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 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 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.

Today in Madonna History: June 10, 1989

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On June 10 1989, Madonna’s Express Yourself single debuted at #40 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart in the USA.

Express Yourself eventually peaked at #1 for 3 weeks (starting July 8 1989).

Today in Madonna History: May 9, 2020

On May 9 2020, Stephen Bray posted this message in celebration of the 31st anniversary of Madonna’s Express Yourself single:

So many great memories — from recording the demo tracks and vocals at the home studio in Sherman Oaks to all the great players (Pat Leonard, Randy Jackson, and many others) at Pat’s studio in Burbank. Thank you Madonna for bringing so much spirited fire to the lead — and for forcing me to sing the bass part I’d earmarked for Levi Stubbs! The genius of Bill Bottrell raised the ante and it just kept getting better with Shep Pettibone’s amazing remix and David Fincher’s Metropolis music video. Happy 31st Birthday, Express Yourself!

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