With her position secured as one of the most marketable recording artists of her generation, Madonna continued to push the envelope and awareness of the pop genre and ventured into experimentation as new sounds emerged on the scene.
Truth or dare… the meteoric rise of Madonna’s stardom into the 90s virtually made the world her oyster, and she the pearl. With the success of one hit single after another, her profound impact on the live concert stage, elevated by the “Blond Ambition” Tour, and her command of multi-media turning the cameras on herself and piecing together unparalleled access into her world on the big screen with the ground-breaking documentary Truth or Dare elevated the pop icon to new heights of celebrity. It also made her the target of inevitable scrutiny that fueled her fires!
Coming out of a decade of decadence and into the 90s, Madonna signaled a significant shift in her music and benefitted from weaponizing her celebrity. The release of the greatest hits package The Immaculate Collection in 1990 curated every one of Madonna’s initial career hits, leading up to her biggest to date, the revolutionary dance hit, “Vogue”. It’s significant that of the album’s 17-track setlist, the last two are brand new songs. “Justify My Love” along with its sexually charged provocative short film video, would get Madonna censored on MTV, and “Rescue Me” with its anthemic beats would push her into the future.
With The Immaculate Collection greatest hits compilation, Madonna closed a chapter, signaling that she was reflecting on what had come before, in her life, in her career, and that self-examination was an encouraging benchmark. Madonna was entering into a chrysalis and what would emerge would test the limits of social expectations, of what was expected of a woman who was every bit a cultural icon.
Dance music was enjoying an incredibly rousing renaissance; the mainstream recognition that extended from out of club land and onto the radio increased the genre’s radio desirability. Nightlife across the world attracted an audience of the dance floor devotee not seen on the scene since the disco days of Studio 54. The advent of the AIDS epidemic also rallied the LGBT community to emerge out of the shadows and step into the spotlight to incite a human rights revolution determined to affect their presence in the world community that would ultimately save lives.
At the forefront of this wave, Madonna seized on the moment; whether providing cover and support in the fight for equality and awareness or redefining the spectrum of popular music. The artist had already set a pace and proven her innate skill at measuring the masses when it came to moving them through her music, now she was in a fight to be heard — to push people’s buttons, provoke the beast, and speak for those that otherwise did not have a platform, or had lost their lives to AIDS. If the first decade was designed to ideate the rise of the “icon,” the next phase was one of reinvention, experimentation, and fortification.
Deeper and Deeper, Still
In 1992, Erotica the fifth studio album from Madonna was largely a collaboration with remix, dance music producer Shep Pettibone who had co-written “Vogue” with her, and many of the tracks on Erotica pulsed for the dance floor. The title track “Erotica” was a darkly moody, hauntingly poetic and elaboration co-produced by André Betts, “Deeper and Deeper”, the album’s second single was a club confection that benefitted from directly referencing their hit single “Vogue”. Appropriately, disc-one of the greatest remix collection Finally Enough Love includes re-workings and the third single “Fever while landing on the first single from the follow-up album that went in another direction.
The setlist for Madonna’s “Girlie Show” Tour, which played to a limited US audience and mostly moved across Europe, incorporated a setlist largely made up of tracks from Erotica and appeared to be the final set piece in Madonna’s three acts of sexually explicit explorations that began with the album, the photo-essay “SEX” and finally the live show. As it came to a close, so did it manifest that Madonna was in search of something softer, a different gentler side to express her next phase. That came in the form of the 1994s Bedtime Stories, released in the fall.
The album was a major u-turn for Madonna, who even thanked and seems to apologize to her previous album’s producer Shep Pettibone in the album’s liner notes. The album’s tone is much more subdued and influenced by a fusion of pop, R&B, and hip-hop, and produced by Dallas Austin, “Babyface” Edmonds, Dave Hall, and Nellee Hooper, the latter of which produced the album’s most explorative track. “Bedtime Story” also co-written by Björk and Marius De Vries, was the album’s most emergent anthem, Madonna’s experimentation with the Euro-dance dub explosion.
Legendary remix producer Junior Vasquez took the track to new heights and elevated it with its big room tribal beats in a characteristically unique production that made it one of the biggest club hits of 1995. Vasquez’s contributions to this era profoundly impacted the club sound that followed, and appropriately many of the tracks on disc two of Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones sound and feel epic in their stature and the music that would follow would push Madonna’s ambition in a direction that would defy convention and stretch her own musicality.
Ray Of Light
This Era of Reinvention and reflection inspired many of Madonna’s most diverse albums and collaborations and would produce the most dynamic remixes of the late 90s into the new millennium. The electronic synth of Ray Of Light reunited Madonna and William Orbit, as well as long-time collaboration Patrick Leonard who contributed to “Frozen”. The single would be remixed by Victor Calderone and would transcend the original song’s own ethereally spiritual feel, and emerge as a soulful percussive explosion that lead to one of the year’s most profound club hits.
Madonna wouldn’t stop there. While she continued to work with new producers and songwriters and pursued more organically generated songs, to contrast the digital technology that was dominating radio, Madonna remained close to what was to occur with club sounds as the big rooms began to shut their doors. Her remixes of this era were among the most muscular arrangements and larger arrangements made to fill those spaces and encourage the dominating beats per minute that the circuit crowd was looking for.
Never one to compromise, Madonna, challenged remix producers to elevate the rhythms and lead to ground-breaking reworks from Deep Dish, Thunderpuss, Peter Rauhofer, and Tracy Young all of the most innovative remix producers/DJs of the time, which would change the fabric of the remix culture and legitimize the remix. On the third disc, of Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones Madonna has left behind the limited trappings of the music industry, focused instead on what inspires her and especially not dependent on meeting any expectations but challenging her own…
Check out the music video here to the remix of “Impressive Instant”:
FINALLY ENOUGH LOVE: 50 Number Ones | by Madonna | is available now for pre-order on iTunes. Download from iTunes here. The album will be released in multiple formats on August 19, 2022.
Disc Two of the 3-disc set covers Madonna’s “Era of Reinvention” from 1994 through 2003 with greatest hits remixes of tracks featured on Bedtime Stories and up to one of her most controversial works, American Life. The disc also includes “Me Against the Music” which featured Madonna on the hit track from Britney Spears. Among the remixes included on Disc Two are chart toppers that didn’t appear on previous releases including the elusive remix of “Impressive Instant” from the Music album, and the hit dance remake of Madonna’s cover of “American Pie”.
The Greatest Hits compilation is available in various collectible formats including a digital album release on August 19. A 3-CD set ($29.98) and limited edition, 6-LP on vinyl ($149.98) is exclusively available online. A 16-track version of Finally Enough Love will also be released. The full-length 50-track edition boasts more than 220 minutes of remixes spanning Madonna’s career and productions by some of the most influential DJ/remix producers of all time including Shep Pettibone, William Orbit, Honey Dijon, and Avicii, and collaborations with Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, and Justin Timberlake.