All-Time Albums: #60



1 Erotica 5:19 (UK single, #3)
2 Fever 5:00 (UK single, #6)
3 Bye Bye Baby 3:56
4 Deeper And Deeper 5:33 (UK single, #6)
5 Where Life Begins 5:57
6 Bad Girl 5:23 (UK single, #10)
Waiting 5:46
Thief Of Hearts 4:51
Words 5:56
10 Rain 5:24 (UK single, #7)
11 Why’s It So Hard 5:23
12 In This Life 6:23
13 Did You Do It? 4:54
14 Secret Garden 5:32

Inextricably linked to her notorious “SEX” book, Erotica was Madonna’s first album (since the debut) to struggle commercially. Each of its 5 UK singles made the top 10, but none of them made any great impression on the public, and none came anywhere close to adding to Madonna’s tally of Number 1s.

The LP itself was a Number 2 (some would say in more ways than one), not what would normally have been expected from a new studio set, especially in the wake of the all-conquering Immaculate Collection retrospective (I’m Breathless also only made #2, but that was because it was…I’m Breathless, basically, and not a “proper” album).

It’s not meant to be a perverse choice, and I’ve never been that fussed with Madonna and her attempts to be provocative. I always found her terribly unsexy, and preferred to focus on the music. Which in the case of Erotica, was surprisingly strong. The lead single/title cut was a very so-so exploration of kinkiness, taking up where Justify My Love left off, but lacking much of that track’s sonic intrigue and atmosphere. Deeper & Deeper and Bad Girl were similarly competent but unexciting to me, and it’s among the other tracks that my real and lasting passion for Erotica is to be found.

The run from Waiting to In This Life is frankly flawless, my favourite sequence on a Madonna album anywhere. Bye Bye Baby carries over some of the Breathless Mahoney spirit, while the cover of Fever may be widely unloved but I personally like it a lot. Things are spoiled a little by the unncessary Did You Do It?, but Secret Garden ends the CD on a more suitable note.

What I love about Erotica is that it contradicts what I always expected from her albums; killer singles interspersed with some obvious filler and a couple of tracks in between the two extremes. And, given its title and associations with the SEX book, I also love how (for me) it’s often her most intelligent, articulate, and interesting record. It’s full of humanity, when I was expecting cliched S&M tedium.



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