Whenever we’re at home, having a few drinks with friends, the night always ends the same way; dancing to Madonna’s Immaculate Collection. Madonna has always had the knack of releasing timeless, catchy singles, so her greatest hits collection was always going to be around for a long time. But she’s not just a singles artist. Some of her best songs have merely been album tracks. Erotica, Ray Of Light and Like A Prayer amongst other albums were all full of potential singles that never were. I always keep going back to those songs. Madonna’s recent 60th Birthday got people talking about her again and remembering what an amazing back catalogue she’s had. Her second hits collection GHV2 has just as many amazing hits, with a comprehensive collection, Celebration coming a few years later.
Whilst Immaculate Collection makes me think of good times and drunken nights with friends, Something to Remember evokes a whole different set of emotions. It is the other side of the coin to her other hits collections, that lean more to the big party anthems like Holiday and Express Yourself. This has become my go-to album for when I’m feeling melancholy and want to dwell in it. That’s what makes Madonna such a great artist. She can switch between genres like a chameleon.
Something to remember is in a way a ‘Best of’. In the fact that it takes the greatest ballads from her career, and puts them all in one place. But it’s a different kind of collection. It doesn’t necessarily focus on the hits, although there are songs that even the most casual Madonna fan will know. Songs like Crazy For You, Take a Bow and Live to Tell were huge singles and still much loved favourites.
But what this collection does brilliantly, is that it also features songs that were hidden away in the middle of previous albums. The title track Something to Remember for example was from her Dick Tracey soundtrack I’m Breathless (the title coming from Madonna’s character in the movie, Breathless Mahoney). The soundtrack had a real swing feel to it, so not the kind of thing your average Madonna fan would be into. Unless you’re a fan of the film, you’d be forgiven for skipping to the end of the album to get to Vogue. But you would have missed this beautiful and classy midnight jazz ballad.
Forbidden Love is a sexy mid-tempo R&B track from the second ‘side’ of Bedtime Stories. And who knew she’d covered Rose Royce’s Love Don’t Live Here Anymore? It was originally stashed away amongst the huge hits on her 1984 album Like a Virgin.
A couple of other tracks that could otherwise have been easily forgotten are the soundtrack hits that didn’t feature of any of her other albums, including her other hits collections. I’ll Remember is from 1994’s With Honors. Whilst This Used to be my Playground originally featured on her own movie League of Their Own. Both were decent sized hits and deservedly so, so it’s good to have them as part of one if her collections. Madonna is not known for her great choices in movie rolls, but she has actually has a few great films, this being one of them. Had they not been included on this collection, there’s a chance they may not be available on the streaming sites many of us use to listen to her music now, and subsequently forgotten.
There were three new songs thrown in for good measure. She teamed up with Massive Attack on the album’s opener I Want You, which seems like a match made in heaven. Massive Attack had not long before had their second album Protection out, featuring the likes of Tricky ans Tracey Thorn, so it improved her cool credentials. They brought the dramatic strings and trip hop beats to the party.
The second new track One More Chance is a different sound again, with just Madonna’s vocals over an acoustic guitar. Not a sound we’ve heard from her before or since. Her vocals sound amazing. And nit forgetting You’ll see, which was the first single release from the album. Not a stranger to Spanish guitars, You’ll see adopts that sound again, but this time as a fist clenching, air grabbing power ballad.
There are a few songs from my two favourite Madonna albums. First up Oh Father from her seminal album Like a prayer. The track was released in the UK off the back of this collection, although previously not a single here. There were just so many tracks that could have been singles from that album that not every one was. There’s a gap on STR for my favourite Madonna ballad, Promise to try that also came from this album. It was written about her late mother and was an emotional moment from her In bed with Madonna movie (Truth or dare if you’re reading this from the US).
Next up is Rain, from Erotica (my second favourite Madonna album) which must be listened to on headphones to really get the full effect of the spoken word section. Give them a listen below.
Madonna is responsible for so many huge hits since the eighties when she first broke on to the scene. Is she the greatest vocalist around? Probably not. But she knows how to put out a good tune. She doesn’t really do ballads like this anymore. Her sound continues to evolve even now. That’s probably why she’s still such a huge star. Her most recent album release Madame X has split opinions, but she’s not afraid to do that. Sometimes she gets it right, sometimes she doesn’t. But she’s not afraid to try new things. That’s why Mafonna will stay around for a long time yet and continue to create new and interesting music.