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Why did Take a Bow miss the top ten in the UK? (#16)


androiduser
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Not sure if there is a specific answer other than that the audience didn't warm up to it as it did in the US, but.... why? It was M's second song to miss the top10 in the UK since 1982 (the other one being Lucky Star... Oh Father was released in the UK for the first time in 1996 and also peaked at #16).

Secret hit #5, Bedtime Story peaked at #4 (great success considering it was such an unusual song for Madonna, but Bjork was huge in the UK so that helped for sure), Human Nature was #8... even the singles from Erotica did much better (Erotica #3, Deeper and Deeper #6,  Bad Girl 10# Fever #6, Rain #7) so we can't say it was because there was some conspiracy against Madonna because of the SEX book, and Europe wasn't so conservative anyway.... Take a Bow was such a weird anomaly in the UK chart for Madonna, especially considering it was her biggest US #1.... Interestingly, in the US it never reached #1 in the singles sales chart (I think it peaked at #4?) and it was the radio that pushed it to #1 for 7 weeks. Ironically, in the 2000s, M fans complained that the radio was working against Madonna and had too much influence on the Billboard chart.

However, comparing the singles discography of Babyface (who co-wrote and co-produced produced Take a Bow), he barely had any success in the UK (only two top50 hits), and in the US he was a huge deal where the songs he wrote and produced for other artists regularly hit the top 10, whereas only a handful did in the UK. Could this be the reason?

Or was there something different with the UK release that time and the record label didn't release all formats or something?

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The formats and tracklists were shit and the album was already out (didn't have the hype of being the first single pre-album launch).

I mean:

Regular CD:

Mi0zNjMxLmdpZg.jpeg

01. Take A Bow (Edit)

02. Take A Bow (Album Version)

03. Take A Bow (Instrumental)

Limited Edition CD:

LTc2NjIuanBlZw.jpeg

01. Take A Bow (Edit)

02. Take A Bow (Album Version)

03. Take A Bow (Instrumental)

Plus 3 postcards with black and white versions of pictures already included on the "Bedtime Stories" album, two of them the cover and the back cover:

LTk2ODguanBlZw.jpegLTczOTIuanBlZw.jpegLTU4MDcuanBlZw.jpeg

Maybe the remixes were not ready when Warner UK decided to release it for Christmas or they just didn't care to include them but anyway it was a lazy release and honestly it deserved to flop a little bit. What was the point to buy it if you already had the "Bedtime Stories" album?

Or maybe that was the point: to drive album sales. In that case it worked cause it helped the album to go from Top 20 to Top 15 positions after "Take A Bow" (its peak was #2 on its first week).

"Bedtime Stories" UK chart run pre "Take A Bow" release:

2 - 4 - 9 - 13 - 18 - 18 - 18

The following weeks after the "Take A Bow" singe release:

16 - 17 - 13 - 15 - 16 - 15 - 15

It helped the album. The single didn't do THAT badly itself, it stayed three weeks on the Top 20:

17 - 16 - 18 - 21 - 25 - 32 - 44 - 61 - 71

But of course compared to the US #1 it wasn't good enough.

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Radio was all over it in the U.S.  Sales weren't as impressive as one would think for a song that topped the chart for 7 weeks in a row.  Babyface and that R&B sound was huge then, even though Madonna hopped on that bandwagon a little late in the game.  It was definitely a song that appeased the general public.  A lot of people that I knew, who didn't like Madonna much, loved that song. I'm sure people in the UK weren't really interested in Babyface as he wasn't as successful there as he was in the U.S.

