Today in Madonna History: August 6, 2015

On August 6 2015, Madonna.com revealed the first Rebel Heart Tour poster.

What is your favourite Madonna tour poster? What did you think of the poster for the Rebel Heart Tour?

Today in Madonna History: June 27, 2015

On June 27 2015, Bitch I’m Madonna earned Top Breakout and Most Added track on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart in the U.S.

Today in Madonna History: June 23, 1998

Ray Of Light Video Single_cover 550 Ray Of Light Video Single_back cover 550 Ray Of Light Video Single_tape 550 Ray Of Light Video Single_card insert

On June 23 1998, the music video for Ray of Light was released by Warner Reprise Video as a limited edition video single of 40,000 VHS copies. It sold 7,381 copies within its first month of release, becoming one of the best-selling video singles of the Nielsen SoundScan era. Madonna’s previous video single release, Justify My Love, which predated SoundScan, was certified quadruple-Platinum by the RIAA (for shipment of over 200,000 copies).

The reason behind Ray of Light being issued as a video single were twofold. Madonna was very pleased with the outcome of her first collaboration with director Jonas Åkerlund and her record company felt that there would be enough interest to warrant its commercial release. Secondly, Warner’s marketing team correctly sensed that the song’s then-experimental sound would be a tough sell at radio, so the decision was made to pull out all the stops to ensure the release outperformed on the sales chart. Another prong in this strategy was the inclusion of album outtake Has To Be as the b-side to the two-track single, while excluding it from the maxi-single in an attempt to persuade fans to purchase the single in multiple formats. The strategy proved successful, with the song’s number-five debut and peak on the Billboard Hot 100 mainly due to its sales strength. According to Billboard, the music video single boosted its first-week sales by roughly 7%, helping it to secure its place in the top-five.

Shortly after Ray of Light‘s release as a video single, Billboard magazine published an article musing on whether renewed interest in the relatively obscure format could ever prove lucrative for the music industry. A video buyer for a major retail chained remarked:

“Madonna’s Ray of Light video single is a success because she has a fervent fan base. There are very few artists with videos that consistently get people’s attention, but Madonna is one of those artists. It’s too early to tell if there’s a true market for video singles. Right now, it seems like record companies are trying video singles to see what happens. I think we’re going to see the lines becoming more blurred in how audio and video singles are marketed.”

Indeed. Within the next five years (and two Madonna video singles later), the emergence of online file sharing would obliterate the physical singles market in North America, and video streaming sites would soon spell an end to the prospect of marketing music video singles as a physical format. In digital form, however, music video singles may be selling in larger numbers than ever due to increased availability through iTunes. Strangely, however, sales of music videos through iTunes are not reported to Billboard and no longer count towards a single’s chart position (reportedly due to iTunes’ monopoly on digital sales of the format), while streams of music videos through sites like YouTube and Vevo are used in Billboard’s chart methodology.

Today in Madonna History: June 12, 2015

On June 12 2015, Madonna’s Bitch I’m Madonna music video teaser premiered.

The video was shot in New York City at the Standard Hotel and was directed by long-time fan-favourite director, Jonas Åkerlund.

Jonas explained how the video evolved:

Madonna called me about Ghosttown. We hadn’t worked for a while because of different circumstances so when I heard all the songs Rebel Heart, I was very excited about Ghosttown. I connected to it creatively. And, yeah, we enjoyed working together. I was supposed to start something else right after and that got pushed and she asked me to do Bitch I’m Madonna. I saw it being so completely different from Ghosttown, something a little bit less serious, just fun and crazy.

Today in Madonna History: April 17, 2015

On April 17 2015, Madonna tweeted about her long-lost friends, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring:

Andy and Keith had my back way back when! Miss being surrounded by artists that stuck together and defended one another! ❤#rebelhearts

Madonna spoke at length about Keith — here’s what she had to say about how they met and their journey together:

Keith’s work started in the street, and the first people who were interested in his art were the people who were interested in me. That is, the black and Hispanic community – I’d say people from lower income and background. His art appealed to the same people who liked my music. We were two odd birds in the same environment, and we were drawn to the same world – and inspired by it.

I watched Keith come up from that street base, which is where I came up from, and he managed to take something from what I call Street Art, which was an underground counter culture, and raise it to a Pop culture for mass consumption. And I did that too. The point is, we have an awful lot in common.

