Today in Madonna History: July 21, 1987

On July 21 1987, the Who’s That Girl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack album was released.

Who’s That Girl was released as the lead single from the soundtrack, it became Madonna’s sixth single to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making her the first artist to accumulate six number-one singles in the 1980s, and the first female performer to earn that many number-ones as a solo act.

The album’s second single, Causing a Commotion, was released on August 25, 1987. In the United States, the single quickly climbed up the chart, ultimately peaking at number two in the week of October 24, 1987, the same week Michael Jackson’s Bad advanced to the pole position. It remained in second position for three weeks, before descending from the chart.

The third song released from the album was the European single The Look of Love. In the United Kingdom, The Look of Love was released on December 12, 1987, and entered the UK Singles Chart at position 15.  The next week, it reached a peak of nine on the chart, her first single to miss the top five since Lucky Star in 1984.

Regarding her contributions to the soundtrack, Madonna said:

“I had some very specific ideas in mind, music that would stand on its own as well as support and enhance what was happening on-screen and the only way to make that a reality was to have a hand in writing the tunes myself… The songs aren’t necessarily about Nikki or written to be sung by someone like her, but there’s a spirit to this music that captures both what the film and the characters are about, I think.”

The only Madonna song not to be released as a single or performed live from the soundtrack was Can’t Stop. Madonna had been performing her three other songs from the soundtrack during the Who’s That Girl World Tour for over a month prior to the album’s release.

Today in Madonna History: September 6, 2013

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On September 6 2013, MDNA World Tour was released in Germany and Australia by Live Nation Entertainment and Interscope Records.  The complete show was included on the live album which was issued as a digital download and as a 2-CD set in some countries, while the concert film was issued in various configurations including DVD, Blu-ray and as a 2-CD+DVD set.

Madonna served as producer for the project and spent several months editing the concert film with directors by Danny B. Tull and Stephane Sennour. The show was primarily recorded over two nights the previous November in Miami, Florida, although additional audience footage shot by Guy Oseary over the course of the tour was also interspersed throughout the film.

Today in Madonna History: March 3, 1998

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On March 3 1998, Madonna’s seventh studio album, Ray Of Light, was released in North America.

Spawning five singles and winning four Grammy awards, it garnered near-universal acclaim upon its release and it is often cited as a high watermark in Madonna’s career as a recording artist.

Ray Of Light was produced by Madonna & William Orbit with additional production by Patrick Leonard & Marius De Vries.

Today in Madonna History: November 15, 2005

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On November 15 2005, Madonna’s tenth studio album, Confessions On A Dance Floor, was released in North America by Warner Bros Records. The majority of the album was co-produced and co-written by Madonna & Stuart Price, with additional contributions by Mirwais, Bloodshy & Avant, Joe Henry and Anders Bagge & Peer Åström. It featured the singles Hung Up, Sorry, Get Together and Jump.

Madonna performed a small club show at Koko in London, UK on November 15th to celebrate the album’s release, with the set being streamed online to fans around the world. The live webcast was preceded by an exclusive mini-documentary titled Confessions…On A Promo Tour.

 

Today In Madonna History: October 25, 1994

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On October 25 1994, Madonna’s sixth studio album, Bedtime Stories was released by Maverick Records. The album was produced by Madonna with co-producers Nellee Hooper, Dave Hall, Dallas Austin and Babyface.

When the self-orchestrated media onslaught that accompanied the release of her previous album Erotica largely overshadowed the brilliant work it contained, Madonna took a decidedly subdued approach when it came to promoting Bedtime Stories. Interviews conducted for its release were mostly in print with a greater emphasis being placed on music – it seemed as though Madonna had little patience at the time for interviewers who insisted on turning her private life into headlines. 

Both a sense of defiance and a hint of impatience with society’s intolerance to her boundary-pushing provocations carried over into the work itself, most notably with album opener, Survival and the sardonically biting Human Nature. But such sentiments were balanced with songs that were perhaps more personal and more poetic than she had offered on previous albums, with the possible exception of Like A Prayer. Feelings of longing, loneliness and loss – along with early glimpses into spiritual rediscovery – are at the emotional heart of the record, with songs like Love Tried To Welcome Me and Sanctuary containing some of her most ambitiously inspired lyrics, expanding on written works by George Herbert, Carson McCullers and Walt Whitman. 

Perhaps the album’s most notable triumph is for Madonna as record producer, as she successfully manages to design an overarching flow that seamlessly bridges the styles of her various collaborators and co-producers. Indeed, Bedtime Stories is a body of work that is much more successful as a whole than it is broken down into individual tracks, which may explain why it is frequently overlooked in comparison to her more singles-driven albums of the previous decade. Even the record’s mega-hit, Take A Bow hasn’t maintained the traction in the realm of public consciousness that some of her earlier and later hits have managed to do. But when played from start to finish, Bedtime Stories remains surprisingly relevant through its subtleties and nuances – aptly demonstrating that even for Madonna, sometimes less is more.

“So here’s my question –
Does your criticism have you caught up
In what you cannot see?”

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