Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Madonna: UK Singles 2005-2009

And so we come to what may well be the last bunch of physical Madonna singles - ever. Now signed to the Live Nation stable (not even a proper record label), and with somebody in HMV recently telling me they don’t stock many singles because “there’s no interest”, and with the likes of Mercury Records refusing to press physical singles except in “extreme circumstances”, who knows if Madonna will ever release a proper single in the UK ever again.

2005 saw the release of the excellent “Confessions On A Dance Floor”, which along with “Like A Prayer” and “Ray of Light”, sits in the top three Madonna LP’s. It’s mix of pop, dance and electro resulted in a futuristic sounding record - not bad for a 47 year old, the tabloids told us. 2008’s “Hard Candy”, simply by having to follow it up, resulted in shrugs of shoulders, but was a fairly good effort. And whilst the running order of 2009’s best-of set “Celebration” could have been better, at least the actual songs on it were pretty damn good.

As ever, all UK formats are listed below. What is interesting about many of these singles is that, with the death of the 7” now a given, Warners opted to issue a number of Madonna 2-track CD singles which offered up nothing you couldn’t get on other formats - a fascinating throw back to the way the singles market used to work (a cheap format with less songs for the floating fan), so unlike many of the CD singles from “American Life” and “Music“, which tended to be designed so you had to buy more than one, some of these singles are for the completists only.

Hung Up

Using an Abba sample to genius effect, and with a magnificent video to boot, this was an incendiary first single from “COADF”. Whilst, on the face of it, the A-side mix of the 12” was supposedly just the album version, “COADF” had - of course - been mixed on the CD edition into one long continuous song, so the lead mix on the 12” was of slightly more interest than you might have thought at the time of release. Vinyl copies of the LP featured “unedited” versions of all the songs instead, and it was the unedited mix of “Hung Up” which made the 12, so it‘s interest factor dissipated a bit for anyone who bought the vinyl edition when it was eventually released.

The same sleeve, a superb one at that, adorned all three formats. CD1 offered just two tracks, CD2 offered the same two plus a bonus mix - the easiest way to determine which is which from a distance is that different stickers were used on each CD.

Overseas editions of the single feature Madonna images on the back cover, but the back cover of the 12” was a “glitter ball” image, also used on promo copies of the single. The same image was used on the printed side of the two CD editions as well.

Hung Up (Radio Version)/(Tracy Young‘s Get Up And Dance Groove Edit) (CD1, Warner Bros W695CD1)
Hung Up (Radio Version)/(Tracy Young‘s Get Up And Dance Groove Edit)/(SDP Extended Vocal) (CD2, Warner Bros W695CD2)
Hung Up (Vinyl LP Version)/(SDP Extended Dub)/(SDP Extended Vocal)/(Tracy Young’s Get Up And Dance Groove Edit) (12”, Warner Bros W695T)


Given that a first single from an album will always be a sizeable hit, as it is “new” product, you sometimes have to go that extra mile when it comes to singles released once the LP is out. And so “Sorry” appeared on two CD’s again, but this time with alternate track listings. CD1 featured a remix of album track “Let It Will Be”, CD2 came with a stack of mixes of the A-side.

Again, the same cover was used for all three formats. CD2 came in a thick jewel case, and with all those mixes, had a running time in excess of half an hour. The 12” once again included the “vinyl LP” album mix of the a-side, and remixes that could otherwise be found on CD2, including a remix by Pet Shop Boys.

This time around, the back cover did feature a series of Madonna images, and like “Hung Up”, the CD’s offered the radio mix of the a-side.

Sorry (Radio Version)/Let It Will Be (Paper Faces Vocal Edit) (CD1, Warner Bros W703CD1)
Sorry (Radio Version)/(Man With Guitar Mix)/(PSB Maxi Mix)/(Paul Oakenfold Remix)/(Green Velvet Remix) (CD2, Warner Bros W703CD2)
Sorry (Vinyl LP Version)/(PSB Maxi Mix)/(Paul Oakenfold Remix)/(Green Velvet Remix) (12”, Warner Bros W703T)

Get Together

Another concerted effort in trying to get the hardcore fan base buying multiple formats to get this one into the charts, “Get Together” was issued on 2 CD’s again with different B-sides (both in the same cover) and a 12” picture disc, always a favourite with the collecting crowd.

The second CD, again, came in a thick jewel case, whilst the picture disc offered nothing exclusive, but did use a beautiful picture of Madonna. It came in a clear stickered sleeve, with a barcode and track listing on the sticker. Copies offered without the sticker are worth a bit less.

At around about the same time as this release hit UK stores, the US were treated to a triple 12” set (or was it actually a remix album?) called “Confessions Remixed”, offering up plenty of mixes from the three singles released in the UK so far. It included a remix of “I Love New York”, which remains to this day unavailable in the UK. The release was quite expensive to start with, so not sure how much you will need to shell out for it nowadays. All of the other tracks were available on the UK editions of the singles.

Get Together (Radio Edit)/(Jacques Lu Cont Vocal Edit) (CD1, Warner Bros W725CD1)
Get Together (Vinyl LP Version)/(Jacques Lu Cont Mix)/(Danny Howells & Dick Trevor Kinkyfunk Mix)/(Tiefschwarz Remix)/(James Holden Remix) (CD2, Warner Bros W725CD2)
Get Together (Radio Edit)/(Jacques Lu Cont Mix) (12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, Warner Bros W725T)


That rarity, a Madonna single without Madonna on the front. Although once again, a 12” picture disc was pressed, which did feature the lady on it’s a-side playing surface.

“Jump” also included another one of those Madonna oddities, the proper B-side - a track called “History”, which turned up on the CD2 and Picture Disc formats. A non chart eligible double 12” pack was released a week or so later, which included everything off the previously issued formats, plus the never before released “Axwell Remix” of the a-side. The image used on the picture disc adorned the back cover of this format.

CD2, this time around, came in a slim line jewel case, just like CD1, so the only obvious difference was the sticker that appeared on CD2, was not on CD1. Meanwhile, such was the running time of the double pack that it seemed to achieve another Madonna rarity - including pretty much every mix of the track from the US edition of the single on a UK one as well.

Jump (Vinyl LP Version)/(Extended Version) (CD1, Warner Bros W744CD1)
Jump (Radio Edit)/(Junior Sanchez’s Misshapes Mix)/History (CD2, Warner Bros W744CD2)
Jump (Jacques Lu Cont Mix)/(Extended Version)/History (12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, Warner Bros W744T)
Jump (Jacques Lu Cont Mix)/(Vinyl LP Version)/(Extended Version)/(Axwell Remix)/(Junior Sanchez’s Misshapes Mix)/History/Jump (Radio Edit) (2x12”, Warner Bros W744TX)

4 Minutes

First single from “Hard Candy”, with Timbaland doing his weird vocal thing again. “Hard Candy” was seen by the critics as an attempt to go “urban”, but with mixed results, whilst other people thought that Madonna working with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, as she did on this single, was akin to The Beatles reforming and then working with Robbie Williams and Celine Dion on a comeback single. Perhaps Madonna was doing a bit of care in the community style charity work for acts less musically adept than herself…

“4 Minutes” is a bit of a nothing single if you ask me, there were far better moments on the LP (“Heartbeat”, “Beat Goes On”, “She’s Not Me”, plus many more), but it did it’s job and gave Madonna another number 1 hit in the UK. To be honest, it came more alive on the following “Sticky And Sweet” tour where, after Madonna had spent an hour and a half pointlessly reconstructing on stage pop songs that were perfect on record and didn’t need revamping in the first place, hearing her do this one “straight” was a blessed relief.

Once again, CD1 offered only two of the three tracks that were on CD2, and came in the same sleeve. The stickers, again, were different. A 12” picture disc was also issued, housed in a clear stickered sleeve, which offered up the not-available-elsewhere-at-the-time ”Tracy Young House Radio” remix. A fourth format was then, sort of, released at a later date - a 33rpm 12” double pack with a stack of extra “new” mixes. However, this was actually a German export single, despite it being listed as a fourth UK format, and had a German style “9362” catalogue number, as opposed to the UK “W” cataloguing system. Therefore, as I am in pedantic mood, it falls outside the remit of this article. But I suggest you try and find a copy, as it tramples over all the UK ones.

