Rain (Madonna song)

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"Rain"
Cover art for all editions, including the CD maxi-single
Single by Madonna
from the album Erotica
B-side "Up Down Suite" (Dub)
"Waiting" (Remix)
"Open Your Heart" (UK)
Released July 17, 1993 (1993-07-17)
Format 7" single, 12" single, cassette, CD single
Recorded November 13 – December 6, 1991
(Manhattan, New York)

Summer 1992
at Soundworks Recording Studio
(Astoria, New York)
Genre Pop, trip hop
Length 5:24 (album version)
4:35 (radio remix)
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Madonna
  • Shep Pettibone
Madonna singles chronology
"Fever"
(1993)
"Rain"
(1993)
"Bye Bye Baby"
(1993)

"Rain" is a song by American recording artist and songwriter Madonna from her fifth studio album Erotica (1992). The song was released on July 17, 1993 by Maverick Records. It was released as the fifth single internationally, but the fourth single in North America. The song was produced and written by Madonna and Shep Pettibone. Lyrically, the song likens rain to the empowering effect of love, and as with water's ability to clean and wash away physical things, to also wash away pain. The lyrics also talk about waiting and hoping for love (and likely, reciprocation of feelings); per the other songs on Erotica, sexual contact is also a possible interpretation of the song.

"Rain" received rave reviews from music critics, who felt it was an exceptional ballad amongst the overtly sexual content on Erotica. It was later compared to her single "I'll Remember", which was released a year later. The song experienced moderate chart success, as it peaked inside the top ten in some countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia, Ireland, Italy and the United Kingdom. An accompanying music video was released for the single, shot in black and white and colored with blue tones, featuring Madonna singing the song against various backdrops on a set. The music video was hailed by many critics, who noted its innovation and cinematography.

The song was only commercially released on one Madonna compilation, this being Something to Remember (1995). It has not appeared on any other compilation since. The song was performed on only two tours of Madonna's; The Girlie Show Tour in 1993 and in a remixed version during her Sticky & Sweet Tour between 2008–09.

Background[edit]

"Rain" was chosen as the fifth single from Erotica. However, in the United States and Canada the song was released as the fourth single from the album.[1] In the U.S. the single contained four tracks: the radio remix and album version of "Rain," a Danny Saber remix of the Erotica album track "Waiting" (which features a rap by Everlast), and a non-album previously unreleased track, "Up Down Suite" - which is a 12-minute dub version of "Goodbye to Innocence", an omitted track recorded during the Erotica sessions.[1] The single version of "Rain" is not drastically different from the longer album version.[1] In his review of the "Rain" single, Jose F. Promis from Allmusic wrote that the inclusion of the remixes is a plus, especially since the "Rain" remix was not issued on Madonna's 1995 Something to Remember ballads collection.[1]

In the UK, the single included the 1986 track "Open Your Heart" which was being used in a Peugeot car commercial at the time; this release also had different artwork, with photography by Melodie McDaniel, who later directed her 1994 music video for "Secret".[2][3][4] The same photo was later used on the 1994 US release for the single "I'll Remember", although this version was slightly altered to remove the microphone from the photograph. In 1995, the song was also featured on Madonna's ballad compilation, Something to Remember.

According to media outlets, the song was intended to be a tribute to American singer and songwriter Karen Carpenter, because according to said outlets, Madonna's singing structure and singing resembled Carpenter's.[5] In an interview, Madonna stated "Karen Carpenter had the clearest, purest voice. I'm completely influenced by her harmonic sensibility."[5]

Composition[edit]


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"Rain" is a pop song with trip hop and balladry influences. According to the sheet music published at MusicNotes.com, the song is written in the key note of E major.[6] Musical instrumentation includes violin, flute, and oboe and Madonna's vocal range spans from they key note of A4 to the key note of E6.[6] The song's tempo is set in a moderate pace, but not too fast and has a metronome of 92 beats per minute.[6] According to MusicNotes, the song is influenced by adult contemporary, dance, dance-pop and Europop.[6] According to the master edit of Discogs, the song is stylistically influenced by electronic, downtempo and synthpop music.[7] Jose F. Promis from Allmusic pointed out that the song was more "friendly" than the other singles from the Erotica album. Promis goes on to say that the fact that it become an adult contemporary hit, with a relatively long chart life, paved the way for the "softer" Madonna that emerged in the mid-'90s.[1]

