Ninety 90’s Songs: Sooner of Later, There’s More Madonna

Some artists are pervasive and expansive, spanning several mediums and occasionally garnering acclaims where none thought possible. Eventually trying her hand a movie directing, before that Madonna began in the 80’s to appear in films and continued thereafter to, bit by bit, and bra cup by bra cup infiltrate the Hollywood scene. And she always made a scene.

#68 “Sooner or Later” by Madonna. Written by famous American composer Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd, West Side Story) for the film “Dick Tracy”, in which Madonna played femme fatale Breathless Mahoney, “Sooner or Later” gave Madonna a chance to not just be in a film, but contribute to its soundtrack and ultimately perform an Oscar award-winning song.

While on the outside the song is merely a jazz/pop torch song, on the inside it is Broadway in essence, a sleazy jazzy number that Bob Fosse should have had his way with. The song is slightly out of context to the lackluster adaptation of noir figure and detective Dick Tracy and his walky-talky watch and yellow couture.  Had the film been a musical, then this song would be right at home.

The most important aspect of this song is probably its least expected. Madonna performed it live at the Academy Awards the year it won an Oscar. Why is this important? Already Madonna was the queen of pop and likely could have contained herself within the music business and found no lack of work. It was her live performance of this song that cemented her as proof of concept as a star, and eventually led her to other famous work in films and music, and Oscar awards.

The video attached is the aforementioned performance, with a sleazy strip-teasing choreography, and even a slight nervous tremor during a closeup that betrays Madonna’s anxiety about performing in front of people whom she wanted to be her peers.


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