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22 minutes ago, Blue Jean said:

I assume Bedtime Story also did well because of the Brits appearance 

And all the Björk written song hype - Björk was the coolest thing in the UK at that moment. Plus great formats and tracklists:

CD 1 was a little digipack/box with an empty space to include CD 2 if you bought that other format as well (great marketing):

LmpwZWc.jpeg

01. Bedtime Story (Junior's Single Mix)

02. Secret (Allstar Mix)

03. Secret (Some Bizarre Mix)

04. Secret (Some Bizarre Single Mix)

And a little cool illustrated booklet:

LTk4MzMuanBlZw.jpeg

LTgzNTIuanBlZw.jpeg

CD 2 had all new remixes as well:

LmpwZWc.jpeg

01. Bedtime Story (Album Edit)

02. Bedtime Story (Junior's Wet Dream Mix)

03. Bedtime Story (Junior's Dreamy Drum Dub)

04. Bedtime Story (Orbital Mix)

05. Bedtime Story (Junior's Sound Factory Mix)

Also, way less competition (and less sales needed to chart in the Top 10-Top 5) in February than in December (Christmas season). "Bedtime Story" had a great debut (#4) and it stayed in the Top 10 in the second week (#8) but was already out of the Top 20 by its third week (#21) and out of the Top 40 in the fourth week (#41). So in the end it probably ended up selling less copies than "Take A Bow" in total.

"Bedtime Story" UK chart run:

4 - 8 - 21 - 41 - 61 - 61 - 62 - 72 - 80 - OUT

Re-entry: 66 - 86 - 80 - 93

In case anyone wonders if the "Bedtime Story" single helped the album... well, not that much, maybe staying in the Top 40 a little bit longer. "Bedtime Stories" (the album) was #31 in the UK the week before the "Bedtime Story" single release, and this was its chart run after:

32 - 34 - 37 - 47 - 57 - 57 - 62

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6 hours ago, Prayer said:

The formats and tracklists were shit and the album was already out (didn't have the hype of being the first single pre-album launch).

I mean:

Regular CD:

Mi0zNjMxLmdpZg.jpeg

01. Take A Bow (Edit)

02. Take A Bow (Album Version)

03. Take A Bow (Instrumental)

Limited Edition CD:

LTc2NjIuanBlZw.jpeg

01. Take A Bow (Edit)

02. Take A Bow (Album Version)

03. Take A Bow (Instrumental)

Plus 3 postcards with black and white versions of pictures already included on the "Bedtime Stories" album, two of them the cover and the back cover:

LTk2ODguanBlZw.jpegLTczOTIuanBlZw.jpegLTU4MDcuanBlZw.jpeg

Maybe the remixes were not ready when Warner UK decided to release it for Christmas or they just didn't care to include them but anyway it was a lazy release and honestly it deserved to flop a little bit. What was the point to buy it if you already had the "Bedtime Stories" album?

Or maybe that was the point: to drive album sales. In that case it worked cause it helped the album to go from Top 20 to Top 15 positions after "Take A Bow" (its peak was #2 on its first week).

"Bedtime Stories" UK chart run pre "Take A Bow" release:

2 - 4 - 9 - 13 - 18 - 18 - 18

The following weeks after the "Take A Bow" singe release:

16 - 17 - 13 - 15 - 16 - 15 - 15

It helped the album. The single didn't do THAT badly itself, it stayed three weeks on the Top 20:

17 - 16 - 18 - 21 - 25 - 32 - 44 - 61 - 71

But of course compared to the US #1 it wasn't good enough.

There was also the gorgeous 7” picture disc in the UK. 

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I remember when it came it it was pretty lost in the Christmas sales. I Remember buying it on both the UK CD's just because one was limited edition and maybe the 7" picture disc but it wasn't very exciting. It didn't get as much air play over here but it was shown a lot on MTV and VH1. I am surprised it didn't do better. It was all about the remixes at this point for me. 

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2 hours ago, Bad Boy said:

There was also the gorgeous 7” picture disc in the UK. 

True! Here it is:

LTgwNTkuanBlZw.jpeg

01. Take A Bow (Edit)

02. Take A Bow (Instrumental)

I also found "Take A Bow" total sales in the UK:

102.739 copies, as of August 2008. "Secret" had sold 117.957 copies and "Bedtime Story" 97.428.

