Today in Madonna History: April 25, 1988

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On April 25 1988, Spotlight was released as a single by Warner-Pioneer. Issued exclusively in Japan, it was the only commercial single release from the remix album You Can Dance. The song was written by Curtis Hudson, Madonna and Stephen Bray and was produced by Stephen Bray. Madonna wasn’t given a co-producer’s credit on the track – odd considering it was a leftover from the True Blue album sessions, for which she co-produced every song. The track was remixed by John “Jellybean” Benitez for its inclusion on You Can Dance.

In a 2012 interview with blogcritics.com writer Justin Kantor, Curtis Hudson recalled the circumstances surrounding the creation and release of Spotlight:

“During the time right after Holiday, when we’d go to her place and write, I presented Spotlight. I gave her a complete song, Spotlight. I had actually written it in case Warner Bros. asked her for another Holiday. She said she loved it and felt spiritual about it. But she didn’t use it or contact me again about it. It sort of popped up out of nowhere when she was getting ready to do You Can Dance. Her lawyer contacted our manager and said we needed to talk. We went over and met with him. She and Stephen Bray had already done the song; but I hadn’t even heard the version they had done.They took the demo I had given her and worked it into a different song. They gave me credit since I had the original song copyrighted. I would’ve collaborated and made changes. But I was told, ‘Well, she’s too busy. She’s overseas doing a movie.’ I was okay with it, though, because they gave me credit. But the original song had a certain magic, and the changes took that essence away. The original Spotlight was another Holiday—the rhythm, the basic groove. I think they were trying to get away from that sound. Sometimes artists don’t want their sound to be identified with specific writers.”

Today in Madonna History: November 29, 1986

On November 29 1986, Billboard’s dance music editor Brian Chin reported on the postponed Madonna remix project, You Can Dance.

While a release the following spring would also come to pass, the accuracy of details regarding the album’s content would suggest it was already in the can a year ahead of its eventual release.

An early preview would be granted for one of the remixes, albeit in live form, when Madonna’s Who’s That Girl World Tour performance of Into The Groove the following summer would borrow heavily from Shep Pettibone’s remix for You Can Dance.

Today in Madonna History: November 15, 1986

On November 15 1986, Billboard reported that a 6-track Madonna remix EP titled You Can Dance, initially scheduled for a 1986 pre-Christmas release, would be delayed until the following year to avoid affecting holiday sales of her still red-hot True Blue LP.

The article also mentions Madonna’s upcoming film, Slammer (later retitled Who’s That Girl), her track for Nick Kamen, the video for her next single, Open Your Heart, touring plans and more.

Stay tuned for a third and final installment on the You Can Dance delay…

Today in Madonna History: October 25, 1986

On October 25 1986, Billboard magazine reported that Madonna visited Larrabee Sound studios in Santa Monica to co-produce a track for Nick Kamen with Stephen Bray – and to oversee the mixing of Spotlight and the remixing of Holiday with Jellybean Benitez.

Billboard had previously announced in their October 4th issue that Sire Records planned to release a six-song Madonna EP titled You Can Dance ahead of the 1986 holiday season, featuring a previously unreleased cut Spotlight and five mixes of previously released songs.

But as we all know, You Can Dance would instead be promoted as full-length remix LP and would not hit the record store shelves until November of 1987.

(More on this next month!)

Today in Madonna History: April 21, 2018

On April 21 2018, Rhino Warner released two limited edition Madonna albums for Record Store Day:

  • You Can Dance – re-released on vinyl for the first time in 30 years. The Record Store Day version was pressed on red vinyl and included the obi strip, custom hype sticker and folded poster.
  • The First Album – re-released replica of the Japanese picture disc, repressed for the first time since 1987. Originally part of a 3-picture disc reissue set along with Like A Virgin and True Blue. Includes lyric insert notes in English and Japanese.

Today in Madonna History: January 20, 1988

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On January 20 1988, Madonna’s You Can Dance remix album was certified platinum in the USA for sales of 1,000,000 copies.

Patrick Leonard had this to say about working on the album:

“Remixing is a form of secondary creativity. Dance music elevates the DJ and the mixer to being almost on a level with the musician. In my opinion this is false. Manipulation of pre-recorded sound sources may be creative in a secondary sense, and may be valid in its own field, but it is pseudo musicianship. That’s why we tried to have a fresh approach to the songs for You Can Dance, as if we were developing and composing them for the first time.

Today in Madonna History: January 16, 1988

On January 16 1988, Spotlight entered Billboard’s Airplay chart at #37. The track would reach a peak of #32 three weeks later before falling to #40 in its final week.

Although Spotlight was not actively promoted to radio by Warner Bros. in the North America, radio’s eagerness to spin the cut regardless serves as a good indication that it likely would have continued Madonna’s hit streak at the time if it had been granted a proper single release.

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