In the original version of the world, I was planning on writing a big post about Madonna’s 1992 album Erotica, which turns 20 tomorrow. For all of my good intentions, it never happened. Fortunately, everything I would have said was written by my friend Stephen Sears and he says it so much better than I ever could have, even if I’d had a year to prepare the post. Instead, please go read his article ‘Madonna’s Erotica Turns 20′ over at Idolator. It is so good that I really don’t even have words for it.
I’ve written a lot about Erotica over the years, and really, does the world really need my take on Erotica when plenty of other people will have so much more to say? It’s still one of my favorite Madonna albums, one that was unfairly lumped in with her dodgy Sex book and hideous movie, Body of Evidence. For my money, I probably still enjoy Confessions on a Dance Floor slightly more, but Erotica never fails to take me back. Rolling Stone, in a classic review, famously said “it took Madonna ten years, but she finally made the record everyone has accused her of making all along.” It is icy cold and stand-offish, but it is perfect for autumn days. As Steve says in his write-up, it couldn’t be anymore different than Madonna’s summer single “This Used To Be My Playground,” a curve ball that I will always think was meant to deliberately throw us all off the path of of what Erotica would ultimately be like.
I was pleased as punch to finally obtain Erotica on vinyl this summer via Borderline Music in Chicago. Some albums really are meant to be heard on vinyl and this is one of them. I have it playing this morning while I write this and it makes me feel 20 years old again, alone in my dorm room. At the time, I couldn’t help but wish that the 80s Madonna would show up on Erotica (she makes a fleeting appearance on “Deeper & Deeper), but ultimately, I had to learn to accept Madonna on her terms. She demands no less from her fans. It’s not always easy (see 2008’s Hard Candy) but for those of us with Madonna in our DNA, we really don’t have any other choice.
Understanding Erotica is a demanding task, but completely worth it if you take the time to try. So give it up and do as I say because you know you want to.
As a postscript, I found this while doing a Google search of images of Erotica. If there was ever a song that didn’t need sheet music produced for it, it’s likely “Erotica.”