Today in Madonna History: April 5, 2011

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On April 5 2011, Madonna’s publicist Liz Rosenberg released this statement:

“In recent days a number of wild and totally false rumors about Madonna’s philanthropy–spread by bloggers and tabloids–have begun appearing on the internet. As we have said previously, Raising Malawi is currently undergoing a series of positive changes in an effort to serve more children. Neither Madonna nor Raising Malawi is being investigated by the FBI or the IRS. It is unfortunate that people have chosen to say things about Raising Malawi and Madonna that are not true. Madonna remains committed and focused on what matters helping the children of Malawi.”

Today in Madonna History: March 24, 2012

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On March 24th 2012, The New York Post’s Page Six reported that Madonna’s video for Girl Gone Wild had been deemed too wild for general viewing on YouTube. It would be restricted to registered users over the age of eighteen in its uncensored form:

“Madonna’s steamy new video for Girl Gone Wild has been banned from open view on YouTube for being too raunchy, with scenes including nudity and a close-up of a man’s PVC-clad crotch. YouTube chiefs have restricted the video for those 18 years or above, and sources tell us they’ve told the superstar’s management that if they want it to be available for viewing by all, they must edit out shots of bare bottoms, a man rubbing his crotch and an implied masturbation scene where a man gyrates before a mirror. Madonna’s team was working yesterday on an edited version of the video for YouTube because, for the first time, it’s based its marketing strategy for her new album, MDNA, on social media, including a live Facebook interview with Jimmy Fallon today. A source told us, ‘YouTube has decided the video is too raunchy and should only be viewed by those 18 or over, and actually, the video is hard to find on the site. YouTube has sent Madonna’s team a list of shots that should be cut to make it appropriate for everyone.’ Fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott directed Girl Gone Wild, using much of the singer’s trademark erotic imagery, including topless men dancing in black tights (mantyhose) and platform heels. YouTube also took exception to an S&M-inspired scene of a silhouette in chains. The video was deemed ‘inappropriate for some users’ by YouTube, and viewers must verify they’re 18 or older and log in to watch it. Madonna’s rep, Liz Rosenberg, told us, ‘Some things never change. This is a throwback to [1990] when MTV refused to show Justify My Love.'”

A re-edited version of the Girl Gone Wild video was provided to YouTube several days later and was approved for general viewing.

Today in Madonna History: March 22, 2001

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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.

 Directed by her husband, British filmmaker Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), the clip depicts gunplay, violent assault and suicide — elements MTV and VH1 prohibit in any videos they air. In it, the pop diva portrays a self-described “nihilistic pissed-off chick” who cruises around town inflicting damage on any man that crosses her path.
After picking up Grandma at the “Ol Kuntz Guest Home,” Madonna crashes into a car full of men who wink at her, threatens male police officers with a squirt gun before sideswiping their vehicle, and mugs a man at an ATM with a stun gun before wrapping her stolen car around a lamppost in what appears to be an intentional act.

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.

Today in Madonna History: March 2, 1989

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On March 2 1989, Madonna’s “Make A Wish” commercial for Pepsi premiered during an episode NBC-TV’s The Cosby Show.

A teaser ad had begun airing in the week leading up to the prime-time reveal of the full two-minute spot, which promised viewers the first opportunity to hear Madonna’s new single, Like A Prayer. Unbeknownst to fans at the time, the teaser featured a brief preview of the 12″ Club Version of the song (excluding any Madonna vocals).

An estimated 250 million viewers in over 40 countries tuned in to watch the only airing of “Make A Wish” – which marked the first time that a mainstream artist had launched a lead single in a promotional campaign before its official release to radio or MTV.

A brief but foretelling comment made by Madonna prior to the airing of the commercial was published in Rolling Stone magazine:

“I like the challenge of merging art and commerce. As far as I’m concerned, making a video is also a commercial. But the treatment for the video is a lot more controversial. It’s probably going to touch a lot of nerves in a lot of people. And the treatment for the commercial is…I mean, it’s a commercial. It’s very, very sweet. It’s very sentimental. The Pepsi spot is a great and different way to expose the record. Record companies just don’t have the money to finance that kind of publicity.”

The remark appeared to go conveniently unnoticed by the executives at Pepsi, who later claimed to have had no previous knowledge about the content of the Like A Prayer music video, despite the fact that it was already completed when the commercial was shot.

Banking on the buzz generated by the “Make A Wish” commercial, Sire Records issued the Like A Prayer single and its accompanying music video to radio and MTV the day after the commercial aired.

As for the ensuing controversy–that’s just another day in Madonna history.

Today in Madonna History: January 13, 2012

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On January 12 2012, Cynthia McFadden asked Madonna, during a Good Morning America interview, for her opinion of the Lady Gaga song, Born This Way.

McFadden started by asking if Madonna felt that Lady Gaga was “copying” her. Madonna’s first reply was complimentary.  She called Gaga “a very talented artist” and said she admired her songwriting abilities.

Madonna went on to say, “I certainly think she references me a lot in her work. And sometimes I think it’s amusing and flattering and well done.”

Madonna said that Gaga’s work also appeared to be a “statement about taking something that was in the Zeitgeist, you know, 20 years ago and turning it inside out and reinterpreting it.”

Madonna continued, “There’s a lot of ways to look at it. I can’t really be annoyed by it …because, obviously, I’ve influenced her.”

But Madonna became coy when the conversation turned to Born This Way.

“When I heard it on the radio …I said ….that sounds very familiar.  It felt reductive.”

Pressed as to whether that was a good or bad thing, Madonna told Cynthia to “look it up”  – before smiling slyly and taking a sip from her tea cup.

Today in Madonna History: December 3, 1990

On December 3 1990, ABC’s Nightline played the banned music video for Justify My Love video in its entirety followed by a live interview with Madonna by Forrest Sawyer regarding the video’s sexual content and censorship.

When asked whether she stood to make more money selling the video than airing it on MTV, she half-jokingly answered, “Yeah, so lucky me!”

She also expressed that she did not understand why the video was banned when videos containing violence and degradation to women continued to receive regular airplay.

Today in Madonna History: November 21, 1992

On November 21 1992, Madonna’s Erotica peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart in the USA.

Scott Kearnan (Boston.com) had this to say about the controversial hit single when reflecting on Madonna’s best songs:

“No pop star of her fame has been this sexually transgressive before or since… Rihanna sings about “S&M” like it’s a song about My Little Pony, but Madonna dishes on pain, pleasure, and power with the conviction of a whip crack”.

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