I'm Breathless

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I'm Breathless: Music from and Inspired by the film Dick Tracy
Soundtrack album by Madonna
Released May 22, 1990
Recorded Johnny Yuma Recording and Ocean Way Studios, Los Angeles, CA, 1990
Genre Jazz, swing, big band, pop
Length 45:08
Label Sire/Warner Bros.
Producer Madonna, Patrick Leonard, Bill Bottrell, Kevin Gilbert, Shep Pettibone
Madonna chronology
Like a Prayer
(1989)
I'm Breathless
(1990)
The Immaculate Collection
(1990)
Singles from I'm Breathless
  1. "Vogue"
    Released: February 1, 1990
  2. "Hanky Panky"
    Released: June 30, 1990

I'm Breathless: Music from and Inspired by the film Dick Tracy is a soundtrack album by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It was released on May 22, 1990, by Sire/Warner Bros. Records to promote and accompany the film Dick Tracy, released in the summer of 1990.

The album is an eclectic mix of soundtrack numbers and songs inspired by the film. The album, musically, consists predominantly of Broadway showtune-flavoured[1] jazz, swing and big band tracks inspired by the music of the 1940s;[2][3] despite this, however, there are traces of pop music within the album, including the final song, "Vogue", which is a dance-pop track with a house beat and disco influences.[2] The album contains "Sooner or Later", a jazz song from the film composed by Stephen Sondheim which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1991.[4] Overall, the album received a mixed reception from music critics; reviewers applauded Stephen Sondheim numbers, as well as the final track "Vogue",[3] and Madonna's vocals were praised;[4] however, some deemed the non-film songs to be of little value.[3] The album was commercially successful; it reached the top ten in the US[5] as well as in several other countries. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it Gold, Platinum and 2x Platinum on July 30, 1990, denoting two million shipments in the United States and has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide.[6]

The album spawned two singles. The first, "Vogue", was one of Madonna's most successful and one of the world's best-selling singles, having sold over 6 million copies globally,[7] and reaching number one in over 30 countries. It was also critically acclaimed, featuring in several critic lists,[8][9][10][11] and it has been deemed an influential song,[12] considered to have helped bring house into mainstream American popular music.[13] The video was also successful, helping bring vogueing into mainstream popularity. The next single, "Hanky Panky", also did well commercially, reaching the top ten in the US and the UK; the song was noted by critics for its double entendres and innuendos.[14]

In support of both I'm Breathless and her previous album, Like a Prayer, Madonna embarked on her Blond Ambition World Tour; the concert tour was critically acclaimed, winning an award at the 1990 Pollstar Concert Industry Awards;[15] despite this, however, it was controversial for its sexual content as well as its usage of Catholic imagery,[16] leading Pope John Paul II to call for a boycott, with one of Madonna's concerts in Italy being cancelled.[17] Madonna has performed songs from the album in numerous occasions; Madonna performed "Sooner or Later" at the 1991 Oscar Awards wearing a dress inspired by American actress Marilyn Monroe,[18] and it was deemed the seventh "most awesome" Academy Award performance by Billboard.[18] Madonna also performed "Vogue" at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards, wearing 18th century Marie Antoinette-inspired clothes alongside her dancers. Madonna has performed "Vogue" on five of her concert tours.

Background[edit]

Madonna performing "Now I'm Following You" with a Dick Tracy lookalike on the 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour.

There are four songs from the film on the album: "Sooner or Later", "More", "What Can You Lose?" and "Now I'm Following You", although the last song appears here in a version different from the one in the film (the film version was not performed by Madonna, but by the composer, Andy Paley).

The success of the single "Vogue" (originally intended to be the B-side of "Keep It Together"), which was released prior to the album, combined with the publicity of Dick Tracy and Madonna's Blond Ambition Tour, gave I'm Breathless a significant sales boost. I'm Breathless reached number two on the Billboard 200, reaching platinum status in three months. The second hit, "Hanky Panky", kept the album in the charts for several months, although it was eventually overtaken by Madonna's The Immaculate Collection, released at the end of the year. As a consequence of this, two more planned single releases from the album, "Now I'm Following You" and "Sooner or Later", were canceled in favor of "Justify My Love" and "Rescue Me". Madonna performed "Sooner or Later", "Hanky Panky", "Now I'm Following You", and "Vogue" on her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour; that same year she also performed "Vogue" at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards, and 3 years later she included "Vogue" and "I'm Going Bananas" on her 1993 Girlie Show Tour. Both "Vogue" and "Hanky Panky" were included on her 2004 Re-Invention Tour. Later she performed "Vogue" on her 2008-09 Sticky & Sweet Tour and on her MDNA Tour in 2012.

