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Rescue Me (Madonna song)

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"Rescue Me"
A black-and-blue picture of Madonna in a black dress, standing in a seductive manner, while clutching her bosom.
Artwork for the 7-inch single release
Single by Madonna
from the album The Immaculate Collection
B-side"Spotlight"
ReleasedFebruary 23, 1991 (1991-02-23)
Format
RecordedAugust 1990[1]
StudioAxis Recording Studios
(New York City, New York)
Genre
Length5:31
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Madonna
  • Shep Pettibone
Madonna singles chronology
"Justify My Love"
(1990)
"Rescue Me"
(1991)
"This Used to Be My Playground"
(1992)

"Rescue Me" is a song recorded by American singer Madonna for her first greatest hits album, The Immaculate Collection (1990), written and produced with Shep Pettibone. It was not planned to be released as a single initially but the song's continuous radio airplay prompted Sire Records to release "Rescue Me" as the second single from The Immaculate Collection on February 23, 1991, in the United States, and as the third single on April 7 in the United Kingdom. A dance-pop and gospel-house track, the song is accompanied by the sound of thunder and rain, with the lyrics talking of romantic love rescuing the singer.

The song's commercial release was accompanied by different remixes. It received positive critical response for both the original version and the remixes, as well as Pettibone's production work. Reviewers noted it as an example of Madonna's future musical endeavors to come. "Rescue Me" reached the top-ten of the record charts in Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the latter country it became Madonna's 22nd top-ten song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was used as an interlude on Madonna's 2019–20 Madame X Tour.

Background and release[edit]

Madonna in a glittery top singing.
Madonna wrote and produced the song with Shep Pettibone.

By the end of 1990, Madonna was ready to release her first greatest hits collection, The Immaculate Collection. According to J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of Madonna: An Intimate Biography, the release was "much more than a mere collection of Madonna's biggest-selling and most popular songs". The singer relegated it as a "proud landmark" of her career which had progressed upwards since she broke out in the music scene in 1983.[2] The collection had 15 of Madonna's previously released singles, along with two new songs, "Justify My Love" and "Rescue Me". The former was released as the first single from the record, and was controversial due to its explicit music video which had been banned from airing in television.[3]

Initially there were no plans to release any follow-up single to "Justify My Love" and so no music video was filmed for "Rescue Me".[2] However, the latter started receiving airplay in the radios as an album cut,[4] prompting Sire Records to finally release it as an official single. The cover artwork featured a still image of Madonna from the music video of "Justify My Love".[5] In the United States, the track was released as the second single on February 23, 1991,[6] and as the third single on April 7 in the United Kingdom, due to "Crazy for You" (1985) released as the second single from the collection.[7][8][9] A video clip consisting of compiled footage from Madonna's 1987 Who's That Girl World Tour was eventually released to accompany the single.[10]

Recording and composition[edit]

Madonna wrote and produced "Rescue Me" with Shep Pettibone, with whom she had worked on "Vogue".[11] It was recorded at Axis Studios in New York City by engineer P. Dennis Mitchell, who was assisted by Curt Frasca and John Partham. Peter Schwartz played keyboards and did the programming on the track with assistance from Joe Moskowitz and Junior Vasquez. Tony Shimkin edited the song at Axis while Ted Jensen mastered it at Sterling Sound Studio. "Rescue Me" was mixed by Pettibone and Goh Hotoda at Sound Works Studio in New York.[12] The mixing was done in QSound which at that time was a new audio filter to create a three-dimensional sound effect. This was employed on all of Madonna's past hits present on The Immaculate Collection.[11]

"Rescue Me" is a dance-pop and gospel-house track.[13][14][15] Larry Flick from Billboard described the song as a house colored pop-dance rave.[14] According to sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Alfred Publishing, the song is composed in the key of D major with a moderate tempo of 116 beats per minute. It is set in the time signature of common time with Madonna's vocals ranging from B3 to E5. The song follows a sequence of Em–D/E–Asus4/E–A/E as its chord progression.[16] The song opens with a heartbeat and thunder, followed by a prominent bass line, piano, snaps, and percussion. Reminiscent of the songs by British synth-pop duo Yazoo and other 1980s disco acts, "Rescue Me" has Madonna growling the lines, especially towards the end. The thick arrangement has backing vocals by Dian Sorel, Catherine Russell and Lillies White. The ending of the track has the instrumentation fading away to leave just the backing vocals and then the song ends with the sound of thunder and rain.[13]

Lyrically, "Rescue Me" makes allusions to love rescuing the singer. Author Santiago Fouz-Hernández noted in the book Madonna's Drowned Worlds that the lines portray the second theme prevalent in Madonna's work alongside sex, that of romantic love. The singer relegates love as savior in the lyrics when she belts "I believe in the power of love / I believe that you can rescue me".[17] It references the 1967 songs, "Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S.)" by Edwin Starr and "Respect" by Aretha Franklin.[13] According to Katharine Birbalsingh from The Daily Telegraph, the confessional lyrics found Madonna reaching out directly to the listener, "pleading for the love and attention" needed through the lines like "You see that I'm ferocious, you see that I am weak / You see that I am silly, and pretentious and a freak" before it turned to an affirmation of her grit.[18]

Outside of the US, the song was released with Madonna's 1987 single "Spotlight" as its B-side. It was accompanied by eight different remixes by Pettibone.[13] An extended mix was created called the "Titanic Vocal mix", alongside a stripped down "Houseboat Vocal mix" which used a new beat and instrumentation,[5][14] the sound of piano and a sample from Madonna's 1986 single, "True Blue". The Lifeboat and the S.O.S. mixes incorporate louder and busy beats with the former being similar in composition to "Vogue".[5][14] All of them keep the original vocals intact in the remix, with a dubbed version also being released.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Larry Flick from Billboard described Madonna's vocals as her "most potent to date" and Pettibone's production "stellar". Flick also commended the song's remixes, saying Pettibone "has outdone himself this time, creating several new versions that should suit a variety of formats... In any mix, 'Rescue Me' proves to be far meatier and long-lasting than the previous 'Justify My Love'."[14] Taraborrelli described the track as a "standard, pulsating dance fare" noting it to be opposite of "Justify My Love".[19] Rikky Rooksby found the "growling" vocals by Madonna to be "ill-advised" but was positive about the ending of the track with the sound of the rain and thunder.[13] David Browne from Entertainment Weekly called the song as a "flimsy 'Vogue' rewrite" in his review for The Immaculate Collection, feeling that it did not break "new ground" for the singer.[20] Andrew Harrison from Select relegated the song as "more usual upfront Madonna dance workout with histrionic strings" but found it—along with "Justify My Love"—to showcase the singer's vulnerability, sexual predication and submission, all of which gave "Madonna's records an edge".[21] In an album guide for Rolling Stone, the track was described as "worthy" and "sensual".[22]

Jose F. Promis from AllMusic reviewed the remixes by Pettibone and gave a positive review believing them to have held up "surprisingly well" many years since their release and are "good examples of what house/pop dance music was like in the early '90s".[5] A reviewer from Sputnikmusic rated the song 4 out of 5, finding it similar to "Justify My Love" but "just not as good. It's a shame that this ends the album rather than [the former], but that's the way it goes, I suppose".[23] Robbie Daw from Idolator listed "Rescue Me" as one of the best Madonna songs that radio had forgotten noting that the track, along with "Justify My Love" "kicked off [her] early '90s period where she gabbed through tracks rather than singing on them".[24] Eric Henderson from Slant Magazine, while reviewing Celebration, described "Rescue Me" as "simmering" and the "upside" of The Immaculate Collection.[25] James Rose from Daily Review noted that with the song Madonna began "a phase of her career that oscillates between cynical self-exploitation and courageous self-expression. Raunchy videos, explicitly themed lyrics and boudoir beats became de rigueur for the lady now arguably bearing the biggest name in popular music."[26] LA Weekly's Michael Cooper ranked the track at number 14 in his list of Madonna's Top 20 Singles. He opined that the song heralded the singer's future musical endeavors with fifth studio album Erotica (1992), and was "innovative for its time" bridging the gap between Madonna of the 1980s and 1990s.[27] Chuck Arnold from Entertainment Weekly listed "Rescue Me" as Madonna's 45th best single, writing that "if 'Vogue' had a gospel choir taking it to church, it might sound something like ['Rescue Me']".[28] While ranking Madonna's singles in honor of her 60th birthday, Jude Rogers from The Guardian placed the track at number 44, calling it an example of the "over propulsive early-90s electronica".[29]

Chart performance[edit]

Black-and-white picture of the Beatles holding musical instruments.
"Rescue Me" was the highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100 since the Beatles' "Let It Be" debuted at number six in March 1970.

In the United States, Michael Ellis from Billboard noted that "Rescue Me" had entered the Hot 100 Airplay chart prior to its commercial release, and had already climbed to number seven. It was already being played in almost all major radio stations in the country.[30] After release, the track debuted at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on the week of March 2, 1991. It was the highest debut for a song within the previous 21 years, since the Beatles' "Let It Be" debuted at number six in March 1970.[14] "Rescue Me" was also the highest debut for a song released by a female artist, since Joy Layne's "Your Wild Heart" debuted at number 30 in 1957. After three weeks the song reached number nine on the Hot 100, becoming Madonna's 22nd top-ten single.[31][32] The track reached number six on the Dance Club Songs chart, aided by the remixes played in clubs.[33] On May 24, 1991, "Rescue Me" was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of over 500,000 copies.[34] In Canada, the song debuted on the RPM Top Singles chart at number 96 and reached a peak of number seven after nine weeks.[35][36] It also reached top-five on the RPM Dance/Urban chart.[37] The song was present for a total of 16 weeks on the Singles chart and ranked at number 55 on the 1991 year-end tabulation.[38][39]

In Australia, "Rescue Me" debuted at number 31 on the ARIA Charts, and after four weeks reached a peak of number 15.[40] In New Zealand the song managed to reach number 18 and was present for six weeks on the chart.[41] In the United Kingdom, the track had debuted at number 84 on the UK Singles Chart and then dropped off. It re-entered at number four in April 1991 and reached its peak position of number three a week later, being present for a total of nine weeks in the chart.[42] According to Music & Media, the track reached the top of the UK sales chart.[43] As of August 2008, it has sold 134,767 copies in the country according to the Official Charts Company.[44] Across Europe, "Rescue Me" reached the top 20 of the charts in Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland,[45][46][47] and top 40 in France, Germany and Sweden.[47] Its commercial performance in the European countries helped it attain a peak of number three on the European Hot 100 Singles chart, placing at number 90 on the year-end ranking.[43][48]

Live performance[edit]

The song was used as an interlude on the 2019–20 Madame X Tour, when row of performers "convulsed gracefully" to the song at the lip of the stage to irregular breaths, defined as "one of the most powerful dance moments" from the concert by The New York Times' journalist Jon Pareles.[49]

Track listing and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from The Immaculate Collection liner notes.[12]

Management[edit]

  • Recorded at Axis Studios, New York City, New York
  • Mastered at Sterling Sound Studios, New York City, New York
  • Mixed at Sound Works Studio, New York City, New York
  • Freddy DeMann Management, The DeMann Entertainment Co. Ltd.
  • Webo Girl Publishing, Inc., Warner Bros. Music Corp, Bleu Disc Music Co. Inc, Lexor Music (ASCAP)

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certification and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Japan (Oricon Charts) 14,510[74]
United Kingdom 134,764[44]
United States (RIAA)[34] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Matthew-Sweet-Girlfriend-The-Superdeformed-EP/release/2853721
  2. ^ a b Taraborrelli 2008, p. 231
  3. ^ O'Brien 2008, p. 218
  4. ^ Ellis, Michael (February 16, 1991). "Hot 100 Singles Spotlight" (PDF). Billboard. p. 76. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Promis, Jose F. (1991). "Rescue Me > Madonna". AllMusic. Archived from the original on July 20, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  6. ^ Cross 2007, p. 128
  7. ^ Davies 1998, p. 1995
  8. ^ Mead, Wendy (March 2, 2015). ""Crazy for You" Turns 30: Madonna's First Hit Ballad". Biography. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  9. ^ "Madonna | Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on March 18, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  10. ^ Morton 2002, p. 408
  11. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith (May 22, 2015). "'Vogue' Producer Shep Pettibone's First Interview in 20 Years: On Making a Madonna Classic & Why He Left Music Behind". Billboard. Archived from the original on April 4, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  12. ^ a b The Immaculate Collection (Liner notes). Madonna. Warner Bros. Records. 1990. 9 26440-1.CS1 maint: others (link)
  13. ^ a b c d e Rooksby 2004, p. 84
  14. ^ a b c d e f Flick, Larry (March 2, 1991). "Singles Spotlights and Dance Trax" (PDF). Billboard. pp. 9, 31, 77. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  15. ^ Lynch, Joe (October 20, 2017). "Madonna's 'Erotica' Turns 25: An Oral History of the Most Controversial '90s Pop Album". Billboard. Archived from the original on February 5, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  16. ^ "Madonna 'Rescue Me' Sheet Music". Musicnotes.com. Alfred Publishing. Archived from the original on March 16, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  17. ^ Fouz-Hernández & Jarman-Ivens 2004, p. 181
  18. ^ Birbalsingh, Katharine (August 16, 2016). "Madonna's 15 albums: from worst to best". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on December 18, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  19. ^ Taraborrelli 2008, p. 232
  20. ^ Browne, David (December 14, 1990). "Madonna: The Immaculate Collection". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 9, 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
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  27. ^ Cooper, Michael (December 27, 2017). "We Picked Madonna's Top 20 Singles to Celebrate 35 Years Since Her Debut". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on February 2, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  28. ^ Arnold, Chuck (August 15, 2018). "Madonna's 60 best singles, ranked". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  29. ^ Rogers, Jude (August 16, 2018). "Every one of Madonna's 78 singles – ranked!". The Guardian. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
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  31. ^ Grein, Paul (March 23, 1991). "Chart Beat: Timmy T.'s `Try' Succeeds On Hot 100; Doors Albums Break On Through Again" (PDF). Billboard. p. 11. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
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  50. ^ Rescue Me (US 12-inch Vinyl single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. 9362-40034-0.CS1 maint: others (link)
  51. ^ Rescue Me (US 12-inch Maxi single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. 7599-21813-0.CS1 maint: others (link)
  52. ^ Rescue Me (US Cassette single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. 7599-21813-4.CS1 maint: others (link)
  53. ^ Rescue Me (US 7-inch Vinyl single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. 5439-19490-7.CS1 maint: others (link)
  54. ^ Rescue Me (JP 3-inch CD single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. WPDP-6267.CS1 maint: others (link)
  55. ^ Rescue Me (UK 7-inch Vinyl single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. W0024.CS1 maint: others (link)
  56. ^ Rescue Me (UK CD single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. W0024CD.CS1 maint: others (link)
  57. ^ Rescue Me (UK 12-inch Picture Disc liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. W0024T.CS1 maint: others (link)
  58. ^ Rescue Me (AUS 7-inch Vinyl single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. 5439-19375-7.CS1 maint: others (link)
  59. ^ Rescue Me (AUS 12-inch Vinyl single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. 9362-40074-0.CS1 maint: others (link)
  60. ^ Rescue Me (UK 12-inch Limited Edition single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. W0024TW.CS1 maint: others (link)
  61. ^ Rescue Me (GER CD single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. 9362-40034-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  62. ^ Rescue Me (EUR CD single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. 9362-40035-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  63. ^ Rescue Me (JPN CD Extended play liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1991. WPCR-1508.CS1 maint: others (link)
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  74. ^ Okamoto 2006, p. 576

Book sources[edit]

External links[edit]