Review: “I’m Breathless” by Madonna (CD, 1990)

Today’s POP RESCUE is the 1990 album I’m Breathless by Madonna – an album of songs from and inspired by the 1990 movie Dick Tracy in which she played a femme fatale. Will this album leave you with Something To Remember, or will you be gasping for air? Read on….

Madonna - I'm Breathless (1990) album
Madonna’s 1990 album ‘I’m Breathless’

Love or hate Madonna’s acting career, there’s one thing important about the Dick Tracy film – without it, she would probably have never been inspired to release an album like this… it’s the home of her huge hit Vogue, as well as hit Hanky Panky.

Also lurking in this album is the track Something To Remember which would eventually go on to be the title track to her ballad hits album.

Just as True Blue had shown Madonna as a serious performer, this album shows her as a diverse one – with her singing in character, and in a more jazz and swing style.

Opening track He’s A Man very much feels like an opening track to a film or show. It’s downbeat introduction leads perfectly into Madonna’s sultry vocals. Although, only three of the tracks from this album are actually from the film.

Next up is Sooner Or Later, a track from the film, and if memory serves me correctly, the first time that you’re introduced to Madonna’s femme fatale Breathless Mahoney, who happens to be singing this in some smoky bar. She sings it perfectly, seductively, and whether that’s character or coincidence we’ll never know.

This is followed by the second single Hanky Panky, giving Madonna a reason for her to sing about sex. She was two years away from releasing Erotica, and perhaps this song encouraged her to make it. This song is playful, cheeky, and quite frankly a bit rubbish, but it gave her and Patrick Leonard another hit.

Next up is the somewhat comedy I’m Going Bananas, which sees Madonna sing in some kind of mock Carmen Miranda accent, to some salsa styled music. This is followed by Cry Baby, which reminds me of some kind of Betty Boop song, again showing Madonna as a diverse performer.

The sixth track is Something To Remember, which apparently is a song about her divorce from Sean Penn. This track would return in 1995 as the title of her ballads compilation. This is a sad song.

Back In Business is a wonderfully up-tempo track and it’s fun and very catchy. It comes complete with double bass, strings, saxophone, and Madonna singing one of the best tracks on this entire album. Her vocals are both strong, sultry, and comedy, all in equal measures at the right time throughout the 5:13 minutes.

The second of three tracks from the film, More. Unsurprisingly, as it’s written by Stephen Sondheim, this track definitely reeks of musical theatre, complete with piano and brass section, chorus singers and tap dancing. I think that this song probably works better in the context of the film.

The third and final track from the film is up next – What Can You Lose. This time, it’s a duet between male singer Mandy Patinkin and Madonna. It’s a delicate piano and string track, and works well, and would probably be fine if it had appeared on any other Madonna album.

Up next is Now I’m Following You (Part 1), a song that features the Dick Tracey actor Warren Beatty on vocals alongside Madonna. The song is somewhat amusing as it sings about how rubbish dancer Beatty is. He sings: ‘My feet might be falling out of rhythm, I don’t know what I’m doing with them too but now i’m following you’. The track then gets ‘stuck’, as it turns out that it was just a record. It then leads straight into Now I’m Following You (Part 2) which takes a modern mix of the track – much more up tempo. These two tracks are good fun.

Then, here’s the big hit. Vogue is the closing track here. It is a fantastic journey of sounds – musically, lyrically, vocally, and has a great nod to history. There is not one flaw to this track – the bassline, the finger clicks, the piano, the percussion. Even the video is a fantastic art piece.

Madonna’s huge hit, ‘Vogue’


Overall, this album is a bit of a mixed bag – there’s some amazingly good tracks – some of which would go on to fuel Madonna’s career substantially.

Others are here for pure comedy, and they make it hard to give a full set of stars to my rating. Where it’s good, it’s good. Where it’s not as good, it’s bad.

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1990 UK CHART POSITION: #2, certified 2x Platinum.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £2.89 from an eBay seller.

Based on all of the Madonna albums we have reviewed so far, we can calculate her average album score as 3.33 out of 5.

One thought on “Review: “I’m Breathless” by Madonna (CD, 1990)

  1. I’m a huge Madonna fan but honestly I’ve never understood this record. I mean, I always tought that ‘Vogue’ should be the lead single of a stunning House music album produced with Orbit and Pettibone. Here this amazing song seems to be a standalone single. Exept for ‘Vogue’, ‘Something to Remember’ and ‘Hanky Panky’, I still find this record quite forgettable and I must say that I used to cosider It as a lost occasion to make a powerful and memorable dance album at the beginning of the 90s.


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