29. Madonna – ‘Bedtime Story’ (1994)

“Words are useless
Especially sentences
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”

Music video:

Live at the BRIT Awards:

One Response to “29. Madonna – ‘Bedtime Story’ (1994)”

  1. Rabbitbunny Says:

    Boy, was this ever a confusing time for Lady Madonna. Everyone wanted a piece of her after the sexploits that almost completely ruined and destroyed her. In the title song to Bedtime Stories-lyrics by Bjork,
    tears by Madonna, Our Lady cries with Rage about media death and how that affected her. “Today is the Last Day/That I’m using words/They don’t stand for anything/Words are useless/Especially sentences/Leaving Logic and Reason/I’m traveling/I’m gonna relax/In the arms of unconsciousness.” And then at the end of her First Freakout, Madonna has a sad Confession and Epiphany. She begins to break down and Cry Tears of Sadness-“And Inside/We’re all still Wet/Longing and yearning/How Can I Explain How I Feel?”-at the risk that something very sad still haunts Our Lady. At the end of the song, Madonna delivers a Final Rebuke to Her Detractors. Once and for all, Madonna defiantly cries-“And all that you’ve ever learned/Try to forget!/I will never explain again!” In a Brave Act of Defiance and Rebellion, Madonna survives as
    a Paragon of Brilliance. That’s why in the end, we will all love her.
    A brilliant song.

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