Lyrically, Madonna uses rain as a metaphor for feelings of love.[8] Just as rain washes away dirt, love washes clean the sorrows of the past, leaving a person and their lover to focus on their feelings of the present moment. In the book Madonna The Companion: Two Decades of Commentary, authors Allen Metz and Carol Benson describe the lyrics as being "optimistic" and compares the song to the work of Peter Gabriel.[8] Madonna wrote the song with her frequent early '90s collaborator Shep Pettibone, who also worked with her on "Vogue" and "This Used to Be My Playground".[5]

Critical reception[edit]

"'[Rain]' is a gorgeous romantic moment from Madonna's sorely under-appreciated 'Erotica' opus. A slow and seductive rhyme base surrounded by cascading, sparkling, synths inspires a sweet and charming vocal...A wonderfully constructed, memorable tune that deserves as much attention (and airplay) as it can garner."

Billboard Magazine[9]

"Rain" was appreciated by many music critics, who acclaimed the song as one of Madonna's best ballads. The song was described in Rolling Stone as a "yearning ballad".[10] Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine said that Erotica included "Madonna's best and most accomplished music", and singled out "Rain" (along with the title track and "Deeper and Deeper") as its best tracks.[11] Stephen Holden of The New York Times also gave the song a positive review, describing it as a "happy, open-hearted love song."[12] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine called the song "sonorous," and stated that Madonna's "rarely acknowledged harmonies glide atop the frosty beats, thunder-claps of percussion, and skyward drone of the song." Cinquemani went on to say that he feels that "Rain", along with the other ballads on Erotica, are primarily concerned with the direct result of sex, and he expressed that some may view 'Rain' as an extended [cum] metaphor, though he does not subscribe to that "knee-jerk interpretation."[13] In an extended review on Yahoo! Music, "Rain" received a positive review, with it being called "one of Madonna's greatest ballads, with a dynamic crescendo towards the end, signifying an escape from the deluge of the rain with the breaking of the sun. It's a fantastic tune and one of [my] all time favorites."[14] In 2012 Louis Virtel of The Backlot included the song on his list of "The 100 Greatest Madonna Songs," and wrote: "Yes, 'love coming down like rain' could be a nasty image, but Madonna makes it palatable and sensual, surprising us with a sauna-warm ballad soon after the chilly beats of Erotica’s preceding tracks."[15]

Scott Kearnan of Boston.com included the track at number twenty-eight on his list of "Best Madonna Songs," and wrote: "That Madonna’s 'not the best singer' is a qualifying statement that manages to work its way into almost every critique of her music. (Though she actually sings better than many newer pop stars, like Katy Perry, who somehow get off easier.) Still, what she lacks in technique she’s always tried to make up for with earnestness. Madonna works hard to sell a song, and the torch-y 'Rain' is a fine example. Vocalists will never rave about her phrasing, but at least Madonna sings like she believes in every word."[16] Mark Graham of VH1 placed the song at number 29 on his list of "53 Favorite Madonna Songs", in honor of Madonna's 53rd birthday.[17] However, Stylus Magazine dismissed the song as a "slushy rewrite of that year's 'This Used to Be My Playground', itself a slushy rewrite of Like a Prayer '​s 'Promise to Try'."[18]

Chart performance[edit]

The song peaked at number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100, ultimately spending a total of 20 weeks on the chart. It also reached a peak of number seven on the US Adult Contemporary chart, number 11 on Hot 100 Airplay, and was allocated the number 67 position on the Billboard Hot 100 year-end chart for 1993. In the United Kingdom, the song was also a success, peaking at number seven on the charts. According to The Official Charts Company, "Rain" has sold 130,771 copies in the United Kingdom as of August 2008.[19] With "Rain", Madonna achieved the accolade of most top 10 singles released by a female artist from one album, a feat she had already accomplished with True Blue in 1986 and achieved again in 1998 with Ray of Light. In Canada, the song peaked at number two on September 18, 1993, and reached the number 15 spot on the Canadian year-end chart.

