Bedtime Stories

Madonna

Maverick Records, 1994

http://www.madonna.com

REVIEW BY: JB

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/04/1997

One of the factors that made Madonna's Erotica a flop was the excess coherence. The songs were all good in their own way, but slapped together they sounded like one long monotonous song; installed side by side, "Fever" and "Deeper And Deeper" had titles that even rhymed.

Whether it was intentional or not, it didn't work commerically, and listening to it is a tedious process because every single song needs special attention at first listening to make an impression. When Maverick Records announced that my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Bedtime Stories was going to be a ballad album, I more or less suspected Erotica II: Dubbed Extra Lyrics. But Stories, with the help of several producer-songwriters in staggered listing, shows that Material ... err, Madonna has learned her lesson. And an excellent pupil she is.

Madonna ballads are characterized as carefully sculptured melodies, various yet obvious moods, and that comfortable voice which never has a problem with sincerity. A good example would be one of the best tracks on the album, "Human Nature"; you can hear the expression on her face.

Most noticeable in the collaborators roster is Babyface, who lends his R&B talents to "Forbidden Love" and "Take A Bow", but the gimmic lyrics (usage of words as melody over meaning) make them tired fast. Dave "Jam" Hall makes a slightly better impression but his workings with Mariah Carey has rubbed off on "Love Tried To Welcome Me" and "Inside Of Me"; Carey could get away with it because of her voice and on-the-spot jazz impro style, but Madonna needs better melodies.

The best tracks are with Dallas Austin, whom Babyface had recommended to Madonna during the planning stages of the album. Without borrowing from his former productions (which includes TLC and Boyz II Men), Austin and Madonna produce "Survival", "Secret" and "Sanctuary" which are in every way songs Madonna was meant to sing. Not only are the samples the best on the entire album, Madonna breathes life into every note which makes the ballads enjoyable still after fifty turns each on my CD player.

It's true that Madonna may not need to prove her artistic ability by releasing another album like Like A Prayer, but expectations have never been quite so high for Madonna before that album. Bedtime Stories is an excellent album, but I'm prejudiced with the knowledge that she can do so much more.

Rating: B+

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© 1997 JB and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Maverick Records, and is used for informational purposes only.