Madonna, “Rain” (1992)
For as much as early ’90s Madonna was all about the sex, she was perhaps even more about the sensuality. Sure, 1992’s Erotica had its moments, in particular “Bye Bye Baby” and the title track. But the record more acutely explored things such as the physical ecstasy of letting loose on a dance floor (the disco-riffic “Deeper And Deeper,” a slinky take on “Fever”) or the irresistible seduction of bad habits and vices (“Bad Girl”).
Perhaps the apex of Madonna’s sensual period was Erotica’s fifth single, “Rain,” which ended up peaking at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Co-written and co-produced with Shep Pettibone, the song compares rain to the idea of falling in love: Both are cleansing elements that “wash away” past heartache and pain. Appropriately, the tune’s instrumentation and arrangements mimic this purifying effect, in a New Agey sort of way. The song’s rhythmic pattern conjures the steady hum of raindrops on a roof, while the sleek, keyboard-heavy production is indebted to the downtempo electronica and tranquil trip-hop seeping out of the U.K. at the time.
Yet in Madonna’s world, even turbulent elements associated with rain (e.g., thunder) eventually clear and produce clarity and happiness. “Rain” captures this as well, notably with orchestral stabs that invokes crisp lightning bolts, and a surging bridge segue driven by what sounds like electric guitar snarls. After this brief hint of strife, the song clears up again: Madonna trills “Here comes the sun” several times, a signal that the clouds have parted, the storms are gone, and what’s left is a glorious sense of renewal.
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