Deeper and Deeper

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"Deeper and Deeper"
Deeper and Deeper Madonna.png
Single by Madonna
from the album Erotica
B-side"Deeper and Deeper" (Instrumental)
ReleasedNovember 17, 1992
RecordedNovember 13, 1991;
(Manhattan, New York)
June 16, 1992;
Sound Works Studio
(Astoria, New York)
  • Madonna
  • Shep Pettibone
Madonna singles chronology
"Deeper and Deeper"
"Bad Girl"

"Deeper and Deeper" is a song by American singer Madonna from her fifth studio album Erotica (1992). The song was written and produced by Madonna and Shep Pettibone, with additional writing from Anthony Shimkin. It was released by Maverick Records as the album's second single on November 17, 1992. A shortened version of the song was included on Madonna's second greatest hits compilation, GHV2 (2001). "Deeper and Deeper" is a dance-oriented song, and features instrumentation from acoustic guitars and castanet beats on its bridge. Lyrically, the song talks about sexual desire, though it has been argued that it's actually about a young man coming to terms with his homosexuality.

"Deeper and Deeper" was met with positive reviews. Music critics hailed it as one of Madonna's strongest disco inspired tracks and complimented its refreshing dance oriented nature. It was also commercially successful; peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching the top ten in several countries including Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, while topping the charts in Italy.

The accompanying music video for "Deeper and Deeper" was directed by Bobby Woods. It was seen as a homage to American artist Andy Warhol and Italian director Luchino Visconti; it features Madonna playing a character based on Edie Sedgwick, who goes out to a nightclub to meet her friends and boyfriend. Madonna has performed "Deeper and Deeper" in three of her concert tours; the last being the Rebel Heart Tour (2015–16).

Background and development[edit]

Madonna and her back up singers Donna De Lory (left) and Niki Haris (right), perform "Deeper and Deeper" during 1993's The Girlie Show World Tour.

In 1992, Madonna founded her own multi-media entertainment company, Maverick, consisting of a record company (Maverick Records), a film production company (Maverick Films), and associated music publishing, television broadcasting, book publishing and merchandising divisions.[1] The first two projects from the venture were her fifth studio album, Erotica, and a coffee table book of photographs featuring Madonna, entitled Sex.[1] For the album, Madonna primarily collaborated with producer Shep Pettibone. Pettibone first began working with Madonna during the 1980s, providing remixes for several of her singles.[2] Alongside Pettibone, Madonna enlisted help from producer André Betts, who previously co-produced "Justify My Love" for The Immaculate Collection.[2] Madonna said that she was interested to work with Pettibone and Betts due to their ability to remain plugged into the dance underground, "They come from opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their music style and approach to music, but they're both connected to the street and they're still young and hungry."[3]

According to Pettibone in an article "Erotica Diaries" published on Madonna's Icon magazine, he produced a tape with four songs, for Madonna to listen to, before he traveled to Chicago, where she was filming A League of Their Own. She listened to the songs and liked all of them.[4] After filming was complete, Madonna met Pettibone in New York City to start working together in November 1991. Their schedule was sporadic in the beginning. Madonna and Pettibone were in the studio for a week and then she would work with Steven Meisel on Sex, for two weeks. Occasionally, Madonna also would meet André Betts.[4] The first batch of songs Madonna and Pettibone worked together on were "Erotica", "Deeper and Deeper", "Rain" and "Thief of Hearts"; Madonna would write the lyrics as Pettibone worked on the music.[4] At first, Madonna did not like the songs she had recorded. She wanted Erotica to have a raw edge to it, as if it were recorded in an alley in Harlem, and not a light glossy production to permeate her sound, according to Pettibone.[4] The first recorded version of "Deeper and Deeper" was not working for Madonna. Pettibone said they tried different bridges and changes, but in the end, Madonna wanted the middle of the song to have a flamenco guitar.[4] Pettibone recalled:

"Deeper and Deeper" was one of those songs she always had a problem with. The middle of the song wasn't working. We tried different bridges and changes, but nothing worked. In the end, Madonna wanted the middle of the song to have a flamenco guitar strumming big-time. I didn't like the idea of taking a Philly house song and putting 'La Isla Bonita' in the middle of it. But that's what she wanted, so that's what she got.[4]


"Deeper and Deeper" was written by Madonna, Shep Pettibone and Anthony Shimkin and was produced by Madonna and Pettibone. The song was recorded at Sound Works Studios in Astoria, New York.[5] Personnel working on the song included Pettibone on the sequencing, keyboard arrangement and programming for the track with Shimkin. Paul Pesco on guitars, Dennis Mitchell and Robin Hancock were the recording engineers for the track while George Karras was the mixing engineer. Background vocals were provided by Niki Haris and Donna DeLory.[5] "Deeper and Deeper" is a disco inspired song that talks about sexual obsession.[6] However, according to Dan Cadan's text in the inner notes of the 2001 compilation GHV2, the song is actually about a young man coming to terms with his homosexuality; "'I can't help falling in love, I fall deeper and deeper the further I go', he sings as he disappears deep into the dark shaft".[7] The song begins with Madonna repeating the words "Deeper and Deeper and Deeper and Deeper", before moving to the chorus.[8] The opening line, "when you know the notes to sing you can sing most anything", references the song "Do-Re-Mi" from The Sound of Music.[7] Also present in the song are "a juxtaposition of swirling disco synths, of-the-moment Philly house beats", a flamenco guitar and castanets on its bridge.[2][8] According to the sheet music published by Alfred Publishing Inc., "Deeper and Deeper" is set in the time signature of common time with a fast tempo of 120 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of C minor, with Madonna's voice in a high register, spanning between F13 to G. The song has a basic sequence of G7–Cm7/G as its chord progression.[9] Towards the end of the song, Madonna also quotes her previous hit song "Vogue" (1990); in the lines "You got to just let your body move to the music/You got to just let your body go with the flow". According to academic Georges Claude Guilbert, author of Madonna As Postmodern Myth, the quote from "Vogue" "enhance[s] the ending of the song, in an ultimate post-modern twist."[10]

Critical reception[edit]

Madonna and her dancers, performing a slow version of "Deeper and Deeper" during the Re-Invention World Tour, 2004.

Upon its release, "Deeper and Deeper" received general acclaim from music critics. J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of Madonna: An Intimate Biography, commented that "['Deeper and Deeper'] was a change of pace from the title track. A straight-ahead house groove in the tradition of the funkiest New York clubs".[11] Rolling Stone's Arion Berger, called it one of the "pure disco" moments from the album, adding that it doesn't need "emotional resonance to make it race".[12] While reviewing Erotica, Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine wrote: "'Deeper and Deeper' is both a product of its time and a timeless Madge classic".[2] On his review of Madonna's 2001 compilation GHV2, Cinquemani wrote that the song was "one of the few tracks from Erotica not weighed down or muddled by Pettibone's gritty production"; also declaring that "it sounds just as good today as it did nearly a decade ago".[13] On 2011, Slant Magazine placed the song at number 33 on their list "The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s"; writing: "Among Madonna's finest achievements, the angsty pop anthem "Deeper and Deeper" is both an acute distillation of Erotica's smut-glam decadence and the singer's lifelong blond ambition".[14]

Gay Star News placed the song at number 11 on their list "The Definitive Ranking of Madonna’s Top 55 Songs"; author Joe Morgan wrote that "Not only is it infectious, entrancing and one of her best dance anthems, the lyrics are a metaphor for a boy accepting his homosexuality. This was done a full 20 years before other artists told us we were ‘born this way’".[15] Q's Phil Sutcliffe called it the biggest surprise on the album. Sutcliffe felt the song "could be mistaken for a bopalong tribute to Kylie".[16] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic felt that, along with "Rain", "Deeper and Deeper" was "some of Madonna's best and most accomplished music".[17] Matthew Jacobs from The Huffington Post, placed it at number 35 of his list "The Definitive Ranking Of Madonna Singles"; calling it "Madonna's finest disco flourish".[18] Writing for The Baltimore Sun, J. D. Considine opined that "When applied to conventional club fodder, like the explosive, exultant "Deeper and Deeper", the result is as slick and successful as the best of Madonna's dance singles".[19] While reviewing Erotica for Billboard, Paul Verna called the song "a playful disco-throwback".[20] Entertainment Weekly's David Browne said that the song "whooshes like a subway train going express at 4 a.m.".[21] Charlotte Robinson of also gave a positive review; "['Deeper and Deeper']'s somewhat robotic dance beats belie that it is, at heart, a great pop song about the importance of listening to Mom and Dad’s advice".[22]

