Causing a Commotion
|"Causing a Commotion"|
|Single by Madonna|
|from the album Who's That Girl|
|Released||August 25, 1987|
|Madonna singles chronology|
"Causing a Commotion" is a song by American singer Madonna from the soundtrack 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.
Background and release
In 1986, Madonna was shooting for her third motion picture Who's That Girl, known at the time as Slammer. Needing songs for the soundtrack of the movie, she contacted Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray, with whom she had written and produced her third studio album True Blue in 1986. The song was written and produced by Madonna and Bray for the film's 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. 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."
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.
Recording and composition
A 20 second sample of Madonna's "Causing a Commotion" featuring the chorus.
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"Causing a Commotion" was recorded and mixed by Bray along with Shep Pettibone who also did additional production on the track. Junior Vasquez was the mixing engineer along with Steve Peck; the former also did the audio editing. Background vocals were provided by Donna De Lory and Niki Haris. "Causing a Commotion" has a dancey, up-tempo groove in it. 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.
The lyrics make reference to Madonna's 1985 single "Into the Groove" and have three parts to the vocal harmony. Andrzej Ciuk, one of the editors of the book Exploring Space noted that the proverbial status of the phrase "opposites attract" as a defining key ingredient of cultural concept of "love" and this was evident also in the song with the lyrics: "You met your match when you met me, I know that you'll disagree its crazy, But opposites attract you'll see, And I won't let you get away so easy".
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'." Christian Wright from Spin called the song celebratory. 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 siècle." Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic commented that "Causing a Commotion", along with "Who's That Girl" were not among Madonna's best singles.
"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. 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. "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. In Canada, the song debuted at number 90, on the RPM singles chart on September 19, 1987. After six weeks, the song reached a peak of number two on the chart. It was present for a total of 31 weeks and ranked at number 47 on the RPM Year-end chart for 1987.
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. The song was present for a total of nine weeks. According to the Official Charts Company, the song has sold 230,000 copies there. 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. The song reached the top ten in Australia and the European Hot 100 Singles, peaking at number seven and three respectively. 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.
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. 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, and on the Ciao Italia: Live from Italy video, filmed in Turin, Italy, on September 4, 1987. The latter performance was transmitted via satellite on the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards.
On the Blond Ambition World Tour, the song was performed as the third song of the set list. The outfit she wore for the performance was described by Carol Clerk, author of Madonnastyle, as the "perfect visual combination of masculine and feminine". 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. 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 exhibitionist dance routine with a chair as a prop and Madonna singing the song. The performance ended with Madonna wrestling with her female backup singers. Two different performances were released on video: the Blond Ambition Japan Tour 90, taped in Yokohama, Japan, on April 27, 1990, and the Blond Ambition World Tour Live, taped in Nice, France, on August 5, 1990.
Track listing and formats
Credits and personnel
- Madonna – writer, vocals, producer
- Stephen Bray – writer, producer, audio mixing
- Shep Pettibone – audio mixing, additional production
- Junior Vasquez – mixing engineer, audio editing
- Steve Peck – mixing engineer
- Donna De Lory – background vocals
- Niki Haris – background vocals
Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.
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