Today in Madonna History: April 16, 1993

On April 16 1993, Body Of Evidence (starring Madonna) opened in cinemas across the U.K.

Roger Ebert had this to say about the film:

I’ve seen comedies with fewer laughs than Body of Evidence, and this is a movie that isn’t even trying to be funny. It’s an excruciatingly incompetent entry in the Basic Instinct genre, filled with lines that only a screenwriter could love, and burdened with a plot that confuses mystery with confusion.

The movie stars Madonna, who after Bloodhounds of Broadway, Shanghai Surprise and Who’s That Girl? now nails down her title as the queen of movies that were bad ideas right from the beginning. She plays a kinky dominatrix involved in ingenious and hazardous sex with an aging millionaire who has a bad heart. He dies after an evening’s entertainment, and Madonna is charged with his murder.

Today in Madonna History: March 28, 2012

On March 28 2012, Melissa Maerz reviewed Madonna’s MDNA album for Entertainment Weekly and gave it a B-.  Here’s what Melissa had to say about the album:

“Girls, they just wanna have some fun!” From the moment Madonna utters those words on MDNA, it’s clear that she’s trying really freaking hard to have a good time. With dance-music vets William Orbit, Martin Solveig, and Benny Benassi helming her return to the Euro-club stylings of 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, Madge spends nearly half the album insisting that this is the Best Party Ever, from the pom-pom-shaking ”Give Me All Your Luvin”’ to the Mardi-Gras-beads-tossing ”Girl Gone Wild” and stereo-blasting ”Turn Up the Radio.” The album title even suggests that Ecstasy is part of Madge’s DNA.

But while there are a few genuine moments of double-rainbow bliss here (check the ”whoo-ooh!” chorus of ”I’m a Sinner”), there’s also real darkness lurking under the air-popped beats. If Madonna’s sending us a message, it’s this: I spent all year perfecting my cartwheel for the Super Bowl, and now I’m gonna have fun, even if it kills me.

Maybe it’s just that MDNA‘s so hell-bent on showing how much energy the 53-year-old puts into her job. Many songs recap her gold-star résumé referencing her past hits lyrically or musically. ”Girl Gone Wild” shares its sassy legwarmer-disco vibe with 2005’s ”Hung Up,” while ”I’m a Sinner” reunites her with Orbit for a very cool guitar-boosted rave-up that echoes 1998’s ”Ray of Light.”

But all those reminders of her work ethic can feel exhausting. On the ridiculous electro-rap ”I Don’t Give A,” she runs through her insane schedule as a celebrity supermom. Before finishing her power workout, hiring a babysitter, ”tweeting on the elevator,” and riding a helicopter to her divorce lawyers’ office, she has an epiphany: ”Wake up, ex-wife/This is your life.”

Are you listening, Guy Ritchie? Because Madonna’s not done yelling at you. After revealing that she ”didn’t have a prenup,” she gets a decent gold-digger joke into the ABBA-remix-esque strains of ”Love Spent”: ”Frankly, if my name was Benjamin,” she deadpans, ”we wouldn’t be in this mess we’re in.” Less charming is the industrial thumper ”Gang Bang,” where Madonna holds a gun to her lover’s head, demanding, ”Drive, bitch!” True, she also recorded a mea culpa — on ”I F—ed Up” she says ”I’m sorry” in French — but it’s telling that she cut it from the album. Her apology’s just as unconvincing as her Gallic accent.

So it’s surprising that Madonna is at her best on the love songs. The W.E. ballad ”Masterpiece” (which won her a Golden Globe in January) begins with Spanish guitar and a finger-snap rhythm — a refreshing break from the relentless bass throbbing. When she’s singing about a guy who’s as pretty as the Mona Lisa, her voice is lovely. And the synth stomper ”I’m Addicted,” a warm ode to a crush, offers a good excuse to join in when she says, ”I need to dance.” Elsewhere, Nicki Minaj even shows some L-U-V for Lady M, proclaiming, ”There’s only one queen, and that’s Madonna, bitch!” Judging by MDNA, she may be overestimating her idol. But there’s just enough dance-floor bonhomie here to get that catchphrase bedazzled on a few dozen leotards. B-

Best Tracks:
Spiritual electro? Sacrilicious! I’m a Sinner
A flamenco-style ballad Masterpiece

Today in Madonna History: March 25, 1997

madonna-you-must-love-me-academy-awards-1997-1 madonna-you-must-love-me-academy-awards-1997-2 OSCARS-MADONNA

On March 25 1997, Madonna performed You Must Love Me at the 68th Academy Awards. The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Kathleen Guerdo from Billboard said that “Madonna delivers what is by far one of the strongest vocal performances of her career, comfortably scaling to the song’s demanding soprano heights while infusing it with delicate, heart-rending emotion.”

Today in Madonna History: February 27, 1995

On February 27 1995, Madonna’s chart topping single, Take A Bow, was certified Gold by the RIAA for shipments of 500,000 copies.

Matthew Jacobs (The Huffington Post) had this to say about Take A Bow:

Take A Bow is Madonna’s most poetic ballad. Much in the way that such hits as Borderline and Into The Groove act as the fuselage of ’80s pop … a lost-love elegy that squares nicely with the burgeoning female singer-songwriter movement of the ’90s. Don’t mistake its sleepy quality for stuffiness. This song is Madonna at her loveliest.

Today in Madonna History: January 30, 1993

On January 30 1993, Madonna’s Deeper & Deeper hit number-one on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club chart in the USA. Deeper & Deeper was Madonna’s 14th number-one hit on the chart.

Jose Promis (AllMusic) had this to say about the single:

Deeper and Deeper was the second single released from Madonna’s Erotica album. The song, in its regular album form, is a dance epic. The single includes seven versions, which are all club mixes of a song that was a club hit to begin with. This single begins with an edit of the album mix, followed by two stripped-down house mixes (featuring a sample from Vogue where “Greta Garbo, Greta Garbo” is repeated throughout the song). The fourth mix is a basically the extended album version, which, in the breakdown, substitutes piano for the Spanish guitars. The fifth and sixth versions are dub mixes, while the seventh is little more than a few extra minutes of bonus dub beats, which, in the long run, wind up being somewhat indistinguishable from one another. The mixes don’t stray too far from the original’s winning recipe, but, with nearly 45 minutes worth of dance beats, one can hardly say this single doesn’t satisfy.

Today in Madonna History: January 5, 1995

On January 5 1995, Madonna’s fabulous Bedtime Stories album was certified platinum (for shipment of 1 million units).

Barbara O’Dair reviewed the album for Rolling Stone magazine:

After the drubbing she has taken in the last few years, Madonna deserves to be mighty mad. And wounded anger is shot through her new album, Bedtime Stories, as she works out survival strategies. While always a feminist more by example than by word or deed, Madonna seems genuinely shocked at the hypocritical prudishness of her former fans, leading one to expect a set of biting screeds. But instead of reveling in raised consciousness, Bedtime Stories demonstrates a desire to get unconscious. Madonna still wants to go to bed, but this time it’s to pull the covers over her head.

Still, in so doing, Madonna has come up with some awfully compelling sounds. In her retreat from sex to romance, she has enlisted four top R&B producers: Atlanta whiz kid Dallas Austin, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Dave “Jam” Hall and Britisher Nellee Hooper (Soul II Soul), who add lush soul and creamy balladry. With this awesome collection of talent, the record verily shimmers. Bass-heavy grooves push it along when more conventional sentiments threaten to bog it down. Both aspects put it on chart-smart terrain.

A number of songs — “Survival,” “Secret,” “I’d Rather Be Your Lover” (to which Me’Shell NdegéOcello brings a bumping bass line and a jazzy rap) — are infectiously funky. And Madonna does a drive-by on her critics, complete with a keening synth line straight outta Dre, on “Human Nature”: “Did I say something wrong?/Oops, I didn’t know I couldn’t talk about sex (I musta been crazy).”

But you don’t need her to tell you that she’s “drawn to sadness” or that “loneliness has never been a stranger,” as she sings on the sorrowful “Love Tried to Welcome Me.” The downbeat restraint in her vocals says it, from the tremulously tender “Inside of Me” to the sob in “Happiness lies in your own hand/It took me much too long to understand” from “Secret.”

The record ultimately moves from grief to oblivion with the seductive techno pull of “Sanctuary.” The pulsating drone of the title track (co-written by Björk and Hooper), with its murmured refrain of “Let’s get unconscious, honey,” renounces language for numbness.

Twirled in a gauze of (unrequited) love songs, Bedtime Stories says, “Fuck off, I’m not done yet.” You have to listen hard to hear that, though. Madonna’s message is still “Express yourself, don’t repress yourself.” This time, however, it comes not with a bang but a whisper.

Today in Madonna History: December 21, 1996

On December 21 1996, Madonna’s You Must Love Me (the lead single from EVITA) spent its final week on Billboard’s Hot 100 Airplay Chart in the USA. The hit single spent a total of 9 weeks on the chart.

Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix had this to say about the song:

You Must Love Me is an aching farewell that dispels the illusion of a romance-of-convenience to reveal the inescapable love and tragedy beneath”.

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