On this day in music history: May 19, 1990 - “Vogue” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written and produced by Madonna and Shep Pettibone, it is the eighth chart topping single for the pop music superstar born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. Collaborating with club DJ, remixer, and producer Shep Pettibone, Madonna will decide to come up with a non-album B-side for the release of the “Like A Prayer” albums’ fifth single “Keep It Together”. The singer will be inspired by dancers she sees at the New York City club The Sound Factory doing a stylized dance called “voguing”. Originating in New York’s black and latino underground gay clubs and drag balls as early as the 1960’s, the dance will take its name from the fashion magazine “Vogue”, with the dance being a series of “angular, rigid hand, arm, leg and body movements” designed to look like the person is posing like a model while they are moving. When Madonna lets Warner Bros. know of her original intent to the use the song as a B-side, their great enthusiasm for the track will persuade her to release it an A-side instead. “Vogue” will also be added to the album “I’m Breathless” which includes songs from the film “Dick Tracy” in which she plays the character Breathless Mahoney. The song will further be bolstered by a memorable and striking black and white video directed by David Fincher (“Fight Club”, “Se7en”), featuring several of the dancers Madonna originally sees performing the dance. Entering the Hot 100 at #39 on April 14, 1990, it will shoot to the top of the chart five weeks later. “Vogue” will be certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 21, 1989 - “Like A Prayer”, the fourth studio album by Madonna is released. Produced by Madonna, Patrick Leonard, Stephen Bray, and Prince, it is recorded at D & D Recording in New York City and Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood, CA from September 1988 - January 1989. Her first new studio album since “True Blue” nearly three years before, the pop superstar will go through a great deal in her personal life, including divorcing her husband, actor Sean Penn. For the new material she co-write for her next album, she will reveal more of her personal self than ever before, with many of the songs being inspired by Madonna’s Catholic upbringing, her family and death of her mother, to whom the album is dedicated. Upon its release, it will receive much acclaim from both fans and critics as being Madonna’s strongest artistic statement to date. Spinning off five hit singles including “Express Yourself” (#2 Pop), “Cherish” (#2 Pop), “Oh Father” (#20 Pop) and the title track (#1 Pop), initial pressings of the album will be scented with patchouli oil. In support of the album, Madonna will follow with the innovative “Blond Ambition World Tour” in early 1990. “Like A Prayer” will spend 6 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA.
On this day in music: March 3, 1998 - “Ray Of Light”, the seventh studio album by Madonna is released. Produced by Madonna, William Orbit, Patrick Leonard, and Marius De Vries, is recorded at Larrabee Studios North in Universal City, CA from May - September 1997. Her first new studio album in three years (not counting the “Evita” soundtrack in 1996), Madonna will change musical directions yet again, adding to her diverse body of work. Collaborating closely with longtime co-writer and producer Pat Leonard and electronic music composer and remixer William Orbit, Madonna will incorporate elements of electronic, trip hop, drum and bass, and ambient dance music into her sound. The sessions will run longer than previous albums due to technical problems with the Pro Tools system used in the recording, with most of the tracks involving complex programming and sampling. Upon its release, Madonna will receive some of the best critical notices of her career, with fans also embracing her new sound. It will spin off five singles including “Frozen” (#2 Pop) and the title track (#5 Pop). The album will win 3 Grammy Awards including Best Pop Vocal Album. “Ray Of Light” will peak at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 and will be certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 25, 1995 - “Take A Bow” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks, also spending 9 weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart on February 18th. Written and produced by Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Madonna, it is the eleventh chart topping single for the pop music superstar. While working on her sixth album “Bedtime Stories”, Madonna will approach Babyface and ask him if he would be interested in working together. The producer and songwriter will accept the offer and they will get right to work. “Take A Bow” will be based on a piece of music Face has already written, completing it shortly after playing it for Madonna. The pair will write the lyrics and melody together. The track will be recorded with a full orchestra with the strings being arranged by Nellee Hooper (Soul II Soul, Sinead O’Connor, Massive Attack). Issued as the follow up to the top five hit “Secret”, “Take A Bow” will enter the Hot 100 at #45 on December 17, 1994, reaching the top of the chart ten weeks later. Certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, “Bow” will be Madonna’s longest running chart topper on the pop singles chart.