Another thing we have in common – and this happened quite early – was the envy and hostility coming from a lot of people who wanted us to stay small. Because we both became very commercial and started making a lot of money, people eliminated us from the realm of being artists. They said, “OK, if you’re going to be a mass-consumption commodity and a lot of people are going to buy your work – or buy into what you are – then you’re no good.” I know people thought that about Keith, and they obviously felt that about me too.

So Keith and I are sort of two sides of the same coin. And we were very supportive of each other in those early days. I remember Keith coming to watch my first shows. That was down at the Fun House, where “Jellybean,” with whom I was involved, was the disc jockey. I’d sing and dance and I’d choreograph these scenarios – and we had taped music and it was great, because this was a Hispanic club-and the atmosphere was just charged!

I don’t know what drew us to these exotic clubs – like the Fun House or Paradise Garage. Obviously, it was the sexuality and the animal-like magnetism of those people getting up and dancing with such abandon! They were all so beautiful! I’ve always been drawn to Hispanic culture – and so has Keith. It’s another thing we have in common.

So these were the people who bought my records in the first place – and they’re a great audience to perform for. Keith keyed into that too. He’d give these great parties, and I’d go to them and I’d give parties and he’d come to them. And we had such fun!

Another thing we have in common… we have the same taste in men! I remember a funny story about people saying that I stole one of Keith’s friends. What happened was that I had a New Year’s Eve party, and Keith arrived with this incredibly gorgeous guy. I remember Keith saying, “He’s yours, Madonna. He’s your New Year’s Eve present!” I said, “Oh, thank you!” And there was this really stunning guy – a great dancer – completely happy and a great positive spirit. And so he became my friend, too.

Anyway, I’ve always responded to Keith’s art. From the very beginning, there was lot of innocence and a joy that was coupled with a brutal awareness of the world. But it was all presented in a child-like way. The fact is, there’s a lot of irony in Keith’s work, just as there’s a lot of irony in my work. And that’s what attracts me to his stuff. I mean, you have these bold colors and those childlike figures and a lot of babies, but if you really look at those works closely, they’re really very powerful and really scary. And so often, his art deals with sexuality – and it’s a way to point up people’s sexual prejudices, their sexual phobias. In that way, Keith’s art is also very political.

What stays with me is that very early on, when Keith and I were just beginning to soar, our contemporaries and peers showed all this hostility. Well, the revenge was that, yes, there’s this small, elite group of artists who think we’re selling out. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is digging us! Of course, it’s what they want too! It’s so transparent! They’re just filled with jealousy and envy. And it certainly didn’t stop us, because Keith didn’t want to do his work just for the people of New York City – he wanted to do it for everybody, everywhere. I mean, an artist wants world recognition! He wants to make an impression on the world. He doesn’t just want a small, sophisticated, elitist group of people appreciating his work. The point of it all is that everybody is out there reaching for the stars, but only some of us get there!

When I think of Keith, I don’t feel alone. I don’t feel alone in my endeavors. I don’t feel alone in my celebration of what I’ve achieved. I don’t feel alone in the odds I’ve been up against. I feel so akin to Keith in so many ways! I really can’t compare myself to many people… and I don’t feel that many people can relate to where I’ve come from and to where I’ve landed. So when I think of Keith and his life and what he’s achieved… well, I feel that I’m not alone.

Today in Madonna History: April 8, 2015

On April 8 2015, Madonna’s Ghosttown music video premiered on VEVO. The music video was filmed in Los Angeles, directed by Jonas Åkerlund and co-starred Terrence Howard.

Today in Madonna History: March 18, 2015

On March 18 2015, Madonna’s Rebel Heart album debuted on Billboard’s Canadian Top Albums chart at #1.

All seven of Madonna’s studio albums released since Nielsen SoundScan began monitoring album sales in Canada in 1996 have entered the Canadian chart at #1, as did her 2009 hits collection, Celebration.

In contrast to Billboard’s Top 200 in the U.S., where Rebel Heart entered at #2 before falling to #21 the following week, sales remained relatively steady in Canada, with the album dipping only one position to #2 in its second week.

Interestingly, the album that blocked Rebel Heart from reaching the top spot in the U.S. (the Empire: Season 1 soundtrack) charted for only one week in Canada, peaking at #25.

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