Last night while I was doing the dishes, I was listening to my Old Favorites playlist and the Madonna oldie “Causing A Commotion” came up. It’s one of those huge Madonna hits that I think has kind of been forgotten about. Even as an uber-Madonna fan, I still forget about it. But I really think it deserves to be revisited and remembered as one of her classic songs, even if it was a reject from the True Blue sessions.
The first time I heard the song, I didn’t even know what it was. MTV was broadcasting a performance from Madonna’s Who’s That Girl tour via satellite from Miami. The song hadn’t even been released yet, so no one knew it. The only lines I recognized were “get into the groove” which made me think that maybe it was “Into The Groove” but the words were all wrong and, well, clearly it wasn’t “Into The Groove.” I can’t even remember if they told us that night what the name of the song was – they must have because I would imagine they wanted all the fans tuned in that night to know what they were listening to. When Madonna got around to releasing it as a single, I remember being very concerned that it would break her streak of top 10 hits (I am now convinced I lived a charmed life if that was something I wasted time worrying about.) That worrying was for naught because it was one of Madonna’s many songs to stall out at #2 on the Billboard chart, this time blocked by Michael Jackson’s “Bad.”
There was a girl I knew in high school who really latched on to the phrase “causing a commotion.” I remember she signed my yearbook with some turn of the phrase like “U will B Causing a Commotion this Year!” If I recall correctly, I think she used that same phrase when she wrote on the back of the senior picture she gave me. It makes me think that maybe she couldn’t think of anything to write and just resorted to something safe. My Madonna fandom was pretty legendary in my high school so it was always pretty easy to invoke her name on things like that. Even then, I wore my fandom on my sleeve.
While the success of the song owes a lot to Stephen Bray’s production, what makes “Causing A Commotion” so fantastic is the bridge. Most of Madonna’s most memorable songs have amazing bridges (“Like A Prayer”, and while I wouldn’t quite qualify “Causing A Commotion”‘s bridge as “amazing” it more than gets the job done. The simplicity of the lyrics belies how deftly the bridge brings the whole song together.
I hope you find what you’re looking for
Is it mine? Walk through that door
We’re wasting time, make up your mind
And get into the groove.
Madonna hasn’t performed it live in nearly 25 years – wouldn’t THAT be a trip to see her perform it live now? Somehow, I don’t see her trotting it out now as she probably considers it to be one of her “stupid songs.” The first bootleg live Madonna CD I ever purchased was “Sexual Exposure” – a recording of the Blond Ambition Tour in London that was simulcast on radio. It was a fairly good performance as her voice hadn’t been shredded beyond belief like it was by the time she got to the end of the tour, but for some reason or another, the recording was slowed down just enough to be noticeable. I always referred to it as the geriatric live remix. A friend of mine at the time cleverly changed the lyrics of “Causing A Commotion” from “if we got together/we’d be causing a commotion” to “wow, she is singing this song/oh, in way slow-motion.” It was the truth.
A couple summers ago, this bootleg mash-up of “Causing A Commotion” with Chromeo’s “Night By Night” appeared and it got significant play on my iPod.
I’ll close today with the live version of “Causing A Commotion” from the Blond Ambition Tour – not the version I mentioned earlier, but rather, from Yokohama, Japan. Even though her vocals are not the greatest, I almost prefer it to her enhanced live vocals these days.
Go forth and cause a commotion.