Today in Madonna History: May 6, 1998

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On May 6 1998, Ray of Light was released by Maverick Records. The title track from her seventh studio album was issued internationally as the album’s second single.

Ray Of Light is based on a track called Sepheryn by Curtiss Maldoon, and was included on their 1971 self-titled album. In 1996, Christine Leach, Maldoon’s niece, recorded her version of the track with William Orbit. Leach said she had always loved Dave Curtiss and Clive Maldoon’s work and noted that Sepheryn had a dream-like quality. Leach revised the chorus melody while Orbit provided new music for the song. After Madonna heard Leach’s version of the track, she immediately took to it and began reworking its lyrics.

Maldoon said he “couldn’t believe it” after he heard it, and was pleased with what Madonna had done with his original composition. Madonna said about the song: “It’s totally out of control. The original version is well over 10 minutes long. It was completely indulgent, but I loved it. It was heartbreaking to cut it down to a manageable length.”

Madonna’s original unedited version was set to be included on a remix album titled Veronica Electronica that was initially discussed as a follow-up to Ray Of Light, but plans for the collection apparently never made it past the drawing board.

Today in Madonna History: April 13, 1995

On April 13 1995, Bedtime Story was released by Maverick/Sire as the third single from the album Bedtime Stories in North America. The song was written by Björk, Nellee Hooper & Marius DeVries and produced by Madonna & Nellee Hooper. In both the U.S. and Canada the single and CD maxi-single were backed by the album opener, Survival.

The commercial maxi-single featured remixes by Junior Vasquez and Orbital. Additional promo-only remixes by Mark Picchiotti & Teri Bristol were also later serviced promotionally to clubs.

Bedtime Story was released in the UK in February following a poor reception to the album’s second single, Take A Bow.

It was the opposite situation in North America, where the third single was delayed for several months due to the prolonged chart-topping reign of Bow. Bedtime Story‘s more experimental, minimalist sound failed to gain traction on U.S. radio but did earn Madonna another #1 hit on the Hot Dance/Club chart.

Today in Madonna History: March 16, 2004

On March 16 2004, Love Profusion was commercially released in North America on CD maxi-single. In the U.S., a double 12″ vinyl edition of the maxi-single was also released one week later, on March 23rd. Written & produced by Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzaï, Love Profusion was the fourth and final North American single release from the American Life album. In the UK, Warner chose to issue the song instead of Nothing Fails as the album’s third and final single in December, 2003.

Though lack of radio support kept Love Profusion from charting on the Hot 100 in the U.S., it nevertheless managed to top the Hot Dance/Club Play chart. North of the border, the track peaked at #3 on the Canadian singles chart.

North American pressings of the CD maxi-single included a fold-out tester square of the Estée Lauder fragrance Beyond Paradise. The television commercial for the fragrance featured the song Love Profusion – and although Madonna was replaced by supermodel Carolyn Murphy, it used the same computer-generated imagery as the music video’s “daylight” scenes. Both the video and the commercial were created simultaneously by director Luc Besson.

Today in Madonna History: March 3, 2000

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On March 3 2000, American Pie was released as a single in the UK. The cover of the Don McLean classic would hit number-one on the UK singles chart the following week.

A huge international hit, American Pie also topped the charts in Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria and Finland. In the U.S. the track was not released commercially in a strategic move designed to maximize sales of The Next Best Thing soundtrack, however it managed to reach number twenty-nine on the Hot 100 based on the strength of airplay alone.

Today in Madonna History: February 23, 1998

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On February 23 1998, Frozen was released by Maverick records as the lead single from Madonna’s seventh studio album, Ray of Light. The song was written by Madonna & Patrick Leonard and was produced by Madonna, Leonard & William Orbit.

Madonna has mentioned that she considers Frozen as part of a thematic trilogy with The Power Of Good-Bye and To Have And Not To Hold. In an interview with Barry Walters for Spin magazine, Madonna commented on the inspiration behind the song:

“I was so obsessed with the movie The Sheltering Sky and that whole Moroccan/orchestral/super-romantic/man-carrying-the-woman-he-loves-across-the-desert vibe. So I told [Patrick Leonard] that I wanted something with a tribal feel, something really lush and romantic. When he started playing some music, I just turned the DAT on and started free-associating and came up with the melody.”

Initially unsure of which song should be released as the album’s first single, Madonna was eventually convinced by Warner Bros. executives that Frozen would be a perfect way to bridge the Adult Contemporary leanings of her most recent hits (Take A Bow, You’ll See and the singles from Evita) with the more cutting-edge, electronic sounds of Ray Of Light.

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: January 16, 2001

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On January 16 2001, Don’t Tell Me was released commercially in North America as the second single from Music.

Written by Madonna, Mirwais & Joe Henry, the song was Madonna’s first collaboration with her brother-in-law, whom she had known since high school. Henry sent a demo (then titled Stop) to Madonna after his wife, Melanie, insisted that her sister would love the song. Madonna & Mirwais drastically altered the music and melody and renamed the song Don’t Tell Me. Henry released his version on his eighth studio album, Scar, in May 2001.

The maxi-single featured remixes by Thunderpuss, Timo Mass, Victor Calderone, Richard “Humpty” Vission and Tracy Young. Don’t Tell Me was the last Madonna release to be issued on cassette single in the U.S. and was also available on 2-track CD single, CD Maxi-Single (enhanced with the music video) and as a double 12″ vinyl set. In Canada, it was released only on CD maxi-single.

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