“Words are useless
They don’t stand for anything
How can they explain how I feel?”
Written by Bjork/Nellee Hooper/Marius DeVries
Produced by Nellee Hooper/Madonna
Taken from the album Bedtime Stories
Also released on GHV2
UK #4, AUS #5, US #42
Like many of Madonna’s nineties hits, I was first introduced to ‘Bedtime Story’ through the video. If this were a list of great videos, this would be about 25 places higher – the song is now inseperable from the short film that went with it, directed by Mark Romanek. In the nightmarish vision, Madonna travels through a dream world, filled with the strangest and most amazing visuals ever to be seen in a music video. There’s the Madonna who gives birth to doves, the Madonna who hovers through the air, the spinning guys in the dresses, and the Madonna who has an eye for a mouth and two mouths for eyes. That last one especially freaked me out.
But for all the amazing visual experiences to be had with ‘Bedtime Story’, what of the song? Well, a song written by Bjork but sung by Madonna could have turned out disastrous but it actually came out perfectly sensible. It was the very beginning of Madonna’s foray into electronica, in the middle of an album full of R&B. It was out of place but now makes sense when you think of the albums that came after it.
Bjork’s usual abstract lyrics are on display, especially that amazing verse quoted above, and the chorus consists solely of the words “let’s get unconscious”, repeated over and over. That repetition, mixed with the insistent, spacey beats, could fulfil Madonna’s wish of 1992, when she said “I’d like to put you in a trance”. Factor in the amazing Junior Vasquez Single Mix and it comes close to actual trance. Punctuated by a strange and effective performance at the BRIT Awards, ‘Bedtime Story’ is one of the few Madonna singles to be a worldwide hit yet remain completely underrated and mostly forgotten outside of her fanbase. Maybe it was just too weird for the general public to hold on to for too long. For those who listened, though, they understood. Although listen quick, because…
“All that you’ve ever learned
Try to forget
I’ll never explain again”
Live at the BRIT Awards: