Be it that Madonna, Queen of Pop™, is turning 60 in August, or that Ray Of Light just turned 20 in March, but the Little Madonnsters have just done it again and unearthed something new. Or, rather, old. (Luckily very old. We don’t need another #RebelLeak on our hands.)
On Wednesday (July 25) a compilation of snippets from a demo assembly CD version of what would eventually become Madonna’s experimental, Kabbalah-and-motherhood-inspired 1998 opus Ray Of Light hit the Internet.
In other words: panic.
From the video’s description…
“This particular assembly of songs has a more urban and R&B sound, akin to the sounds of Bedtime Stories and Something To Remember. At the time she was working once again with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and was originally going to create a Bedtime Stories 2.0, but the entire album started over from scratch after meeting and working with the final producer, William Orbit. Some of the songs were scrapped off the final album and never released, while one (“Has To Be”) was used as a bonus track in international territories and others (“Frozen,” “Sky Fits Heaven,” and “Nothing Really Matters”) were reworked into the final versions we know and love. It’s fascinating to hear these songs twenty years later and see a window into what could have been on the Ray Of Light album. Unfortunately I do not own full versions of any of these songs featured in this video and I’m only sharing the clips that I downloaded via Madonna-Infinity forums, thanks to club78boy.”
Just as the description suggests, there’s plenty to unpack here: those alternate lyrics to “Frozen” (“You understand, don’t pretend to be weak / Don’t turn away, I need you to speak“), the Bedtime Stories-esque, “Take A Bow” vibe of the unreleased “Never Love a Stranger,” “Nothing Really Matters” and “Sky Fits Heaven” in their primitive forms. The potentially-lost-classic Patrick Leonard tracks. It’s a lot to handle already!
Clearly the groundwork was already being laid for #SomethingMoreExperimental based on these demos, but it’s impressive to hear just how much Orbit would sonically shift Frozen away from the chilled-out R&B vibe of her then most recent projects towards an eventual footing in the pulsating world of electronica.
Word on the street is that the CD was recently sold on Discogs, so here’s hoping these snippets are only the beginning of a bountiful celebration, just in time for us mere mortals to ring in Madge’s birthday.
Holiday, celebrate, indeed.
Photo credit: Mario Testino