Today in Madonna History: August 24, 2014

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On August 24 2014, Madonna was featured in a Forbes Magazine piece written by Hugh McIntyre examining the Most Expensive Music Videos Of All Time:

Of all the expensive music videos made over time (and there are quite a few), the top five are created by only two artists: Michael Jackson and Madonna. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as those two legends are some of the only ones who would have enough clout to rustle up millions for a four-minute movie. While other artists typically use music videos as a way of selling more copies of a certain song or album, these two turned the music video into an art form, attempting to top themselves with each new project. (*Adjusted for inflation to 2013 dollars.)

5. Michael Jackson — “Black or White,” $6.9 million* (originally $4 million)
The lead single from Jackson’s Dangerous needed a video that would be many things all at once—fun, meaningful, and above all else, memorable.

4. Madonna — “Bedtime Story,” $7.7 million* (originally $5 million)
“Bedtime Story” is the first of three Madonna music videos on this list, though the single it was made to promote is not one of the singer’s greatest successes. Directed by Mark Romanek, who would also direct the music video that ends up surpassing “Bedtime” as the single most expensive of all time. Not one to miss a publicity opportunity, Madonna premiered the video at movie theatres in New York City, Chicago, and Santa Monica. These days, it is housed permanently in a collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

3. Madonna — “Die Another Day,” $7.9 million* (originally $6.1 million)
While the song received mixed reviews from critics, Madonna’s Bond song went on to be the best-selling dance song of 2002 and 2003, and its video was nominated for a Grammy. The James Bond-inspired video has the legendary pop star fighting herself, which was a mixture of green screens and intricate and expensive special effects. A few years ago, Billboard ranked the song the #6 song from the Bond franchise.

2. Madonna — “Express Yourself,” $9.4 million* (originally $5 million)
Madonna’s “Express Yourself” video cost $5 million to make back in 1989, making it the most expensive video ever made at the time. The clip, which was inspired by 1927 German science fiction film Metropolis was directed by David Fincher, who would go on to be nominated for Academy Awards for also directing both The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. The video sees the singer dressing in a masculine fashion, yet being as sexual as ever.

1. Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson — “Scream,” $10.7 million* (originally $7 million)
The video for “Scream,” the first single off Michael’s HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I album is really one for the books, and one of the few videos that everybody remembers seeing for the first time.

(Source: Forbes Magazine – The Most Expensive Music Videos of All Time)

Today in Madonna History: July 1, 1989

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On July 1 1989, Express Yourself became Madonna’s sixth number one single on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles chart in Europe. It remained in the chart’s top position for three weeks.

Today in Madonna History: June 1, 1990

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On June 1 1990, Madonna was controversially featured grabbing her crotch and breast on the cover of Interview magazine.

Madonna was interviewed by Glenn O’Brien at the Disney Studios, where she was rehearsing the Blond Ambition Tour. Here’s a snippet from the interview:

Glenn: Let’s talk about your show.

Madonna: Let’s not. Today was a horrible day. That was the worst rehearsal.

Glenn: Well, I liked it, but I haven’t seen it when you thought it was good. I loved the number where you’re lying on the piano singing a torch song.

Madonna: You saw only one segment of the show. I’ve created five different worlds, and the set is all based on hydraulics. One is going down and another is coming up. The world changes completely. I think of it more as a musical than as a rock concert. There is a straightforward Metropolis section, like my Express Yourself video – that set with all the gears and machinery; it’s very hard and metallic. That’s the heavy-duty dance music. Then the set changes and it’s like a church. We call it the temple ruins. It’s all these columns, trays of votive candles, a cross. I do Like a Virgin on a bed, but we changed the arrangement, so it sounds Indian. Then I’m being punished for masturbation on this bed, which is, as you know, what happens. Then we do the more serious, religious-type material – Like a Prayer, Papa Don’t Preach… Then it changes to what you saw, this Art Deco ’50s-musical set. That’s when we do three songs from Dick Tracy, and then after that we do what I call the camp section. Then it gets really serious again and we go into our Clockwork Orange cabaret set.

Today in Madonna History: January 22, 2017

On January 22 2017, Madonna released this statement in response to her controversial statements made during her speech at the Women’s March on Washington:

“Yesterday’s Rally was an amazing and beautiful experience. I came and performed Express Yourself and thats exactly what i did.

However I want to clarify some very important things. I am not a violent person, I do not promote violence and it’s important people hear and understand my speech in it’s entirety rather than one phrase taken wildly out of context.

My speech began with ” I want to start a revolution of love.” ♥️  I then go on to take this opportunity to encourage women and all marginalized people to not fall into despair but rather to come together and use it as a starting point for unity and to create positive change in the world.

