Today in Madonna History: April 27, 1985

On April 27 1985, Madonna’s Angel single was briefly reviewed in Billboard magazine as it entered the Hot 100 at #48.

The Angel 12-inch single would be issued commercially in North America in late May. It included an extended dance mix of the titular track, but let’s be real, people bought it for Into The Groove on the flip – it being the only North American home for the classic dance floor gem until a remixed version appeared on You Can Dance in 87. In Canada, young cassette-loving buyers’ interest in the b-side prompted Warner Canada to issue the first Madonna cassette maxi-single, as the format would eventually be known.

Today in Madonna History: April 15, 1989

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On April 15 1989, Madonna’s Like A Prayer became the number one dance single on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.

Like A Prayer remained number one for the week of April 22.

Today in Madonna History: April 7, 1990

On April 7 1990, Madonna’s Vogue single was briefly reviewed in Billboard magazine.

Vogue’s early release to radio and the addition of its music video to MTV’s playlist were also noted in the same issue.

Today in Madonna History: March 28, 1987

On March 28 1987, the final single from Madonna’s True Blue album, La Isla Bonita, was briefly reviewed in Billboard magazine.

The now-classic song was Madonna’s first sonic exploration into her love of Latin music and culture which would become a recurring inspiration in her body of work. Written by Madonna, Patrick Leonard, and frequent Leonard collaborator, guitarist Bruce Gaitsch, it has been reported that the instrumental demo of the song was initially offered to Michael Jackson, who passed on the track.

While Madonna has said that La Isla Bonita took inspiration from “the beauty and mystery of Latin American people,” she has remained more elusive about the song’s geographical references. Years later, she teasingly commented in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine:

“I don’t know where San Pedro is. At that point, I wasn’t a person who went on holidays to beautiful islands. I may have been on the way to the studio and seen an exit ramp for San Pedro.”

Today in Madonna History: March 26, 1983

On March 26 1983, the music video for Madonna’s Everybody was briefly mentioned in Billboard magazine along side the music video for Konk’s Konk Party, noting that both videos were directed by Ed Steinberg of Soft Focus Productions. What is not mentioned and likely not known to the columnist (considering they think Madonna is the name of a group!) is that Madonna appears as an extra in Konk Party along with her pals Erika Belle and Martin Burgoyne. Original Sonic Youth drummer and member of Konk, Richard Edson, is also featured in the video. Edson would later appear in the film Desperately Seeking Susan, holding open a newspaper box for Madonna, and is pictured prominently next to Madonna in the film’s cast photo – which is unusual considering the brevity of his time on-screen. He worked with Madonna again in 1988, playing the character of Johnny Crackow in the film, Bloodhounds Of Broadway.

Sonic Youth would explore their own fascination with Madonna with their side project, Ciccone Youth. In liner notes for Sonic Youth’s reissue of their landmark album, Daydream Nation (1988), the band revealed that they had given an advance copy of Ciccone Youth’s The Whitey Album (1988) to Madonna’s sister, who was working in Warner’s art department at the time, seeking Madonna’s approval for the use of her image on the album cover (her songs Into The Groove & Burning Up were also covered & sampled). Word came back that Madonna had no issues with it, adding that she remembered the band from their early days in New York.

Sonic Youth made humourous references to Madonna’s place in popular culture in their promotional artwork throughout the 80’s – typically designed by bassist/vocalist/guitarist and visual artist, Kim Gordon. They were even known to use Madonna’s music as interludes during guitar changes at their shows in the 80’s, bewildering audience members who were not privy to their shared origins as part of the early 80’s underground music scene in NYC.

In another connection, Sonic Youth’s 2004 album, Sonic Nurse, featured artwork from Richard Prince’s acclaimed Nurse Paintings series. In 2015, Madonna used a rotating selection of paintings from her own art collection as backdrops for a series of press junket interviews to promote her Rebel Heart album. One of the paintings displayed was Prince’s Heartbreak Nurse from his Nurse Paintings series.

Today in Madonna History: February 13, 1999

On February 13 1999, Madonna’s Nothing Really Matters single was reviewed by Billboard magazine.

The North American two-track single for Nothing Really Matters included the album version of To Have And Not To Hold as its b-side.

Prior to the release of the Ray Of Light album, it was reported that Madonna had fourteen tracks mastered but wanted to cut one, as she felt that thirteen was a lucky number. According to the article, Madonna’s final selection was between two songs: To Have And Not To Hold or Has To Be.

As we all know, Has To Be ended up being cut from the final track list (except in Japan, where it was included as a bonus track).

If you had to choose between including To Have And Not To Hold or Has To Be on Ray Of Light, which song would you include? Keep in mind, your selection should not simply be which individual track you prefer – Madonna would also have had to consider how her choice would affect the overall flow and emotional arc of the album, both musically and lyrically.

Today in Madonna History: December 16, 1989

On December 16 1989, Billboard magazine’s dance music section reported that Madonna had written and recorded a new song with Shep Pettibone titled Vogue. The article noted that the track was set to appear on the b-side of Madonna’s next single, Keep It Together.

These plans would soon change when it was decided that Vogue had too much hit potential to be released as a b-side, and it would instead be issued as a single in its own right once Keep It Together had run its course on the charts. In Europe, where Keep It Together was not promoted as a single, it would in fact be used as the b-side to Vogue.

Vogue would go on to become the best-selling physical single of Madonna’s career.

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