Today in Madonna History: December 6, 1994

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On December 6 1994, Madonna’s Take a Bow was released (as a physical single).  Take A Bow was selected to be the second single from Madonna’s sixth studio album Bedtime Stories.

The ballad was written and produced by Madonna and Babyface.

Billboard Single Reviews gave the song a very positive review:

The follow-up to the top five smash Secret is a plush pop ballad that pairs La M with the red-hot Babyface, who has become best friend to many a diva in recent times. As close to perfect as top 40 fare gets, this single has a delightful, immediately memorable melody and chorus, engaging romance-novel lyrics, caressing live strings, and a lead vocal that is both sweet and quietly soulful. A lovely way for the singer to close ’95 — and one more good reason to investigate her essential Bedtime Stories collection.

Today in Madonna History: November 27, 1999

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On November 27 1999, Madonna: The Video Collection 1993-99 hit #3 on the Billboard Top Music Videos chart.

Heather Phares from Allmusic gave the release five out of five stars and said:

Madonna’s Video Collection: 1993-1999 adds to her status as one of the best represented artists on DVD. Though it doesn’t offer much in the way of DVD-specific features, the artistry of directors like Mark Romanek, Stephane Sednaoui, David Fincher, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, as well as Madonna herself, is on full display with videos like ‘Take a Bow’, ‘Bedtime Story’, ‘Human Nature’, ‘Frozen’, and ‘Ray of Light’. All in all, it’s a worthwhile collection of memorable videos from one of pop’s trendsetters.”  

Today in Madonna History: November 24, 1984

On November 24 1984, Madonna’s Like A Virgin album was reviewed in Billboard magazine.

Check out Malcolm Middleton’s excellent cover of Stay, a pre-fame Madonna & Stephen Bray collaboration that later became the closing track on Like A Virgin:

 

Today in Madonna History: November 17, 1984

On November 17 1984, Madonna’s Like A Virgin single was reviewed in Billboard magazine.

Also in the same issue, dance music columnist Brian Chin highlighted Jellybean Benitez’ remix of the track.

Today in Madonna History: November 4, 1995

On November 4 1995, Madonna’s You’ll See was reviewed by Billboard magazine’s Larry Flick. Written & produced by Madonna & David Foster, the song of self-empowerment served as the lead single from her collection of ballads, Something To Remember.

 

Today in Madonna History: September 8, 1986

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On September 8 1986, Madonna’s third album, True Blue, was certified double platinum (for shipment of 2 million units) in the USA.

Here’s a snippet of Davitt Sigerson’s review of True Blue from Rolling Stone (July 17, 1986):

Madonna’s sturdy, dependable, lovable new album remains faithful to her past while shamelessly rising above it. True Blue may generate fewer sales and less attention than Like a Virgin, but it sets her up as an artist for the long run. And like every other brainy move from this best of all possible pop madonnas, it sounds as if it comes from the heart.

Today in Madonna History: August 20, 2001

On August 20 2001, Sal Cinquemani published this review of Madonna’s Music album in Slant magazine:

After her hugely successful and critically-lauded Ray Of Light, Madonna could have gone in one of several possible directions: (1) a more hardcore trance route, enlisting a world-class DJ like Sasha (who remixed a few tracks from Ray Of Light and whom Madonna allegedly dismissed after collaborating on several tracks early in the recording process of this new album); (2) staying in safe territory by writing and recording once again with William Orbit, the mastermind behind Ray Of Light; or (3) a weird, more experimental direction, commissioning someone like French electronica guru Mirwais Ahmadzai. Madonna once told producer Shep Pettibone “You can never do the same thing twice…ever,” but two new collaborations with Orbit, “Runaway Lover” and “Amazing,” prove that when you do, it will probably be completely uninteresting. “Runaway Lover” sounds like a Ray Of Light outtake with uninspired couplets like “It doesn’t pay to give away what you lack/You’ll never get your money back.” But amid the clichés, Madonna throws in profound food for thought like “You get your education from your lovers.” “Amazing” is incredibly catchy and has a Supremes-like melody but that’s where it ends. The track borrows the drum loop Orbit used in “Beautiful Stranger” (which was originally the loop from his “Ray Of Light” remix), and proves that he may not have had enough tricks up his sleeve for an entire new album anyway (and perhaps Madonna knew that).

As such, Madonna enlisted Mirwais for most of the rest of the album in question, Music. The title track, a retro hands-in-the-air club song reminiscent of Debbie Deb’s “When I Hear Music” and Madonna’s own “Into The Groove,” is the singer’s best dance floor-beckoning track since “Vogue.” She sings “Music makes the people come together” like a track off of her debut album, and as an added bonus she uses words like “bourgeoisie” and “acid-rock” with equal abandon. If you can get past the initial horror of hearing Madonna’s voice get the Cher “Believe” treatment on “Nobody’s Perfect,” another Mirwais collaboration, you’ll find a brilliant song full of genuine sorrow. The track opens with an intentionally imperfect and somber “I feel so sad,” and it is indeed believable. Lyrics like “What did you expect? I’m doing my best” are sung with an intriguing juxtaposition of human emotion and mechanically detached vocalizations. Though hard to swallow at first (like most on the album), the track is one of the singer’s best creations. With its distorted vocals and grinding electronic burps, “Paradise (Not For Me)” is another distinctive Mirwais production. At a turning point in the song, Madonna awkwardly struggles to speak the words “There is a light above my head/Into your eyes my face remains” while strings swell and bring the song to a climax. It is at this point that “Paradise” resembles the cinematic grandeur of tracks like “Frozen,” and it is also one of the few moments throughout Music that recalls the spiritual introspection of Ray Of Light.

Two tracks take a striking folk direction. “I Deserve It” finds Madonna once again singing with a warm yet detached voice, but this time her vocals are completely untouched by effects. “Gone” ends the album and is possibly one of Madonna’s best performances. In the vein of “Live To Tell,” the song seems to sum up everything Madonna has tried to tell us about being the most famous woman in the world. Earlier attempts have seemed obvious and sometimes trite (“Goodbye To Innocence,” “Survival,” “Drowned World”), but this song seems to be particularly telling. It is also, perhaps, the most human she has ever been. Self-deprecation and vulnerability have never been Madonna’s strong-suits, but the way she sings “I won’t let it happen again/I’m not very smart” could make you wonder. Music seems more like a collection of songs than a cohesive album, and it is an unexpected answer to Ray Of Light. But strangely, in an attempt to make a “fun,” less-introspective album, Madonna has revealed more of herself than ever. No longer shrouded with pedantic spirituality, she has become even more human, exposing her fears on tracks like “Nobody’s Perfect” and “Paradise,” her soul on “Don’t Tell Me” and “What It Feels Like For A Girl,” and revealing her joys on “Impressive Instant” and “Music.”

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