full sorrow

The Power of Good-Bye

"The Power of Good-Bye" (released as double A-side single with "Little Star" in the UK) is a pop ballad written by American singer Madonna and Rick Nowels for Madonna's seventh album Ray of Light (1998). It was produced by Madonna, William Orbit and Patrick Leonard, and received a positive reception from music critics. The song was released as a single in the fall of 1998 (see 1998 in music), and although it failed to match the chart success of its predecessor "Ray of Light", which reached the top five in several countries, it reached number four in Germany, the top ten in the United Kingdom and Canada, and the top twenty in the United States, where it became Madonna's thirty-seventh top-twenty single.

Song information

"The Power of Good-Bye" is a ballad featuring numerous string instruments and an electronic music sound, with lyrics reflecting on a painful breakup. Australian music critic and friend of Madonna Molly Meldrum claimed the lyrics were about Sean Penn. The version that was released as a single and included on the album Ray of Light is quite different from the original demo version. In the summer of 2002, demos recorded during the Ray of Light recording sessions were leaked to the Internet, with one of the demos being for "The Power of Good-Bye". The demo version features a stronger rhythm and more drum and bass. The lyrics are also different, including the sentence 'Walk away' instead of 'Do you wanna go higher' (in the album's booklet, the lyrics 'Walk away' were never changed) and the final message: 'God help me, learn to say goodbye, please give me the power of goodbye'.

In the UK, "The Power of Good-Bye" was released as a double A-side with "Little Star", a track from Ray of Light. In the rest of Europe, the song was included on the major single releases as a B-side. Also notable is that the European releases included several experimental remixes of the song by Luke Slater plus one remix by Dallas Austin, who previously worked with Madonna on her Bedtime Stories (1994) album.

Chart performance

In the United Kingdom, the song debuted at number six and stayed on the singles chart for nine weeks, selling 175,095 copies. Elsewhere the song was also a success, usually charting within the top twenty. Among the countries where the song charted in the top twenty are Canada, Germany, Japan and the United States (just missing the top-ten, peaking at number eleven).

The success of the song brought Ray of Light back into the top ten on many album charts - more than seven months after its release. The success of the single was also influenced by Madonna's one month European promotional tour, which took her across Europe promoting the album and the song on a variety of music television shows.

Music video

The music video for "The Power of Good-Bye" was directed by Matthew Rolston, and was filmed from August 8-10, 1998 at Silvertop House in Los Angeles, California and Malibu Beach (although many believed the location to be the coast of Ireland.) In the aquatic green-themed video, Madonna says goodbye to her lover (played by Goran Višnjić). Throughout the video Madonna is shown playing chess with her lover, the chess will decide the future of the couple, but Madonna decides to stop playing, leaving the relationship. It ends with Madonna walking on to the beach, into the water. The video created some controversy due to its ending. It is debatable, but many Madonna fans believe she commits suicide at the end of the video, drowning herself in the ocean. Just before the music video ends Madonna is shown on the beach again, happier than before. Therefore the drowning of her character may represent the element water, which represents rebirth. The use of water-images - as well as the use of the other three elements - was an important part of the album, with the theme appearing in songs such as "Swim".

She pays a tribute to her favorite film, Humoresque starring Joan Crawford in which she replays the scene where she walks out of her beach house and down the beach in full sorrow and tears. An old man and the dog would appear in curiosity. Although Joan Crawford ends up committing a suicide by throwing her body in the wave of ocean water, Madonna doesn't in her music video.

The chess-playing and the kissing-scene in the video were inspired by the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair. While the beach-scenes were inspired by the famous film Humoresque from 1946. The video was premiered on MTV on September 10, 1998, a few minutes before the MTV Video Music Awards show began. The video was occasionally played on The WB Network after the television show Felicity, which played the song as the background music during its TV ads. It is available on Madonna's DVD compilation 99.

The Power Of Good-bye is one of the few singles that Madonna has performed on the BBC program Top of the Pops.

  • Director: Matthew Rolston
  • Producer: Nicola Doring
  • Director of Photography: Pascal Lebegue
  • Editor: Dustin Robertston
  • Production Company: HSI Productions

Track listings and formats

US 7" vinyl (7-17160)US cassette single (9 17160-4)

  • A "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Album Version) — 4:10
  • B "Mer Girl" — 5:32US promo CD single (PRO-CD-9499-R)
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Dallas' Low End Mix) — 4:34
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Album Version) — 4:10US CD single (9 17160-2)
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Album Version) — 4:10
  • "Mer Girl" — 5:32JP Maxi-CD (WPCR-2297)AU Maxi-CD (9362 44591 2)
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" — 4:13
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Dallas' Low End Mix) — 4:34
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Luke Slater's Super Luper) — 8:45
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Luke Slater's Filtered Mix) — 6:07
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Fabien's Good God Mix) — 8:22
EU 12" vinyl (9362 44590 0)

  • A1 "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Dallas' Low End Mix) — 4:34
  • A2 "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Luke Slater's Super Luper) — 8:45
  • B1 "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Fabien's Good God Mix) — 8:22
  • B2 "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Album Version) — 4:10EU CD single (9362 17121 9)
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Album Version) — 4:10
  • "Little Star" — 5:18UK promo CD single (W459CDDJ)
  • "Little Star" — 5:18UK Maxi-CD (9362 44598 2)GR CD single (9362 44592-2)
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Album Version) — 4:10
  • "Little Star" — 5:18
  • "The Power Of Good-Bye" (Dallas' Low End Mix) — 4:34

Official versions

  • Album Version (4:10)
  • Dallas' Low End Mix (4:34)
  • Luke Slater's Super Luper (8:45)
  • Luke Slater's Filtered Mix (6:07)
  • Fabien's Good God Mix (8:22)

Charts and certifications

Chart (1998) Peak
Australia ARIA Singles Chart 33
Austrian Singles Chart 4
Belgian Flemmish Ultratop 50 31
Belgian Wallonie Ultratop 40 20
Canadian Singles Chart 6
Dutch Top 40 7
Eurochart Hot 100 Singles 2
Finish Singles Chart 4
French SNEP Singles Chart 21
German Singles Chart 4
Irish Singles Chart 23
Japanese Oricon International Singles 7
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart 25
Swedish Singles Chart 3
Swiss Singles Chart 8
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 11
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 14
U.S. ARC Weekly Top 40 5
UK Singles Chart 6
Country Certification Sales/Shipments
Austria Gold 20,000
Germany Gold 250,000
Sweden Gold 20,000


  • link Last accessed on Feb. 27, 2006. - US chart positions.
  • MoCaW: Madonna on Charts around the World. link Last accessed on Feb. 27, 2006. - Worldwide chart positions and certifications.
  • Enlace Madonna link Last accessed on Feb. 27, 2006. - Release and music video information.

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