On March 22 2001, Madonna’s What It Feels Like For A Girl music video premiered.
The video was directed by Madonna’s then-husband, Guy Ritchie, and was deemed to be “Too Hot for TV” by MTV and VH1 because the video depicted gunplay, assault and suicide.
MTV released this statement about the video and their decision to ban it:
It’s been some time since Madonna ruffled the feathers of MTV or VH1 execs with a controversial video — perhaps not since 1992’s Erotica clip — so just under a decade later, the first lady of shock pop is out to prove she can still make ’em sweat.
Unlike the steamy segments of Erotica, 1990’s Justify My Love, and the one that started it all, Like a Prayer, it’s not the sexual content of What It Feels Like for a Girl that raises the red flag, it’s the violence — a concerted no-no in the post-Columbine, and more recently post-Santana, decision-making process.
The music in the video, it should be noted, is a dance remix of the version found on Madonna’s latest album, Music. The album cut will serve as the LP’s third single.
The video “shows my character acting out a fantasy and doing things girls are not allowed to do,” Madonna said in a written statement distributed by her record label, Warner Bros. “This is an angry song and I wanted a matching visual with an edgy dance mix.”
Although What It Feels Like for a Girl won’t be added to the music channel’s regular rotation, MTV and VH1 will air the clip just once.
On February 20 2001, Madonna’s official website announced that Madonna planned to record a Spanish version of her next single, What It Feels Like For A Girl, with a tentative release date of late March.
While the Spanish version (titled Lo Que Siente La Mujer) featured on the maxi-single and serviced to Latin radio stations was set to the album version of the song, Madonna would blend the Spanish lyrics with the music from the Calderone & Quayle Dark Side Mix for the live version performed during the Drowned World Tour.
On January 16 2001, Don’t Tell Me was released commercially in North America as the second single from Music.
Written by Madonna, Mirwais & Joe Henry, the song was Madonna’s first collaboration with her brother-in-law, whom she had known since high school. Henry sent a demo (then titled Stop) to Madonna after his wife, Melanie, insisted that her sister would love the song. Madonna & Mirwais drastically altered the music and melody and renamed the song Don’t Tell Me. Henry released his version on his eighth studio album, Scar, in May 2001.
The maxi-single featured remixes by Thunderpuss, Timo Mass, Victor Calderone, Richard “Humpty” Vission and Tracy Young. Don’t Tell Me was the last Madonna release to be issued on cassette single in the U.S. and was also available on 2-track CD single, CD Maxi-Single (enhanced with the music video) and as a double 12″ vinyl set. In Canada, it was released only on CD maxi-single.
On December 29 2001, megamixes issued to promote Madonna’s second greatest hits collection, GHV2, made their debut on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the U.S. at #29.
Several promo-only singles were issued by Maverick/Warner featuring megamixes by Thunderpuss, Tracy Young and Johnny Rocks with Mac Quayle and charted collectively under the title Madonna Megamix.
An additional marketing push to club DJ’s came in the form of GHV2 Remixed: The Best of 1991-2001 – a promo-only companion collection issued on CD and vinyl that compiled full-length remixed versions of songs featured on GHV2.
On December 9 2001, Madonna presented the Turner Prize to artist Martin Creed at London’s Tate Britain gallery.
Madonna half-seriously plugged her greatest hits album, GHV2, before explaining her feelings of ambivalence towards the merit of awards in relation to the artistic process.
“Art is always at its best when there is no money, because art has nothing to do with money and everything to do with love. Like love, it can be inspiring, inexplicable, provocative and sometimes infuriating. Nevertheless, we can not live without it, so that is why I’m here – not because I think one artist is better than another, but because I want to support any artist who not only has something to say, but has the balls to say it. In a time when political correctness is valued over honesty, I would also like to say – right on motherfuckers! – everyone is a winner.”
Channel 4 unsuccessfully attempted to censor the speech during the live broadcast, and later issued an apology for Madonna’s choice of words, which aired prior to the 9pm watershed. Madonna later explained that she had not intended to use profanity until the producers asked to review the content of her speech prior to the broadcast, sparking her defiance.