Take A Bow

Album: Bedtime Stories (1994)
Charted: 16 1


  • This song is about a failed romance Madonna had with "a movie star," possibly Warren Beatty, whom she starred opposite in the movie Dick Tracy (1990) and had a 15-month relationship. Beatty, a notorious ladies' man, was also rumored to be the mysterious subject of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain."
  • Babyface sang backup and also produced this track to give Madonna the R&B feel she wanted for the Bedtime Stories album. When the two met, they were quite impressed with each other in that neither of them swept in with a big entourage. They worked on this song and "Forbidden Love" at Babyface's house in his writing room.
  • In the States, this topped the Billboard charts, but in the UK is was a relative failure, reaching only #16 after 31 consecutive top 10 hits.
  • The title "Take A Bow" is only heard in the opening lyrics of the song.
  • Real-life Spanish bullfighter Emilio Munoz played Madonna's bullfighting lover in the music video for this song. He reprised his role in the video for "You'll See," which was a sequel to this song.
  • At Madonna's suggestion, this song was recorded with a full orchestra. It was the first time Babyface had worked with live strings.
  • This song and its follow-up "You'll See" show two different sides of Madonna's personality. She explained to NME: "'Take A Bow,' lyrically it only reflects one side of my personality. I have that side which is completely masochistic and willing to, literally, do anything for love. But there's another side too which is – 'Don't f*** with me, I don't need anybody. I can do what I want' and 'You'll See' reflects that."
  • Justin Timberlake enlisted director Michael Haussman for his "SexyBack" video because he was so impressed with his work on this song's video. He told MTV News in 2006: "Even today, I still remember the visuals, the images, how he captured her. A lot of times, Madonna seems like she's the person in control, and in that video, she seemed vulnerable. It was a cool thing to see."
  • Britney Spears' 2009 "Radar" music video is also a tribute to this song's video. Director Dave Meyers told MTV News: "[We were] looking for a way to take her into a contemporary, classy environment. I felt empowered by referencing Madonna's ['Take a Bow'] video. Britney hasn't done anything like that."
  • Country singer Trisha Yearwood covered this song with Babyface on CMT's Crossroads in 2007.
  • This was featured in the season one finale of Friends, "The One Where Rachel Finds Out," when Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) discovers Ross (David Schwimmer) is in love with her. The song plays when she goes to the airport to meet him, only to be disappointed when he arrives with a new girlfriend.
  • Madonna and Babyface performed this together at the 1995 American Music Awards. Babyface remembers being a nervous wreck: "I had on some wide pants, so you couldn't tell, but my leg was shaking like crazy. And then after I told her, she said she was nervous too, which was amazing to me because it's Madonna."
  • After performing this at the American Music Awards in 1995, Madonna didn't sing it again live until February 4, 2016 at a concert in Taipei. She said to the audience afterward, "That was fun! First time ever. Hit a few bad notes, but it felt good to sing it."
  • This won Best Female Video at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards.

Comments: 17

  • Tw from FloridaAbsolutely fantastic powerful song. I too had to dedicate this song to a masquerade relationship. You can absolutely tell it was personal to her
  • Jeff from Kingston, TnJust a quick comment. Madonna did all this reinventing and causing pop culture to say "wow she is interesting and weird" wayyyyyyyy before lady gaga did. So if your under the age of 30 do some research. On the musical side of this song. Done very classy, written well, produced well. Excellent job to Babyface who is one of the most underrated musical talents in the last 25 years. Also on CMT crossroads. Babyface and Trisha Yearwood duet this song.
  • Alicia from Southfield, MiCorrection, instead of my saying a woman falling in love with a woman, I meant to say in the previous post, that the lyrics are about a woman who fell in love with a man, that was leading an alternative lifestyle.
  • Alicia from Southfield, MiMadonna's "Take A Bow" lyrics is about a woman who fell in love with a woman but was living a hidden life style. He prentended that he loved her and allowed her to fall in love him but he was just leading her on. Remember when she said in the song " You deserve an award for the role that you played - No more masquerade, you're one lonely star"....this leads me to think that the guy was gay but was trying to hide his lifestyle and that he used their relationship as a cover and she expressed her hurt when she found out how he used her and allowed her to fall in love with him. Remember this part of the song-"All the world is a stage
    And everyone has their part, But how was I to know which way the story'd go- How was I to know you'd break my heart"....Think about it, the guy was putting on a act according to the song, and she was telling the guy to take a bow because he was so convincing.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxNever cared for her style at all, but this song is an exception. Beautifully rendered.
  • Rachel from Augusta, KsYes, I too had heard it was to show she could play the lead in Evita. I don't really love Madonna's style but this is by far my favorite song, especially with
    Babyface's haunting background vocals. Beautiful!
  • Leo from Westminster 1, MdAs Madonna prepared for the role of a lifetime in Evita, Madonna said goodbye to her former life as a Sex symbol. Like many of her brilliant hit songs
    -think of especially Lucky Star, Who's That Girl? and Four Minutes, Lady Ciccone is singing to herself. That's one of her better qualities. Madonna is not even aware of what's going on when she's either singing or more often than not-crying because she is an emotional and cathartic singer. Madonna just wants to let it all out for the world to hear. Madonna life is a recurring dream that will forever come true for her and for her fans/audience because we all love her. In ballad artwork Take a Bow, Madonna makes a convincing case for her brilliance.
  • Alma from Laredo, TxThis song has always been speculated that Madonna had an affair with Antonio Banderas hence the Spanish matador on the video. It has also been speculated that this video was a preaudition for her role of Evita.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnPerfect ballad. My fave Madonna song from the '90s.
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxI believe Madonna wore a white dress and carried white roses when she and Babyface performed this at the VMAs in '94 which is what lead to the suicide rumor - since white roses are generally associated with death. I don't remember for sure what she wore but that image of her sticks in my head.
  • Rosse from K.lumpur, Malaysiawhen i listen to this song im will remember my ex.. he still de besh.. -Rosse-
  • Wesley from Oklahoma City, OkI thought this song was sang for the movie "Evita"
  • Reese from Calgary, CanadaIn an interview with Much Music soon after the release of the song, Madonna mentioned that she had been receiving feedback from fans about the song's subject matter. "People thought it was about a girl standing in front of a mirror about to kill herself. That wasn't my intention of the portrayal of the song, I think that's interesting, but I actually wrote it about someone." Therefore dismissing this "alternative meaning" to the song.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrWhen I was in fourth grade, my friend Stephanie pulled a stunt by fooling me into believing that "Take A Bow" was featured in a movie with the same title.
  • Jeffrey from Anaheim, CaThis song IS about a failed romance Madonna had with another celebrity, and it's NOT Warren Beatty. Don't forget, she was married to Sean Penn, and if you watch her 1991 film "Truth or Dare" - she confessed that Sean has been the love of her life! "Take A Bow" is about her tumultuous romance with Sean Penn.
  • Hugh from Dallas, TxWith seven weeks at #1, it is Madonna's longest running stay at the top of the Billboard top 100.
  • Adele from Victoria, CanadaThis song was played at the end of season one of Friends, when Rachel goes to the airport to tell Ross she loves him, but finds him with a new girlfriend.
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