Erotica (album)

Erotica is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Madonna, released on October 20, 1992 by Maverick Records. The album was released simultaneously with Madonna's first book publication, Sex. The RIAA certified it Gold, Platinum & Double Platinum on January 6th 1993, recognising two million shipments throughout America. The album has went onto sell more than five million copies worldwide.

Album information

Erotica is a concept album about sexuality and relationships. Each track explores a different facet of sexuality, usually involving sexual relationships. Lyrically, the album does not tie sex and sexual relationships with the traditional ideals of romance. A dance record by all accounts, the album showcases hip hop and jazz-affected club production from co-producers Shep Pettibone and André Betts. It is interesting to note that the song "In This Life" is based on George Gershwin's Prelude No. 2.

Madonna's intentions were that the album would be an accompaniment to her book Sex, which share the same cover photograph - a colored reverse negative of Madonna's face done à la Andy Warhol, from whom Madonna found much inspiration during her so-called "Erotica period" (for example, her "Erotica" and "Deeper and Deeper" videos were shot in near identical style to many of Warhol's films, with Madonna paying obvious homage to Edie Sedgwick in the latter). The photos included in the album's liner notes also come from the Steven Meisel Studio photographs shot for the Sex book.

The album is Madonna's first album to bear a "Parental Advisory" label (the only other albums to do so being 2003's American Life and 2007's live concert album, The Confessions Tour). A separate "clean" version was released, the only difference being the omission of the sexually explicit "Did You Do It?".

Originally, "Bad Girl" was planned as the second single from the album with an X-rated video to match the '"Erotica" single, but it was changed due to the backlash of the Sex book and instead it was released as the third single. Madonna performed "Erotica", "Fever", "Bye Bye Baby", "Deeper And Deeper", "Rain", "Why's It So Hard" and "In This Life" on her 1993 The Girlie Show Tour.

Early versions of some of the songs on the album, as well as demo versions of songs that were not included, were included in The Rain Tapes - a collection of songs registered during the album development stage.

Original Artwork

Originally, the album was to feature completely different artwork. Warner Bros. Records refused to use it, as it was too explicit. The original image is now seen in the final inlay sleeve of the album; Madonna licking a whip.

The final image used is identical to the Sex book foil cover; if you place the CD on the cover it is the same size and fits perfectly. Up until near the release date, the finished artwork did not include any writing on the cover. At the last minute a "Madonna" font sticker was added to the bottom right corner using the same font as the "Bad Girl" single.

The completed track listing was not what Madonna originally had planned, if the Maverick Records press information is to be believed:

  1. "Erotica"
  2. "Waiting"
  3. "Rain"
  4. "Deeper and Deeper"
  5. "Thief of Hearts"
  6. "Bad Girl"
  7. "Why's It So Hard"
  8. "Where Life Begins"
  9. "In This Life"
  10. "Words"
  11. "Bye Bye Baby"
  12. "Secret Garden"
  13. "Goodbye to Innocence"
  14. "Fever".

"Did You Do It?" does not appear and "Goodbye to Innocence" was included on the various artists compilation, Just Say Roe. The catalogue number for this track listing is the Parental Advisory version.

Track listing

# Title Composers Production credits Time
01 "Erotica" 1 3 Madonna, Shep Pettibone, Anthony Shimkin Madonna, Shep Pettibone 5:17
02 "Fever" Eddie Cooley, John Davenport Madonna, Shep Pettibone 5:00
03 "Bye Bye Baby" 1 Madonna, Shep Pettibone, Anthony Shimkin Madonna, Shep Pettibone 3:56
04 "Deeper and Deeper" Madonna, Shep Pettibone, Anthony Shimkin Madonna, Shep Pettibone 5:33
05 "Where Life Begins" Madonna, André Betts Madonna, André Betts 5:57
06 "Bad Girl" 1 Madonna, Shep Pettibone, Anthony Shimkin Madonna, Shep Pettibone 5:21
07 "Waiting" Madonna, André Betts Madonna, André Betts 5:46
08 "Thief of Hearts" 1 Madonna, Shep Pettibone, Anthony Shimkin Madonna, Shep Pettibone 4:51
09 "Words" 1 Madonna, Shep Pettibone, Anthony Shimkin Madonna, Shep Pettibone 5:55
10 "Rain" Madonna, Shep Pettibone Madonna, Shep Pettibone 5:24
11 "Why's It So Hard"1 Madonna, Shep Pettibone, Anthony Shimkin Madonna, Shep Pettibone 5:23
12 "In This Life" Madonna, Shep Pettibone Madonna, Shep Pettibone 6:23
13 "Did You Do It?" 2 Madonna, Shep Pettibone, André Betts Madonna, André Betts 4:54
14 "Secret Garden" Madonna, André Betts Madonna, André Betts 5:32

1 ASCAP has officially added Anthony Shimkin as co-writer to these songs. Inlay notes to the album do not include this.
2 Performed by Madonna, Mark Goodman and Dave Murphy. Available only on the Parental Advisory version of the album, omitted from the clean version. Shep Pettibone has been officially added by BMI as co-writer of this song.
3 Contains a sample of "Jungle Boogie", performed by Kool and the Gang.

