Album Review: Madonna – “Something To Remember”

Madonna released the Something to Remember greatest hits album on November 7, 1995. The concept behind this greatest hits package was that it only featured ballads, rather than being a set that encompassed all of Madonna’s hits. Of the fourteen songs on the album, two were recorded specifically for this release, one was from a tribute album Madonna had contributed to earlier that year, one was a remix of one of the new songs, and the last track was a new mix of a non-single that originally came from the Like a Virgin album. I bought this album when it originally came out, and at that time, there was no back insert included. In order to know what songs were on the disc and in what order, you had to take out the CD booklet; that was the one major drawback of this release for me. Later pressings of the album would rectify this flaw.

The album opens with “I Want You,” a cover of a song originally done by Marvin Gaye. Madonna collaborated with Massive Attack from this track, which originally appeared on Inner City Blues: The Music of Marvin Gaye. This is the longest song on the album, and the length is a little bit of a detriment, especially with the plodding sound of the music. It’s not necessarily a bad version of “I Want You,” but I think it would have been stronger if it was a little shorter in length.

Next is “I’ll Remember,” which was originally released on the soundtrack for the 1994 film, With Honors; this song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This is followed by “Take a Bow,” which was the second single from Madonna’s 1994 album, Bedtime Story. This song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The next song on Something to Remember is “You’ll See,” which was one of the two new songs specifically recorded for the album. The song was released as the first single from the album, and it peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This particular ballad is definitely a breakup song, and it tells of someone who has moved on from a relationship that included deception on the part of the other person. Sonically, this song has a “heavy” sound to it, which really adds to the impact of the lyrics. One thing I really like about the composition of this song is how it builds in intensity.

This is followed by “Crazy for You,” which was originally released on the soundtrack for the 1985 film, Vision Quest. This song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The next song on this collection is “This Used to Be My Playground,” which was the theme song from the 1992 film, A League of Their Own; this song also peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. “Live to Tell” is the next song on the album, which was recorded for the film At Short Range, and then was included on Madonna’s True Blue album. This is another song Madonna took to number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

The next song is a remix of “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” which is a cover of a Rose Royce song that Madonna recorded for her 1984 album, Like a Virgin. However, when Madonna’s label decided to include this song on Something to Remember, it was decided to put on a remixed version instead of the original track. Personally, I feel that this remix weakens the song; the new instrumentation diminishes Madonna’s powerful vocal performance, especially at the end of the song. For whatever reason, this remix was promoted as a single from Something to Remember; however, the single only peaked at number seventy-eight on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Something to Remember,” the title song for the collection, originally came from the I’m Breathless album Madonna released in 1990; however, this song was never actually released as single from that album. This is followed by “Forbidden Love,” which is from the Bedtime Stories album. This is another song on this greatest hits album that was never actually released as a single.

“One More Chance” is the second new song recorded specifically for this release. It’s a very simple song that features Madonna and stripped back instrumentation. Lyrically, the song is about wanting another chance for a relationship. While this was released as a single in foreign markets, it was not released in the United States. Personally, I feel this song would have fared better on the charts than the remix of “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.”

“Rain” is next, and it originally came from Madonna’s 1992 album, Erotica; this song peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Oh Father” originally comes from Madonna’s 1989 album, Like a Prayer; this song peaked at number twenty on the Billboard singles chart. Something to Remember closes with an orchestral mix of “I Want You.” Personally, I prefer this version of “I Want You”; removing the plodding instrumentation and replacing it with an orchestral backing track really adds something to this song. If I listen to “I Want You,” I tend to listen to this mix over the original.

Overall, Something to Remember is a nice set, especially for listeners who enjoy Madonna’s ballads. However, I’ve never really understood the sequencing of the album. It’s always kind of felt like the songs were randomly thrown together onto the set, except for “I Want You,” which was used to bookend the release. Even with the sequencing, I would still recommend Something to Remember as a release to own if a listener enjoys Madonna and her ballads.

I wrote this review after listening to a copy of Something to Remember that I purchased.

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