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> Express Yourself ● 30 Years
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Medellíam
post May 22 2019, 04:50 PM
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17th May marked 30 years since the music video premiere for 'Express Yourself', the second single released from Madonna's Like a Prayer. The song itself is an uplifting and joyous anthem that proudly pushes for female empowerment and equality. Brass, drum beats and hearty vocals heightens the spirit and power of Madonna's message as she encourages women to demand the respect they deserve: relationships are about being open and honest with each other and showing support and strength; anything less is not worth settling for. This theme of self-expression and freedom is something that can inspire and resonate with us all; a key factor in its endurance and influence.

The music video really did lift these themes to their higher ground. Madonna made the first of four collaborations with director David Fincher to combine the talents of his unique expressionistic style and her boundary-pushing instinct. The industrial machinery and sci-fi cityscapes draw inspiration from Fritz Lang's Metropolis and gives a sense of grandeur to the video, whilst Madonna's striking costumes and choreography are used to depict her exploration of sexuality and deconstruction of gender stereotypes. From her feminine conical bra lingerie to her masculine pinstriped suit, from being cat-like and licking milk to being confident and grabbing her crotch, the video is bursting with iconic moments that are playful but also push her messages on sexuality, gender and relationships forward. Pricing at $5m, the video surpassed Michael Jackson's 'Bad' to become the most expensive of all time (and remains the third today), but was duly awarded with a trio of trophies at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards where Madonna also performed the song in what would be one of her most legendary performances.

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Medellíam
post May 22 2019, 05:37 PM
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What a video! *.* She serves so many looks and the cinematography is super impressive. There's lots to uncover as well; lots of symbolisation and commentary on gender and sexuality. A video you can enjoy both superficially and analytically - something Madonna balances so well.

The Shep Pettibone mix that's used in the video is my go-to version. There's something more fierce and confident about the production which suits the theme of the song better (the album version is more cheery and fun, almost a similar vein to 'Cherish'; it sounds great too but you couldn't imagine it playing over the music video). I also love that 'zip' intro.

Its chart success always surprised me: 'only' #1 in three countries according to Wiki, none of them being the US or UK (just peaked at #5 here!). It's one of those songs I knew about as a kid, before delving into Madonna's back catalogue and before getting interested in the charts, and would have expected to be among her best selling. I do wonder why its chart success doesn't match its iconic status.
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vibe
post May 23 2019, 01:03 PM
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Surprisingly this didn’t sell that well at all for how recognisable and iconic it is .

I expect this will feature on the Madame X tour .
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Medellíam
post May 26 2019, 01:03 PM
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Blond Ambition Tour


The Girlie Show


Re-invention Tour


MDNA Tour
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HausofF
post Jun 4 2019, 08:25 PM
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I go through phases of loving and then forgetting this altogether laugh.gif it's obviously iconic and ground breaking but it does get overshadowed by many of her other singles. The music video however is incredible and still holds up today as one of her best!
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Medellíam
post Jun 7 2019, 01:09 AM
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Just had a watch of all four tour performances and they're all really strong! The Blond Ambition one is my favourite as I love how emulates the music video and has that powerful, fierce nature about it. Everything is so grand and important and you just know you're watching something of the highest calibre.

The Re-invention performance works so well as a successor to the aggressive 'American Life'; it's like a ray of hope and an encouraging sign that things can get better if we all support each other.

The other two performances are all about fun and I think it's good to highlight that quality of the song alongside its powerful message. I do like how she incorporates Gaga's 'Born This Way' and her own 'She's Not Me' into the performance, I thought that was a funny, tongue-n-cheek moment and in a strange way actually dilutes the Gaga vs. Madonna 'feud' as it takes away from the seriousness and just says "hey, it's all just a bit of fun".
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Jay ☆
post Sep 2 2019, 04:35 AM
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I also find it incredibly surprising that Express Yourself "only" reached #5 in the UK! I mean obviously #5 is great, but relative to her own career up to that point it could be considered as an under-performance... particularly when it was only the second single from Like a Prayer, and in theory should have done better as such a new Madonna song.

Express Yourself was Madonna's 18th UK Top 5 hit. Follow up singles Cherish & Dear Jessie both became Top 5 hits as well, meaning that Madonna achieved 20 Top 5 hits in the 1980s. As of 2017, Express Yourself was her worst selling Top 5 hit from the 80s, and third worst seller overall (ahead of The Look of Love - #9 and Lucky Star - #14).

To be fair, Express Yourself did help the Like a Prayer album linger within the Top 20 for a while:

10-05-05-10-15-24-34-37-58-69 [Express Yourself - UK Top 75 Chart Run]
19-16-16-17-17-22-13-16-17-23 [Like a Prayer's chart run while the single charted]


...however, third single Cherish saw Like a Prayer climb as high as #5, while it went back up to #10 during the time Dear Jessie was a hit.


I wonder why the fans/UK public seemingly didn't connect with Express Yourself to the extent that they usually did with Madonna singles? Is anyone here old enough to remember how it was received in 1989?

Despite how it performed at the time, it seems fair to say that it's very well-remembered and regarded as one of her most iconic releases. Maybe its inclusion on The Immaculate Collection helped it along with standing the test of time? Would it be fair to say that the comparisons to Lady Gaga's Born This Way in 2011 attributed to cementing Express Yourself as one of Madonna's classics... or would that be going too far? unsure.gif


Obviously my above comments are UK-centric, I appreciate that it performed much better in the US (#2)!
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Medellíam
post Sep 2 2019, 03:58 PM
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^Yes I'm curious as to why it wasn't a bigger chart hit in the UK. It's definitely a well-remembered song, I've always known it to be such even before Born This Way - as a kid, it was up there with the likes of Like a Virgin and Material Girl in terms of songs I'd instantly know to be Madonna songs. Perhaps the fact it was so big in America has something to do with why it's popular here?
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