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 21, 1992

On November 21 1992, Madonna’s Erotica peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart in the USA.

Scott Kearnan (Boston.com) had this to say about the controversial hit single when reflecting on Madonna’s best songs:

“No pop star of her fame has been this sexually transgressive before or since… Rihanna sings about “S&M” like it’s a song about My Little Pony, but Madonna dishes on pain, pleasure, and power with the conviction of a whip crack”.

Today in Madonna History: September 29, 1992

Erotica US CD Single 550Erotica US CD Single Back Sleeve 550Erotica US CD Single Disc 550

On September 29 1992, Madonna’s Erotica single was released to radio. Originally credited to Madonna & Shep Pettibone, Pettibone’s partner Tony Shimkin was later granted co-writing credit for nearly all of the Pettibone collaborations on the album, including Erotica. The debut release to feature the imprint of Maverick Records, the song was produced by Madonna & Pettibone.

As several leaked demo versions of the song can now attest, the track had gone through numerous incarnations before Madonna settled on lyrics that positioned her in the perspective of Dita – the alter-ego she had created for her Sex book. The song’s original chorus (“You thrill me…”) was reincorporated into the song when Madonna performed it during her 2006 Confessions Tour. Alternate verses were also used to create the track Erotic, which was included with the Sex book – these lyrics were also featured in a William Orbit remix that was included on the Erotica maxi-single.

French art director and photographer Fabien Baron designed the artwork for the single, the album and the Sex book. He also directed the Erotica music video, which included footage he had shot on Super 8mm during the making of the book. Baron recalled his first meeting with Madonna to discuss their potential collaboration in a 2009 interview with Hint Fashion Magazine:

“I met Madonna at her home on Central Park West to talk about working on her Sex book. It was very comfortable but very uncomfortable at the same time, which is a very interesting feeling. She’s very imposing and knows what she wants. She’s very informed and opinionated, which makes her genius. She takes you in and swallows you up — and you don’t mind it –  you actually enjoy it. There’s an unspoken seduction that goes on. I was young…she was young, too – and beautiful. That was an unforgettable era. She put that book out at the best moment. She timed it very well…she knows what she’s doing. And such drive. Some people want to lift stones to see what’s under them. She’ll be on a beach with millions of stones and want to lift every one of them.”

Today in Madonna History: September 24, 1992

This is a Madonna blog so it’s generally understood that some content related to the subject is not safe for work. The following photos are definitely NSFW.  And as we enter October .. the wonderful month filled with Erotica related releases and events, you’ll only see more of it.  Enjoy!  

madonna-jpg_0 madonna-jpg_1 madonna-jpg_2 madonna-jpg_3 madonna-jpg_4 madonna-jpg_5 madonna-jpg_6 madonna-jpg_7

On September 24 1992, Madonna exposed her breasts in front of 6,000 people at a Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion show benefit at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.  The show raised $750,000 for the American Foundation For AIDS Research (AMFAR).

Today in Madonna History: December 10, 1992

erotica-cert-1

On December 10 1992, Madonna’s Erotica single was certified gold in the USA for the shipment of 500,000 units.

In 2011, Slant Magazine listed Erotica at number thirty-four on their list “The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s”, stating that Madonna’s “throaty” delivery throughout the song was effective in making the lyrics “incredibly honest”. The magazine went on to say that Madonna’s “invitation to the dance, a slithering, sinister snake rising from a gaudily ornate chalice. The beats are, by design, hypnotic—at once alluring and devious. With Erotica, Madonna promises to get you off, but not without giving you something”.

erotica-cert-12

Today in Madonna History: October 24, 1992

erotica
erotica-1

On October 24 1992, Madonna’s Erotica single hit #3 on the Hot 100 in the USA.

Only the one that hurts you can make you feel better
Only the one that inflicts pain can take it away

Today in Madonna History: March 22, 2001

WIFLFAG-Video-1 WIFLFAG-Video-2 WIFLFAG-Video-3 WIFLFAG-Video-3b WIFLFAG-Video-4 WIFLFAG-Video-5 WIFLFAG-Video-8 WIFLFAG-Video-8a WIFLFAG-Video-8b WIFLFAG-Video-8c WIFLFAG-Video-8d WIFLFAG-Video-9

On March 22 2001, Madonna’s What It Feels Like For A Girl music video premiered.

The video was directed by Madonna’s then-husband, Guy Ritchie, and was deemed to be “Too Hot for TV” by MTV and VH1 because the video depicted gunplay, assault and suicide.

MTV released this statement about the video and their decision to ban it:

It’s been some time since Madonna ruffled the feathers of MTV or VH1 execs with a controversial video — perhaps not since 1992’s Erotica clip — so just under a decade later, the first lady of shock pop is out to prove she can still make ’em sweat.

Unlike the steamy segments of Erotica, 1990’s Justify My Love, and the one that started it all, Like a Prayer, it’s not the sexual content of What It Feels Like for a Girl that raises the red flag, it’s the violence — a concerted no-no in the post-Columbine, and more recently post-Santana, decision-making process.

The music in the video, it should be noted, is a dance remix of the version found on Madonna’s latest album, Music. The album cut will serve as the LP’s third single.

 Directed by her husband, British filmmaker Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), the clip depicts gunplay, violent assault and suicide — elements MTV and VH1 prohibit in any videos they air. In it, the pop diva portrays a self-described “nihilistic pissed-off chick” who cruises around town inflicting damage on any man that crosses her path.
After picking up Grandma at the “Ol Kuntz Guest Home,” Madonna crashes into a car full of men who wink at her, threatens male police officers with a squirt gun before sideswiping their vehicle, and mugs a man at an ATM with a stun gun before wrapping her stolen car around a lamppost in what appears to be an intentional act.

The video “shows my character acting out a fantasy and doing things girls are not allowed to do,” Madonna said in a written statement distributed by her record label, Warner Bros. “This is an angry song and I wanted a matching visual with an edgy dance mix.”
Although What It Feels Like for a Girl won’t be added to the music channel’s regular rotation, MTV and VH1 will air the clip just once.

%d bloggers like this: