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Causing a Commotion

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"Causing a Commotion"
A young woman with short cropped blond hair is pointing towards somebody while holding a gun. She is wearing a red skirt and black jacket and gloves. On her left, the word "Madonna" is written in green and on the center of the image, the word "Causing a Commotion" is written in capitals.
Single by Madonna
from the album Who's That Girl
B-side "Jimmy, Jimmy"
Released August 25, 1987
Recorded 1987
Genre Dance-pop
Length 4:20
  • Madonna
  • Steve Bray
Madonna singles chronology
"Who's That Girl"
"Causing a Commotion"
"The Look of Love"

"Causing a Commotion" is a song by American singer Madonna from the soundtrack album to the 1987 film Who's That Girl. It was released as the album's second single on August 25, 1987 by Sire Records. Its Silver Screen Single Mix later appeared on the 1991 UK compilation EP The Holiday Collection. Written and produced by Madonna and Stephen Bray, the song was inspired by Madonna's relationship with then husband Sean Penn, and his abusive and violent nature. Containing a dance-oriented, up-tempo groove, the song begins with the chorus and is accompanied by a four-note descending bassline and staccato chords in the verse.

Since its release, the song has received mixed reviews by critics. It became a top-ten hit in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and topped the Billboard U.S. dance chart. Madonna performed the song on the Who's That Girl World Tour – which was transmitted via satellite to the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards – and the Blond Ambition World Tour in 1990. The performances were included in the home video release of the tours.


The song was written and produced by Madonna and long-term co-writer Stephen Bray for the Who's That Girl film soundtrack. It was inspired by her then husband Sean Penn and their often tumultuous relationship. Madonna felt that her marriage to Penn was on the verge of breaking-up, due to Penn's abusive and violent nature.[1] That translated as the inspiration behind the song. In a Rolling Stone article dated September 10, 1987, Madonna spoke about Penn's impact on her life,

"I don't like violence. I never condone hitting anyone, and I never thought that any violence should have taken place. But on the other hand, I understood Sean's anger and believe me, I have wanted to hit them [the paparazzi] many times. I never would, you know, because I realize that it would just make things worse."[2]

In the United States, "Causing a Commotion" was released in August 1987. In the United Kingdom, the song was released just before the commencement of Madonna's 1987 Who's That Girl World Tour in October. In 1991, the Silver Screen Single Mix of the song was included on Madonna's The Holiday Collection EP.[3]


A 20 second sample of Madonna's "Causing a Commotion" featuring the chorus.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Causing a Commotion" has a dancey, up-tempo groove in it.[4] The musical arrangement consists of a number of hooks interpolating with each other. It begins with the chorus, where Madonna sings the line "I've got the moves baby, You've got the motion, If we got together we be causing a commotion." The verses are accompanied by a four-note descending bassline and interjecting staccato chords.[4] The lyrics make reference to Madonna's 1985 single "Into the Groove" and have three parts to the vocal harmony.


Critical response[edit]

The song received generally mixed reviews. Rikky Rooksby, author of The Complete Guide to the Music of Madonna, said that the song was "Perfectly acceptable, though not in the same class as 'Who's That Girl'."[4] Christian Wright from Spin called the song celebratory.[5] Camille Paglia, one of the authors of The Madonna Companion: Two Decades of Commentary, said that Madonna's command of massive, resonant basslines impressed them. "I recall my stunned admiration as I sat in the theater in 1987 and first experienced the crashing, descending chords of Madonna's 'Causing a Commotion', which opened her dreadful movie Who's That Girl. If you want to hear the essence of modernity, listen to those chords, infernal, apocalyptic, and grossly sensual. This is the authentic voice of fin de siecle."[6] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic commented that "Causing a Commotion", along with "Who's That Girl" were not among Madonna's best singles.[7]

Chart performance[edit]

"Causing a Commotion" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at number 41 the week of September 12, 1987, as "Who's That Girl" was descending from the top ten.[8] The single quickly climbed up the chart, ultimately peaking at number two the week of October 24, 1987, the same week Michael Jackson's "Bad" advanced to the pole position. It remained in the runner-up position for three weeks, before descending from the chart.[9] "Causing a Commotion" reached the top 40 of the Adult Contemporary chart of Billboard and reached the top of the Hot Dance Club Play chart.[10][11] In Canada, the song debuted at 90, on the RPM singles chart on September 19, 1987.[12] After six weeks, the song reached a peak of two on the chart.[13] It was present for a total of 31 weeks and ranked at 47 on the RPM Year-end chart for 1987.[14][15]

In the United Kingdom, "Causing a Commotion" was released on September 19, 1987. It entered the UK Singles Chart at number seven, and peaked at number four.[16] The song was present for a total of nine weeks.[17] According to the Official Charts Company, the song has sold 230,000 copies there.[18] In Germany, the song debuted on the Media Control Charts at number 66 on September 29, 1987, reaching a peak of number 14 in its third week, and spending 12 weeks on the chart.[19] The song reached the top ten in Australia and the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles, and peaked at number seven and three respectively.[20][21] Elsewhere, the song reached the top ten in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland and the top 20 in Austria, Norway and Sweden.[22][23][24][25]

Live performances[edit]

Madonna and her back up singers Niki Haris and Donna De Lory perform "Causing a Commotion" during the 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour.

Madonna performed "Causing a Commotion" on the Who's That Girl World Tour of 1987 and the Blond Ambition World Tour in 1990. In the Who's That Girl World Tour, "Causing a Commotion" was the sixth song of the setlist. Collaborating with Marlene Stewart on the clothes for the tour, Madonna expanded on the idea of bringing her video characters to life and to display a gangster theme for the song. She wore a golden lamé jacket and performed the song while accompanied by two dancers, each holding a gun.[26] Performances of the song on this tour can be found on the Who's That Girl – Live in Japan video, filmed in Tokyo, Japan, on June 22, 1987,[27] and on the Ciao Italia: Live from Italy video, filmed in Turin, Italy, on September 4, 1987.[28] The latter performance was transmitted via satellite on the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards.[29]

On the Blond Ambition World Tour, the song was performed as the third song of the setlist. The outfit she wore for the performance was described by Carol Clerk, author of Madonnastyle, as the "perfect visual combination of masculine and feminine".[30] It consisted of a double-breasted suit with a tight jacket, which was cut in slits, allowing her conical bra to point through. She also wore her characteristic monocle chain. Madonna wore heavy makeup with thick, blackened eyebrows and heavy application of dark liner.[30] As she finished the performance of "Open Your Heart", Madonna opened the jacket and started to simulate sexual intercourse with one of her dancers while playing the dominant role. It was followed by an exhibitionistic dance routine with a chair as a prop and Madonna singing the song. The performance ended with Madonna wrestling with her female backup singers.[30] Two different performances were released on video: the Blond Ambition Japan Tour 90, taped in Yokohama, Japan, on April 27, 1990,[31] and the Blond Ambition World Tour Live, taped in Nice, France, on August 5, 1990.[32]

Track listing and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[38]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Feldman 2000, p. 211
  2. ^ Lawson, Senegal (1987-09-10). "Madonna: She's That Girl". Rolling Stone (Jann Wenner) 1019 (32). ISSN 0035-791X. 
  3. ^ Rooksby 2004, p. 90
  4. ^ a b c Rooksby 2004, p. 69
  5. ^ Wright, Christian (1989-05-01). "Madonna: Like a Prayer Review". Spin (Spin Media LLC) 5 (2). ISSN 0886-3032. 
  6. ^ Metz & Benson 1999, p. 162
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (1987-07-21). "allmusic ((( Who's That Girl > Overview )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  8. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100: Week Ending September 12, 1987". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1987-09-12. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  9. ^ a b "The Billboard Hot 100: Week Ending October 24, 1987". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1987-10-24. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  10. ^ a b "Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks: Week Ending October 24, 1987". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1987-10-24. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  11. ^ a b "Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs: Week Ending October 31, 1987". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1987-10-31. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  12. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 46, No. 24, September 19, 1987". RPM. RPM Library Archives. 1987-09-19. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  13. ^ a b "Top Singles – Volume 47, No. 5, November 07 1987". RPM. RPM Library Archives. 1987-11-07. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  14. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 47, No. 18, February 20, 1988". RPM. RPM Library Archives. 1988-02-20. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  15. ^ "Top 100 Singles of '87". RPM. RPM Library Archives. 1987-12-26. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  16. ^ "Chartstats – Week of September 19, 1987". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 2007-05-22. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  17. ^ a b "The Official Charts Company - Causing A Commotion by Madonna Search". The Official Charts Company. 29 June 2014. 
  18. ^ "Madonna: The Official Top 40". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  19. ^ a b "Chartverfolgung > Madonna > Causing a Commotion". Media Control Charts. 1987-09-29. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  20. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6 
  21. ^ a b "Pan European Hot 100 Singles". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 99 (41). 1987-10-24. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  22. ^ a b "Madonna – Causing a Commotion – Song details" (in Dutch). VRT Top 30. 1987-09-26. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 
  23. ^ a b c d e f g "Madonna – Causing a Commotion (song)". Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  24. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". Irish Recorded Music Association. 1987-09-23. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  25. ^ a b "Madonna: Discografia Italiana" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. 1984–1999. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  26. ^ Clerk 2002, p. 66
  27. ^ Madonna (1987). Who's That Girl – Live in Japan (VHS). Warner-Pioneer Japan. 
  28. ^ Phares, Heather. "allmusic ((( Ciao Italia: Live in Italy (Video) > Overview )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  29. ^ "MTV Video Music Awards | Performers". MTV News. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  30. ^ a b c Clerk 2002, p. 84
  31. ^ Madonna (1990). Blond Ambition Japan Tour 90 (VHS). Warner-Pioneer Japan. 
  32. ^ Madonna (1990). Blond Ambition World Tour Live (Laserdisc). Pioneer Artists. 
  33. ^ Causing a Commotion (US 7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1987. 7-28224. 
  34. ^ Causing a Commotion (UK 12-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1987. W 8224 T. 
  35. ^ Causing a Commotion (US 7-inch Promo Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1987. 7-28224-A. 
  36. ^ Causing a Commotion (US Maxi Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1987. 9 20762-0. 
  37. ^ Causing a Commotion (Germany CD Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1995. 7599 20762-2. 
  38. ^ Who's That Girl (Liner notes). Madonna. Warner Bros. Records. 1987. 925611-2. 
  39. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  40. ^ "Top 100 Singles of 1987". RPM. Retrieved September 7, 2009. 
  41. ^ "Top Annuali Singles: 1987" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  42. ^ "Top Pop Singles 1987". Billboard. 1987-12-31. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 


External links[edit]