On November 12 1994, Madonna’s Bedtime Stories was the week’s highest debut on the Billboard 200 album chart, peaking at #3 with sales of 145,000 units.
While the figure represented a 15% drop in first-week sales from her previous long player, Erotica, the album proved to be a commercial grower in America – where the runaway success of its second single, Take A Bow, would push its overall U.S. sales tally well beyond that of its predecessor.
Illustrating urban/r&b’s U.S. chart domination at the time, Bedtime Stories was held back from the top spot by the Murder Was The Case soundtrack (performed by Snoop Doggy Dogg) and Boyz II Men’s II.
On November 5 1994, Madonna’s Secret hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.
Here’s what Larry Flick from Billboard had to say about Secret:
“The lushly layered album mix simmers with a strumming acoustic intro that breaks into a languid funk/R&B beat. As Madonna delivers a solid performance that emphasizes her increasingly strong lower vocal range, a meticulously woven arrangement of quasi-psychedelic colors and raw hip-hop elements percolates. Naturally, the hook is pure pop candy, sticking to the brain after one spin.”
On September 14 1994, the lead single from Madonna’s Bedtime Stories album, Secret, was made available for download on the internet through America Online (AOL) and CompuServe.
Before the single was made available, Madonna posted this message for her fans:
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.
On May 6 1995, the first of a two-day shoot for the music video for Human Nature took place at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, California.
The video was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino while the work of S&M comic artist Eric Stanton provided inspiration.
Mondino found this book by this illustrator named Stanton who did kinda S&M drawings and stuff, but we didn’t want to go with the straight S&M; we wanted to have it be more about making fun of it.” – Madonna
All I know is…my main problem is I don’t like videos when somebody’s dancing, that the camera is moving a lot. I’m more like an old-time, classic guy, because I remember most of the video you had shot with the crane, some Steadicam, plus some panning. So you have about five different cameras shooting a performance, and after they edit like crazy. It gives you a lot of freedom, but I feel very frustrated because I like to see somebody dancing. I hate when there’s too much editing. I like the steadiness of the performance because then you can really enjoy the movement of the body. You see the skill. I like to shrink — as much as I can — the stage because I can grab her. If not, everyone is running around and I’m not good with this. So I came up with the boxes [laughs] and I knew that with the boxes I had to do with something quite un-expect-able because there’s not too much stage to dance in. So there’s something beautiful about it and they looked like bees or something. And the rest of it was how to create some kind of choreography and some graphic imagery with the S&M outfits, but with humor. So she has a little dog and she has some funny moments where she drops down, there’s some Charlie Chaplin-esque moments into in it. Because S&M is a game, you know? It’s dark, it looks dark, but I think people have fun. When you wear rubber like this, you better have fun. If not, you stop using it for sex and you become a diver, you know?” – Jean-Baptiste Mondino
On February 13 1995, Bedtime Story was released in Europe by Maverick Records as the third single from the album Bedtime Stories. In North America, the single was delayed until April due to the sleeper success of Take A Bow, which continued its slow-but-steady climb to the top of the Hot 100.
Bedtime Story was written by Björk, Marius De Vries & Nellee Hooper and was produced by Hooper & Madonna. Björk’s original demo, titled Let’s Get Unconscious, was reworked by Hooper & DeVries and renamed Bedtime Story for its submission to Madonna. Björk later revisited elements of the song’s lyrics in Sweet Intuition–a b-side from her 1995 single, Army Of Me.
In a 2001 interview for NYLON magazine, writer James Servin asked Björk whether it was true that she had written the lyrics to Bedtime Story for Madonna because she liked the idea of her expressing a viewpoint that was paradoxical to her controlled public image:
“I think at the time, yes. But that’s like six years ago, when everything about [Madonna] seemed very controlled. I think she’s a very intuitive person, and definitely her survival instincts are incredible. They’re like, outrageous. At the time, the words I thought she should say were, ‘I’m not using words anymore, let’s get unconscious honey. Fuck logic. Just be intuitive. Be more free. Go with the flow.’ Right now, she seems pretty much to be going with the flow.”
This prompts me to ask Björk if she thinks she might have put those mellowing-out thoughts into Madonna’s head. “Well, I wouldn’t credit myself for that,” she says. “Not at all. That’s a question for you to ask her.”
I sent a fax to Madonna via her publicist Liz Rosenberg, with the question: “Did singing the lyrics Björk wrote for Bedtime Story lead you in the direction of going more with the flow?” A day or two later, I receive this e-mail from Liz Rosenberg: “I wish I could get an answer from Madonna for you. She’s deep into rehearsals for her tour, and I can’t get any info from her for a while. I can tell you that Madonna certainly thinks Björk is inspiring and a brilliant artist. Madonna is a huge fan of her music. I’ve never thought Madonna was a ‘go with the flow’ person before or after recording Bedtime Story. She goes with a flow – but it’s a flow of her own creation, if you know what I mean.”
On November 5 1994, Bedtime Stories entered the UK album charts at number-two. It was Madonna’s second consecutive studio album to miss the top position on the UK charts, but it would be her last until 2015’s Rebel Heart, which also topped out in the runner-up position.
Which album denied Bedtime Stories its shot at earning Madonna another number-one debut in the UK? A greatest hits collection by perennial favorite of hockey (or in this case–soccer) moms everywhere, apparently….Bon Jovi.
We welcome you to ease your disbelief with the soothing sounds of the underrated Bedtime Stories album cut, Love Tried To Welcome Me.
“Instead of spring, it’s always winter
And my heart has always been a lonely hunter.”