Today in Madonna History: July 25, 1998

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On July 25 1998, the music video for Drowned World/Substitute For Love premiered in Europe. The video was directed by Walter Stern and was filmed on June 26 & 27 1998 at London’s famous Claridge’s Hotel and Piccadilly Circus.

The video caused some controversy when the British press reported that it would feature scenes of Madonna’s car being chased by paparazzi on mopeds, concluding that it was a reference to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the previous year. Liz Rosenberg responded by denying that the scenes were intended to draw comparison to Diana’s death and insisting that the video was about Madonna’s own relationship with fame.

Sadly the video was not serviced to video channels in North America, and with online steaming and downloadable videos not yet prevalent at the time, most fans outside of Europe were only able to enjoy the video for the first time when it appeared on the 93:99 video collection over a year later.

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: February 15, 1985

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On February 15 1985, the Vision Quest original motion picture soundtrack was released on Geffen Records. To promote the release, music videos for Crazy For You and Gambler premiered on MTV on the same day.

Despite Gambler only being released as a single in markets outside North America, its video received moderate rotation from MTV nonetheless – possibly due to the fact that there were no competing videos produced for the final two singles from Like A Virgin.

Gambler was Madonna’s last entirely self-written single until the 2007 release of the charity single, Hey You. Other singles for which she received sole writing credit include Everybody (which was in fact a Stephen Bray co-write–however a publishing arrangement granted him sole credit for another of their collaborations, Ain’t No Big Deal, in trade), Burning Up, Lucky Star and Sidewalk Talk. Album tracks Think Of Me, I Know It and Shoo-Bee-Doo were also entirely self-written.

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A third Madonna song that was recorded for the Vision Quest soundtrack, Warning Signs, was eventually dropped from the project. A cassette copy of the song, which is also credited to Madonna alone, was submitted to the Library of Congress for copyright registration in February of 1984, at the same time as Gambler.

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With Stephen Bray having confirmed his involvement in the song’s production (which he described as “a cool synth track”), it appears that its production credits would mirror those of Gambler, which was produced by Jellybean Benitez and arranged by Bray. Given that early press for Vision Quest (including an on-set interview with Madonna herself) mentioned the inclusion of three new songs, footage of Madonna performing Warning Signs was likely filmed but ended up on the cutting room floor. Surprisingly, this additional footage has never resurfaced and the song has never leaked.

Today in Madonna History: August 21, 1989

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On August 21 1989, the music video for Cherish premiered on MTV in the U.S.  The video was the directed by Madonna’s frequent collaborator and friend, photographer Herb Ritts.

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While the single from the Like A Prayer album went on to become another hit single, it’s interesting to note that Madonna had previously written an entirely different song using the title Cherish. Her handwritten lyrics for the unreleased track – along with several others that have yet to surface in musical form – turned up at an auction in 2011.

Today in Madonna History: May 19, 1995

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On May 19 1995, the music video for Human Nature premiered on MTV.

Madonna had initially planned to have friend and collaborator Alek Keshishian direct the video for Human Nature. Keshishian had even been named as the director in ICON Magazine, but for unknown reasons this shoot was cancelled during pre-production. Madonna later called in another recurring collaborator – Jean-Baptiste Mondino – to direct the clip instead.

The video marked Madonna’s first collaboration with Jamie King, who can be spotted as a dancer in the video.

Today in Madonna History: March 17, 1994

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On March 17 1994, the music video for I’ll Remember (Theme From With Honors) premiered on BBC1-TV’s Top Of The Pops in the UK.

I’ll Remember began as a collaboration between Richard Page (of 80’s band Mister Mister) and Patrick Leonard. Leonard had been asked by Madonna to score Alek Keshishian’s film With Honors, and had also been collaborating with Page on an upcoming Toy Matinee album. When Leonard played an early demo of I’ll Remember for Madonna, she loved it and decided to record it with new lyrics she had written. The song was produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard, with Page providing additional backing vocals.

Madonna had previously crossed paths with Richard Page when he presented her with a trophy at the 1987 American Music Awards.

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Today in Madonna History: February 16, 1998

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On February 16 1998, the music video for Frozen premiered on MTV at 4 p.m. Directed by Chris Cunningham, the video was filmed in the Mojave Desert in California from January 7th to 10th.

Initially Madonna had considered filming the video in Iceland but decided that a barren desert would create a similarly desolate backdrop, without the added difficulty of filming in extreme cold temperatures. As it turned out, filming in the desert at dusk in January was far from the warm location she had envisioned; low temperatures and an accompanying rainstorm left much of the crew under the weather.

In an interview with MTV News, Cunningham stated that Madonna became interested to work with him after seeing his Aphex Twin-directed music video, “Come to Daddy” (1997). The black goth gown outfit Madonna wears in the video was designed by Olivier Theyskens, and provided by then-new collaborator, designer Arianne Phillips.