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20080821231048/http://www.musicweek.com/story.asp?sectioncode=22&storycode=1035210

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11 hours ago, androiduser said:

comparing the singles discography of Babyface (who co-wrote and co-produced produced Take a Bow), he barely had any success in the UK (only two top50 hits), and in the US he was a huge deal where the songs he wrote and produced for other artists regularly hit the top 10, whereas only a handful did in the UK. Could this be the reason?

Same reason for most countries outside of the US.

Babyface RnB sounded VERY American / middle of the road radio / adult contemporary snooze.

Back then, I thought he sounded super cheesy, reminded me of easy listening crap à la Barbra Streisand. Not edgy enough and not touching either. In comparison, Trip hop acts (Massive Attack, Portishead...) sounded from the future and brought soulful ballads to another place. Thankfully, M ditched the Babyface/Mariah/Whitney balladry soon enough and went a little bit more experimental with I'll Remember later on.

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16 minutes ago, PlayPause said:

Same reason for most countries outside of the US.

Babyface RnB sounded VERY American / middle of the road radio / adult contemporary snooze.

 

I'm totally agree with you. 

Unpopular opinion: Take a Bow it's a beautiful song but too boring and repetitive. I always play the edit version because the album version is too long. 

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I was very disappointed with how the single was released. They didn't utilise any of the gorgeous images from the video on the front cover but instead recycled from Secret. The track listings were boring and could've done with some really great remixes by David Morales, Todd Terry and / or Frankie Knuckles who all were adept at transforming ballads into dancefloor smashes. Last, but not least, a previously unreleased track would've been a nice bonus too.

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14 hours ago, tscott said:

Babyface and that R&B sound was huge then, even though Madonna hopped on that bandwagon a little late in the game.  It was definitely a song that appeased the general public.  A lot of people that I knew, who didn't like Madonna much, loved that song. I'm sure people in the UK weren't really interested in Babyface as he wasn't as successful there as he was in the U.S.

That's it. Take a Bow charted that massive in the US because of Babyface. It sounded more like Babyface feat. Madonna than a typical Madonna song, and that's why the wide public there loved the song - especially many who actually didn't like Madonna at all. Outside of North America, Babyface's sound wasn't that popular, and that's why the song failed to achieve the same massive success there.

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14 hours ago, Prayer said:

The formats and tracklists were shit and the album was already out (didn't have the hype of being the first single pre-album launch).

 

The success of the song depends mostly about radio airplay and popularity. What contains singles and maxis is just a care for a bulk of big fans like us.... so the reason of the fail has nothing to do with that. What about US where it's a number one ? Just because it's the kind of (shitty) public for this kind of (cheesy) ballad.

Crazy for you is a number one song with a b-side that was not Madonna... 

I was buying single because of the single for most of the artist. Not because of the other tracks.

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6 minutes ago, Levon said:

That's it. Take a Bow charted so massive in the US just because of Babyface. It sounded more like Babyface feat. Madonna than a Madonna song, and that's why the wide public there loved the song - especially many who actually didn't like Madonna at all. Outside of North America, Babyface's sound wasn't that popular, and that's why it failed to achieve the same massive success there.

Sorry but I just read bullshit... Babyface feat. M... He's just singing few verses behind her... You can almost miss him...

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1 hour ago, LoveSong said:

I was very disappointed with how the single was released. They didn't utilise any of the gorgeous images from the video on the front cover but instead recycled from Secret. The track listings were boring and could've done with some really great remixes by David Morales, Todd Terry and / or Frankie Knuckles who all were adept at transforming ballads into dancefloor smashes. Last, but not least, a previously unreleased track would've been a nice bonus too.

I've been saying this since it was released. TAB might not be the easiest to translate to dance (the Thunderpuss mix for example) BUT the people you listed like Frankie and David knew how to translate R&B to a pretty classic house sound that didn't sound forced or awkward. Big missed opportunity considering how the dance remixes from that album sometimes eclipsed the album versions. I've warmed to the In Da Soul mix over the years but it was a total dud when I first heard it.