The Rain Tapes

The Rain Tapes refers to a collection of songs recorded by Madonna in late 1991 and early 1992, during the development of the Erotica album. The songs were written by Madonna, Shep Pettibone and Tony Shimkin, and produced by Madonna and Pettibone. Some of the songs were early versions of songs used on the Erotica album, while others remain unreleased Madonna songs. The tapes are sometimes referred to as the "Shep Pettibone sessions" but are usually referred to as The Rain Tapes. The songs leaked onto the Internet during 2007 and have become widely avaliable for download. The songs include rough and demo versions for "Rain", "Erotica", "Words", "Thief Of Hearts", "Deeper And Deeper", "Bad Girl" and "Bye Bye Baby". Also included in the recordings are the songs "Goodbye To Innocence", "Shame", "You Are The One" and "Jitterbug".


While Madonna had always expressed her sexuality suggestively through her art -- primarily through music and promotional music videos -- she was never as explicit as she had been during the Erotica period of her career. Erotica was one of a trio of sexually oriented mainstream projects released by Madonna or with her involvement within a span of several months. Released nearly simultaneously with Erotica was the coffee table book Sex, which featured the singer in photographs depicting simulations of sexual acts and BDSM. Less than four months later, a poorly received film titled Body of Evidence was released to theaters, featuring Madonna fully nude and in scenes engaged in simulated sexual acts.

In Malaysia, Erotica was the first Madonna album banned for homosexual-related content (the second would be live album The Confessions Tour for the crucifixion scene during "Live to Tell"). At the same time, SEX was also banned from bookstores around the country. In spite of this, her singles "Rain" and "Deeper and Deeper" were significant airplay hits.

Critical reception

The controversial sexuality presented to the mainstream by Madonna during the Erotica period was not well received. It was widely taken down and Madonna had always been considered an expert at "pushing buttons", but many thought she had greatly misstepped here. At the time of Erotica's release, she was widely condemned in the media for having pushed the limits of sexuality too far and was no longer considered acceptably suggestive, but vulgar and raunchy.

Interestingly, the sexual imagery Madonna put forward in both Erotica and Sex was widely criticized for not actually being erotic, but sterile and calculating. On the subject, Madonna said to CNN's Larry King on January 19, 1999, "I didn't write a book about sex. I wrote a book that -- I mean I published a book that basically was sort of a -- an ironic tongue-in-cheek, sticking-my-tongue-out-at-society photo essay..."

Reviews of Erotica that concentrated only on the musical aspect of the album were mostly positive; Rolling Stone hailed the album as one of Madonna's best. In hindsight, both fans and critics have warmed to the album over the years, with some even considering it to be among her best work. In its 15th anniversary review of the album, Slant Magazine called it "Madonna at her most important, at her most relevant.


# Title Date
01 "Erotica" September 1992
02 "Deeper and Deeper" November 1992 (UK) / December 1992 (US)
03 "Bad Girl" February 1993
04 "Fever" March 1993 (UK, France, Italy and Australia)
05 "Rain" July 1993
06 "Bye Bye Baby" September 1993 (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Italy)

Commercial reception

The surrounding massive media and critical backlash hurt Erotica's sales. While sales were initially brisk, the album didn't go through the roof as many predicted. It debuted at #2 in the Billboard 200 shifting 167,000 in the first week. It was held off from reaching the top spot by Garth Brooks's blockbuster album The Chase. In the UK the album also debuted at #2, there blocked by Simple Minds's Glittering Prize 81/92. The album stalled over the long-term, selling two million copies each in the USA, and Europe. While 2 million is impressive by any standard, it was not up to par with Madonna's other successful records. Erotica also became the first album since her debut to yield no number one hits in either the UK or the USA, with the title track reaching #3, being the highest charting single from the album. In fact, the #36 Billboard Hot 100 peak of "Bad Girl" made it the first Madonna single to fail to reach the U.S. top 20 after 29 consecutive releases stretching back to "Holiday" in 1983 had done so. Nonetheless, the album produced six singles and was well received on the dance club circuit. To date, "Erotica" has shifted more than 5 million units globally.


Charts Provider(s) Peak
Certification Sales/Shipments
Australian ARIA Albums Chart ARIA 1 3× platinum 210,000
Austrian Albums Chart IFPI 10 Gold 25,000
Brazilian Albums Chart ABPD n/a Gold 100,000
Canadian Albums Chart CRIA/Nielsen SoundScan n/a 2× platinum 200,000
Dutch Albums Chart NVPI/Megacharts n/a Gold 35,000
German Albums Chart IFPI/Media Control 5 Platinum 500,000
Norwegian Albums Chart IFPI/VG Nett 6
Swedish Albums Chart GLF 6
Swiss Albums Chart IFPI 5 Gold 25,000
UK Albums Chart BPI/The Official UK Charts Company 2 2× platinum 600,000
U.S. Billboard 200 RIAA/Billboard 2 2× platinum 1.9 million




  • Producers: Madonna, André Betts, Shep Pettibone
  • Engineers: Mike Farrell, Robin Hancock, George Karras, P. Dennis Mitchell, Shep Pettibone, Tony Shimkin
  • Assistant engineer: Mark Goodman
  • Mixing: Goh Hotoda, George Karras
  • Mastering: Ted Jensen
  • Sequencing: Shep Pettibone, Tony Shimkin
  • Programming: Joe Moskowitz, Shep Pettibone, Sander Selover
  • Drum programming: Andre Betts, Tony Shimkin
  • String arrangements: Jeremy Lubbock
  • Contractor: Emile Charlap
  • Art direction: Siung Fat Tjia
  • Design: Siung Fat Tjia
  • Photography: Steven Meisel


External links

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