Today in Madonna History: September 29, 2009

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On September 29 2009, Madonna and Warner Bros. released Celebration: The Video Collection.  The greatest videos DVD collection accompanied the Celebration greatest hits collection.

Celebration: The Video Collection continued on from Madonna’s other video compilations The Immaculate Collection and The Video Collection 93:99.

Celebration: The Video Collection debuted at the top of the Billboard Top Music Videos chart.  It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of 100,000 copies across United States.

The cover for Celebration: The Video Collection was created by street pop artist Mr. Brainwash who is best known for “throwing modern cultural icons into a blender and turning it up to eleven”.

The DVD collection was released in two different versions, both are double disc releases:

  • Keep case — DVD size packaging
  • DVD Digipak — CD size packaging

This video collection received mixed reviews from critics and fans when it was released.  While the inclusion of videos that were left off her previous retrospectives were certainly appreciated, many felt that the set’s exclusion of several notable clips (with Oh Father, Bad Girl, Drowned World/Substitute For Love & Nothing Really Matters among its most glaring omissions) kept it from being the definitive overview it was touted to be.

Another point of contention was the use of cheaper single-layer versus double-layer DVD’s, the latter of which would have allowed for the inclusion of the three additional clips noted above (which would have rounded out the total number of clips to a nice even fifty) and corrected the compression issues that marred the image quality of many videos. Indeed, the varying picture quality from clip to clip and minimal effort given to ensuring overall quality control left the product with a distinctly “budget” feel that had some fans wondering whether the grainy, test-pattern-infused artwork for the set was perhaps a bit too fitting.

Surely, Madonna’s pioneering work in the medium and the perfectionist spirit that helped make these works so compelling deserve a comprehensive retrospective of the highest quality.

Did you feel this release was worthy of celebration or would you have made changes to it? With recent innovations in digital distribution, would you appreciate an official reissue of Madonna’s entire music video catalogue – from her first clip, Everybody, through to her latest, Batuka – as high quality digital downloads? Clips could be sold individually for a few dollars each or bundled into era sets that could be downloaded through Madonna’s official website, with proceeds benefiting one of her charities. Would you support such an initiative if the highest quality control standards were met and no corners were cut? Perhaps this would prove to be an ideal avenue for her to finally market long-requested, definitive versions of her previously unavailable or out-of-print live concert films as well.

 

Today in Madonna History: March 14, 1998

On March 14 1998, Madonna’s Ray of Light album was reviewed in Billboard magazine.

The Ray of Light album would debut at #2 in the U.S. the following week, being held back from the top spot by the blockbuster soundtrack for the film, Titanic.

Meanwhile in Canada, the album would enter the chart at #1, pushing Titanic into the runner-up position.

Today in Madonna History: February 13, 1999

On February 13 1999, Madonna’s Nothing Really Matters single was reviewed by Billboard magazine.

The North American two-track single for Nothing Really Matters included the album version of To Have And Not To Hold as its b-side.

Prior to the release of the Ray Of Light album, it was reported that Madonna had fourteen tracks mastered but wanted to cut one, as she felt that thirteen was a lucky number. According to the article, Madonna’s final selection was between two songs: To Have And Not To Hold or Has To Be.

As we all know, Has To Be ended up being cut from the final track list (except in Japan, where it was included as a bonus track).

If you had to choose between including To Have And Not To Hold or Has To Be on Ray Of Light, which song would you include? Keep in mind, your selection should not simply be which individual track you prefer – Madonna would also have had to consider how her choice would affect the overall flow and emotional arc of the album, both musically and lyrically.

Today in Madonna History: November 7, 1998

On November 7 1998, The Power of Good-Bye advanced one position to #13 in what would be its final bulleted week on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. The single would nonetheless manage to sneak its way up to #11 on November 28th, sans bullet. It is worth noting that one of the most significant changes to eligibility rules in the Hot 100’s history at the time took effect during the single’s initially rapid ascent, causing an immediate rush of non-commercially released radio hits to storm the chart and seemingly disrupt the ballad’s momentum.

A decision by Warner Bros. to withhold a maxi-single release for The Power Of Good-Bye in the U.S., compounded by the lack of any non-album content on the standard single despite earlier reports, suggests that the changes to the Hot 100 may have created a larger ripple than Warner had anticipated. Including the Oprah performance of Little Star, as previously reported in Billboard, or even the Dallas Austin remix of The Power Of Good-Bye on the b-side certainly would have given fans more incentive to pick up the 2-track single in the U.S.

It’s difficult to fully frown on Warner’s seemingly uncontainable enthusiasm for the brilliant remixes of Ray Of Light‘s fourth single, Nothing Really Matters, however, despite its unconventional timing.

Today in Madonna History: November 2, 1999

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On November 2 1999, the Madonna: The Video Collection 1993-99 was released on home video and DVD.

Madonna: The Video Collection 1993-99 was released as a collection of Madonna’s favourite videos from 1993-1999. The collection contains 14 videos: Bad Girl, Fever, Rain, Secret, Take A Bow, Bedtime Story, Human Nature, Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, Frozen, Ray Of Light, Drowned World, The Power of Goodbye, Nothing Really Matters, and Beautiful Stranger.

Today in Madonna History: March 13, 1999

On March 13 1999, Nothing Really Matters spent the first of two weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Club Play chart in the U.S.

Despite being a successful club hit, many have cited Warner’s unusual marketing choices for the single as the primary reason for its poor placement on the Hot 100, where its peak of #93 remains the lowest of her charting singles.

The delayed release of the commercial single – which came long after the song had peaked at radio – was clearly a blunder, while other aspects of the song’s promotion seemingly started too early. After declining to release the experimental remixes for The Power Of Good-Bye in the U.S. (the remixes were issued commercially in Canada & abroad), Warner jumped the gun by beginning to service remixes of Nothing Really Matters promotionally to clubs as early as September of 1998 – over six months ahead of the maxi-single release.

An alternative might have been to service the Sky Fits Heaven remixes promotionally in the U.S. during the interim, considering that it managed to enter the Dance/Club Play chart based solely on spins from the imported Drowned World/Substitute For Love single, with no push from the label domestically.

Chart positions and marketing decisions aside, the maxi-single for Nothing Really Matters, with its wonderfully varied set of remixes by Peter Rauhofer, Kruder & Dorfmeister and Talvin Singh, remains one of Madonna’s best, in our opinion. Together with its visually stunning music video, the single marked an artistically pleasing closing chapter to the epic Ray Of Light era.

Today in Madonna History: February 20, 1999

On February 20 1999, Madonna began rehearsals for her performance of Nothing Really Matters at the Grammys with Donna De Lory and Niki Haris. It marked their first live performance together since The Girlie Show Tour in 1993.

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