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sent to Madonna’s manager, Freddy DeMann, Rabbi Cooper said the Wiesenthal Center was outraged and wanted the quotation withdrawn.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? 

Today in Madonna History: December 11, 1990

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On December 11 1990, Madonna’s The Royal Box, a box-set which included The Immaculate Collection CD or cassette, VHS video, postcards and a folded poster of Madonna performing Vogue at the MTV Video Music Awards, was released.

Box sets seem to be a thing of the past.  Do you think Madonna will ever release another box set as great or greater than The Royal Box?

Do you wish Madonna had released more box sets when they were actually popular and sold well? 

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: January 5, 1991

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On January 5 1991, Madonna’s Justify My Love single hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I’m open and ready
For you to justify my love
To justify my love
Wanting, to justify
Waiting, to justify my love
Praying, to justify
To justify my love
I’m open, to justify my love

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.

The Justify My Love maxi-single was an especially memorable one, featuring remixes by future songwriting collaborators William Orbit and Andre Betts, a Q-Sound mix, a remix by Madonna & Lenny Kravitz titled The Beast Within which featured Madonna reciting passages from the Book of Revelations, and a new Shep Pettibone remix of Express Yourself.

A second Justify My Love remix by Andre Betts, titled The English Mix, was sadly shelved but eventually surfaced on bootlegs and the internet, in varying degrees of quality.

Today in Madonna History: November 27, 1990

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On November 27 1990, the MTV network announced it had banned Madonna’s Justify My Love video due to extremely strong displays of sexuality.

“We respect her work as an artist and think she makes great videos,” said MTV executives in a statement about the clip. “This one is not for us.”

“When I did my Vogue video…I’m wearing a see-through dress and you can clearly see my breasts,” Madonna told ABC’s Nightline in 1990. “MTV told me that they wanted me to take that out, but I said I wouldn’t and they played it anyways. So I thought that once again I was going to be able to bend the rules a little bit.”

Today in Madonna History: November 6, 1990

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On November 6 1990, Madonna’s Justify My Love single was released as the first single from The Immaculate Collection, Madonna’s first greatest hits collection.

In the United States, Justify My Love peaked at number one for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. It also topped the Billboard Top 40 Tracks and Billboard Hot Dance Club Play charts.

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