I spoke in metaphor and I shared two ways of looking at things — one was to be hopeful, and one was to feel anger and outrage, which I have personally felt. However, I know that acting out of anger doesn’t solve anything. And the only way to change things for the better is to do it with love.

It was truly an honor to be part of an audience chanting we choose love.”

Madonna

Today in Madonna History: December 31, 1999

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On December 31 1999, the following Madonna videos were included in the Much Music: Top 100 Videos Of The Century includes Express Yourself #3, Ray Of Light #8 and Like A Prayer #47.

Do you think more of Madonna’s videos should have been included in the tally? Which videos? 

Today in Madonna History: December 23, 1989

On December 23 1989, RPM Magazine published Canada’s Top Singles of 1989. The listing included the following Madonna singles:

  • #1 – Like A Prayer
  • #8 – Express Yourself
  • #9 – Cherish

Today in Madonna History: November 26, 1992

On November 26 1992, Rolling Stone magazine published their review of Madonna’s Erotica album, written by Arion Berger:

It took Madonna ten years, but she finally made the record everyone has accused her of making all along. Chilly, deliberate, relentlessly posturing. Erotica is a post-AIDS album about romance — it doesn’t so much evoke sex as provide a fetishistic abstraction of it. She may have intended to rattle America with hot talk about oral gratification and role switching, but sensuality is the last thing on the album’s mind. Moving claustrophobically within the schematic confines of dominance and submission, Erotica plays out its fantasies with astringent aloofness, unhumid and uninviting. The production choices suggest not a celebration of the physical but a critique of commercial representations of sex — whether Paul Verhoeven’s, Bruce Weber’s or Madonna’s — that by definition should not be mistaken for the real thing. It succeeds in a way the innocent post-punk diva of Madonna and the thoughtful songwriter of Like a Prayer could not have imagined. Its cold, remote sound systematically undoes every one of the singer’s intimate promises.

Clinical enough on its own terms when compared with the lushness and romanticism of Madonna’s past grooves, Erotica is stunningly reined in; even when it achieves disco greatness, it’s never heady. Madonna, along with co-producers Andre Betts and Shep Pettibone, tamps down every opportunity to let loose — moments ripe for a crescendo, a soaring instrumental break, a chance for the listener to dance along, are over the instant they are heard. Erotica is Madonna’s show (the music leaves no room for audience participation), and her production teases and then denies with the grim control of a dominatrix.

Against maraca beats and a shimmying horn riff, Erotica introduces Madonna as “Mistress Dita,” whose husky invocations of “do as I say” promise a smorgasbord of sexual experimentation, like the one portrayed in the video for Justify My Love. But the sensibility of Erotica is miles removed from the warm come-ons of Justify My Love, which got its heat from privacy and romance — the singer’s exhortations to “tell me your dreams.” The Madonna of Erotica is in no way interested in your dreams; she’s after compliance, and not merely physical compliance either. The song demands the passivity of a listener, not a sexual partner. It’s insistently self-absorbed — Vogue with a dirty mouth, where all the real action’s on the dance floor.

Look (or listen) but don’t touch sexuality isn’t the only peep-show aspect of this album; Erotica strives for anonymity the way True Blue strove for intimacy. With the exception of the riveting Bad Girl, in which the singer teases out shades of ambiguity in the mind of a girl who’d rather mess herself up than end a relationship she’s too neurotic to handle, the characters remain faceless. It’s as if Madonna recognizes the discomfort we feel when sensing the human character of a woman whose function is purely sexual. A sex symbol herself, she coolly removes the threat of her own personality.

Pure disco moments like the whirligig Deeper and Deeper don’t need emotional resonance to make them race. But the record sustains its icy tone throughout the yearning ballads (Rain, Waiting) and confessional moods (Secret Garden). Relieved of Madonna’s celebrity baggage, they’re abstract nearly to the point of nonexistence — ideas of love songs posing as the real thing. Even when Madonna draws from her own life, she’s all reaction, no feeling: The snippy Thief of Hearts takes swipes at a man stealer but not out of love or loyalty toward the purloined boyfriend, who isn’t even mentioned.

By depersonalizing herself to a mocking extreme, the Madonna of Erotica is sexy in only the most objectified terms, just as the album is only in the most literal sense what it claims to be. Like erotica, Erotica is a tool rather than an experience. Its stridency at once refutes and justifies what her detractors have always said: Every persona is a fake, the self-actualized amazon of Express Yourself no less than the breathless baby doll of Material Girl. Erotica continually subverts this posing to expose its function as pop playacting. The narrator of Bye Bye Baby ostensibly dumps the creep who’s been mistreating her, but Madonna’s infantile vocal and flat delivery are anything but assertive — she could be a drag queen toying with a pop hit of the past. Erotica is everything Madonna has been denounced for being — meticulous, calculated, domineering and artificial. It accepts those charges and answers with a brilliant record to prove them.

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