Madonna could tell which way the wind was blowing. For the longest time, this was her superpower. Part of the reason that Madonna maintained her place near the top of the hierarchy for so long was that she could recognize shifts in fashion and aesthetic. She could see those changes coming in real time, and she could adjust her style to meet those changes. Often, Madonna made those adjustments artfully. Sometimes, though, you just need to go out and get yourself a hit. That’s what Madonna did when she made “Take A Bow.”

Bedtime Stories, the album that Madonna released in 1994, was Madonna’s version of a clear, unambiguous commercial move, a blatant attempt to get back in the good graces of the American record-buying public. In the years before Bedtime Stories, Madonna had tested our collective patience. After she reached #1 with the soundtrack ballad “This Used To Be My Playground,” Madonna’s next few artistic statements — the Erotica album, the Sex book, the movie Body Of Evidence — all came off as try-hard attempts to be risqué. Erotica is a pretty good album, but that didn’t really matter at the time. Erotica sold half as much as Like A Prayer, Madonna’s previous album, and it yielded no chart-topping singles. That’s not a career-killing reception, but it’s not great, either.

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