On February 20 1995, Madonna performed Bedtime Story live for the first and only time at the Brit Awards. The performance was set to a remix of the song by Junior Vasquez. Madonna wore a white Versace dress and long hair extensions, an image similar to her 1995 Versace advertisement campaign spread.
Madonna invited Björk to feature in the performance but Björk declined the offer, later stating: “I was supposed to get [Madonna’s] personal number and call her up, but it just didn’t feel right. I’d love to meet her accidentally, really drunk in a bar. It’s just all that formality that confuses me.”
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 April 9 1995, Madonna’s Bedtime Story single peaked at number five in Australia, where it stayed in that position for three weeks. It fell out of the top ten in the fifth week, and eventually exited the charts after a total run of nine weeks, falling to 44 on its last week in the charts.
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine praised the song, claiming that the song had unfulfilled potential and that it “could have been the next Vogue“.