The “Queen Of Pop” had much to shout about at the start of the 90s. A range of social and political issues were colliding with the AIDS crisis, and, if Madonna’s Erotica album represented anger at that toxic mix as much as it did her commitment to artistic experimentation, few could have blamed her. However, one song, Rain, issued as the album’s fifth single, offered some respite from the in-your-face theatricality of much that had preceded it. It was the calm after the storm, if you like.
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The song: Masterful pop balladry with plenty to say about love
This icy-cool Shep Pettibone composition is, for many, a highlight of a record which has become better understood over the years. Now regarded by fans as one of the best Madonna albums, Erotica sold well at the time, but many were distracted by the release of the notorious Sex book and its accompanying media storm. It’s only in later years that the album has been recognised as the bold step forward it represented for Madonna at the time, and in hindsight we can also acknowledge it for establishing a template for a credible creative direction later followed by artists such as Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus (that is: the dirty-pop protest album).
The layered vocals on Rain add a depth to the shimmering synths: this is masterful AOR pop balladry with plenty to say about the power of love, as distinct from the energetic energy rush of sex that it was bookended by on much of the rest of Erotica. Rain had originally been conceived for a musical version of Wuthering Heights being developed by Alek Keshishian, who had directed Madonna’s groundbreaking 1991 documentary, Truth Or Dare (aka In Bed With Madonna).