Bedtime Stories (Madonna album)

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"Bedtime Stories (album)" redirects here. For other albums of similar name, see Bedtime story (disambiguation).
Bedtime Stories
Bedtime Stories Madonna.png
Studio album by Madonna
Released October 25, 1994 [1]
Recorded February–August 1994
Length 51:50
Madonna chronology
Bedtime Stories
Something to Remember
Singles from Bedtime Stories
  1. "Secret"
    Released: September 28, 1994
  2. "Take a Bow"
    Released: December 6, 1994
  3. "Bedtime Story"
    Released: February 13, 1995
  4. "Human Nature"
    Released: June 6, 1995

Bedtime Stories is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Madonna, released on October 25, 1994 by Maverick Records. Madonna collaborated with Dallas Austin, Babyface, Dave "Jam" Hall, and Nellee Hooper, deciding to move into a more R&B direction. Madonna used this direction in a bid to soften her image following the critical and commercial backlash she faced after releasing several sexually explicit projects in the previous two years, notably the Erotica album and the Sex book. The huge success of the soundtrack single "I'll Remember" earlier that year marked the beginning of this transformation and Madonna used Bedtime Stories to continue it.

The album was inspired by contemporary R&B and new jack swing, developing a generally more mainstream, radio-friendly sound. Like its predecessor Erotica (1992), Bedtime Stories explores lyrical themes of love, sorrow, and romance, but with a toned-down, less sexual approach. Critics described the album as "autobiographical". The album's final single "Human Nature" addresses the controversy surrounding Erotica, while "Bedtime Story" was written by Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk. Bedtime Stories received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who praised the album's candid lyrics and production, and was nominated for Best Pop Album at the 38th Grammy Awards.

Commercially, the album proved to be successful. Debuting and peaking at number three on the Billboard 200, the album was certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It also became her fifth number-one album in Australia and peaked within the top five in other international territories. Bedtime Stories has sold more than seven million copies worldwide.[2] Four singles were released from the album. The lead single, "Secret", gave Madonna her record-breaking 35th consecutive top ten single on the UK Singles Chart,[3] while "Take a Bow" spent seven weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Other singles released were "Bedtime Story" and "Human Nature".

Musical style and themes[edit]

Bedtime Stories was described as "a warm album, with deep, gently pulsating grooves."[4] It features a largely "new-jack R&B" sound.[5] Erotica also incorporated the new jack swing style, but Bedtime Stories draws influences from contemporary R&B rather than dance music.[6] The sound was compared to artists such as Aaliyah, Changing Faces, Joi, Mary J. Blige, TLC, and Xscape.[5] "Secret" includes "acoustic guitars, expertly sweetened vocals and producer Dallas Austin's signature R&B beats."[7] "Bedtime Story" is more electronic, later inspiring Madonna to work with producers such as William Orbit and Mirwais Ahmadzaï.[7]

Co-written by Babyface (who also provides backing vocals), the Canto-pop styled ballad became Madonna's first US number one in almost three years and became the number one highest-selling single of 1995.

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While the album is intended to be more mainstream and less controversial than its predecessor, it includes perhaps some of Madonna's most confessional and confrontational work. Jim Farber of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "she not only unloads on the media but also details a troubling and deeply personal view of romance. Never have her lyrics been this autobiographical."[5] The lyrics contain a "mix of sorrow and romance."[7] "Human Nature" "snipes back at the press" for its reaction to Madonna following the Erotica and Sex book controversies.[5] She sings, "Did I say something wrong?/Oops, I didn't know I couldn't talk about sex (I musta been crazy)."[5][8] Though Madonna sought to restore her image through the album, she has also stated that this period of her life was designed as a "vengeance period" for all the people (in particular the media) who were trying to invade in her private life, and that once it was all out in the open, she hoped that they would stop and focus on her music.[citation needed]

The album contains samples from some rather prominent songs and artists. "Inside of Me" samples Aaliyah's first single, "Back and Forth", and The Gap Band's "Outstanding". "Sanctuary" contains a sample of "Watermelon Man" by Herbie Hancock from his iconic Head Hunters album. "Human Nature" samples "What You Need" by hip-hop group Main Source.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau (2-star Honorable Mention)[9]
Entertainment Weekly B+[5]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[8]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[7]

Bedtime Stories, ever since its release, has received generally positive reviews from critics. AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album four out of five stars and a positive review, claiming that it "is a warm album" and that it "offers her most humane and open music".[4] Jim Farber from Entertainment Weekly gave the album a positive review as well, giving it a B+ grade, and writing that "the new tracks work less as individual songs than as a sustained mood" and that Madonna "still has something to reveal".[5] Barbara O'Dair of Rolling Stone also gave the album a favourable review and three-and-a-half stars out of five, writing that "Madonna has come up with awfully compelling sounds".[8] In addition, Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine gave Bedtime Stories a positive review and four out of five stars, writing that it is "a fluffy-pillowed concept album that unfolds like a musical fairy tale".[7] NME ranked the album as the 30th best album of 1994.[10] At the 38th Grammy Awards, Bedtime Stories received a nomination for Best Pop Album.[11]

Chart performance[edit]

Madonna performing "Human Nature" from the album during the Sticky & Sweet Tour (2008-2009)

Despite the large success of lead single "Secret", which reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100, Bedtime Stories got off to a mild start. It debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200, with 145,000 units shifted in its first week, achieving a gold certification after six weeks. Soon after, however, the album began to lose steam and descend the charts. It was not until the release of the second single, "Take a Bow", that the album picked up pace and made a noticeable rebound. The album was eventually certified 3× Platinum in the United States[12] and was nominated for a Grammy Award. In the UK, the success was moderate; it debuted at number two behind Bon Jovi's Cross Road.[citation needed]

The album enjoyed success in Europe, reaching the top five of most countries of the continent. Bedtime Stories hit number two in France,[13] shifting over 200,000 copies there, and became a number four hit in Germany,[14] moving in excess of 500,000 copies in that market. The album also enjoyed significant success in Spain, where it shipped over 100,000 units. By the end of its chart-run, Bedtime Stories was certified double platinum by the IFPI, for shipments of in excess of two million units throughout Europe.[citation needed]

Bedtime Stories performed well in Oceania, debuting at number one in Australia and within the top five in New Zealand. It went on to be certified triple platinum by ARIA, for shipments of over 210,000 copies.[citation needed] The album also found success in the Asian market. It entered the Japanese Oricon Weekly Album Chart at number nine,[15] continuing Madonna's uninterrupted streak of top ten hit albums there. It went on to sell over 400,000 units in Japan.[citation needed]


"Secret" was released as the album's lead single in September 1994. The song achieved success in the charts, peaking inside the top five in most countries, in the US the song reached number three on Billboard Hot 100. The music video was filmed in Harlem, New York. "Take a Bow", produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, was the album's second single. It became Madonna's first single to top the Hot 100 since 1992, spending seven weeks at the #1 position, the longest a Madonna song has ever spent at number one. The music video portrays Madonna as the neglected lover of a bullfighter; it won Best Female Video at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards. "Bedtime Story", co-written by Björk, was released as the third single in February 1995. The music video, directed by Mark Romanek, is housed in New York's Museum of Modern Art. It was described as "perhaps the single with the most unfulfilled hit potential in Madonna's 20-year career"[7] as the song only reached moderate success in the charts. "Human Nature" was released as the fourth and final single from Bedtime Stories. The music video features Madonna and her dancers in BDSM-inspired leather.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Survival"   Madonna, Dallas Austin Austin, Nellee Hooper, Madonna 3:30
2. "Secret"   Madonna, Austin, Shep Pettibone Madonna, Austin 5:05
3. "I'd Rather Be Your Lover" (featuring Meshell Ndegeocello) Madonna, Dave Hall, Isley Brothers, Christopher Jasper Madonna, Hall 4:39
4. "Don't Stop"   Madonna, Austin, Colin Wolfe Madonna, Austin (additional production and remix by Daniel Abraham) 4:38
5. "Inside of Me"   Madonna, Hall, Hooper Hooper, Madonna 4:11
6. "Human Nature"   Madonna, Hall, Shawn McKenzie, Kevin McKenzie, Michael Deering Madonna, Hall 4:55
7. "Forbidden Love"   Babyface, Madonna Babyface, Hooper, Madonna 4:08
8. "Love Tried to Welcome Me"   Madonna, Hall Madonna, Hall 5:22
9. "Sanctuary"   Madonna, Austin, Anne Preven, Scott Cutler, Herbie Hancock Madonna, Austin (remixed by Hooper) 5:02
10. "Bedtime Story"   Hooper, Björk, Marius De Vries Hooper, Madonna 4:53
11. "Take a Bow"   Babyface, Madonna Babyface, Madonna 5:21

Additional notes

Charts and certifications[edit]

Preceded by
Cross Road by Bon Jovi
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
November 6–12, 1994
Succeeded by
MTV Unplugged in New York by Nirvana

Album credits[edit]



  • Producers: Madonna, Dallas Austin, Babyface, Marius De Vries, Dave Hall, Nellee Hooper
  • Engineers: Michael Fossenkemper, Brad Gilderman, Darin Prindle, Alvin Speights, Mark "Spike" Stent[36]
  • Mixing: Jon Gass, Daniel Abraham


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  5. ^ a b c d e f g Farber, Jim (October 28, 1994). "Album Review: 'Bedtime Stories' (1994)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  6. ^ Anderson, Kyle (October 20, 2010). "Madonna gets kinky with Erotica". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
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External links[edit]