Madonna’s Unreleased Erotica Tracks Are the Missing Pieces to What Could Have Been a Hit Album

Even if you weren’t coherent in 1992, you find out sooner or later that Erotica was one of Madonna’s most commercially and critically panned albums (second only to American Life). Whether this was due to overexposure (she also released the Sex book and an erotic thriller called Body of Evidence around the same time) or a public fetish for destroying their idols, Erotica was unjustly condemned as it is by far one of M’s best musical offerings.

Album cover for Erotica
Album cover for Erotica
The recent leak of two previously unreleased tracks, “Shame” and “You Are The One,” reveal more of Madonna’s musical creativity at this time. The radio-friendliness of these tracks also leaves one to wonder if their presence on the album might have helped bolster its success.
Madonna in her Dita Parlo persona
Madonna in her Dita Parlo persona
Both songs were produced by Shep Pettibone, easily one of Madonna’s best collaborators (see: “Vogue”), and possess a more mainstream vibe than many of the other tracks on Erotica (e.g. “Where Life Begins,” a song about getting eaten out, and “In This Life,” a song about AIDS). During this particular era, Madonna showed a fondness for repetition in her songs–which most people call a chorus, but M tended to take it to the next level with reciting the same verse. Some might call this a lack of innovation, but I call it a form of genius, as it is a means of getting a song stuck in the heads of the masses. This method applies particularly to “Shame” and “You Are The One,” written by Anthony Shimkin, who also wrote lyrics for “Bye Bye Baby” and “Bad Girl.” Even if these tracks are only rough cuts, their addition to Erotica could have proven vital in promoting its mainstream appeal. But alas, perhaps Madonna was doomed to receive a scathing public opinion until the 90s drew to a close with Ray of Light. Listen to what might have been here.