On this day in music history: January 5, 1991 - “Justify My Love” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Lenny Kravitz, Madonna and Ingrid Chavez, it is the ninth chart topping single for the pop superstar born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. One of two new songs included on Madonna’s first greatest hits compilation “The Immaculate Collection”, “Justify My Love” is accompanied by a stylish and sexually graphic music video directed by Jean Baptiste-Mondino, which is immediately banned by MTV. Further controversy will arise when songwriter Ingrid Chavez does not receive songwriting credit on the song. She will successfully sue Kravitz for royalties and proper credit. It will later be revealed that Kravitz and Chavez were having an affair at the time the song was written. All of the controversy swirling around the song at the time of its release won’t stop it from being a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #46 on November 17, 1990, “Justify My Love” will reach the top of the chart seven weeks later, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 22, 1984 - “Like A Virgin” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks, topping the Club Play chart for 4 weeks on December 15th, and also peaking at #9 on the R&B singles chart on December 22nd. Written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, it is the first number one single for Bay City, MI born pop music icon. Warner Bros A&R exec Michael Ostin will hear the demo (sung by Kelly) and will play it for Madonna the next day. She’ll flip over the song and agree to do it. However, Madonna and producer Nile Rodgers will initially disagree over its hit potential, but will eventually change his mind when he can’t get the song’s hook out of his head. Recorded at The Power Station in New York City in the Spring of 1984, the track features the core members of Rodgers band Chic including bassist Bernard Edwards, drummer Tony Thompson, keyboardist Rob Sabino and Nile Rodgers himself on rhythm guitar. The release of the album and single of “Like A Virgin” will be delayed for several months, while Madonna’s self titled debut album continues to generate hit singles into the Fall of 1984. Madonna will debut the song with a now legendary performance on the first MTV Video Music Awards on September 14, 1984, dressed in a bustier/wedding gown. Released just six days ahead of the album on November 6th, “Like A Virgin” will be be an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #48 on November 17th, it will rocket to the top of the chart five weeks later, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 4, 1990 - Madonna appears on the ABC News program “Nightline” and is interviewed by Forrest Sawyer. During the interview, ABC will show the controversial video for “Justify My Love” in its entirety. Though MTV has banned clip from airplay, it will not stop the singles’ upward chart momentum. Instead, the video (directed by Jean Baptiste-Mondino) will be issued as a single on VHS tape and will sell over 1 million copies. “Justify My Love” will hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on January 5, 1991, spending 2 weeks at the top.
On this day in music history: November 17, 1987 - “You Can Dance” by Madonna is released. Produced by Madonna, Stephen Bray, Nile Rodgers, Reggie Lucas, Mark Kamins, and John “Jellybean” Benitez, it is recorded from May 1982 - September 1987. The seven track compilation is the first remix album from Madonna and features tracks from her first three albums remixed by John “Jellybean” Benitez, Shep Pettibone, Bruce Forest, and Frank Heller and Steve Thompson & Michael Barbiero. The set is filled out by the track “Spotlight” which is an outtake from the “True Blue” sessions. The album is sequenced so that the tracks are mixed together in a continuous sequence on both sides to emulate a DJ’s club set. A promotional version of the album will be released to radio that features edited versions of the tracks with cue banding between the songs. Warner Bros will also issue three promo 12” singles to club DJ’s that will become heavily sought after by collectors. “You Can Dance” will peak at #14 on the Billboard Top 200, hitting #1 on the Club Play chart for 1 week (on February 6, 1988) and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 20, 1992 - “Erotica”, the fifth album by Madonna is released. Produced by Madonna, Shep Pettibone, and Andre Betts, it is recorded at Master Mix Studios in Brooklyn, NY and Soundworks Recording Studios in New York City from November 1991 - August 1992. Collaborating mostly with dance remixer/producer Shep Pettibone, the album will be heavily influenced by the house music and new jack swing movements ruling both the club scene and mainstream pop at the time. Many of the songs are interpreted though the Madonna created alter-ego “Dita” talking about sex and romance throughout. As an accompanyment to the album, she will also release “Sex”, a coffee table book featuring sexually explicit photos taken by famed fashion photographer Steven Meisel and Fabien Baron. The sprial bound aluminum covered book wrapped in a mylar outer cover will quickly sell out of its 1.5 million unit first printing in spite of its $50 list price. The controversy surrounding the album and book will generate public backlash, put off by the graphic nature of both, resulting in lower sales than her previous albums, particularly in the US. It will spin off five singles including “Deeper And Deeper” (#7 Pop), “Rain” (#14 Pop), and the title cut (#3 Pop). “Erotica” will peak at #2 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.