Be Careful with my Big Butterfly
1999 was a fairly quiet year publicly for our heroine. She started the year out with the ‘Nothing Really Matters‘ single, the final track lifted off ‘Ray Of Light‘, which she performed at the Grammy Awards on the night where she finally received the recognition she deserved. As we have already seen, the year was due to see a tour, but that ended up being shelved in favour of ‘The Next Best Thing‘. The film did see Madonna entering the recording studio again to record her No.1 cover of ‘American Pie‘ and beautiful ballad ‘Time Stood Still‘, however the soundtrack and movie were not released until spring 2000.
Never one to allow huge gaps in her release schedule, Madonna filled summer 1999 with the groovy worldwide hit ‘Beautiful Stranger‘ from the second Austin Powers movie. But there was another track made available to the public desperate for more, one nobody really expected and which remained pretty low-key right up until its release.
The first anyone really saw of it, was the initial test pressings of the album on which it featured, which emerged
Ricky Martin, the Peurto Rican ex-boyband member was exploding all around the English speaking world with his massive No.1 hit ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca‘. For the Spanish-speaking rest of the world he had been an established superstar for years with hits like ‘Maria‘ and ‘The Cup Of Life‘ proving hugely popular. The eponymous album created to launch him to the English-speaking markets was given every chance at following the success of the ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ single, with heavyweight songwriters Diane Warren and Demsond Child brought in to pen tracks for inclusion on it and Gloria Estefan‘s old man Emilio executive producing.
The ploy worked – the album was a No.1 hit in just about every major territory, going on to sell over 17million copies.
Track 5 was the song which caught the attention of all the wannabes around the world. ‘Be Careful (Cuidado Con Mi Corazon)‘ was a duet between Ricky and Madonna, co-written by the ‘Ray Of Light’ hitbusting team of Mads and William Orbit, and produced by the pair of them at Orbit’s Guerilla Beach Studios in LA. The song can be described (using the incredibly hokey term) as being sung in ‘spanglish‘ with lyrics sung concurrently in English and Spanish. The atmospheric production of the song is quite a surprise for two of pop’s most brash popstars. Smokey and shimmering, it owed more to ‘Ray Of Light’s later section than Ricky’s up-tempo album, his vocals taking on a muted, restrained quality – a far cry from the yelps and hip-thrusting of the album’s lead single.
As for Madonna‘s vocals – the melody line features singing at the very bottom of her register, and owes more to 1989’s ‘Spanish Eyes‘ than 1999’s ‘Beautiful Stranger‘. The mix of their vocals lends an air of romance to the recording, although if rumours about Mr Martin are to be believed, it’s unlikely anything happened between the two
Ricky’s label ‘Columbia‘ obviously considered the track important enough to feature on promotional samplers sent out to the media in advance of the full album’s release – here in the UK it got third billing after the album’s two real highlight solo songs:
..however, to the amazement of many in the industry, the song was never released as a single. This was not surprising to Madonna fans though, as until 2003’s ‘Me Against The Music‘ Madonna had never released a duet as a single, keeping her single catalogue ‘pure‘. What is more likely though is that Maddy didn’t have time or the inclination to promote a single release of the song. And to be honest, Ricky’s success at the time didn’t actually need Madonna to help it along any.
The song has split the Madonna fanbase – many dislike it, although that may have more to do with her choice of co-vocalist. Ricky, on the other hand, remains a staunch fan. His dedication to her in his album credits reads ‘You rock BIG BUTTERFLY‘ which is a rather odd statement considering that at 6’1″, Ricky towers over Madonna! He was one of the first to leap to her defence in the recent adoption row insisting she was ‘an exemplary mother‘ and ‘an inspiration‘ to many, including himself.
Seems she was careful with his heart, after all. Aww.