Today in Madonna History: March 20, 1990

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On March 20 1990, the lead single from Madonna’s I’m Breathless album, Vogue, was released.

Vogue was written and produced by Madonna and Shep Pettibone in December 1989.  The song was recorded with the intention of being the b-side to the upcoming (and last single for the Like A Prayer album), Keep It Together (released on January 30 1990).

The finished product was too good to be a single b-side, so it was decided that Vogue would be a stand-alone single on Madonna’s forthcoming album, I’m Breathless (even though the song had nothing to do with Dick Tracy).

Today in Madonna History: February 7, 1987

On February 7 1987, Open Your Heart hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.  It was the 4th international single release from the True Blue album.

The single’s b-side, White Heat, was inspired by the 1949 Warner Bros. film of the same name starring James Cagney, to whom Madonna dedicated the song. Interspersed with dialogue taken directly from the film, Madonna’s lyrics put her love of double entendre to clever use as she compares the film’s themes of trust and betrayal among gang members to affairs of the heart.

White Heat was written and produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard and was one of the earlier songs developed for the True Blue album, along with Open Your Heart. The initial copyright registration, submitted to the Library Of Congress in 1985, lists the song under its original title, Get Up Stand Tall.

Both songs were performed during 1987’s Who’s That Girl Tour. White Heat was also featured as the b-side for the single, Who’s That Girl, released in the summer of 1987.

 

Today in Madonna History: June 30, 1992

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On June 30 1992, Madonna contributed a remixed version of Supernatural (originally released as the b-side to Cherish in 1989) on the AIDS benefit CD, Red Hot & Dance.

Today in Madonna History: December 12, 1986

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On December 12 1986, Open Your Heart was released in North America as the fourth single from True Blue. The song was written by Madonna, Gardner Cole & Peter Rafelson and produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard.

The single’s worldwide b-side, White Heat, an album track from True Blue, developed a relatively high profile due to its inclusion as the flip-side to two of Madonna’s #1 hits–the aforementioned Open Your Heart and 1987’s Who’s That Girl, released only six months apart. Gaining further exposure as a set-list staple during the Who’s That Girl Tour, the live performance of White Heat foreshadowed some of the dramatic elements that Madonna would expand upon in future tours.

White Heat’s original submission for copyright was registered to Madonna & Leonard under the working title Get Up, Stand Tall with a 1985 date of creation. Notes from the registration on file also list the title Dangerous–but it is likely just another working title that was being considered rather than a separate recording.  White Heat is thought to have been among the earliest songwriting collaborations between Madonna & Leonard to be completed, coming shortly after their first composition, Love Makes The World Go Round, surfaced during Live Aid in the summer of 1985. The sequence of the registration numbers for the two songs suggests that they may they have been completed within a month or two of each other. Madonna’s version of Open Your Heart (which she revised from the Cole/Rafelson demo) is also thought to have been recorded with Leonard during the same time period.

The liner notes of True Blue dedicated White Heat to actor James Cagney, who in 1949 played ruthless, deranged gang leader Arthur “Cody” Jarrett in the Warner Brothers film, White Heat. Several clips of Cagney’s dialogue from the original motion picture were used in the song for dramatic effect.

Today in Madonna History: November 28, 2006

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On November 28 2006, Jump peaked at #20 on the Austrian Ultratop 40 singles chart. The song was the fourth international single from Confessions On A Dance Floor.

The maxi-single featured remixes by Stuart Price (under the pseudonym Jacques Lu Cont), Axwell and Junior Sanchez; an Extended Album Version and Radio Edit (the US vinyl edition also added the “unmixed” Album Version); and a previously unreleased b-side, History, written and produced by Madonna & Stuart Price.

Recorded during the Confessions On A Dance Floor sessions, the released version of History was in actuality an uncredited Stuart Price remix of the otherwise shelved original production. An alternate version of the Price remix streamed on Madonna’s official website for a brief period but has yet to surface in quality above streaming grade. More of the song’s history came to light when an incomplete clip of the final non-remixed version, as well as several complete demo takes (featuring nixed chorus lyric “I thought that we were related” instead of “Defined by our greed and hatred”), leaked online in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

While the remix of History is a sparse and stripped-down slice of electro-house that recalls some of Stuart Price’s earlier solo work as Les Rythmes Digitales, the pulsating urgency of the original production with its heedfully hopeful bridge make it the more definitive rendering of the song.

Today in Madonna History: September 27, 1994

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On September 27 1994, Secret was released as the lead single from Bedtime Stories. Initially credited to Madonna & Dallas Austin upon its release, Shep Pettibone was later given a co-writing credit due to his involvement in the creation of an early demo version of the track entitled Something Coming Over Me. The demo – which has been described by the few who have heard it as having a club anthem vibe without the R&B overtones of the Austin version – was submitted by Pettibone to the Library Of Congress for copyright registration but has yet to leak. The released version was produced by Madonna & Dallas Austin, and is the only song on the album to feature Austin’s untouched production work. Austin’s other contributions to the album were either reworked with new production (Survival) or remixed (Sanctuary) by Nellee Hooper or Daniel Abraham (Don’t Stop)‏.

To promote the release of Secret, Madonna made her virgin attempt at reaching out to fans and potential listeners via the burgeoning world wide web with a playful audio teaser:

“Hello all you cyberheads! Welcome to the 90’s version of intimacy…you can hear me, you can even see me, but you can’t touch me! Do you recognize my voice? It’s Madonna. Often imitated but never duplicated. Or should I say – often irritated? If you feel like it, you can download the sound file of my new single Secret from my new album Bedtime Stories which comes out next month. I just shot the video in New York and will be premiering an exclusive sample of it online, so check back soon. In the meantime, why don’t you post me a message and let me know what you think of my new song. And by the way, don’t believe any of those online imposters pretending to be me…ain’t nothing like the real thing! Peace out.”

While the North American single used only the instrumental version of Secret on its flip-side, many other markets, including European territories, were treated to an unreleased outtake from the Bedtime Stories sessions. Perhaps fearing that the distinctly American R&B influence of Secret may have had limited appeal in Europe, Warner made the strategic decision to include an added incentive for European fans to pick up the single – undoubtedly spurring an increase in the number of copies exported to North America in the process. Although non-album b-sides are a relatively rare occurrence in Madonna’s catalogue given the large number of singles she has released through the years, Let Down Your Guard (written and produced by Madonna & Dallas Austin) is particularly peculiar due to its labeling as a “Rough Mix Edit.” This disclaimer-like appendage seemingly suggests that either Madonna or her record label deemed it necessary to explicitly caution listeners that the song was not indicative of the more polished production work that would be featured on the Bedtime Stories album proper. Indeed, the idiosyncratic nuances of Austin’s production (with its tip-of-the-hat to early Prince material) is largely what makes Let Down Your Guard such an unguarded and enjoyable obscurity – rendering its disclaimer redundant.

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