"Sooner or Later", one of three songs written for the soundtrack by Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1991, and Madonna performed the song live at the award show. The song "Something to Remember" was included in Madonna's ballads compilation album of the same name. Rolling Stone magazine stated: "No other pop star today could—or probably would - make an album like this."[19]

Musical composition[edit]

I'm Breathless is essentially composed of 1940s popular music, with influences of Broadway showtunes, including big band, jazz, swing and traditional pop; despite this, however, some of the songs also incorporate elements of contemporary pop music. The song "Vogue", however, breaks from this type of jazz/pop nature of the album, being a disco-styled dance-pop song with house beats. Influences of other genres can be heard within the I'm Breathless, including jive ("More"),[20] Latin music ("I'm Going Bananas"),[21] power ballad ("He's A Man"),[20] torch song ("What Can You Lose") and deep house ("Vogue").[22]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars [23]
Robert Christgau (A) [24]
Entertainment Weekly (D) [25]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars [26]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars [27]

I'm Breathless has received generally mixed reviews. Critic Robert Christgau gave the album an A grade, claiming that, when it comes to campiness, Madonna "knows how to do it right."[24] Mark Coleman from Rolling Stone gave the album a three-and-a-half out of five stars and positive review, claiming that Madonna "pulls it off with brass and panache", and that one of the album's tracks and singles, "Vogue," shows that she "can still deliver that indefinable something extra".[26] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine also gave the album a favourable review, as well as four out of five stars, claiming that "I'm Breathless proves that Madonna is a true renaissance woman."[27] J. Randy Taraborrelli, in his book Madonna: An Intimate Biography, gave the album a favourable review, writing that it was "one of Madonna's greatest musical moments," and praising her vocal performance.[28]

Entertainment Weekly gave the I'm Breathless a D grade as well as a negative review, claiming that it "sounds gruesomely forced," yet, asserting that "Vogue" is an album highlight.[25] Furthermore, Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine also gave the album a relatively mixed to unfavourable review, claiming that the album's songs are just "cutesy novelty numbers," yet, also writing that "Vogue" is a standout track.[23] Q magazine lamented, in its June 1990 review, "It's something of a disappointment because the lady herself stays so firmly committed to a character who's less original than the persona she evolved during the '80s." Nonetheless, in the same magazine's December 1994 issue, Madonna declared: "I would have to say the favourite record that I've made is the soundtrack to Dick Tracy. I love every one of those songs… My judgement is never based on the world's reaction."[29]

Promotion and live performances[edit]

The dress worn by Madonna in her performance of "Vogue" at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards was compared to the fashions of 18th-century French queen Marie Antoinette.

I'm Breathless, alongside Madonna's previous album, Like A Prayer, was promoted in Madonna's third concert tour, the Blond Ambition World Tour, which spanned three different continents (Asia, North America and Europe). Consisting of 57 dates, the tour was divided into five sections, the first inspired by the 1927 German expressionist film Metropolis, the second by religious themes, the third by the film Dick Tracy and cabaret, the fourth by Art Deco, whilst the fifth was an encore. The show, with sexual themes, also contained Catholic imagery, such as in Madonna's performance of "Like a Prayer", which was based in church-like surroundings with Madonna wearing a crucifix and her backup dancers dressed like priests and nuns. The concert's sexual content and religious imagery proved controversial; in Toronto Canada, Madonna was threatened of being arrested for obscenity,[30] and Pope John Paul II later called for a boycott, with one of the three Italian dates being cancelled. Despite this, the tour was a critical success, winning "Most Creative Stage Production" at the 1990 Pollstar Concert Industry Awards.

Songs from the album have been performed live in notable performances. At the 1991 Academy Awards, Madonna performed the Oscar-winning "Sooner or Later", clad in a Marilyn Monroe-inspired gown and a set resembling classic Hollywood. The performance was ranked as the seventh "most awesome" performance in the history of the award show by Billboard. The track "I'm Going Bananas" was performed during The Girlie Show Tour. The song "Vogue" was also famously performed at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards, where Madonna and her dancers were clad in 18th century-inspired fashions.[31] The performance of "Vogue" was later ranked by Billboard as the sixth best performance in the history of the award show.[31] Madonna has performed "Vogue" in five of her concert tours, including the Blond Ambition World Tour, The Girlie Show Tour, the Re-Invention Tour, the Sticky & Sweet Tour, and the MDNA Tour.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "He's a Man"   Madonna, Patrick Leonard Madonna, Leonard 4:42
2. "Sooner or Later"   Stephen Sondheim Madonna, Bill Bottrell 3:18
3. "Hanky Panky"   Madonna, Leonard Madonna, Leonard 3:57
4. "I'm Going Bananas"   Michael Kernan, Andy Paley Madonna, Leonard 1:41
5. "Cry Baby"   Madonna, Leonard Madonna, Leonard 4:04
6. "Something to Remember"   Madonna, Leonard Madonna, Leonard 5:03
7. "Back in Business"   Madonna, Leonard Madonna, Leonard 5:10
8. "More"   Sondheim Madonna, Bottrell 4:56
9. "What Can You Lose" (duet with Mandy Patinkin) Sondheim Madonna, Bottrell 2:08
10. "Now I'm Following You" (Part I) (duet with Warren Beatty) Paley, Jeff Lass, Ned Claflin, Jonathan Paley Madonna, Leonard 1:35
11. "Now I'm Following You" (Part II) (duet with Warren Beatty) Paley, Lass, Claflin, Paley Madonna, Leonard, Kevin Gilbert 3:18
12. "Vogue"   Madonna, Shep Pettibone Madonna, Pettibone, Craig Kostich[a] 4:50
Notes

