I’m Breathless: Music from and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy is the second soundtrack album by American singer and songwriter Madonna. It was released on May 22, 1990, by Sire Records to promote and accompany the film Dick Tracy. In the film Madonna starred as Breathless Mahoney and her then-boyfriend Warren Beatty played the title role. After filming was complete, Madonna began work on the film’s soundtrack, with songwriter Stephen Sondheim, producer Patrick Leonard and engineer Bill Bottrell. She also worked with producer Shep Pettibone on the album’s first single, “Vogue”. The album was recorded in three weeks, at Johnny Yuma Recording and Ocean Way Studios, in California.
Musically, I’m Breathless consists predominantly of jazz, swing and pop songs. The tracks reflected Madonna’s showgirl personality and were influenced by her relationship with Beatty. The singer wanted to create music that would fit the style and production of the film, set in the days of the Untouchables law enforcement, and sang the songs accordingly. In some areas she pitched her vocals and belted the notes when necessary. She even smoked cigarettes in order to portray the vocals of her character Breathless. Beatty and singer Mandy Patinkin were featured as duet partners on three of the songs.
In support of both I’m Breathless and her previous album, Like a Prayer, Madonna embarked on the Blond Ambition World Tour where a section was dedicated to the songs from the album. It was critically acclaimed, winning an award at the 1990 Pollstar Concert Industry Awards. However, due to its use of Catholic imagery, Pope John Paul II called for a boycott of the show. After the tour was over, Madonna performed songs from the album at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards and the 1991 Academy Awards. “Vogue”, the first single from I’m Breathless, became one of Madonna’s most successful releases, reaching number one in over 30 countries. It was also critically acclaimed and was seen as an influential song, while the video helped to bring vogueing into mainstream popularity. The second and final single, “Hanky Panky”, was a top-ten hit in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The soundtrack received mixed reviews from music critics, who applauded the Sondheim numbers, along with Madonna’s vocals and versatility. However, some deemed the non-film songs to be of little value. “Sooner or Later”, one of the Sondheim tracks, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. I’m Breathless was commercially successful, peaking at number one on the European Top 100 Albums, as well as the national charts of Australia, Germany, and Japan—in the latter it became the country’s best-selling foreign album of the year. It also reached number two on the US Billboard 200 chart and was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). I’m Breathless has sold more than seven million copies worldwide.