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: October 23, 1993

On October 23 1993, Madonna’s Rain peaked at #7 on Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary chart in the USA. Rain is Madonna’s longest charting single on the Hot AC chart, spending 125-weeks on the chart. Her second longest charting Hot AC single is Take A Bow (with 35-weeks on the chart).

Today in Madonna History: September 11, 1993

On September 11 1993, Rain peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. It was the final North American single release from the Erotica album.

Today in Madonna History: June 21, 1993

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On June 21 1993, Madonna’s Rain video premiered on MTV.  The video was directed by Mark Romanek, and filmed from May 16 – 19 at an airport hanger in Santa Monica, California.  Romanek and Madonna set the video to look like Ryuichi Sakamoto was directing it, giving it a backstage feel. It was entirely shot in black and white and then hand-painted with blue tones.

It’s strange
I feel like I’ve known you before
I want to understand you
More and more
And more
When I’m with you
I feel like a magical child
Everything is strange
Everything is wild

Today in Madonna History: August 21, 1993

Rain Canadian maxi-single tray insert 550

On August 21 1993, Rain made its debut on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Single Sales chart, bowing in at #32.

While the inclusion of non-album track Up Down Suite (essentially a dub remix of Erotica outtake Goodbye To Innocence, retitled) and a remix of Waiting provided enough incentive for most fans to pick up the Rain maxi-single, interest apparently did not extend very much further. The maxi-single peaked at #13 the following week and would drop off the Maxi-Single Sales chart altogether after an unusually brief (by Madonna’s standards) six-week run.

Today in Madonna History: August 7, 1993

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On August 7 1993, Madonna’s Rain spent its second week at #7 on the UK Singles chart.

Lyrics:

I feel it
It’s coming
Rain

Feel it on my finger tips, hear it on my window pane
Your love’s coming down like
Rain
Wash away my sorrow, take away my pain
Your love’s coming down like
Rain

When your lips are burning mine
And you take the time to tell me how you feel
When you listen to my words
And I know you’ve heard, I know it’s real
Rain is what this thunder brings
For the first time I can hear my heart sing
Call me a fool but I know I’m not
I’m gonna stand out here on the mountain top
Till I feel your

Rain
Feel it on my finger tips, hear it on my window pane
Your love’s coming down like
Rain
Wash away my sorrow, take away my pain
Your love’s coming down like
Rain

When you looked into my eyes, and you said goodbye
Could you see my tears
When I turned the other way
Did you hear me say
I’d wait for all the dark clouds bursting in a perfect sky
You promised me when you said goodbye
That you’d return when the storm was done
And now I’ll wait for the light, I’ll wait for the sun
Till I feel your

Rain
Feel it on my finger tips, hear it on my window pane
Your love’s coming down like
Rain
Wash away my sorrow, take away my pain
Your love’s coming down like

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say never go away

Waiting is the hardest thing
I tell myself that if I believe in you
In the dream of you
With all my heart and all my soul
That by sheer force of will
I will raise you from the ground
And without a sound you’ll appear
And surrender to me
To love

Rain is what the thunder brings
For the first time I can hear my heart sing
Call me a fool but I know I’m not
I’m gonna stand out here on the mountain top
Till I feel your

Rain
I feel it
It’s coming
Your love’s coming down like
Rain

I feel it
It’s coming
Your love’s coming down like
Rain

Feel it on my finger tips, hear it on my window pane
Your love’s coming down like
Rain
Wash away my sorrow, take away my pain
Your love’s coming down like
Rain

I feel it
It’s coming
Your love’s coming down like
Rain

I feel it
It’s coming
Your love’s coming down like
Rain

I’ll stand out on the mountain top
Until I hear you call
My name

Rain

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.

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