Today in Madonna History: August 15, 1992

On August 15 1992, This Used To Be My Playground spent the first of three weeks at #1 on the RPM Canadian Top 100 Singles chart. In RPM’s year-end tally of the biggest hits of 1992 in Canada, the hit placed at #8.

This Used To Be My Playground was written by Madonna, Shep Pettibone & Tony Shimkin (although he was not originally credited) and produced by Madonna & Pettibone.

In an interview with the fan site MadonnaTribe, Shimkin recalled a last-minute dash to complete the recording of the song’s orchestral parts:

“When we recorded it with Al Schmidt at Ocean Way studio in L.A., we had a 30-piece orchestra and Jeremy Lubbock did the string arrangements, (but) we never included the demo that had the solo string part in it when we had him chart everything out for the orchestra,” revealed Shimkin. “On the day we were recording, we thought we were done and realized we forgot the solo. I quickly sang the part to the copyist, who then charted it out for the violin players, and they got it recorded with one minute to spare on the clock. When you have a thirty piece orchestra, it can be super expensive to roll into a second hour of their time!”

Today in Madonna History: April 26, 2003

On April 26 2003, Madonna’s American Life single spent the first of two weeks at #1 on the Soundscan Canadian Singles chart.

American Life was the last physical Madonna two-track single issued by Warner Music Canada, while production of CD maxi-singles would continue domestically until the 2006 release of Jump.

Today in Madonna History: March 27, 1993

On March 27 1993, Bad Girl peaked at #20 on the Canadian Top 100 Singles chart (RPM).

Although the single fared better in Canada than it did south of the border (it peaked at #36 on the Hot 100), Bad Girl nevertheless earned the undesirable distinction of being Madonna’s lowest charting Canadian single since Borderline at the time, which had peaked at #25 in September, 1984.

The Bad Girl single was backed with the album version of Fever in North America (both songs were released separately in Europe), while the Bad Girl maxi-single focused primarily on remixes of Fever along with an extended version of Bad Girl. Strangely, a music video for Fever was produced only after the single had run its course on the European charts, set to a remix that was not issued was not included on the North American maxi-single of Bad Girl or the Fever 12-inch promo set that was serviced to DJ’s in the U.S.

Despite the unusual promotion, Fever managed to top the U.S. Club chart and the video was put into regular rotation on MTV and MuchMusic in Canada.

Today in Madonna History: November 23, 2002

On November 23 2002, Madonna’s Die Another Day single peaked at #1 on the Canadian Soundscan Singles Sales chart where it would stay for an impressive seven (non-consecutive) weeks.

Today in Madonna History: September 15, 1984

borderline

On September 15 1984, Madonna’s Borderline peaked at #25 on the Canadian Top 100 Singles chart.

Today in Madonna History: August 24, 1998

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On August 24 1998, Drowned World/Substitute For Love was released as the third single from Ray Of Light in most major markets outside North America. The song was written by Madonna, William Orbit and David Collins (Rod McKuen and Anita Kerr were also credited for sampled use of their composition “Why I Follow The Tigers” performed by The San Sebastian Strings) and was produced by Madonna and Orbit.

With the album’s title track being issued as the second single in North America a month after its release in other markets, it was decided to release Drowned World/Substitute For Love to fill the gap until her next international single release, The Power Of Good-bye. The single peaked at number-ten in the UK, at number-five in Italy and at number-one in Spain. Despite not being released in Canada, the song managed to reach number eighteen on the Canadian singles chart based solely on sales of the European import single, and without any promotion from radio or music video stations. Club play of the imported single, which featured remixes of both Drowned World/Substitute For Love and its b-side, Sky Fits Heaven, prompted a brief appearance by the latter on the U.S. Hot Dance/Club Play Chart, peaking at number forty-one.

The music video, filmed in London by director Walter Stern, caused a minor controversy due to scenes of Madonna’s car being chased by paparazzi on motorcycles, an image still fresh in the public’s mind at the time due the circumstances surrounding the death of Princess Diana. Liz Rosenberg denied that the scene had anything to do with the late Princess, adding that the video was about Madonna’s own experience and relationship with fame.

The song is often ranked as a fan favorite and seems to be highly-regarded by Madonna as well, considering her 2001 concert tour was named after the song and it was used as the show’s opening number. It was also performed during 2006’s Confessions Tour and appeared on her second greatest hits collection, GHV2. An early demo version of the song believed to be produced with Patrick Leonard titled No Substitute For Love leaked online in the early 2000’s. The demo contains similar lyrics but a completely different musical backing track and melody. The music that was used on the final version of the song was a previously composed instrumental track by William Orbit.

Famous faces, far off places
Trinkets I can buy
No handsome stranger, heady danger
Drug that I can try
No ferris wheel, no heart to steal
No laughter in the dark
No one-night stand, no far-off land
No fire that I can spark

Today in Madonna History: July 26, 1999

On July 26 1999, Beautiful Stranger hit #1 for the first of two weeks on the Top 100 Canadian Singles chart published by RPM.

In the U.S. a commercial single had been withheld for Beautiful Stranger to drive sales of Maverick Records’ Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack album, limiting the song’s chart potential on the Hot 100 despite favorable support from radio. In a rare move, Warner Music Canada opted against following the lead of its U.S. counterpart and instead released the song as a CD maxi-single on July 20th, 1999.

During the week of its release, Beautiful Stranger was spending a second week at #4 on the Canadian singles chart based on the strength of its airplay alone, however the loss of its bullet indicated that it had likely peaked at radio. Fortunately, the added boost from sales of the domestic maxi-single was enough to earn Madonna her 17th #1 single in Canada – her first since 1995’s Take A Bow, despite having achieved three Canadian top-5 hits in the interim between 1996 and 1998.

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