Elsewhere, the single enjoyed top 20 and top 10 success. In Australia, the song debuted at number 21 on the charts before rising and peaking at number five; it was eventually certified Gold by the ARIA.[20] The song remained her longest-charting single, staying in the charts for 20 weeks, until "Hung Up" (2005) remained on the charts for a total of 23 weeks. In New Zealand, the song was a more moderate success, debuting and peaking at number 20, staying there for four non-consecutive weeks before gradually making its way down the chart.[21] In Sweden, the song debuted at number 30 until it rose and peaked at number 16, staying in the charts for ten weeks. In Switzerland, the song debuted at number 29 and peaked at number 11, just missing the top ten; it stayed in the chart for 12 weeks.

Music video[edit]

Madonna's completely new persona for the "Rain" music video. The blue tone of the video was done manually since it was shot in black-and-white.

The video, directed by Mark Romanek,[22] was filmed from May 16–19, 1993 at a Santa Monica Airport hangar in Santa Monica, California.[23] Romanek and Madonna set the video to look like Ryuichi Sakamoto was directing it, giving it a backstage feel. It was entirely shot in black and white and then hand-painted with blue tones.[23] The video begins with Madonna in a studio, lying on a sofa with headphones on her ears composing a song, following a sequence in which she sings in front of a microphone, which is alternated with those of her receiving instructions from the director (played by Ryuichi Sakamoto). She then appears in front of a background of bright lights, representing the sun-lit sky, and also in a scene of her kissing a man behind glass on which water falls. In his book Madonna as Postmodern Myth, Georges-Claude Guilbert expresses that the reason for the video's shoot-within-a-shoot style, including scenes in which Madonna is touched up with makeup as she is kissing a man, is to draw attention to "the disguise, the mechanisms, the artifice on which an artistic production rests."[24] The video ends with an air view of open umbrellas covering the entire floor. In her book Experiencing Music Video: Aesthetics and Cultural Context, author Carol Vernallis expresses that "Rain" is one of the rare music videos in which the viewer becomes truly curious about the lead character because the video, along with other videos directed by Mark Romanek, contains a series of "tantalizing glimpses into some offscreen world, whole within itself but opaque to viewers."[25] Vernallis goes on to say that throughout the video Madonna "evokes the cavernous empty corridors of the mind," which helps the viewer to relate to the emotion of the song.[25]

The video premiered on June 21, 1993 on MTV. Later that year it won two MTV Video Music Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography. When Slant Magazine included the video at number 70 on their "100 Greatest Music Videos" list, they praised it as one of Madonna's most "beautiful" videos and a "simple and refreshing break from the singer's visually sex-drenched Erotica period."[26] This was also the second consecutive video in which Madonna wore a wig (the first one being "Fever").[23] The video was first made commercially available when it was included on Madonna's 1999 The Video Collection 93:99 and most recently when it was included on the 2009 Celebration DVD.

Live performances[edit]

Madonna and her backup singers Niki Haris (right) and Donna De Lory (left) perform "Rain" during The Girlie Show World Tour in 1993.

Madonna first performed the song during the Girlie Show World Tour in 1993. It was the fourth song of the concert, after the performance of "Vogue". Madonna and her back up singers Niki Haris and Donna De Lory appeared on the stage wearing long black see-through robes on top of the bead-incrusted outfits they wore for the "Vogue" performance. In the book Madonna The Companion: Two Decades of Commentary, authors Carol Benson and Allen Metz suggest that the reason that Madonna wore all-black for this performance was so the audience would not be distracted from listening to the "sweet harmonies" of the sad ballad.[27] The performance included, during the bridge of the song, a fragment of Motown group The Temptations' 1971 hit "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)". Jon Pareles of The New York Times in his review of the concert stated that "On stage, the music isn't so resolutely contemporary. With a live band, directed by Jai Winding on keyboards, the music looks back to Motown (quoting "Just My Imagination" in "Rain"), girl groups and James Brown".[28] After the performance of the song was finished, while Madonna and her back up singers left the stage for a costume change, an interlude featuring a pierrot and several dancers in black outfits and with umbrellas began. This interlude featured a choreography partially inspired in the classic Gene Kelly musical Singin' in the Rain and an instrumental version of the song. Madonna, herself called Kelly asking for advice regarding the dancing for that particular part of the show.[29]