Album credits[edit]

Singles[edit]

# Title Date
1. "Vogue" March 20, 1990
2. "Hanky Panky" June 30, 1990

Charts, sales and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "CG: Madonna". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  2. ^ a b Mark Coleman (1990-06-14). "I'm Breathless by Madonna". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  3. ^ a b c Thomas, Stephen. "I'm Breathless - Madonna". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  4. ^ a b "Madonna: I'm Breathless | Music Review". Slant Magazine. 2003-03-09. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  5. ^ a b http://www.billboard.com/artist/308786/madonna/chart
  6. ^ "Madonna Biography". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  7. ^ "Hits of 1990". Today.ninemsn.com.au. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  8. ^ "100 Greatest Dance Songs". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  9. ^ "Best Singles of the '90s". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  10. ^ Gavin DeGraw (2007-12-13). "Top 100 Songs of the ’90s | Vh1 Blog". Blog.vh1.com. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  11. ^ "Top 100 Best Pop Songs of the 90s - The Best Music of the 1990s". Top40.about.com. 2011-08-19. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  12. ^ "American Idol: 20 Years of Madonna". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  13. ^ Henderson, Alex. "House (Relation to Soul)". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  14. ^ Thomas, Stephen. "I'm Breathless - Madonna". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  15. ^ "1990 winners". Pollstarpro.com. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  16. ^ "Madonna celebrates her 50th birthday". Telegraph. 2008-08-15. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  17. ^ "Women Who Rock Exhibit - Madonna's Blond Ambition". Oprah.com. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  18. ^ a b http://www.billboard.com/articles/list/513770/oscars-performances-10-awesome-academy-awards-music-moments
  19. ^ "Rolling Stone review". Rolling Stone. 
  20. ^ a b By Mark Coleman (1990-06-14). "I'm Breathless | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  21. ^ "Madonna: I'm Breathless | Music Review". Slant Magazine. 2003-03-09. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  22. ^ Thomas, Stephen. "I'm Breathless - Madonna". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  23. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "I'm Breathless - Madonna". Allmusic. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  24. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: madonna". Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  25. ^ a b Farber, Jim (20 Jul 2001). "The Girl Material". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  26. ^ a b Coleman, Mark (14 June 1990). "I'm Breathless by Madonna". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  27. ^ a b Cinquemani, Sal (9 Mar 2003). "Madonna: I'm Breathless". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  28. ^ Madonna: An Intimate Biography - J. Randy Taraborrelli - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  29. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (December 1994). "Grateful Dead? Yuk!!: Madonna talks about music!?". Q (Bauer Media Group) 9 (12). ISSN 0955-4955. 
  30. ^ "Blond Ambition World Tour 90". Ultimatemadonna.com. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  31. ^ a b "I'm Breathless - Madonna". Billboard.com. 1990-06-23. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  32. ^ "Decenniumlijst Jaren '90 (3276)" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 1990-06-02. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  33. ^ Mahasz Hungarian Albums Chart
  34. ^ "Madonna: Discografia Italiana". Federation of the Italian Music Industry. HitParadeItalia. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  35. ^ "アイム・ブレスレス" (in Japanese). Oricon. 1990-06-10. Retrieved 2010-07-04. 
  36. ^ a b Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  37. ^ "IFPI Austria" (in (German)). Ifpi.at. 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  38. ^ "ABPD". ABPD. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  39. ^ "Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA): Gold & Platinum". Cria.ca. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  40. ^ "Certifications Albums Double Gold" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 2013-06-25. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  41. ^ "IFPI Finland". Ifpi.fi. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  42. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('I'm Breathless')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  43. ^ "NVPI". Nvpi.nl. 2011-04-11. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  44. ^ Steffen Hung. "IFPI Switzerland". Swisscharts.com. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  45. ^ BPI
  46. ^ "Billboard – Ask Billboard". Billboard.biz. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Forever Your Girl by Paula Abdul
Australian Albums Chart number-one album
June 3–23, 1990
Succeeded by
Beyond Salvation by The Angels
Preceded by
I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got by Sinéad O'Connor
European Top 100 Albums number-one album
June 16, 1990 – June 30, 1990
Succeeded by
Step by Step by New Kids on the Block
Preceded by
Sprinkle by Kiyotaka Sugiyama
Japanese Oricon Weekly Chart number-one album
June 18 – July 1, 1990 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
Mind Cruisin' by Anri