Today In Madonna History: February 11, 1993

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On February 11 1993, Madonna’s Bad Girl video premiered on MTV. The video was directed by David Fincher.

Today in Madonna History: January 30, 1993

On January 30 1993, Madonna’s Deeper & Deeper hit number-one on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club chart in the USA. Deeper & Deeper was Madonna’s 14th number-one hit on the chart.

Jose Promis (AllMusic) had this to say about the single:

Deeper and Deeper was the second single released from Madonna’s Erotica album. The song, in its regular album form, is a dance epic. The single includes seven versions, which are all club mixes of a song that was a club hit to begin with. This single begins with an edit of the album mix, followed by two stripped-down house mixes (featuring a sample from Vogue where “Greta Garbo, Greta Garbo” is repeated throughout the song). The fourth mix is a basically the extended album version, which, in the breakdown, substitutes piano for the Spanish guitars. The fifth and sixth versions are dub mixes, while the seventh is little more than a few extra minutes of bonus dub beats, which, in the long run, wind up being somewhat indistinguishable from one another. The mixes don’t stray too far from the original’s winning recipe, but, with nearly 45 minutes worth of dance beats, one can hardly say this single doesn’t satisfy.

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, 1992

On December 5 1992, Madonna’s Deeper and Deeper single was the week’s Hot Shot Debut entry on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., bowing in at #38.

Pop radio had taken an immediate liking to Deeper and Deeper upon the album’s release, with some stations choosing to spin it in favor of the album’s darker lead single, well ahead of its official promotional launch. The support wasn’t unanimous, however, as Madonna was facing a severe public backlash following the release of her Sex book and the forthcoming release of the film Body Of Evidence.

The fact that Deeper and Deeper managed to climb to #7 on the Hot 100 amidst a tidal wave of contempt is a true testament to song’s irresistible appeal.

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: 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: November 2, 1992

On November 2 1992, Madonna appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine, with the headline: The Selling of Sex – The New Voyeurism.

Here’s a snippet of the article inside, written by John Leland:

What if Madonna gave a sexual bonfire and nobody came? In the quiet before the inevitable storm a few weeks back, NEWSWEEK asked Madonna about the possibility of failure or, more grievous, inconsequence. What if she released “Sex“—her explicit coffee-table book of erotic photos and writings, celebrating sadomasochism, homosexuality, exhibitionism and other pansexual delights-and the public merely yawned? “If everybody yawned,” she said, armed for this and other contingencies, “I’d say hooray. That means something happened.”

It was one of those neat identity makeovers for which Madonna is justly renowned: after coloring the last nine years with her determination to engage our attention at all costs, here she was, Florence Nightingale, dutiful erotic night nurse, content to slip into the shadows once her services were no longer needed, the patient cured. Now that’s what you call spin.

But for Madonna and for the rest of us, this was no lark. A deft little way to make some money and grab some spotlight, “Sex” also promised our first barometric reading of a turbulence boiling in American culture. Call it the new voyeurism: the middlebrow embrace, in the age of AIDS, of explicit erotic material for its own sake. From Mapplethorpe to MTV, from the Fox network to fashion advertising, looking at sex is creeping out of the private sphere and into the public, gentrified by artsy pretension and de-stigmatized out of viral necessity. Canny marketers exploit it; alarmed conservatives, joined by many feminists, are trying to shut it down. In many ways, as Pat Buchanan asserted at the Republican convention in August, there really is a cultural war going on. “Sex” stood to claim the battlefield. Advance cover stories on the book in Vanity Fair, Vogue and New York Magazine heralded hot like you’ve never seen before.

And from the looks of things last Wednesday morning, “Sex” measured up. Dismissive reviews, splashed across the tabloids like news of Pearl Harbor, couldn’t stop the ambush. Bookstores, record stores, anybody who carried it got swamped. Priced at $49.95 and packaged in a Mylar bag that warned ADULTs ONLY!, the book sold 150,000 copies on the first day, out of 500,000 printed for American distribution. Who says we’re in a recession? Laurence J. Kirshbaum, president of Warner Books, called it “review-proof.” Many stores pre-sold their shipments before they arrived. Others couldn’t restock fast enough to keep pace with demand.

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