Today in Madonna History: December 21, 2014

On December 21 2014, Madonna hit #1 on iTunes in 36 countries around the world with the release of six songs from her forthcoming album, Rebel Heart. In virtually every country the songs were released, they held six of the ten slots on the iTunes Top 10 chart. In seven of those countries, she had multiple #1’s across various iTunes charts. The lead single Living for Love topped the iTunes chart in twenty counties.

The other tracks made available for immediate download were: Ghosttown, Devil Pray, Unapologetic Bitch, Illuminati & Bitch I’m Madonna.

News of the surprise drop came when Madonna posted a link on Instagram late the previous night announcing the release as “an early Christmas gift” to those who pre-ordered the album. Fans immediately went to iTunes and drove the songs to the top of iTunes charts around the globe. Instantaneously Rebel Heart exploded on social media with the album topping the Billboard Trending 140 chart.

The early release of six songs from Rebel Heart came on the heels of a series of leaks which forced Madonna and her team to quickly devise a new marketing plan for the album.

Today in Madonna History: December 20, 2005

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On December 20 2005, Madonna’s official website confirmed that Jamie King would direct the music video for Sorry, the second single from Confessions On A Dance Floor.

The video was conceived as a sequel to the album’s first single, Hung Up.

Today in Madonna History: November 11, 1989

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On November 11 1989, the music video for Oh Father premiered on MTV in the US. Filmed at Culver Studios, California in late October, 1989 by director David Fincher, the black & white clip drew cinematic influence from the 1941 Orson Welles film, Citizen Kane. Its narrative expanded on darker elements from Madonna’s life – focusing on the death of her mother, her relationship with her father and the recurring effects of childhood trauma in her adult life. The clip’s icily detached symbolism and heavy subject matter are counter-balanced by overarching themes of forgiveness and inner-strength.

In a 2009 interview with The Guardian, Fincher recalled:

“I had kinda talked Madonna into releasing Oh Father as a single and we did this video and were very happy with the video – but nobody ever saw it because the song wasn’t a hit.”

Although the video was put into rotation on MTV, the channel had requested that Madonna remove a scene that displayed a close-up of the deceased mother’s lips sewn shut – a request that she refused to consider. Compounded by a tepid response to the song from radio, where its bleak overtones clashed with playlists of the day, the single stalled at number twenty in the US – her lowest peak on the Hot 100 at the time (excluding her first two singles, neither of which broke into the Hot 100). In Canada the video was put into heavy rotation and the release fared slightly better on the charts, peaking at number fourteen.

Despite its relative lack of commercial appeal, the song and video are frequently cited as a creative triumph for Madonna by fans and critics alike.

Today in Madonna History: November 10, 1984

On November 10 1984, Billboard magazine reported that Madonna’s Like A Virgin music video had been added to MTV’s playlist, immediately earning heavy rotation status on the network.

Filmed in Venice, Italy, the video marked Madonna’s second collaboration with director Mary Lambert. Lambert later recalled of the shoot:

“For Like a Virgin I said ‘Lets do it in Venice!’ The idea of Madonna singing in a gondola was the most outrageous thing I could think of. And Madonna dug it, because she has the whole thing with the Catholic Church and her Italian heritage. It turned into a huge party.”

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: October 31, 2006

On October 31 2006, Jump was released as the fourth and final single from the album Confessions On Dance Floor. It was written by Madonna, Stuart Price & Joe Henry and produced by Madonna & Stuart Price.

In Canada, the CD maxi-single for Jump is notable for being Madonna’s last physical single to be issued domestically. The Hard Candy-era singles were imported from the U.S. by Warner Music Canada, while her Interscope singles have only been released in digital form for the North American market.

Today in Madonna History: September 21, 2005

On September 21 2005, legendary gossip columnist and longtime Madonna supporter, the late Liz Smith, continued to generate excitement for the release of Madonna’s album Confessions On A Dance Floor in her New York Post column: 

Disc Jockeys from all across the U.S. converged in a small, chic backroom down at 14th Street’s Lotus restaurant last Wednesday afternoon. They were there to listen to three tracks from Madonna’s soon-due ‘Confessions on a Dance Floor’ album, and to meet the CD’s brilliant British producer, Stuart Price. Although it was all very casual, with cocktails and munchies, the music men – and women – listened intently, in their own hectic, head-bobbing way. (And most of them looked like fresh-faced college students!) M’s sound went over big time, and Grammy-winner Price, only 30 years old, was mobbed. There were at least three dozen people in this confined space — Price could hardly move from all the handshaking, shoulder slaps and hearty hugs. He is worshiped in the dance community and uses another name on some work — Jacques Le Cont. He’s produced for No Doubt and many others. Talking about the songs, Price, who also has a very naughty sense of humor, said: ‘When dance music was young, there was a strong vocal, and the beat was underneath. Now, the vocal is not so prominent. Madonna and I wanted to make a dance album for today, which would satisfy everybody — those who want to really hear her voice and those for whom the driving thump-thump is the thing. I think we’ve succeeded.’ Music scribe Maggie Stein, who also writes under the nom de plume Odyssey Jones, said, ‘This is hopeful dance music. It has a positive message, in that it’s fun. Just fun. It’s what Madonna needed to do.’

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