Take a Bow (Madonna song)

"Take a Bow"
Take a Bow Madonna.png
Single by Madonna
from the album Bedtime Stories
Released November 29, 1994
Recorded 1994; The Hit Factory, New York
Length 5:21
  • Madonna
  • Babyface
Madonna singles chronology
" Secret"
"Take a Bow"
" Bedtime Story"
Music video
"Take a Bow" on YouTube

"Take a Bow" is a song by American singer Madonna from her sixth studio album Bedtime Stories (1994). It was released as the album's second single on November 29, 1994, by Maverick Records. It is a midtempo pop ballad written and produced by Madonna and Babyface. The song also appears on her compilation albums Something to Remember (1995), GHV2 (2001) and Celebration (2009). Following the sexually explicit persona portrayed by Madonna on her previous album, Erotica, the singer wanted to tone down her image for Bedtime Stories. She started collaborating with Babyface, whose work with other musicians had impressed her. "Take a Bow" was developed from this collaboration, after Madonna listened to the beat and the chords of the demo structure of the song.

Recorded at The Hit Factory Studios in New York, "Take a Bow" was backed by a full orchestra. It was also the first time that Babyface had worked with live strings, per Madonna's suggestion. Containing oriental pentatonic strings, giving the impression of Chinese or Japanese opera, "Take a Bow" lyrically talks about unrequited love, and Madonna saying goodbye. It received favorable reviews from music critics, who praised the song's soulful, poetic lyrics. It was a commercial success in the United States, becoming Madonna's eleventh number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, topping the chart for seven weeks. It also reached number one in Canada, and the top ten in Italy, Switzerland and New Zealand. The single had moderate success in the United Kingdom, reaching number 16 on the UK Singles Chart, ending Madonna's record-holding string of 35 consecutive top-ten hits there.

The music video for "Take a Bow" was directed by Michael Haussman, and was filmed in Ronda, Spain. The video depicts Madonna as a bullfighter's (played by real-life Spanish bullfighter Emilio Muñoz) neglected lover, yearning for his love. It won the Best Female Video award at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards. Journalistic and academic analysis of the video included its plotline, usage of religious iconography, themes and motifs of feminism and submission, as well as its impact on contemporary music videos. In order to promote Bedtime Stories, Madonna performed "Take a Bow" on a few occasions, including live with Babyface at the 1995 American Music Awards. In 2016, she added the song to the setlist of the Asian and Oceanian legs of her Rebel Heart Tour and her one-off Sydney concert Madonna: Tears of a Clown.

Background and release

Babyface smiling, wearing black sunglasses
Babyface co-wrote and co-produced "Take a Bow" with Madonna

Following the release of Madonna's first book publication, Sex, the erotic thriller, Body of Evidence, her fifth studio album, Erotica, as well as a disastrous interview on David Letterman's show in the early 1990s, the media and public's backlash against Madonna's overtly sexual image was at a peak. [1] [2] Madonna wanted to tone down her explicit image. Her first attempt was to release the tender ballad " I'll Remember" from the soundtrack of the film With Honors. [1] Musically, she wanted to move in a new musical direction and started exploring new-jack R&B styles with a generally mainstream, radio-friendly sound. It was included on her sixth studio album, Bedtime Stories, released in October 1994. [3] In author Fred Bronson's The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, Madonna explained:

The idea going in was to juxtapose my singing style with a hardcore hip-hop sensibility and have the finished product still sound like a Madonna record. I began the process by meeting with the hip-hop producers whose work I most admired. It was important, if I were to use a variety of collaborators, that the end product sound cohesive and thematically whole. I wasn't interested in the variety pack approach. [4]

After searching for prospective collaborators, Madonna chose to work with Babyface, whose previous work with artists like Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, and Toni Braxton had resulted in successful smooth R&B songs. [5] She was also fond of Babyface's song, " When Can I See You" from his third studio album For the Cool in You (1994). [6] The singer's management called Babyface to set up a meeting and see if they wanted to work together. Once met, both were surprised by their camaraderie and wanted to write songs. Madonna came over to Babyface's house and after a couple of days they came up with two songs. One of them was based on a piece of music composed by Babyface, but he was not sure about its musical direction. He made Madonna listen to the composition, and she found a way to take the song forward. [4] Babyface clarified that "[i]t was just a beat and the chords. From there we collaborated and built it up... I was living in Beverly Hills and I created a little studio in my house, so she came over there to write." [6] Together they agreed that the first line of the song should be its title, and "Take a Bow" was written. The words were never repeated in the track again. [4]

"Take a Bow" was released as the second single from Bedtime Stories on October 28, 1994, following " Secret". [4] The maxi single release of the song included two remixes. According to Jose F. Promis of AllMusic, the first remix, known as the "In Da Soul" mix, gives the ballad a funkier, more urban feel while the second remix, known as the "Silky Soul Mix", is a little more "quiet storm" and "melancholy" than the first. [7]

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