William Orbit, the mastermind behind Ray Of Light; or (3) a weird, more experimental direction, commissioning someone like French electronica guru Mirwais Ahmadzai. Madonna once told producer Shep Pettibone “You can never do the same thing twice…ever,” but two new collaborations with Orbit, “Runaway Lover” and “Amazing,” prove that when you do, it will probably be completely uninteresting. “Runaway Lover” sounds like a Ray Of Light outtake with uninspired couplets like “It doesn’t pay to give away what you lack/You’ll never get your money back.” But amid the clichés, Madonna throws in profound food for thought like “You get your education from your lovers.” “Amazing” is incredibly catchy and has a Supremes-like melody but that’s where it ends. The track borrows the drum loop Orbit used in “Beautiful Stranger” (which was originally the loop from his “Ray Of Light” remix), and proves that he may not have had enough tricks up his sleeve for an entire new album anyway (and perhaps Madonna knew that).

As such, Madonna enlisted Mirwais for most of the rest of the album in question, Music. The title track, a retro hands-in-the-air club song reminiscent of Debbie Deb’s “When I Hear Music” and Madonna’s own “Into The Groove,” is the singer’s best dance floor-beckoning track since “Vogue.” She sings “Music makes the people come together” like a track off of her debut album, and as an added bonus she uses words like “bourgeoisie” and “acid-rock” with equal abandon. If you can get past the initial horror of hearing Madonna’s voice get the Cher “Believe” treatment on “Nobody’s Perfect,” another Mirwais collaboration, you’ll find a brilliant song full of genuine sorrow. The track opens with an intentionally imperfect and somber “I feel so sad,” and it is indeed believable. Lyrics like “What did you expect? I’m doing my best” are sung with an intriguing juxtaposition of human emotion and mechanically detached vocalizations. Though hard to swallow at first (like most on the album), the track is one of the singer’s best creations. With its distorted vocals and grinding electronic burps, “Paradise (Not For Me)” is another distinctive Mirwais production. At a turning point in the song, Madonna awkwardly struggles to speak the words “There is a light above my head/Into your eyes my face remains” while strings swell and bring the song to a climax. It is at this point that “Paradise” resembles the cinematic grandeur of tracks like “Frozen,” and it is also one of the few moments throughout Music that recalls the spiritual introspection of Ray Of Light.

Two tracks take a striking folk direction. “I Deserve It” finds Madonna once again singing with a warm yet detached voice, but this time her vocals are completely untouched by effects. “Gone” ends the album and is possibly one of Madonna’s best performances. In the vein of “Live To Tell,” the song seems to sum up everything Madonna has tried to tell us about being the most famous woman in the world. Earlier attempts have seemed obvious and sometimes trite (“Goodbye To Innocence,” “Survival,” “Drowned World”), but this song seems to be particularly telling. It is also, perhaps, the most human she has ever been. Self-deprecation and vulnerability have never been Madonna’s strong-suits, but the way she sings “I won’t let it happen again/I’m not very smart” could make you wonder. Music seems more like a collection of songs than a cohesive album, and it is an unexpected answer to Ray Of Light. But strangely, in an attempt to make a “fun,” less-introspective album, Madonna has revealed more of herself than ever. No longer shrouded with pedantic spirituality, she has become even more human, exposing her fears on tracks like “Nobody’s Perfect” and “Paradise,” her soul on “Don’t Tell Me” and “What It Feels Like For A Girl,” and revealing her joys on “Impressive Instant” and “Music.”

Today in Madonna History: May 21, 2001

On May 21 2001, the U.S. leg of Madonna’s Drowned World Tour continued to sell out performances in the final seven markets that went on sale the previous weekend. A press release stated that the tour, promoted by SFX, promised to be the most extravagant stage spectacle of Madonna’s career thus far. The last batch of cities announced for the tour included sold-out dates in New York, New Jersey, Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It was also announced that due to overwhelming demand, an additional three shows in New York and two in Los Angeles had been added to the itinerary, with tickets to go on sale May 30th.

Today in Madonna History: April 17, 2001

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On April 17 2001, Madonna’s What It Feels Like for a Girl – the third single from Music was released by Maverick Records. The song was written by Madonna, Guy Sigsworth and David Torn, who was credited later, while production was handled by Madonna, Guy Sigsworth and Mark Stent. The spoken intro, recited by Charlotte Gainsbourg, is an excerpt from the 1993 film The Cement Garden.

Lyrics:

Girls can wear jeans
And cut their hair short
Wear shirts and boots
Cause it’s okay to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
Cause you think being a girl is degrading
But secretly
You’d love to know what it’s like
Wouldn’t you?
What it feels like for a girl

Silky smooth
Lips as sweet as candy, baby
Tight blue jeans
Skin that shows in patches

Strong inside but you don’t know it
Good little girls they never show it
When you open up your mouth to speak
Could you be a little weak

Do you know what it feels like for a girl
Do you know what it feels like in this world for a girl

Hair that twirls on finger tips so gently, baby
Hands that rest on jutting hips repenting
Hurt that’s not supposed to show and
Tears that fall when no one knows
When you’re trying hard to be your best
Could you be a little less

Do you know what it feels like for a girl
Do you know what it feels like in this world for a girl
Do you know what it feels like for a girl
Do you know what it feels like in this world
What it feels like for a girl

Strong inside but you don’t know it
Good little girls they never show it
When you open up your mouth to speak
Could you be a little weak

Do you know what it feels like for a girl
Do you know what it feels like in this world for a girl
Do you know what it feels like for a girl
Do you know what it feels like in this world for a girl

In this world
Do you know
Do you know
Do you know what it feels like for a girl
What it feels like in this world

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