Top critical review
Forgotten for a Reason
on 12 July 2017
After the disappointing performance of Erotica in 1992 (nearly six million copies sold), Madonna knew she had to boost her diminishing worldwide popularity and revitalize her career and sales. She also knew she had to soften her image after the controversy of Erotica album and her highly unoriginal Sex book (it was a cut-paste job that completely ripped off Bettie Page's work with Irving Klaw in the 1950s). Madonna was no longer the number one female artist in the music business for most of the 1990s, which is why she moved into R&B music to compete with the likes of TLC, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson, four of the biggest female artists in the industry at that point. Madonna followed their lead by bringing on board Babyface, Dave "Jam" Hall and Dallas Austin, three of the most in-demand producers in the R&B world.
Even though Bedtime Stories did OK its sales of seven million copies worldwide paled in comparison to Daydream (25m) and Music Box (32m) by Mariah Carey (officially the highest selling female artist of the SoundScan era), CrazySexyCool (24m) by TLC, The Bodyguard (45m) by Whitney Houston, and Janet (20m) by Janet Jackson. Even Take a Bow, Madonna's longest-running #1 single in the US (seven weeks at the top) got overshadowed by Mariah Carey's One Sweet Day, which spent a record-breaking 16 weeks at #1 (Fantasy spent eight weeks at #1). Take a Bow flopped in the UK, peaking at #16 before falling out the charts within weeks.
Bedtime Story (the song and music video) ripped off Bjork. I know she co-wrote the song with Nellee Hooper and Marius De Vries but did Madonna have to sing like Bjork on the song and then dress up like her in the music video? Apparently Bjork was uncomfortable with it. Madonna brought Nellee Hooper on board for Bedtime Stories, a producer who had worked with Bjork on the critically acclaimed Debut in 1993. Madonna also ripped off Nina Hagen in the Human Nature music video, and a lot of the imagery used during the era was "inspired" (for the millionth time in her career) by old school Hollywood stars like Bette Davis. Although Bedtime Stories yielded a few hits around the world, I think it's largely forgotten nowadays by those outside of her core fan base.