Wednesday, April 19, 2023

"Oh Father" by Madonna

Song#:  4105
Date:  11/11/1989
Debut:  55
Peak:  20
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  By this point in time Madonna's Like a Prayer album had reached the double platinum mark and was on its way to adding another million to that total. It got there thanks to the #1 title track and a pair of #2s including "Cherish." To keep the ball rolling, this fourth single was released from the LP. Although it debuted near the halfway point on the Pop chart, the tune didn't catch fire like the previous singles and it would halt at #20. It would be Madonna's first single to not reach the Top 10 since her first Pop chart song, '83s "Holiday" (#16). The song also famously ended her run of 17 consecutive Pop Top 10 hits. Luckily, the album's next single, "Keep It Together," would kick off another run of Top 10s for Madonna. The track would reach #7 and go gold. It would be the last single released from the LP, which over time would eventually reach the 4x platinum mark.

ReduxReview:  After three upbeat singles, I'm sure Madonna wanted to take the tempo down a tidge for single number four. The problem was that the LP didn't really have a single-worthy ballad. Three were on the album, "Promise to Try," "Oh Father," and "Spanish Eyes." The first two were very personal songs that were not typical pop radio fare. The third one was a mid-tempo effort with lyrics that have been interpreted as being about AIDS. So yeah. None of them were hits waiting in the wings. According to Madonna-lore, it seems "Spanish Eyes" might have been her single selection and out of the three, it would have been the better candidate. Had it been released, I think Madonna's popularity might have been enough to make it crack the Pop Top 10. But due to the influence of someone else (see below), "Oh Father" got released instead. Bad choice. As an album track, I think it was a wonderful song. Very personal and moving with a vulnerable vocal from Madonna. As a single? Hell no. I mean, imagine driving down the road with your windows down on a beautiful, happy, sunny day and then this tune comes on the radio. Nope! Switch! It was so obviously the wrong choice for a single and it rightfully stopped Madonna's run of Top 10s. Ah well. It was bound to happen sometime. She made up for it the next year in spades with "Vogue." For the most part, critics and polls will either put Like a Prayer or Ray of Light at the top of the list of best Madonna albums. I admit that I waffle between the two for the top spot. Both really pushed Madonna's artistic side. I do think Ray of Light is a more consistent listen front to back, but then Like a Prayer features some classic singles along with a few unusual tracks like the baroque pop of "Dear Jessie" and the blistering Sean Penn inspired "Till Death Do Us Part." Really, you can't go wrong with either of them.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) According to a 2009 interview with this song's video director David Fincher that appeared in The Guardian, he apparently talked Madonna into releasing "Oh Father" as a single. It seems Madonna may have had another song in mind (most likely "Spanish Eyes," which ended up being the b-side), but Fincher wanted to do a video for "Oh Father" and convinced Madonna to push it out. The song was considered a flop and the video pretty much ignored. Of course Madonna was not pleased and let Fincher know. Around the same time she needed a video done in short order for an upcoming single. Madonna then basically cornered Fincher and told him he needed to come up with a video for the song pronto to make up for his flub. Fincher did and the final result was the iconic video for Madonna's #1 hit "Vogue."  2) After this single, Madonna would start up a new string of Pop Top 10 hits. She would grab eight consecutive Top 10s, which included the #1s "Vogue," "Justify My Love," and "This Used to Be My Playground." After that streak, Madonna's singles would be more hit or miss, yet between 1994 and 2012, she would rack up an additional 13 Pop Top 10s including what would be the biggest hit of her career, '94's "Take a Bow." That song would spend seven weeks at #1. Along the way, all of Madonna's studio albums to-date (save for her self-titled debut) have hit the Top 3. Three soundtrack albums and five compilations would also make the Top 10. Madonna would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.


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