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BBC arts correspondent Razia Iqbal
"This is more than likely to be a hit"
 real 28k

Thursday, 3 February, 2000, 12:49 GMT
Madonna's piece of American Pie

American Pie will be released in the UK in February

Don McLean's folk pop tune American Pie is set to rule the airwaves all over again, now that Madonna's version of the 1971 classic has had its radio debut.

The week of its first airing on both sides of the Atlantic coincides with the anniversary of the rock tragedy on which the original song is based.

It is 41 years since "the day the music died" - the day when a plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper crashed in an Iowa cornfield, killing all three young stars.

American Pie shot Don McLean to fame in 1971
But McLean's 8-minute rock 'n' roll homage has been considerably cut down by the Material Girl - her remake is under five minutes long.

Madonna has also swapped McLean's folky guitar sound for a swirly electronic dance beat, courtesy of super-producer William Orbit, and has enlisted British actor Rupert Everett to sing backing vocals.

In fact, it was Everett - who Madonna was working with on her latest film - who persuaded her to cover the nostalgic tune.

"I would never have thought of doing American Pie on my own," the superstar recently told reporters.

"I liked the song while I was growing up but I wasn't sure of its relevance for today.

Rupert Everett stars with Madonna in The Next Best Thing
"Rupert kept bugging me until I agreed to embrace the idea at least. Then I went into the studio and edited it down to two verses," she added.

But Madonna admits she was hesitant about reworking such a beloved classic.

"There was a minute there where I thought (doing a cover) was too corny for words," she said. "But everyone else seemed to like it, so I sort of went with the flow."

And, according to a spokesman for Madonna's record label, there has been "an explosion of interest" in the tune, with radio stations jumping to add it to their playlists.

Madonna's American Pie, which will feature on the soundtrack to the film The Next Best Thing, goes on sale later this month in the UK and in March in the US.

Lasting appeal

The original version of American Pie catapulted Don McLean to number one in the USA in 1971 and transformed him into an international superstar.

The fact that the song has charted at least four times in the UK - three times in the 1990s - is proof of its lasting appeal.

It remains one of the most played songs on US radio and was recently ranked as the 19th best rock song ever by America's VH1 station.

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See also:
11 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Madonna looks for safer home
16 Jan 00 |  New Music Releases
CD Review: William Orbit
07 Oct 99 |  Entertainment
Madonna takes Coward role

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