Today in Madonna History: June 30, 1997

On June 30 1997, Madonna began recording sessions for what would become her Ray Of Light album at Larrabee North Recording Studios, Universal City, Los Angeles.

Madonna had already spent several months writing songs and producing demos with Patrick Leonard, Rick Nowels and Babyface (although none of the Babyface material would make the final cut) by the time she entered the studio with co-producers William Orbit and Marius De Vries. Leonard would return to the project to assist with arrangements, earning him a co-producer’s credit on four of the album’s tracks. Madonna would add lyrics and melody to at least a half-dozen previously composed Orbit demos during these sessions as well, with six of their songs making the final cut.

One song that came very close to being included on the album, Has To Be, was dropped due to Madonna’s desire to limit the number of songs on the album to lucky number thirteen. In a final toss-up between Has To Be and To Have And Not To Hold, the former was nixed in favor of the latter. Has To Be would fortunately make it to the ears of fans, however, due to its inclusion as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of the Ray Of Light album, and as the international b-side to the Ray Of Light single.

Has To Be was born as a collaboration between Madonna and Patrick Leonard. Recently surfaced demos from their writing session include two early versions of the song – the first is a piano-based arrangement in a similar style to the previous Madonna/Leonard collaboration, Something To Remember, while the second demo is an experimental synth-based reworking.

After entering the studio with William Orbit, Madonna adapted Has To Be to one of Orbit’s previously composed electronic soundscapes. Although the original Orbit instrumental piece with celestial voices has never been commercially released, it had previously aired on Orbit’s weekly radio series, Stereo Odyssey, on California’s KCRW prior to his involvement with Madonna. A sound file of the original instrumental that has circulated among fans is a recording from one of these broadcasts.

Although the released version of Has To Be is substantially different from the early Leonard demos, enough elements from its original melody lines (which were based on Leonard’s piano phrases) were carried over to warrant a three-way publishing split between Madonna/Orbit/Leonard for its official release.

Despite its relative obscurity, in fan circles Has To Be often ranks among her most beloved ballads.

Today in Madonna History: May 28, 1994

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On May 28 1994, Madonna’s I’ll Remember (Theme From With Honors) hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.

Matthew Rettenmund ranks the Guerrilla Beach Mix of I’ll Remember (by William Orbit) as the #9 of 25 Best Madonna Mixes. Here’s what Matthew says about the remix:

Madonna’s easy-listening staple I’ll Remember from the hard-to-watch With Honors got a deep remix by Orbit, which could be heard as spacey or as originating at the precipice of a vast ocean. (I’m thinking of Sinead O’Connor’s “Jackie” here.) I’m embarrassed I forgot this remix when I first created this list, but I’m not embarrassed to say I think it’s markedly superior to the lovely but unassuming original.

We love this remix and we love Matthew’s blog (Boy Culture)!

How does this remix rank among your top Madonna favourites?

Today In Madonna History: March 7, 1996

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On March 7, 1996, One More Chance, the second single from Madonna’s ballads compilation Something to Remember was released.  The single was not released in North America.  One More Chance was written and produced by both Madonna and David Foster.

Today in Madonna History: November 22, 1995

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On November 22 1995, Madonna was featured on VH1’s television series VH1 To One in a previously recorded interview with Jane Pratt. The appearance was part of Madonna’s promotional activities for the ballads compilation, Something To Remember.

The interview was conducted in London, where Madonna had recently begun recording the soundtrack to Evita.

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: October 30, 1995

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On October 30 1995, You’ll See  was released as the first single from the ballads compilation, Something To Remember. It was one of three tracks written and produced by Madonna with Canadian songwriter David Foster during a marathon writing/recording session in late September 1995, with One More Chance also making the album’s final cut. A shelved collaboration entitled I Can’t Forget was recorded by British electronic group Tilt (retitled Come Closer) in 2006 and later by Canadian vocalist Angelica Di Castro. Madonna’s original unreleased demo leaked to the internet in 2010.

A Spanish version of You’ll See entitled Verás (featuring lyrics by Paz Martinez) was recorded during a brief promotional push for the album and was included on the North American maxi-single alongside an instrumental version and a live recording of Live To Tell (taken from 1987’s Ciao Italia! concert release). An alternate version of the You’ll See video was serviced to Latin markets to promote Verás featuring in-studio footage of Madonna recording its vocals.

Today in Madonna History: October 18, 1996

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On October 18 1996, Madonna’s greatest ballads collection, Something To Remember was certified 2x platinum (2 million units) in the USA.

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