Chart performance[edit]

Upon its release, "Deeper and Deeper" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 38 the week of December 5, 1992.[23] It quickly climbed up the chart, ultimately peaking at number 7 on the week of January 30, 1993.[24] The single also topped the Hot Dance Club Play chart and reached number two on the US Pop Chart.[25][26] On the Billboard Hot 100 year-end chart, "Deeper and Deeper" came in at number 66.[27] In Canada, the song debuted at number 5 on the RPM Top Singles chart, the week of January 23, 1993.[28] It eventually reached the second position of the chart, on February 13, 1993, after three weeks.[29] It also reached number 35 on the RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.[30] It ranked at number 34 on the RPM Year-end chart for 1993.[31]

In the United Kingdom, the song reached a peak at number 6 on the UK Singles Chart the week of December 12, 1992, and was present on the top 100 for a total of 9 weeks.[32] As of 2008, the single has sold over 136,800 copies in the United Kingdom.[33] In Australia, "Deeper and Deeper" peaked at number 11 on the ARIA Singles Chart the week of December 13, 1992. It remained on that position for three weeks and a total of 10 weeks on the chart.[34] In France, it became the only single from Erotica to reach the top 20, peaking at number 17 of the SNEP Single Charts. It remained on this position for one week and a total of 7 weeks on the chart.[35] The song was successful in Italy, where it topped the Hit Parade Charts.[36] On the year-end Italian charts, the song was ranked at number 44.[37] In Austria the song peaked at number 30.[38] In other countries such as Belgium, Ireland and New Zealand, it managed to peak within the top 10 of the charts.[39][40]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Deeper and Deeper" was shot on November 7–8, 1992 at Ren-Mar Studios and The Roxbury nightclub in Hollywood, California, and was directed by Bobby Woods.[10][41] The video has been seen as a tribute to American artist Andy Warhol and Italian director Luchino Visconti.[10][42] Georges Claude Guilbert wrote in his book Madonna As Postmodern Myth:

[Madonna] simultaneously pays tribute to Warhol and Visconti. She moves from the twenties and thirties to the sixties and seventies and back again. She evokes Isadora Duncan, Dita Parlo and Ingrid Thulin in La caduta degli dei (The Damned, Luchino Visconti, 1969). She recreates the atmosphere of the underground films of Warhol, Morrissey, particularly Flesh (1968) and Trash (1970). She echoes John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (1977). The mirror balls in the disco show evoke the thirties and the seventies.[10]

Screenshot of the "Deeper and Deeper" music video, featuring Madonna and her girlfriends watching a stripper as they eat bananas; this has been seen as a reference to the Warhol penned cover art for The Velvet Underground & Nico.

The video begins with a male character, played by German actor Udo Kier (who had appeared in the Andy Warhol films Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula and had previously collaborated with Madonna in her "Erotica" video and Sex book), in a darkened room speaking German words that are subtitled in English: "Beware! Our idols and demons will pursue us. Until we learn to let them go!".[10] However, he is actually speaking two lines from Goethe's "Faust", there words by the devil: "Here, measure that junker (noble man) clothes, you measure him pants!". This is followed by scenes of Madonna, who portrays a character inspired by Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick with her eyebrows shaved off, driving a Mercedes-Benz W111 Convertible, visiting and walking around a nightclub where she dances with her friends and looks for her lover, Kier's character.[41] According to Guilbert, the viewer is "obviously meant to gather [Madonna's character] has signed some kind of Faustian pact with the diabolical Udo Kier. But on second thought, you don't know exactly who possesses whom".[10] Also present in the video are Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn, gay porn director Chi Chi LaRue, gay porn star Joey Stefano (who had also appeared on Sex), Madonna's long time friend and collaborator, actress Debi Mazar (who had previously appeared on the music videos for "Papa Don't Preach", "True Blue" and would go on to appear in Madonna's video for "Music" seven years later[43]) and director Sofia Coppola.[44] Guilbert felt that by including gay porn performer Stefano and drag queen/gay porn director La Rue, Madonna was connecting with her gay audience as well as cementing her status as a gay icon:

Famed Madonna and U2Talent Manager Guy Oseary makes a cameo high fiving Madonna as he wears a black wig. Music Executive Seymour Stein the man credited for signing a then unknown Madonna to her first record label, Sire Records, also makes a brief cameo standing beside Madonna's good friend and rumored "once upon a time" lover Ingrid Casares.

