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" I knew that Madonna was developing a 1930s dominatrix look for Erotica, but I didn't realize how far she was willing to go before I saw Sex.
It contained stories authored by her mysteriously dark alter [ego], Dita.
"Erotica" received generally positive reviews from music critics.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic highlighted the song as an album standout, calling it "some of Madonna's best and most accomplished music".s Arion Berger wrote: "'Erotica' [...] promise[s] a smorgasbord of sexual experimentation, like the one portrayed in the video for 'Justify My Love'.
The video was highly controversial, being aired by MTV a total of three times, all of these after the 10pm watershed, before being completely banned.
Madonna performed "Erotica" on three of her concert tours, the first being on The Girlie Show World Tour (1993), the Confessions Tour (2006) and most recently on The MDNA Tour (2012).
Stephen Holden from The New York Times, commented that the "foggy growl" that Madonna uses in the spoken-word sections of the song "contrast dramatically with the shrill little-kid voice from Madonna's earliest records that she still often uses to project a bratty teen-age exuberance". Randy Taraborrelli, author of Madonna: An Intimate Biography, wrote that "['Erotica'] wasn't a surprise for anyone who had been paying attention to Madonna's recent music.
Additionally, it became a success on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, reaching the top position.
"Erotica" also found commercial success internationally, peaking in the top ten in several countries including New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The accompanying music video for the song was directed by fashion photographer Fabien Baron, and features Madonna dressed as a masked dominatrix interspersed with footage of the making of the singer's Sex book, with cameos by celebrities such as Naomi Campbell and Big Daddy Kane.
In 2011, Slant Magazine listed "Erotica" at number thirty-four on their list "The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s", stating that Madonna's "throaty" delivery throughout the song is effective in making the lyrics seem "incredibly honest".
The magazine goes on to say the song is Madonna's "invitation to the dance, a slithering, sinister snake rising from a gaudily ornate chalice.