Happy Birthday, Madonna! (My 'Erotica' Shame)
Whatever the catalyst was, it coincided with me walking through Half Price Books one Thursday night in June and the Erotica CD catching the corner of my eye. There it was, front and center on the bargain cart, priced at $3 (highway robbery). Was I ready to finally take the plunge and purchase the album, nearly 19 years after its release?
Multiple friends over the years have owned Erotica, so its not like I haven't heard it here and there throughout the past two decades. So, yeah — I bought it. And I have literally played the shit out of that trash since June. (Just check my last.fm profile — Madonna used to languish outside my Top 15 Artists, and now the broad is #7 with over 1,000 plays).
Oh, Erotica. It's dated. It's tacky. It's unintentionally hilarious: "Little Susie Ho-maker"?; the wan, ultra-thin vocals on "Words"; "And the next time you want pussy, just look in the mirror, baby"?; "Where Life Begins"??!?
Let's all be honest, the Vampyre was completely phoning this album in. Talking had replaced actual singing by the early '90s. She was filling her schedule with the movie roles, the Sex book, the banging. Go back and listen to her vocal range on Madonna and Like A Virgin. And then listen to Erotica followed by Ray Of Light. (Yeah, I know — she'd had the vocal lessons for Evita by then.) In addition to the aural shortcomings, she just comes off like a bitter drag queen on these bitchy diatribes masquerading as songs.
And I love every second of it. A highlight: the bit in "Waiting" where she's all "it was so easy in the beginning, when you didn't feel like RUNNING from your feelings, like you are now / What happened, who do I remind you of?" Yeah, baby — Sigmund Freud, analyze this.
So big ups to the Vampyre for the trip down memory lane this summer. While I knew back in 1992 when Mandy, one of my BFFs, would play the CD repeatedly that Erotica was hardly Madonna's best album, it made me think then — and still does now — that life must have been a ball if you were a working female impersonator in New York City (or anywhere) when this album dropped.
(And, full disclosure: while I never owned Erotica in its heyday, I videotaped Madonna's appearance on Saturday Night Live that winter, plus that hour-long Kurt Loder interview that ran on MTV where she had the little hat on. And I bought a few of the singles, including "Rain.")
Happy 73rd Birthday, Madge!