"The images of 'Deeper and Deeper', associating drag, modeling, narcissism and lesbianism, provide a typical commentary on the construction of Madonna's success...[&] comfort Madonna's gay icon status, especially when you spot on the disco dance floor the voluminous drag queen Chi Chi LaRue, famous singer and director of gay pornographic movies".[10]

Other Warhol references in the video include a scene where Madonna and her girlfriends peel and eat a banana, sit on a couch and watch a long haired male stripper flex and exhibit himself on a mattress on the floor. The bananas have been thought to be a reference to the cover art of The Velvet Underground & Nico, designed by Warhol.[10] Guilbert also noted that during this particular scene, Stefano looked like "a cross between Andy Warhol's fetish actor Joe Dallesandro and Iggy Pop"; Dallesandro himself was allegedly approached by Madonna's people to do a cameo but declined the offer.[45] Guilbert also pointed out the scenes of Madonna driving the Mercedes as a direct reference to Visconti's works; "She likes Visconti so much (even more than Fellini) that it is possible to wonder whether her tributes to Marlene Dietrich are not occasionally filtered through her memorable scene of La caduta degli dei, when Helmut Berger impersonates Dietrich".[46] Up until 2009, the music video had never been commercially available; for unknown reasons, it wasn't included on 1999's The Video Collection 93:99. It was not until 10 years later that it was finally included on Madonna's Celebration: The Video Collection compilation.[47] In March 2015, LGBT-oriented magazine Out placed the video at number 20 of their list "Madonna's 20 Most Stylish Videos".[48]

Live performances and covers[edit]

Madonna and her dancers performing "Deeper and Deeper", during the Rebel Heart Tour

Madonna first performed "Deeper and Deeper" during The Girlie Show World Tour of 1993. The beginning of the song was connected to the end of the previous performance, "Express Yourself".[49] Madonna appeared onstage, which was decked in Mylar curtains and glittering disco balls, wearing a blond afro wig, 1970's style halters and royal blue bell-bottom pants.[50][51] She performed the song along with her two back-up dancers, Niki Haris and Donna De Lory. During a certain point of the performance, a male member from the audience jumped on the stage, seemingly trying to dance with a startled Madonna. The man then ripped off his tearaway pants, thus revealing himself as one of the dancers from the show.[52] According to Guilbert, Madonna's attire during the performance was inspired by actress Marlene Dietrich in the 1932 film Blonde Venus.[53] On his review of the concert in New York City, Jon Pareles from The New York Times wrote; "The core of the show takes place in a disco stage setting [...] Madonna and the dancers romp through "Express Yourself" and "Deeper and Deeper"—songs about freeing desire".[51] The performance on the November 19, 1993 show at Sydney Cricket Ground was recorded and released on VHS and Laserdisc on April 26, 1994, as The Girlie Show: Live Down Under.[52]

Eleven years later, Madonna performed a slow cabaret-style lounge version of "Deeper and Deeper" as part of her 2004 Re-Invention World Tour.[54] She appeared onstage dressed in sequined red-and-white striped showgirl corset with flapper headband and red high-heels.[55] Dirk Timmerman, author of Madonna Live! Secret Re-inventions and Confessions on Tour, noted that Madonna sang the phrase "when you know the notes to sing, you can sing most any - thing" instead of the original "when you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything", pausing towards the end of the sentence.[56] The performance received positive feedback from critics with Elizabeth Smith, from The New York Times, praising Madonna's vocals and her ability of turning a dance song into a slow romantic one, "who knew her 1992 'Deeper and Deeper' dance hit had such erotic/romance resonance?".[57] Eleven years later, on her 2015–16 Rebel Heart Tour, Madonna performed "Deeper and Deeper" similar to its original version, infused with a "pulsing house undercurrent that felt contemporary again in a dance music era where groups like Disclosure reign", according to Melissa Maerz from Entertainment Weekly.[58] Billboard's Joe Lynch considered the performance as "pumping".[59]

The John Di Martino Romantic Jazz Trio covered the song for their 2012 tribute album Forbidden Love -Tribute To Madonna.[60] Mark Pistel covered the song for the 2000 album Virgin Voices 2000: A Tribute to Madonna.[61]

Track listing and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[5]

Charts and certifications[edit]


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External links[edit]