"Rain" was not included on any of Madonna's concert tours until 15 years later. During the 2008-2009 Sticky & Sweet Tour the song was remixed using elements of The Eurythmics' 1984 hit "Here Comes the Rain Again". After the energetic performance of "Music", Madonna and her dancers disappeared from the stage behind two video screens that closed as if they were train doors. This gave way to the gypsy segment of the show, which started with the "Rain" interlude, which featured the Japanese dancing duo Hamutsun Serve. It also included a lowering round-shaped video screen on the catwalk. The screen was used to simulate the rain as blue lights flashed across the stage, creating lightning. The interlude featured the screens showing a CG animation of a rainy day and a fairy taking shelter from the rain under a leaf and witnessing the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly. The interlude was praised by critics, some of them called it "spell-binding".[30] At the end of the interlude, the screen raised to reveal a robe-clad Madonna perched on top of a grand piano and she proceeded to sing the next song "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You".

Track listings and formats[edit]

Official versions[edit]

  1. "Rain" (Album version) – 5:25
  2. "Rain" (Video edit) – 4:31
  3. "Rain" (Radio remix) – 4:33
  4. "Rain" (Remix edit) – 4:17

Personnel[edit]

  • Writers and producers – Madonna, Shep Pettibone ("Rain", "Up Down Suite")
  • Remix and additional production – Daniel Abraham ("Rain" Radio remix, Remix edit)
  • Writers and producers – Madonna, André Betts ("Waiting", "Waiting" Remix)
  • Remix and additional production – Danny Saber ("Waiting" Remix)
  • Rap and additional vocals – Everlast ("Waiting" Remix)
  • Post-production and mix – Shep Pettibone ("Up Down Suite")

Release history[edit]

Country Date
United States July 17, 1993 (1993-07-17)
United Kingdom July 25, 1993 (1993-07-25)

