Today in Madonna History: July 23, 1985

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On July 23 1985, Into The Groove was released as a single in the UK.

Not wanting to draw more attention away from the Like A Virgin album following the release of the soundtrack hit Crazy For You, Sire/Warner notoriously relegated Into The Groove to the b-side of the Angel 12″ single in North America & Australia, although they eventually ceded to issuing it as an A-side in most other international territories.

Into The Groove was written & produced by Madonna & Stephen Bray and was their first released co-production to not be reworked by an outside producer (the pair had already been producing their own demos for years). The original demo version was used over the closing credits of Desperately Seeking Susan (seemingly dubbed from an actual cassette copy of the demo–granted, DAT’s were still a few years away), and although the commercially released mix featured a slightly beefed-up and more polished-sounding musical backing track, it kept Madonna’s original demo vocals intact.

In the UK, and throughout most of Europe, the single was backed by the Madonna-penned ballad Shoo-Bee-Doo, while the original album version of Everybody (another song credited to her alone) rounded out the 12″ single…it would be fair to assume that Madonna likely earned some of the biggest single-generated songwriting royalty cheques of her career thus far with this release. It’s interesting to note that despite being one of Madonna’s most enduring dance floor classics, no remixes were produced for Into The Groove at the time of its release. It wasn’t until 1987’s You Can Dance remix compilation that the song finally received an official extended remix treatment.

Today in Madonna History: July 7, 2007

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On July 7 2007, Madonna performed Hey You, Ray Of Light, La Isla Bonita/Lela Pala Tute and Hung Up at the Live Earth benefit concert at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Madonna was joined onstage by Gogol Bordello. It was also her final live performance to feature longtime backing singer Donna De Lory, musical director/collaborator Stuart Price, as well as drummer Steve Sidelnyk and keyboardist Marcus Brown.

Today in Madonna History: July 2, 2005

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On July 2 2005, Madonna performed Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light and Music in front of an audience of over 200,000 during the Live 8 benefit concert at London’s Hyde Park. Part of a series of concerts, many of which were held simultaneously at various locations around the world, Live 8 was broadcast live on television and radio to an estimated global audience of two billion.

Madonna is one of only eight acts – and the only female artist – to have been a headlining performer at both 1985’s Live Aid and 2005’s Live 8. Other returning performers were U2, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Sting, The Who, George Michael, and organizer, Bob Geldof. It took a bit of arm twisting on Geldof’s part to win Madonna’s commitment the second time around, as Madonna explained to MTV’s John Norris in a backstage interview after her performance:

Bob Geldof sent me a letter asking ‘will you do Live 8?’ and he didn’t really tell me anything and I went ‘Oh common dude, you gotta do better than that! Prove to me that it’s gonna make a difference and I’ll be there for you.’ And he did!”

In what turned out to be one of the event’s most moving moments, Madonna was introduced to the stage by Geldof with Birhan Woldu – the starving African child featured in the CBC News report twenty years earlier who had prompted Geldof to organize Live Aid. When Geldof had asked Woldu which artist she would like to appear with on stage, she immediately selected Madonna for the simple reason that she was the only artist on the bill that she had ever heard of. In a later interview, Woldu recalled the experience:

The crowd seemed to stretch for miles, but I’d been telling myself not to be nervous. There was just a huge picture of me as a child on the screen. That photo still upsets me. It was taken 20 years ago, when both my mother and sister died. I knew I must be strong for them but when I walked on I could feel my body shaking. Then Madonna took my hand and looked into my eyes, the crowd roared and I realised the world wanted to help my continent. I felt myself grow stronger.”

Madonna’s memorable performance at Live 8 was largely praised by mainstream media and fans alike.

Today in Madonna History: May 7, 2003

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On May 7 2003, Madonna performed a small club show at La Cantine Du Faubourg in Paris, France as part of her American Life promo tour. The seven-song set list was broadcast live on French radio station NRJ, the show’s sponsor. Its audience consisted mainly of contest winners selected by NRJ, along with VIP guests which included Madonna collaborators Jean-Baptiste Mondino and Jean Paul Gauthier.

Set list:

  • American Life
  • Hollywood
  • Nothing Fails
  • X-Static Process
  • Mother and Father
  • Like A Virgin
  • Don’t Tell Me

Today in Madonna History: April 6, 1998

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On April 6 1998, an exclusive studio performance of Frozen was broadcast during the Hey! Music Awards II on Fuji-TV in Japan. Madonna was also honoured with an award during the ceremony, and offered the taped performance and acceptance speech in lieu of attendance.

Today in Madonna History: February 25, 1992

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On February 25 1992, the Pioneer LaserDisc-only release Madonna: Blond Ambition World Tour Live won Best Music Video–Long Form at the 34th annual Grammy Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York.

Although Madonna had received four Grammy nominations in previous years (Best Female Pop Vocal in 1986 & 1987; Best Original Song From A Motion Picture in 1988; Best Music Video–Short Form in 1991 for Oh Father), Madonna: Blond Ambition Tour Live represented her very first Grammy Award win. Ironically, the lack of a VHS edition or of any subsequent DVD/Blu-Ray reissue of the title meant that only those in possession a pricey LaserDisc player were afforded the opportunity to purchase and enjoy the award-winning release.

Madonna would receive three more Grammy nominations for Best Music Video–Long Form in the years that followed; she was nominated in 1995 and 2007 for The Girlie Show–Live Down Under and I’m Going To Tell You A Secret, respectively, before finally winning the award a second time for The Confessions Tour in 2008.

Today in Madonna History: February 23, 1998

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On February 23 1998, Frozen was released by Maverick records as the lead single from Madonna’s seventh studio album, Ray of Light. The song was written by Madonna & Patrick Leonard and was produced by Madonna, Leonard & William Orbit.

Madonna has mentioned that she considers Frozen as part of a thematic trilogy with The Power Of Good-Bye and To Have And Not To Hold. In an interview with Barry Walters for Spin magazine, Madonna commented on the inspiration behind the song:

“I was so obsessed with the movie The Sheltering Sky and that whole Moroccan/orchestral/super-romantic/man-carrying-the-woman-he-loves-across-the-desert vibe. So I told [Patrick Leonard] that I wanted something with a tribal feel, something really lush and romantic. When he started playing some music, I just turned the DAT on and started free-associating and came up with the melody.”

Initially unsure of which song should be released as the album’s first single, Madonna was eventually convinced by Warner Bros. executives that Frozen would be a perfect way to bridge the Adult Contemporary leanings of her most recent hits (Take A Bow, You’ll See and the singles from Evita) with the more cutting-edge, electronic sounds of Ray Of Light.