Today in Madonna History: January 23, 1994

On January 23 1994, Bye Bye Baby re-entered the New Zealand singles chart, ultimately peaking at #43. The track had initially charted in the country for a single week in late November of 1993.

Today in Madonna History: December 5, 1993

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On December 5 1993, the final single from Madonna’s Erotica album, Bye Bye Baby, debuted at 31 on the Australian Singles Chart.

The single included the following versions of Bye Bye Baby:

  • Album Version
  • N.Y. Hip Hop Mix
  • California Hip Hop Jazzy
  • Madonna’s Night On The Club
  • Rick Does Madonna’s Dub
  • House Mix
  • Madonna Gets Hardcore

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Today in Madonna History: November 26, 1992

On November 26 1992, Rolling Stone magazine published their review of Madonna’s Erotica album, written by Arion Berger:

It took Madonna ten years, but she finally made the record everyone has accused her of making all along. Chilly, deliberate, relentlessly posturing. Erotica is a post-AIDS album about romance — it doesn’t so much evoke sex as provide a fetishistic abstraction of it. She may have intended to rattle America with hot talk about oral gratification and role switching, but sensuality is the last thing on the album’s mind. Moving claustrophobically within the schematic confines of dominance and submission, Erotica plays out its fantasies with astringent aloofness, unhumid and uninviting. The production choices suggest not a celebration of the physical but a critique of commercial representations of sex — whether Paul Verhoeven’s, Bruce Weber’s or Madonna’s — that by definition should not be mistaken for the real thing. It succeeds in a way the innocent post-punk diva of Madonna and the thoughtful songwriter of Like a Prayer could not have imagined. Its cold, remote sound systematically undoes every one of the singer’s intimate promises.

Clinical enough on its own terms when compared with the lushness and romanticism of Madonna’s past grooves, Erotica is stunningly reined in; even when it achieves disco greatness, it’s never heady. Madonna, along with co-producers Andre Betts and Shep Pettibone, tamps down every opportunity to let loose — moments ripe for a crescendo, a soaring instrumental break, a chance for the listener to dance along, are over the instant they are heard. Erotica is Madonna’s show (the music leaves no room for audience participation), and her production teases and then denies with the grim control of a dominatrix.

Against maraca beats and a shimmying horn riff, Erotica introduces Madonna as “Mistress Dita,” whose husky invocations of “do as I say” promise a smorgasbord of sexual experimentation, like the one portrayed in the video for Justify My Love. But the sensibility of Erotica is miles removed from the warm come-ons of Justify My Love, which got its heat from privacy and romance — the singer’s exhortations to “tell me your dreams.” The Madonna of Erotica is in no way interested in your dreams; she’s after compliance, and not merely physical compliance either. The song demands the passivity of a listener, not a sexual partner. It’s insistently self-absorbed — Vogue with a dirty mouth, where all the real action’s on the dance floor.

Look (or listen) but don’t touch sexuality isn’t the only peep-show aspect of this album; Erotica strives for anonymity the way True Blue strove for intimacy. With the exception of the riveting Bad Girl, in which the singer teases out shades of ambiguity in the mind of a girl who’d rather mess herself up than end a relationship she’s too neurotic to handle, the characters remain faceless. It’s as if Madonna recognizes the discomfort we feel when sensing the human character of a woman whose function is purely sexual. A sex symbol herself, she coolly removes the threat of her own personality.

Pure disco moments like the whirligig Deeper and Deeper don’t need emotional resonance to make them race. But the record sustains its icy tone throughout the yearning ballads (Rain, Waiting) and confessional moods (Secret Garden). Relieved of Madonna’s celebrity baggage, they’re abstract nearly to the point of nonexistence — ideas of love songs posing as the real thing. Even when Madonna draws from her own life, she’s all reaction, no feeling: The snippy Thief of Hearts takes swipes at a man stealer but not out of love or loyalty toward the purloined boyfriend, who isn’t even mentioned.

By depersonalizing herself to a mocking extreme, the Madonna of Erotica is sexy in only the most objectified terms, just as the album is only in the most literal sense what it claims to be. Like erotica, Erotica is a tool rather than an experience. Its stridency at once refutes and justifies what her detractors have always said: Every persona is a fake, the self-actualized amazon of Express Yourself no less than the breathless baby doll of Material Girl. Erotica continually subverts this posing to expose its function as pop playacting. The narrator of Bye Bye Baby ostensibly dumps the creep who’s been mistreating her, but Madonna’s infantile vocal and flat delivery are anything but assertive — she could be a drag queen toying with a pop hit of the past. Erotica is everything Madonna has been denounced for being — meticulous, calculated, domineering and artificial. It accepts those charges and answers with a brilliant record to prove them.

 

 

Today in Madonna History: September 2, 1993

byebyebaby_vma_mtv_madonna 1993 MTV Movie Awards

On September 2 1993, Madonna opened the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards performing Bye Bye Baby.  She cavorted on stage with three scantily clad women in a brothel-style setting, dressed in tuxedos and top hats, in a choreographed, highly sexual routine.  According to choreographer Alex Magno, he wanted to do Justify My Love or The Beast Within on MTV, but Madonna decided that they might be too controversial for live television and abandoned the idea. Nevertheless, Bye Bye Baby was chosen and performed with the choreography they had been practicing for The Girlie Show World Tour, since it represented the whole idea behind the tour.  Louis Virtel from The Backlot ranked the performance at number eight on a list for Madonna’s 11 Greatest VMA Moments. He praised Madonna’s rendition of the song at the Video Music Awards, calling it “a hell of a VMA performance” and a “killer cinematic throwback”.

Today in Madonna History: November 15, 1993

On November 15 1993, Madonna’s Bye Bye Baby was released as the sixth and final single from the Erotica album. The single was released to coincide with the start of the Australian leg of The Girlie Show World Tour. In addition to Australia, Bye Bye Baby was also given a limited release in Germany and Japan.

Bye Bye Baby was written by Madonna, Shep Pettibone and Anthony Shimkin and was produced by Madonna and Shep.

Official remixes for Bye Bye Baby include:

  • N.Y. Hip Hop Mix – 3:51
  • California Hip Hop Jazzy – 3:43
  • Madonna’s Night On the Club – 5:16
  • Rick Does Madonna’s Dub – 6:20
  • House Mix – 3:50
  • Madonna Gets Hardcore – 4:24
  • Tallahassee Pop – 3:48

Today in Madonna History: September 2, 1993

byebyebaby_vma_mtv_madonna 1993 MTV Movie Awards

On September 2 1993, Madonna opened the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards performing Bye Bye Baby.  She cavorted on stage with three scantily clad women in a brothel-style setting, dressed in tuxedos and top hats, in a choreographed, highly sexual routine.  According to choreographer Alex Magno, he wanted to do Justify My Love or The Beast Within on MTV, but Madonna decided that they might be too controversial for live television and abandoned the idea. Nevertheless, Bye Bye Baby was chosen and performed with the choreography they had been practicing for The Girlie Show World Tour, since it represented the whole idea behind the tour.  Louis Virtel from The Backlot ranked the performance at number eight on a list for Madonna’s 11 Greatest VMA Moments. He praised Madonna’s rendition of the song at the Video Music Awards, calling it “a hell of a VMA performance” and a “killer cinematic throwback”.

Today in Madonna History: February 9, 1995

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On February 9 1995, Madonna: The Girlie Show – Live Down Under video was certified gold for sales of 50,000 units in the USA.

Originally released on home video and laser disc in 1994, it later became Madonna’s first commercially available DVD – and one of the first concert DVD’s marketed by Warner-Reprise Video – when it was reissued in the format in 1997.

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