I wish I could have been in the UK in the 90's. Seeing songs like "Bedtime Story" where they deserve to be.  Looking at the UK charts in Billboard mag as a teen was like looking at another planet. I kinda miss that.

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19 minutes ago, shakeyerdix said:

The success of the song depends mostly about radio airplay and popularity. What contains singles and maxis is just a care for a bulk of big fans like us.... so the reason of the fail has nothing to do with that. What about US where it's a number one ? Just because it's the kind of (shitty) public for this kind of (cheesy) ballad.

Crazy for you is a number one song with a b-side that was not Madonna... 

I was buying single because of the single for most of the artist. Not because of the other tracks.

The success of a single back then depended on many factors, radio airplay and promotion being one of them, but the formats and the content mattered, especially in the UK and Europe where airplay didn't count for the official charts, just pure single sales. That's why artists and record companies worked hard to include especial content on each release, especially in the 90s, that being new remixes, exclusive b-sides, free posters, postcards... whatever they could. To sell the same song twice to audiences who already had it on their parent albums they needed something extra.

The difference between including a new unreleased song on a single or nothing at all was massive in the 90s. "Secret" had an exclusive non-album track. "Take A Bow" had nothing at all in the UK.

US was different. Radio was very important there. "Take A Bow" was #1 in the US cause radio played it to death, probably with a little help from Warner (payola, ahem ahem), if we're being honest.

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2 hours ago, shakeyerdix said:

Sorry but I just read bullshit... Babyface feat. M... He's just singing few verses behind her... You can almost miss him...

Take a Bow is Babyface`s signature through and through and was the sound that the youth heard at the time. He was the hottest producer (Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Bobby Brown, Shanice) having just won three Grammys (now 12) with over 20 number 1 hits. You can replace Madonna's voice rather than Babyface`s sound and production from that song.

The fact that Take a Bow had massive success mainly in the US, where Babyface and his sound were very popular, speaks for itself. Outside North America, R&B wasn't that popular yet, so they didn't have much interest in the song.

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I'd say it was purely down to the poor formats available and the December release date. I remember going into my local Tower Records back in the day, picking up the single and literarally putting it back down and walking out of the shop. There was nothing about the product that would entice me to part with my money and if I remember correctly it was priced premium as well.

Babyface wasn't known as an artist outside the U.S., but similar big ballads he produced for Boyz II Men, Toni Braxton, TLC etc all charted in the UK top 5 within the previous year, so blaming him is a weak argument.

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3 hours ago, PlayPause said:

Same reason for most countries outside of the US.

Babyface RnB sounded VERY American / middle of the road radio / adult contemporary snooze.

Back then, I thought he sounded super cheesy, reminded me of easy listening crap à la Barbra Streisand. Not edgy enough and not touching either. In comparison, Trip hop acts (Massive Attack, Portishead...) sounded from the future and brought soulful ballads to another place. Thankfully, M ditched the Babyface/Mariah/Whitney balladry soon enough and went a little bit more experimental with I'll Remember later on.

Barbra Streisand easy listening crap?  Madonna would wish to sing like Barbra has lol On the other hand, Take a Bow is so alike to Streisand´s broadway or pop records. So second LOL of the day.

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Yeah looking back at the UK Charts for DEC 94 it was top 10 in airplay, A listed at Radio One. So would have been getting played regularly. I too think it was a combination of boring formats (nothing new), General Public would have just bought the Album instead, so close to the Christmas rush, and it was competing with other Ballads at the time, one of which was Think Twice by Celine. R&B wasn't huge in the UK Charts at that time either.

Had it been held back and released mid to end Jan 95 when it was starting to ride high in the US Charts, with some additional tracks on the formats, i think it would have charted better, but may have sold less as it was always quite sales wise in Jan after Christmas.

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