HOLLYWOOD—Everyone knows that Madonna’s song “Like A Prayer,” went to number one back in 1989. Madonna’s long-time collaborator Patrick Leonard posted several demos from the “Like A Prayer” album online, in an attempt to thwart an auction of the star’s personal effects. Leonard uploaded the first versions of “Like A Prayer,” and “Cherish,” recorded on the day they were written.
The tapes are being sold by the star’s former art adviser Darlene Lutz. He hopes to stop fans bidding on cassettes of Madonna’s unreleased recordings at an auction this week. Lutz is also auctioning intimate personal items including Madonna’s break-up letter from rapper Tupac Shakur, a hairbrush with strands of her hair and “stage-worn” La Perla bra.
Madonna tried to stop the auction, filing an emergency court order in 2017, saying she had no idea Lutz was in possession of the items. However, a Manhattan judge ruled earlier this month that the sale could go ahead. The auction is due to end on July 26. Current bids on Madonna’s unreleased music have reached $1,283 for the “Like A Prayer” demos, $446 for an original recording of “Justify My Love” and $963 for a cassette with an early configuration of the setlist for star’s 1990 Blond Ambition tour.
Although, Madonna couldn’t stop the auction, Leonard has taken matters into his own hands. “I hope these posts stop the sale of that cassette at auction,” he wrote on YouTube. “Not cool at all that someone would sell it. Not theirs to sell.”
The “Like A Prayer” demo was recorded on “the day it was written,” he added. It lacks the finished version’s gospel choir and electric guitars, but the lyrics and melody are identical. Madonna also provides some celestial background vocals that were eventually erased from the track. “Cherish” retains its breezy pop shuffle, even without the harmonica solo and a capella breakdown that elevate the released version into a pop classic. Leonard also shared an unreleased song, Angels With Dirty Faces, a lightweight, mid-tempo song which has more in common with Madonna’s water-treading “Who’s That Girl” soundtrack than the confessional pop of “Like A Prayer.”
The title was taken from a 1938 James Cagney Movie – much like the previous Madonna song White Heat. Leonard previously described the track as one “Madonna and I wrote for the [Like a Prayer] album and ultimately must have decided that wasn’t good enough.”
Earlier this month, Leonard also shared images of a 10-track demo cassette from the “Like A Prayer” sessions, which is presumably the source of the latest release. It included working versions of “Dear Jessie” and “Promise To Try” (then called Little Girl), alongside others. “They’re first day versions, so the day we wrote them,” Leonard said of the songs. “They have a lead vocal and some backgrounds. Not produced. Without live players and strings and choirs etc. We worked from these versions and they became the records.” The cassette also included the unreleased instrumentals Bossa Nova and 20s Jazz, which Leonard described as “sparks that made no fire”.
So why was Madonna snubbed at the VMAs this year? The Queen of Pop is definitely a staple at the VMAs with some of the most iconic moments. Not only that, but she released six videos this year in support of Madame X. Of those “God Control,” a powerful and shocking demand for gun reform, is the clear highlight. It will go down as one of the most unforgettable releases of the year, but it wasn’t nominated for a single award.
Surely, it should have at least been up for Video For Good if not Video Of The Year. To be fair, the Jonas Åkerlund-directed opus may have come a little late to be recognized. It dropped at the very end of last month. But if so that doesn’t excuse the equally offensive snub of “Medellín.” This year’s show will take place on August 26, with a star-studded show. Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift lead the field of nominees with 10 nods a piece. Others in the running include Jonas Brothers, BTS, Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello. A very impressive list.
Speaking of people who have contributed to VMAs history, where the heck is Miley Cyrus? “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart,” her Ashley O. video “On A Roll” and “Mother’s Daughter” are all blockbusters that deserved some love. And it is puzzling to say the least that last year’s Video Vanguard Award recipient Jennifer Lopez didn’t make any of the categories. Her extravagant and visually stunning “Medicine” should at least be up for Best Pop.
She didn’t slay last year’s performance to be totally forgotten. Cardi B had just as big of an impact on the 2018 VMAs. She went into the show with 12 nominations to her name and left with multiple wins. This year she’s up for four between “Money,” “Taki Taki” and “Please Me.” But where is “Press”? Also, “Money” should be represented beyond just Best Hip-Hop Video.
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