Bedtime Stories is Madonna's sixth studio album that was released on October 25, 1994 by Maverick and Sire Records.
- Survival 3:31
- Secret 5:05
- I'd Rather Be Your Lover 4:39
- Don't Stop 4:38
- Inside Of Me 4:11
- Human Nature 4:53
- Forbidden Love 4:08
- Love Tried To Welcome Me 5:21
- Sanctuary 5:02
- Bedtime Story 4:53
- Take A Bow 5:21
"Bedtime Stories" received generally positive reviews from music critics.
J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of "Madonna: An Intimate Biography") praised the album for being "considerably more tame in tone and image than [Erotica's] ethereal sounding, sexually explicit" content.
AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album four out of five stars, claiming that it is a "warm album" and that it "offers her most humane and open music".
Jim Farber from Entertainment Weekly gave it a positive review as well, giving it a B+ grade, and writing that "the new tracks work less as individual songs than as a sustained mood" and that Madonna "still has something to reveal".
Barbara O'Dair of Rolling Stone also gave the album a three-and-a-half stars out of five, writing that "Madonna has come up with awfully compelling sounds".
Billboard, while giving the album a positive review, commented that it "sticks to a pop recipe that yields hits galore, with little excess baggage."
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine gave the album a positive review and four out of five stars, writing that it is "a fluffy-pillowed concept album that unfolds like a musical fairy tale."
The New York Times writer Stephen Holden considered "Bedtime Stories" as "easily Madonna's best album", and concluded that it was a "seductive mixture of soft-focus hip-hop and bittersweet ballads".
Peter Galvin from The Advocate magazine gave a positive review, describing the album as "a gorgeously produced R&B album with lots of funky beats lush keyboards, and soaring Love Unlimited-style string arrangements."
Barry Walters from The San Francisco Examiner praised the album as Madonna's most low-key album and her best work at the date.
J.D. Considine, while writing his review for the album for The Baltimore Sun, declared that Bedtime Stories was more listener-friendly than Madonna's previous albums. He added that it "seems remarkably close in spirit to the singer's first album, emphasizing dance grooves and pop melodies over genre exercises and conceptual statements", while praising Madonna's vocal performance.
Linda L. Labin from the Bangor Daily News, noted that "[Madonna] isn't taking any chances. This time around, her daring has more to do with music than lyrics" while also praising her vocals; "If anything, her singing is the album's greatest strength. Madonna uses every trick from her repertoire. [...] Bedtime Stories turns in some of the strongest performances of her career. 'Madonna sings well' — bet you don't see that headline in the tabloids anytime soon".
Chris Willman of the Los Angeles Times gave it two-stars-and-a-half out of four, writing that the album "seems the least remarkable of all Madonna's albums. But it's not necessarily the least of them. [...] It has a nice, consistently relaxed feel, its slow jams hip-hop-inflected but not as self-consciously as last time."
The Milwaukee Journal's Tina Maples provided a mixed review for the album, criticizing its "hoary cliches" and "bland, mid-tempo soul-pop ballads that confuse sophistication with sonambulism", and added that with the album, Madonna was feeling the "fallout" of building her career on "shock value".
However, she highlighted "Secret", "Bedtime Story" and "Take a Bow" as the standout tracks from the album.
Steve Morse, writer from The Boston Globe journal, criticized the album for lacking "life", and being "flat and listless", and said that Madonna seemed lost throughout the album.
Allen Metz and Carol Benson, authors of The Madonna Companion: Two Decades of Commentary, opined that "rather than signify(ing) some bold new direction for Madonna, Bedtime Stories takes hardly any risks at all. [...] it offers neither the pop epiphany of Like a Prayer nor the shameless frolic of Madonna's earlier dance hits".
British magazine NME ranked Bedtime Stories as the 30th best album of 1994. At the 38th Grammy Awards in 1996, the album received a nomination for "Best Pop Album."
Slant Magazine included Bedtime Stories on their list of "The Best Albums of the 1990s" at number 63, with Cinquemani writing: "instead of simply following American trends of the time, Madge infused the album with the edgier trip-hop sounds that were happening on the other side of the pond. But it was her refined literary taste, from Proust to Whitman, and both the media and the public's rejection of her sexual politicking that truly informed the singer's seventh album."
To promote the album's release, Madonna talked about the album in an audio message available exclusively online prior to its release; there were promotional advertisements aired on television channels proclaiming that there will be "no sexual references on the album" and Madonna adding that "it's a whole new me! I'm going to be a good girl, I swear."
One of the first promotional appearances Madonna did was in Paris, where she was interviewed by Ruby Wax and talked about the album. According to Wax, she was quite intimidated by Madonna and her entourage and, in her own words, "[my] nerves got the best of me".
On February 18, 1995, Madonna arrived in Europe to promote Bedtime Stories; that same day, she appeared on German TV show Wetten, dass..?, where she was interviewed and performed "Secret" and "Take a Bow."
Madonna went back to United States and performed "Take a Bow" on the American Music Awards of 1995, accompanied by Babyface and a full orchestra. She returned to Europe to sing "Bedtime Story" during the 1995 Brit Awards; she wore a white Versace dress and long hair extensions, and featured a trio of satin-clad male dancers.
Madonna invited Björk, who wrote the track, to feature in the performance; however, the singer turned it down. She also promoted "Take a Bow" by performing on Sanremo Music Festival. At the end of the performance, she thanked the audience in Italian language, and received standing ovation.
In order to promote the video for "Bedtime Story", MTV aired a special titled Madonna's Pajama Party on March 18, 1995, where Madonna could be seen reading a bedtime story in Webster Hall in New York City. At the event, "cutting-edge" tribal and trance remixes, made by disc jockey and producer Junior Vasquez, were also played.
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera mentioned that Madonna would play in Italy as part of a world tour to promote "Bedtime Stories" in the spring or fall 1995; however, Madonna and her manager Freddy DeMann cancelled all plans after she was offered the role of Eva Perón on the film Evita, directed by Alan Parker.
Madonna's spokesperson Liz Rosenberg considered a "shorter tour" because of filming; however, Madonna commented, "I've waited years for this role, and I have to put every ounce of concentration into it. I love touring, and I very much want to go out with this album. But I can't—I'd be going straight from months on the road right into filming; I'd be exhausted and strained. It wouldn't be in the best interests of the movie for me to be at any less than my peak of energy."