Charts[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

  • The 2000 compilation Virgin Voices: A Tribute to Madonna, Vol. 2 contains a cover of the song by British gothic rock band Rosetta Stone.[52]
  • A hi-NRG/Eurodance cover by Who's That Girl was released during the 2000s through Almighty Records. An audio sample can be heard on the official Almighty Records website.[53]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Promis, Jose. "Madonna: "Rain" review". Allmusic. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ http://www.artcenter.edu/accd/people/alumni/alumni_profiles_melodie_mcdaniel.jsp
  3. ^ http://www.thedirectorsbureau.com/directors/24/reel/1/
  4. ^ a b Rain (UK 12" / 12" Picture Disc / CD Single liner notes). Madonna. Maverick Records. 1993. W0190T / W0190TP / W0190CD. 
  5. ^ a b c http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=4959
  6. ^ a b c d http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtdFPE.asp?ppn=MN0078006
  7. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Madonna-Rain/master/34807
  8. ^ a b Metz & Benson 1999, p. 19
  9. ^ "Single Reviews: Madonna 'Rain'". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc). July 10, 1993. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  10. ^ Berger, Arion (November 26, 1992). "Erotica by Madonna". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  11. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/r58712
  12. ^ Holden, Stephen (October 18, 1992). "RECORDINGS VIEW; Selling Sex and (Oh, Yes) a Record". The New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  13. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (February 24, 2007). "Album Review: Madonna "Erotica"". Slant Magazine. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  14. ^ http://voices.yahoo.com/classic-90s-music-reviews-madonnas-erotica-3027192.html?cat=33
  15. ^ Virtel, Louis (February 3, 2012). "The 100 Greatest Madonna Songs". thebacklot.com. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  16. ^ Kearnan, Scott (September 9, 2013). "30 Ultimate Madonna Singles". Boston.com. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  17. ^ Graham, Mark (August 16, 2011). "My 53 Favorite Madonna Songs (In Honor Of Her 53rd Birthday)". VH1. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  18. ^ http://www.stylusmagazine.com/articles/on_second_thought/madonna-erotica.htm
  19. ^ Jones, Alan (2008-08-19). "The Immaculate Guide To 50 Years Of Madonna". Music Week (UBM plc). Retrieved 2011-06-11. 
  20. ^ Christopher Dean (2011-04-07). "Australian Fun Countdowns: Accreditation Awards". Australianfuncountdowns.blogspot.com.au. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  21. ^ http://charts.org.nz/showitem.asp?interpret=Madonna&titel=Rain&cat=s
  22. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/1993-07-28/news/vw-17860_1_video-vogue
  23. ^ a b c . enlacemadonna. Access date: April 2009
  24. ^ Guilbert 2002, p. 113
  25. ^ a b Experiencing Music Video: Aesthetics and Cultural Context. Columbia University Press. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  26. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (June 30, 2003). "100 Greatest Music Videos". Slant Magazine. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  27. ^ Metz & Benson 1999, p. 22
  28. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/16/arts/review-pop-from-madonna-a-new-palatability-but-still-spicy.html
  29. ^ http://personales.ya.com/enlacemadonna//englishversion/index.htm
  30. ^ http://www.ilikemusic.com/feature/Madonna_Sticky_and_Sweet_tour_review
  31. ^ Rain (US 7" / Cassette / CD Single liner notes). Madonna. Maverick Records. 1993. 5439-18505-7 / 5439-18505-4. 
  32. ^ Rain (US 12" / CD maxi-single liner notes). Madonna. Maverick Records. 1993. 9362-40988-2. 
  33. ^ Rain (US / Australian / Canadian Cassette Maxi-single liner notes). Madonna. Maverick Records. 1993. 9362-40988-4. 
  34. ^ Rain (UK 7" / Cassette Single liner notes). Madonna. Maverick Records. 1993. W0190 / W0190C. 
  35. ^ Rain (German CD Single liner notes). Madonna. Maverick Records. 1993. 9362-40984-2. 
  36. ^ Rain (German 12" / French CD Maxi Single liner notes). Madonna. Maverick Records. 1993. 9362-40983-0 / 9362-40984-9. 
  37. ^ Rain (German 7" Single liner notes). Madonna. Maverick Records. 1993. 5439-18419-7. 
  38. ^ Rain (French Cassette Single liner notes). Madonna. Maverick Records. 1993. 5439-18419-4. 
  39. ^ Rain (Japanese / Australian EP Single liner notes). Madonna. Maverick Records. 1993. WPCP-5644 / 9362-45491-2. 
  40. ^ a b c d Hit Parade (1993). "Madonna — Rain (European Charts)". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  41. ^ "BRT TOP 30". 
  42. ^ Volume 58, No. 10, September 18, 1993
  43. ^ Charts-Surfer (1993). "German Singles Chart (Search)". charts-surfer.de. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  44. ^ "Irish Singles Chart (Search)". irishcharts.ie. July 29, 1993. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  45. ^ "Madonna: Discografia Italiana" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. 1984–1999. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  46. ^ Every Hit (1993). "UK Singles Chart (Search)". everyhit.com. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  47. ^ a b Allmusic (1993). "Billboard Charts". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  48. ^ http://www.aria.com.au/pages/aria-charts-end-of-year-charts-top-50-singles-1993.htm
  49. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1993". RPM. 1993-12-18. Retrieved 2011-05-13. 
  50. ^ "I singoli più venduti del 1993". Hit Parade Italia. Federation of the Italian Music Industry. 1996-12-31. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  51. ^ "1993 The Year in Music, Special Double Issue". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 105 (52). 1993-12-25. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  52. ^ 2000 compilation Virgin Voices: A Tribute To Madonna, Vol. 2.
  53. ^ http://www.almightyrecords.com/product/ALMYCD035/

Footnotes[edit]

External links[edit]