Today in Madonna History: January 19, 1991

On January 19 1991, Billboard magazine reported on the controversy surrounding Madonna’s use of prose from the Book of Revelations in a remix featured on the maxi-single of Justify My Love, titled The Beast Within. The remix was created by Madonna & Lenny Kravitz during the recording session for Justify My Love.

While The Beast Within would later be featured prominently in 1993’s Girlie Show tour and as the opening sequence of 2004’s Re-Invention tour, in both cases the biblical verse that had sparked the controversy was excluded.

The article also mentions the song’s use of Public Enemy’s Security Of The First World as the basis of Justify My Love‘s rhythm track, with Public Enemy’s co-producer revealing an intent to sue Madonna & Kravitz over its use. Madonna had only received credit for “additional lyrics” on the song, while Kravitz was originally credited as composer and producer.

Today in Madonna History: December 17, 1990

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On December 17 1990, Madonna’s Justify My Love video was the subject of a feature by Steve Dougherty, in People magazine: Madonna Exposes, MTV Opposes: Is her new, naughty video art or just a Boy Toy marketing ploy? 

How does Justify My Love differ from other skin-with-a-beat videos? Let us count the ways. Here’s Madonna, in black bra, stockings and stiletto heels, putting the moves on her real-life boyfriend, model Tony Ward. Moments later she’s lip-synching with Parisian model Amanda Cazalet, 25, who is dressed like a Nazi hooker with suspenders that barely cover her nipples. Now Madonna, Cazalet and Ward are offering free instruction in a certain Kama Sutra technique while two very androgynous gents pat each other more affectionately than football players after a big play. All of which has left fans hot, censors bothered and fearless news programmers lined up to air the forbidden footage. The video single will be on sale before holiday shopping malls close; could it have been teed up better?

Today in Madonna History: December 7, 1990

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On December 7 1990, Madonna’s Justify My Love was released as the first-ever video single, priced at $9.98.

The music video was considered too sexually explicit for MTV and was banned from the network. Madonna responded to the banning: “Why is it that people are willing to go and watch a movie about someone getting blown to bits for no reason at all, and nobody wants to see two girls kissing and two men snuggling?”

On December 3, 1990, ABC’s Nightline played the video in its entirety, then interviewed Madonna live about 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 appeared impatient and answered, “Yeah, so? Lucky me.” She also expressed during the interview that she did not understand why the video was banned, while videos containing violence and degradation to women continued to receive regular airplay. The video was then released on VHS, and became a bestselling “video single” of all time.

Do you still have your VHS copy of Justify My Love?

Today in Madonna History: November 9, 1990

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On November 9 1990, Madonna began filming the Justify My Love video at the Royal Monceau Hotel in Paris, France, directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

During a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) segment in September 2013, Madonna told her fans that she considers Justify My Love to be her favourite Madonna music video.

Is Justify My Love the steamiest music video that you’ve ever seen?

Today in Madonna History: September 25, 1990

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On September 25 1990, the photo shoot for the cover of the Justify My Love single was photographed by Patrick Demarchelier.

Today in Madonna History: September 11, 2000

On September 11 2000, Madonna’s Music single hit #1 on the Top Canadian Singles chart in RPM magazine. The single spent an incredible nine weeks at #1 on the chart, making it Madonna’s biggest hit during the RPM chart era in Canada.

Music also holds the distinction of being the final song ever to reach the top of the RPM Top Canadian Singles chart, as the magazine ceased publication during the song’s ninth week at #1. RPM served as the voice of the Canadian music industry and its official chart authority for over thirty-five years.

Madonna’s Music album also hit #1 on RPM’s Top Albums chart during the first two weeks of October, 2000.

In an unusual move, Warner Canada chose to issue the Music single commercially in three different CD configurations: a two-track with non-album b-side Cyberraga, a standard CD maxi-single with full-length remixes, and finally as a set of remix edits – something that would more commonly be reserved for radio in promo-only form.

Both the song and much of the album of the same title bore the fruit of Madonna’s first collaboration with French electronic artist, Mirwais Ahmadzaï. His second solo album, Production, released a few months earlier, featured Madonna’s Paradise (Not For Me) – which would also resurface on Music.

Mirwais worked with Madonna collaborators Jean-Baptiste Mondino (Naïve Song) and Stéphane Sednaoui (Disco Science & I Can’t Wait) on music videos for the Production album, while the latter director also photographed its cover. Madonna, meanwhile, selected Mondino to shoot the cover of her Music album and to direct the video for its second single (Don’t Tell Me).

Several years before directing her Fever video, Sednaoui first captured Madonna as a photographer on the set of the Justify My Love video – directed by Mondino.

Today in Madonna History: May 3, 1991

On May 3 1991, Madonna appeared on the cover of The New York Post with the headline, “What A Tramp!” The article focused on Madonna’s Truth Or Dare documentary. In the article, Ray Kerrison called Madonna, “vulgar” and the “degenerate queen of sleaze.”

Jay’s Note: I bet Ray Kerrison had no idea that this particular cover of The New York Post would become one of the most sought after and iconic covers of all-time. You could write just about anything alongside this image from the Justify My Love single cover and it would still be beautiful. 

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