On April 8 1999, American TV newsmagazine Entertainment Tonight (aka ET) revealed the title of the new song Madonna had recorded for the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack: Beautiful Stranger.
Beautiful Stranger launched to radio in mid-May and quickly became a sizeable summertime hit along with the Maverick Records issued soundtrack album which landed in North American record stores on June 1st, 1999.
On February 15 1985, the Vision Quest original motion picture soundtrack was released on Geffen Records. To promote the release, music videos for Crazy For You and Gambler premiered on MTV on the same day.
Despite Gambler only being released as a single in markets outside North America, its video received moderate rotation from MTV nonetheless – possibly due to the fact that there were no competing videos produced for the final two singles from Like A Virgin.
Gambler was Madonna’s last entirely self-written single until the 2007 release of the charity single, Hey You. Other singles for which she received sole writing credit include Everybody (which was in fact a Stephen Bray co-write–however a publishing arrangement granted him sole credit for another of their collaborations, Ain’t No Big Deal, in trade), Burning Up, Lucky Star and Sidewalk Talk. Album tracks Think Of Me, I Know It and Shoo-Bee-Doo were also entirely self-written.
A third Madonna song that was recorded for the Vision Quest soundtrack, Warning Signs, was eventually dropped from the project. A cassette copy of the song, which is also credited to Madonna alone, was submitted to the Library of Congress for copyright registration in February of 1984, at the same time as Gambler.
With Stephen Bray having confirmed his involvement in the song’s production (which he described as “a cool synth track”), it appears that its production credits would mirror those of Gambler, which was produced by Jellybean Benitez and arranged by Bray. Given that early press for Vision Quest (including an on-set interview with Madonna herself) mentioned the inclusion of three new songs, footage of Madonna performing Warning Signs was likely filmed but ended up on the cutting room floor. Surprisingly, this additional footage has never resurfaced and the song has never leaked.
On February 1 1997, Evita – The Complete Motion Picture Soundtrack peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the U.S. Meanwhile across the pond, the soundtrack simultaneously shot to the #1 position on the UK album chart. It had initially peaked at #6 in the U.S. and at #7 in the U.K. upon release in November, 1996.
The surge in sales was largely attributed to the film’s wide release in January and the heavy promotional push that accompanied it, along with the interest generated by the soundtrack’s second single, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.
On August 23 1997, Evita: Music from the Motion Picture (the highlights disc) debuted at #168 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart in the USA.
The highlights disc included 19 tracks from the film, and was released on July 29 1997 in North America to help promote the home video release. The single disc was released in select markets around the world in 1996 at the same time as the double disc complete soundtrack, but not in North America.
Evita: The Motion Picture Music Soundtrack featured all 34 tracks from the film, and was released on November 12 1996.
The highlights disc didn’t perform very well in the late summer of 1997 because it was released a full 8 months after the original release. No single was released to radio to promote it, and most die-hard fans had already secured an imported version of the single disc soundtrack the previous year. Why it was released at all in July 1997 remains a mystery. Why the single-disc set wasn’t released in North America in November 1996 is a better question. Why not release the double-disc set (expensive) and the single disc set (average price of a CD at the time) and appeal to the largest possible group of consumers? That was the approach around the world, but not in North America, we can’t help but wonder why? – Jay
On October 10 2002, the music video for Die Another Day premiered on MTV. Helmed by Swedish directing team Traktor, the action-packed short for Madonna’s James Bond theme remains the second most expensive music video of all-time, with production costs surpassing the six-million dollar mark. The clip made its debut as part of an episode of MTV’s Making The Video – Madonna’s first appearance on the series.
Traktor’s Ole Sanders spoke to Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet about Madonna’s involvement in the clip’s development:
“We received daily e-mails with feedback that was concise, unambiguous and occasionally entertaining. She works extremely hard with gumption and detail, and it was clear to us how she has remained on top for twenty years. It was no use being unprepared with vague ideas disguised as creativity, as there was no place to hide.”
The video was filmed at Hollywood Center Studios in Hollywood, California between August 22 and August 27, 2002 – an atypically lengthy shoot by Madonna’s standards, likely due to the complexities of capturing the special effects and stunts featured throughout the Bond-influenced clip.
On July 24 1999, Beautiful Stranger reached its peak position of #19 on the Billboard Hot 100. This was based on the strength of airplay alone, as Maverick Records opted to boost sales of the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack album by not releasing the song as a physical single in the US. Had it been issued commercially, it would have easily given Madonna another Top 10 hit. The single was released in most major markets outside the US including Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan.