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: September 18, 2001

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On September 18 2001, Impressive Instant was released as a promotional club single to DJs in the US. Written and produced by Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzaï, the track is bright and uplifting in its content and composition. Originally intended to be the fourth single of the Music album, a commercial release was cancelled due to a disagreement between Madonna and her recording company.

Potentially fearing the track as being too experimental to garner significant airplay, Warner had instead showed interest in releasing Amazing as the fourth single. If hopes were that it would replicate the airplay success of her similar-sounding summertime hit Beautiful Stranger several years prior, Madonna was reportedly less enthusiastic about repeating herself. Promotional copies of Amazing were issued in Germany, Spain, Columbia and Israel before Warner seemingly pulled the plug on pushing the song – perhaps at Madonna’s insistence. In the end, the rift reportedly resulted in neither track being released commercially, making Music her first studio album (excluding I’m Breathless) to spawn only three commercial singles.

Remixes that had been commissioned for Impressive Instant by the late Peter Rauhofer were finally released to clubs as a promotional single at the tail end of her successful Drowned World Tour.

Official Peter Rauhofer promotional remixes of Impressive Instant :

  • Peter Rauhofer’s Universal Club Mix (aka Remix #1)
  • Peter Rauhofer’s Universal Dub
  • Peter Rauhofer’s Universal Radio Mixshow Mix
  • Peter Rauhofer’s Drowned World Dub
  • Peter Rauhofer’s Drowned World Dub Part 2
  • Remix #2

Today in Madonna History: August 19, 2009

On August 19 2009, Madonna’s Celebration single was released as a digital remix EP on iTunes in North America.

The EP featured remixes by Benny Benassi, Paul Oakenfold and Johnny Vicious.

Although Madonna had produced the album version of Celebration with one of the world’s best known DJ’s, Paul Oakenfold, it was Benny Benassi’s remix that, deservedly, captured the most attention.

Madonna chose to feature Benassi’s remix in the music video for the single, and it was also used as the closing performance of her MDNA Tour. She would also collaborate on several songs with Benassi for her album, MDNA.

Today in Madonna History: August 5, 2008

On August 5 2008, Madonna’s Give It 2 Me was released as a CD maxi-single by Warner Bros. Records in the U.S. It included amazing club remixes by Eddie Amador, Paul Oakenfold, Fedde Le Grand, Tong & Spoon, Jody den Broeder, and a ragga mix by Sly & Robbie.

The single was also issued in the U.S. as a double-vinyl 12-inch set, a 12-inch vinyl picture disc and as a double-vinyl 7-inch set coupled with her previous single, 4 Minutes. Though no Canadian pressings of the single were issued, the U.S. CD maxi-single was distributed to Canadian retailers with a Warner Music Canada special import sticker.

Give It 2 Me was the second single from Hard Candy. It was written by Madonna & Pharrell Williams with production by Madonna & The Neptunes. An early demo version of the song with alternate lyrics, titled Infinity, would eventually surface online.

Today in Madonna History: May 18, 2015

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On May 18 2015, the remix EP for Ghosttown was released by digital retailers. The release followed the news that song had hit the number-one position on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Club chart. It became her 45th song to top the dance chart – the most number-ones for any artist on any Billboard chart.

Tracklist:

01 – Ghosttown (Offer Nissim Drama Remix) – 07:17
02 – Ghosttown (Armand Van Helden Remix) – 06:16
03 – Ghosttown (S-Man Mix) – 06:08
04 – Ghosttown (Razor N Guido Remix) – 07:46
05 – Ghosttown (Mindskap Remix) – 05:35
06 – Ghosttown (Don Diablo Remix) – 04:47
07 – Ghosttown (Dirty Pop Intro Remix) – 05:20
08 – Ghosttown (DJ Mike Cruz Mix Show Edit) – 07:05
09 – Ghosttown (THRILL Remix) – 06:27
10 – Ghosttown (DJ Yiannis String Intro Mix) – 01:40

Today in Madonna History: January 30, 1990

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On January 30 1990, Keep It Together was released in North America as the fifth and final single from Like A Prayer. It also received a commercial release in Japan, Australia, Ecuador and the Philippines, while some European markets opted to include it as the b-side to Madonna’s next single, Vogue.

As fate would ironically have it, Madonna’s soulful ode to remembering ones roots would turn out to be the last Madonna-performed single co-written and co-produced with longtime collaborator Stephen Bray, whom she had befriended (or by some accounts, dated) during her days as a student at the University of Michigan. A final collaboration written by the pair, Get Over – which is speculated to have been written as a potential new track for The Immaculate Collection but was instead given to fellow Warner recording artist Nick Scotti – was released as a single in 1993, after first appearing on the Nothing But Trouble soundtrack in 1991.

Although no music video was produced for Keep It Together, the maxi-single – jam-packed with memorable remixes by Shep Pettibone and DJ Mark “The 45 King” with Stephen Bray – made the single a must-have for fans around the world. And despite its exclusion from her greatest hits releases, Madonna’s show-closing (and show-stopping) performance of the song during her legendary Blond Ambition Tour – and its accompanying documentary Truth Or Dare – has also served to keep the song alive in the hearts and minds of fans.

Today In Madonna History: March 8, 1994

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On March 8 1994, Madonna’s I’ll Remember (Theme From The Motion Picture With Honors) single was released.

I’ll Remember was written by Madonna, Patrick Leonard, and Richard Page.

It later appeared on Madonna’s ballads collection, Something to Remember.

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