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. 

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: January 4, 1991

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On January 4 1991, Madonna responded to a Rabbi’s accusation of anti-semitism for the song lyrics in the remix of Justify My Love, called The Beast Within.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, accused Madonna of insulting Jews by using this Bible reference:

“I know your tribulation and your poverty and the slander of those who say that they are Jews, but they are not, they are a synagogue of Satan.”

In a letter sent to Madonna’s manager, Freddy DeMann, Rabbi Cooper said the Wiesenthal Center was outraged and wanted the quotation withdrawn. “The imagery of ‘Jew as Devil’ has led to untold violence against the Jewish people and slander against Judaism over the course of the last 2,000 years,” the rabbi wrote.

He charged that the phrase could “contribute to those who seek to promote anti-Semitism” and said that neo-Nazi groups had used such imagery to promote racist ideology among youth.

Madonna responded with this statement:

“I certainly did not have any anti-Semitic intent when I included a passage from the Bible on my record. It was a commentary on evil in general. My message, if any, is pro-tolerance and anti-hate. The song is, after all, about love.”

Rabbi Cooper said he took Madonna at her word.

“She was direct to the issue, she responded quickly and we’re relieved that she did so,” the rabbi said.

How did you feel about The Beast Within the first time you heard it? 

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