Monday, 9 April 2012

Madonna - Masterpiece : Chart Performance & Single Review

MASTERPIECE is the 3rd song from MDNA to be released officially as a single.

It was originally included as the last song in the W.E. Soundtrack and later became the 11th track on Madonna's 12th studio album. iTunes carried it on podcast before it was available as album-only download for the soundtrack in January. Only in the UK was it made into a single at almost the same time MDNA went on sale.

The song is a ballad that tells of the singer's admiration for a loved one through simple metaphors. It could have very well mirrored the film W.E (which Madonna directed) as evident on the lyrics' toying with royalty and art impressionism: "An impressionistic painting, tiny particles of light. It seems to me that's what you're like, the look-but-please-don't-touch-me type." William Orbit helmed the production with contributions from Jimmy Harry. Madonna sings some lovely vocals over the stripped-down production's acoustic accompaniment. Her voice evokes emotion and smoothly delivers albeit using falsetto at some point. She doesn't feel the need to belt and over-sing the final parts thus giving the song an almost linear tone. Though this is a triumph on the down-tempo department once again, Masterpiece isn't nearly as enchanting as that of another Orbit production: her underrated 2000 melancholic ballad Time Stood Still lifted from the soundtrack of The Next Best Thing in which she starred. 

Several remixes of Masterpiece have since surfaced giving it a more radio-friendly pop groove.  If only these or any other mixes were used officially in a maxi-single release, there would have been better chart performances for the single. The unofficial Skin Bruno Expressive mix provides the '90s-pop-feel to the song with that Spanish touch while the much-later vocal mix done by Kid Capri (which appeared on the Smirnoff Nightlife Edition of MDNA) interestingly gives a diverse trip-hop treatment to the ballad.

Madonna - MASTERPIECE Remixes:

Un-Official Mixes

The overdue release of Masterpiece failed to maximize the song's hit potential. When the song was first heard in one of W.E's festival exhibitions in late 2011, it garnered mostly positive reviews from critics calling it "one of Madonna's best ballads in years, if not decades." Despite harsh remarks from Elton John and David Furnish, it went on to win the Best Original Song at the 69th Golden Globe Awards but failed to merit a nomination in the Academy Awards due to a technical fault of it being NOT "used either in the body of the film, or as the 'first music cue' in the closing credits". In the peak of it's triumph, it wasn't immediately made into a single and capitalize on it's success! It only went straight to the W.E Soundtrack and worse as album-only download. Many fans had to put off buying Masterpiece until MDNA was released and by that time, the accolades have been forgotten. The lack of strategy and indecisiveness of the management and label flushed the song's Top Ten capability down the drain (the ineptitude subsequently went on to damage the releases of the other singles GMAYL & GGW too) as the soundtrack album never charted...

Objectively, Masterpeice could have been a hit if it was released the following week it got the Golden Globe nomination. If Madonna had been very busy with the Superbowl rehearsals at that time to shoot a proper video, a simple production using clips from the movie would have helped a big deal not only for the single but for W.E itself which was getting scathing reviews despite it's laudable cinematography and costume design. Madonna has done this type of videos before with Into The Groove, Live To Tell, Who's That Girl?, This Used To Be My Playground, You Must Love Me to name a few and either the song or the film became a hit or even both! However, no sort of interesting idea surrounded Masterpiece back then and even upon it's eventual release thus it's merits never helped the film nor itself in terms of chart position. It landed to a lowly # 68 on it's UK debut despite getting A-listed with Radio2. In some countries, the song peaked mainly due to airplay.
Chart Performance for Madonna - Masterpiece Week 1

UK iTunes as of 07 April, 2012 2:17 AM
573. Masterpiece - Madonna

UK Top 100
# 68

South Korea             # 147

AIRPLAY Chart Peaks

EUROPE                   # 94
Japan                         # 85
Sweden                      # 84
Poland                       # 84
Czech Rep.                # 65
Osaka                        # 51
UK                             # 24
Russia                        # 8
Belarus                      # 2

Despite ZERO promotion for this single, it is still note-worthy that it appeared on the charts. If only there had been better strategies, the song would have lived up to it's name and became the Masterpiece that "would be impossible to move!

The verdict: Very Good Song (A) - No Video - overdue release - no promotion = Damaged Masterpiece (4/10).


Your Attitude ?


  1. Well frickin done!!! Awesome and 5 out of 5 stars! Love your blog and look forward to reading more!!!
    Dogwood Series.

    1. hey thanxxx Dogwood Series. really appreciate it!

  2. Very well said. I thought exactly the same. I cannot believe Madonna is managed by someone for 20 years whose only concern is money and not chart positions and awards. I prefer Madonna circa the Pre Oseary era when she was hungry for accomplishment and not ca$h. DzamanDzan

    1. the gameplan was obvious as soon as she left Warners. LiveNation saw the huge potential from her record-breaking tours. it was only a matter of time until the focus would be on Touring. MDNA and the singles are actually consolations to the fans who followed her through the years. WE all hope this is wrong though...

  3. Masterpiece is a beautiful and sad yet hopeful Detroit ballad-one of Madonna's best songs and performances ever! If this sonic marvel Ciccone/Peron/Simpson doesn't get a single release in her homeland-the good old US of A, Madonna is screwed! Honestly, just like Warner, Universal are trying to screw her up big time! Masterpiece is my favorite (and the best) song from MDNA, a brilliant record-one of her best-that is shaping up to be Her Third Freakout! In a way, that's too bad because Masterpiece has a lot going for it-winning the golden globe certainly didn't hurt Madge's cause-her knowing and touching lyric "I Will Not Renounce All Hope!" is another brilliant Madonna statement of intent. All in all, Masterpiece is another beautiful Detroit Madonna ballad that cries out our love for Lady Madonna. Call this one another Masterpiece from a woman who has wrote many of them. Masterpiece has a likeabiliy, a humananity and a friendliness that separates Madonna from all the rest. Score another Masterpiece for and by Lady Ciccone! Your move, Lady Madge!

    1. great statement Rabbitbunny! Masterpiece had a hit written all over it but without promotion it underperformed in the UK. it's a longshot if it gets a US release. Turn Up The Radio is the most probable 3rd US single.

  4. Yes, Radio will be the next single, but I think both "Masterpiece" and "I'm A Sinner" will be the next two U.S. singles. "Masterpiece" will help Madonna sell more albums for sure and may garner her her 19th # 1 Billboard song, but it's the controversial yet bubbly and bouncing "Sinner" that will be the single that MDNA will be remembered for---Madonna still pushing the envelope well into her 50's.

    1. Masterpiece would have been an AC hit if it was released timely after the Globes Win or even a Top 10 in the Hot 100. But they missed that chance altogether. it is high unlikely for them to field it in the US once more considering the single tanked in the UK without any promotion. "i'm a sinner" has a catchy hook that reminds us of Beautiful Stranger. if not for the controversial lyrics that anger Catholics, it just might be a hit provided radio puts it on rotation. i doubt it would be considered for a single release. They should go with "i'm Addicted" as the 4th single as it themes MDNA to the core lyrically and production-wise.


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