Today in Madonna History: February 25, 1995

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On February 25 1995, Madonna’s Take A Bow hit #1 in the USA on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  The hit single remained #1 for 7 weeks, and became Madonna’s 11th single to top the charts in the USA.

Billboard called the song a “plush pop ballad” that was “as close to perfect as top 40 fare gets.” Adding that the lead vocal was “both sweet and quietly soulful.”

Today in Madonna History: January 5, 1995

On January 5 1995, Madonna’s fabulous Bedtime Stories album was certified platinum (for shipment of 1 million units).

Barbara O’Dair reviewed the album for Rolling Stone magazine:

After the drubbing she has taken in the last few years, Madonna deserves to be mighty mad. And wounded anger is shot through her new album, Bedtime Stories, as she works out survival strategies. While always a feminist more by example than by word or deed, Madonna seems genuinely shocked at the hypocritical prudishness of her former fans, leading one to expect a set of biting screeds. But instead of reveling in raised consciousness, Bedtime Stories demonstrates a desire to get unconscious. Madonna still wants to go to bed, but this time it’s to pull the covers over her head.

Still, in so doing, Madonna has come up with some awfully compelling sounds. In her retreat from sex to romance, she has enlisted four top R&B producers: Atlanta whiz kid Dallas Austin, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Dave “Jam” Hall and Britisher Nellee Hooper (Soul II Soul), who add lush soul and creamy balladry. With this awesome collection of talent, the record verily shimmers. Bass-heavy grooves push it along when more conventional sentiments threaten to bog it down. Both aspects put it on chart-smart terrain.

A number of songs — “Survival,” “Secret,” “I’d Rather Be Your Lover” (to which Me’Shell NdegéOcello brings a bumping bass line and a jazzy rap) — are infectiously funky. And Madonna does a drive-by on her critics, complete with a keening synth line straight outta Dre, on “Human Nature”: “Did I say something wrong?/Oops, I didn’t know I couldn’t talk about sex (I musta been crazy).”

But you don’t need her to tell you that she’s “drawn to sadness” or that “loneliness has never been a stranger,” as she sings on the sorrowful “Love Tried to Welcome Me.” The downbeat restraint in her vocals says it, from the tremulously tender “Inside of Me” to the sob in “Happiness lies in your own hand/It took me much too long to understand” from “Secret.”

The record ultimately moves from grief to oblivion with the seductive techno pull of “Sanctuary.” The pulsating drone of the title track (co-written by Björk and Hooper), with its murmured refrain of “Let’s get unconscious, honey,” renounces language for numbness.

Twirled in a gauze of (unrequited) love songs, Bedtime Stories says, “Fuck off, I’m not done yet.” You have to listen hard to hear that, though. Madonna’s message is still “Express yourself, don’t repress yourself.” This time, however, it comes not with a bang but a whisper.

Today in Madonna History: November 29, 1994

On November 29 1994, the second single from Madonna’s Bedtime Stories album, Take A Bow, was released. The song was written and produced by Madonna and Babyface.

In Steve Sullivan’s Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings Volume 2, he reviews the hit single:

A gorgeous melancholy ballad of unrequited love, with the object of the singer’s affection being someone who hides behind a role playing mask which only she can see. Babyface makes the song virtually a duet with Madonna, echoing her words with his high tenor wafting dreamily behind her, and the song’s minimalist arrangement is impeccably elegant.

Today in Madonna History: June 30, 1997

On June 30 1997, Madonna began recording sessions for what would become her Ray Of Light album at Larrabee North Recording Studios, Universal City, Los Angeles.

Madonna had already spent several months writing songs and producing demos with Patrick Leonard, Rick Nowels and Babyface (although none of the Babyface material would make the final cut) by the time she entered the studio with co-producers William Orbit and Marius De Vries. Leonard would return to the project to assist with arrangements, earning him a co-producer’s credit on four of the album’s tracks. Madonna would add lyrics and melody to at least a half-dozen previously composed Orbit demos during these sessions as well, with six of their songs making the final track list.

Today in Madonna History: February 22, 1995

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On February 22 1995, Madonna and Babyface performed Take A Bow at the San Remo Music Festival in Italy. At the end of the performance, Madonna thanked the audience in Italian, and received a standing ovation.  

Today in Madonna History: November 30, 1994

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On November 30 1994, Madonna’s second music video release from Bedtime Stories, Take A Bow, was released. The award winning music video (Best Female Video at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards) was directed by Michael Haussman in Ronda and Antequera, Spain.

The bullfighter in the video was played by real-life Spanish bullfighter Emilio Muñoz. Muñoz reprised his role with Madonna in the You’ll See music video, also directed by Haussman in 1995.

Today in Madonna History: February 25, 1995

take-a-bow-madonna-car-1 take-a-bow-madonna-car-2 take-a-bow-madonna-car-3 take-a-bow-madonna-car-4

On February 25 1995, Madonna’s Take A Bow hit #1 in the USA on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  The hit single remained #1 for 7 weeks, and became Madonna’s 11th single to top the charts in the USA.

Billboard called the song a “plush pop ballad” that was “as close to perfect as top 40 fare gets”. Adding that the lead vocal was “both sweet and quietly soulful”.

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