4 Minutes (Album Version)/(Bob Sinclar Space Funk Remix) (CD1, Warner Bros W803CD1)
4 Minutes (Album Version)/(Bob Sinclar Space Funk Remix)/(Junkie XL Remix) (CD2, Warner Bros W803CD2)
4 Minutes (Radio Edit)/(Bob Sinclar Space Funk Edit)/(Junkie XL Remix Edit)/(Tracy Young House Radio) (12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, Warner Bros W803T)

Give It 2 Me

Now, yet again, this is more like it. A stormer of a single, quite why this wasn’t issued as the lead single off the LP, I shall never know. Important enough to be used as set closer on the tour, everything about this single is just perfect - fabulous video, fabulous cover using stills from video, pop perfection of a song. And Timbaland isn’t on it. What more do you want?

Same cover on the two CD editions, once more, with the CD1 being a bit pointless, in that both tracks are on the other formats. Again, CD2 has a different sticker to CD1. The 12” picture disc, for once, uses the same photo on it’s front, and comes in a stickered clear sleeve, and features a unique mix not on the CD formats.

By now, the single was becoming a bit of a dying art form, and I seem to recall that none of the HMV’s in Birmingham - the UK’s second city - stocked the picture disc. Shocking really. The upshot of this was that Madonna’s 24 year run of top 20 hits was about to come to an end, and I ended up buying a copy bloody miles away in HMV in Chester!

Give It 2 Me (Album Version)/(Oakenfold Extended Mix) (CD1, Warner Bros W809CD1)
Give It 2 Me (Album Version)/(Oakenfold Drums In)/(Eddie Amador House Lovers Remix) (CD2, Warner Bros W809CD2)
Give It 2 Me (Oakenfold Extended Mix)/(Oakenfold Drums In)/(Eddie Amador Remix) (12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, Warner Bros W809T)

Miles Away

A flop in Madonna terms. “Miles Away”, an ode to her soon-to-be-divorced-from husband (whoops), staggered into the top 40 at number, erm, 39. This was the first Madonna single to stall outside the top 30 since the original “Borderline” 45 from 1984.

It’s no surprise really. The single was only issued on two formats, when three was the allowed maximum, with the CD edition offering up two tracks - both of which were also on the 4-track 12” picture disc, so a bit of a pointless release really. The CD did at least come in a proper sleeve, the picture disc was in a stickered clear sleeve yet again. The cover featured no Madonna photo, but “stamps” from venues Madonna was visiting on her tour were used to fill the sleeve.

“Miles Away” was issued at the tail end of 2008, and although Madonna returned for an arena tour in 2009 - the first time she had ever done a “Part 2” leg of a tour - no more singles from “Hard Candy” were issued.

Miles Away (LP Mix)/(Thin White Duke Remix) (CD, Warner Bros W814CD)
Miles Away (LP Mix)/(Thin White Duke Remix)/(Rebirth Remix)/(Johnny Vicious Club Mix) (12“ Picture Disc in clear sleeve, Warner Bros W814T)


And so we come to the end. The title track of the career spanning 2009 Greatest Hits job, this was quite an entertaining pop romp, a lot better than you might expect to be chucked away as a bonus on a best-of record. Three formats were issued again, with the two CD editions coming in identical sleeves. CD1 was a massively pointless 1-track affair, aimed squarely at the “floating” fan. CD2 had loads of remixes, but I can’t remember what any of them sound like.

There was also a 12” picture disc, again in a clear sleeve. If my memory serves me correctly, it came in a rather flimsy sleeve, unlike the firm plastic ones the picture discs used to appear in in the 80s and 90s, another sign that the world of the singles market was starting to breathe it’s final breath. The four tracks could all be found on CD2, so it’s for completists only really.

Madonna’s UK singles are a strange bunch really - the various “strict” chart rules meant that in many instances, they offered up less than their US or European counterparts, but there were some impressive one off’s along the way - the 1991 “Crazy For You” and “Holiday” repressings, the brilliant picture discs for the likes of “Deeper And Deeper”, and some nifty non-chart eligible releases. If you are serious in trying to track down not just all of Madonna’s singles, but all of the mixes made for each, then you might need to research what else is out there, rather than just plumping for the UK pressings. I shall be looking at Madonna’s albums, starting with the earlier ones first, next year - another fascinating set of records.

Celebration (CD1, Warner Bros W819CD1)
Celebration (Album Version)/(Oakenfold Remix)/(Benny Benassi Remix)/(Oakenfold Remix Dub)/(Benny Benassi Remix Edit)/(Johnny Vicious Club Mix) (CD2, Warner Bros W819CD2)
Celebration (Album Version)/(Benny Banassi Remix)/(Oakenfold Remix)/(Oakenfold Remix Dub) (12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, Warner Bros W819T)

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