Today in Madonna History: September 6, 1989

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On September 6 1989, Madonna performed Express Yourself  at the 6th annual MTV Video Music Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, CA. The Express Yourself music video picked up awards for Best Direction, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, while Like A Prayer won the Viewer’s Choice Award.

Serving as a sneak preview for 1990’s Blond Ambition Tour, the performance marked the first of many to feature the vocal trio of Madonna, Donna De Lory and Niki Haris. De Lory and Haris had previously toured with Madonna during the 1987 Who’s That Girl Tour, but had been joined by a third background vocalist, Debra Parsons. The pair would be more heavily featured as vocalist/dancers from this point forward, rather than simply band members who rarely left the confines of their microphone stand.

It was during rehearsals for the 1989 VMA performance that Niki Haris brought voguing to Madonna’s attention, and stylized poses were then fittingly incorporated into the performance’s choreography. While the performance is relatively simple compared to her numerous VMA performances in the years that followed, this puts the focus on the trio’s excellent live vocals and kick-ass choreography (keeping in mind that vocally, Express Yourself is quite a workout even without the dancing!). I consider this a great example of how sometimes less is more, and I would definitely consider this among her best awards show performances.

Today in Madonna History: August 29, 1989

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On August 29 1989, the music video for Cherish – the third single from the album Like A Prayer – premiered in Canada.

The song was written by Madonna & Patrick Leonard and was one of the first tracks completed for the album. Madonna had been reading Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet during breaks from rehearsals for the play Speed The Plow, which inspired the lyrics for the song.

The video was filmed on July 22, 1989 at Paradise Cove Beach in Malibu, California. It marked the first time that late photographer Herb Ritts had crossed over to shooting and directing a music video, which he agreed to do reluctantly at Madonna’s insistence. He quickly became a highly sought-after music video director, winning numerous awards for his work within the medium.

“Cherish” hit the top of the charts in Canada on October 9th, spending two weeks at number-one. It went on to become the ninth best-selling single of the year with a total of seventeen weeks on the RPM Singles chart.

While no maxi-single was issued for Cherish in North America, the single included the previously unreleased Like A Prayer outtake Supernatural – another collaboration with Patrick Leonard.

Today in Madonna History: August 11, 1989

On August 11 1989, Madonna’s Express Yourself single was certified Gold by the R.I.A.A. for shipment of over 500,000 units in the U.S.

Today in Madonna History: July 29, 1989

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On July 29 1989, Express Yourself peaked at #12 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the USA.

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Today in Madonna History: July 24, 1989

On July 24 1989, Express Yourself spent the first of two weeks at #1 on the Canadian Top 100 Singles chart published by RPM.

Today in Madonna History: July 22, 1989

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On July 22 1989, Herb Ritts directed Madonna’s Cherish video.  The black and white music video was filmed at Paradise Cove Beach in Malibu, California.

Today in Madonna History: July 15, 1989

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On July 15 1989, Express Yourself peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the U.S.

Express Yourself spent two weeks in the runner-up position, with Simply Red’s If You Don’t Know Me By Now blocking it from the top spot in the first week, and Martika’s lone chart-topper, Toy Soldiers, leapfrogging over it in its second week.

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