Saturday, April 24, 2010

Videos That Rocked The World: The 'Citizen Kane' of music videos - Like a Prayer.

The year was 1989. For fans, Madonna had taken a very long hiatus. Very long being a year and half but back then it felt like an eternity! Anyone that lived through it knows what I'm talking about. Although she had filmed a new movie, Howard Brookner's Bloodhounds of Broadway and was extremely busy doing her first Broadway run of David Mamet's Speed the Plow, there was very little media output from Our Lady from late '87 to early '89. Basically, all we got were paparazzi pictures of her coming and going from Speed the Plow, an Entertainment Tonight coverage piece of the play, rumors of divorce from Sean Penn and the relationship with Sandra Bernhard. After her Who's That Girl world tour in 1987, she told Spin Magazine that she was burnt out on music and the music video medium.

Spin magazine article early 1988 - Madonna not feeling the music landscape and about to come in and funk things up.

There was a written piece on her in the now defunct Fame magazine in late 1988 written by novelist Harry Crews, and it was in there that she dropped the name of her new album, Like a Prayer. I remember thinking, Is she kidding? Like a Virgin, Like a Prayer? After hearing her discontentment with music and video, I was kind of like, On no, its going to be horrible. She's over music and over videos and the last taste in our mouth was the Who's That Girl video. Although that is one of my favorite Madonna looks, it is, in my opinion, one of her worst videos. But then about 6 months later the Like a Prayer song and video were released and my initial thoughts were immediately eradicated. Obviously. She came back with a vengeance and with one of the greatest songs ever written and recorded in the history of popular music and with a video that put all others to shame. The greatest and most controversial video ever made. The Citizen Kane of music videos. Never doubt the woman.

Here is the program Videos that Rocked the World from 2007 - which discusses in length not only the brilliant video but also the Pepsi commercial and all the influence and controversy it caused. With commentaries from the video's director - the brilliant Mary Lambert, producer Sharon Oreck, co-star Leon Robinson, the awful, back stabbing horrible and hypocritical Niki Harris, cinematographer Steve Poster and a slew of others.

So without further ado here is the program, Videos That Rocked the World, analyzing the greatest video ever made, Like a Prayer.

Fighting for the National Endowment of the Arts


  1. I am obsessed with this site. I am 25 but I wish I were older. I missed all of the best Madonna years. That magic will never be repeated by any other artisit. Not even by Madonna herself. Inspiring. Love xx

  2. I agree Pud! This was the greatest video ever made on so many levels. Great post!

  3. Awesome post AGAIN Pud!

    You mentioned "Fame" magazine there! It fascinates me that the original plan for "Like a Prayer" was a CHRISTMAS 1988 release. Fame magazine confirms this by stating that the album will be released in December of that year.

    I remember too when the title popped up (we never got Fame magazine in the UK - but the papers here picked up about the album name and the December release date).

    I wonder if the LAP video had happened at Christmas time, would the controversy have been even GREATER!!!

    BTW - while I'm on the subject of Fame magazine LOL - did you know...

    Firstly (not that interesting) that the Fame article by Harry Crews was first published in the UK in February 1989 in "Time Out" London magazine (I still remember reading it and being horrified at the Madonna quote "my fucking fans!" LOL).

    Secondly - the AMAZING Madonna piece in the magazine was also issued as a limited edition hardback BOOK (!!!) which is still very collectable and a nightmare to get hold of! 275 copies were printed - all signed by Harry Crews

    "Madonna at Ringside" by Harry Crews.

  4. Oh and yes - 1988, what a year for Madonna fans in terms of STARVATION!!!

    I mean - especially over in Europe where I think we were all just dreaming about what it might have been like to have seen "Speed-The-Plow".

    The ONLY thing that got me through 1988 (and I'm not kidding) was the BARAGE of Madonna photos in the UK press. Without fail, every week we got a new photo of her out on the street - and mostly it was a new photo every DAY. It was awesome.

    When I think of 1988 I think of:

    -Ciao Italia! (the only proper Madonna release that year)
    -Speed-The-Plow (when would I EVER get to see it? Never!)
    -Tell Me by Nick Kamen (a Madonna record, sort-of!)
    -Possessive Love by Marilyn Martin (another Madonna record, sort of!)
    -Cut-off jeans (every photo of Madonna she was wearing them!)
    -Sport Aid, Tony Awards, Letterman, Mike Tyson fight. The UK papers went mad when she appeared at ANYTHING that year!

    EVEN though it was a drought for Madonna fans, I still love 1988!

  5. This was really terrific to watch, thanks so much Pudwhacker!

  6. I also wanted to add that I disagree with calling Nicki a backstabbing and hypocritical person.

    To have a bunch of burning crosses in a video is going to be very powerful and sensitive image for many, but especially for those who are African American (which Nicki is). Who knows if Nicki was fully informed by Madonna what the message/concept of the video was. Remember that Mary Lambert confirmed in an interview that the original version of Like A Prayer (the video) was far more extreme, with the Klu Klux Klan in it, and someone being killed in the video as well. For all we know Madonna only told Nicki that burning crosses were going to appear in it...take it or leave it...and Nicki, understandably uncomfortable, decided not to appear in it.

    A person's views on sex, religion, sexuality, race, politics, etc. don't have to all be on the same page all the time. My views differ in many respects on several different issues, and that would by no means make me a hypocrite. Nicki may be completely open to exploring sex and sexuality in images (ala Girlie Show) and performances, and videos...but when it comes to something like *burning crosses* which literally represented torture, beatings, and death to an entire population for some time...I think it's reasonable that Nicki wasn't comfortable doing the video.

    RE: the backstabbing, I would also have to disagree with labeling her as such. Nicki has been very honest and open that Madonna's behavior towards her, she felt, was off putting. What's so backstabbing about that? Nicki gave, in detail, a scenario where Madonna literally was surrounded by a bunch of rabi's and roped off from her friends, and when Nicki tried to get through and Madonna even saw her trying to get through, Madonna maintained that Nicki had to go through a bunch of people in order to even speak to Madonna. And honestly, with Madonna's insane obsession with the Kabbalah, and the people she now surrounds herself with who practically consider her the second coming of the Kabbalah, I'm not surprised Nicki ran into these sort of issues and problems with Madonna.

    In many ways, Madonna has become odd to many (not only privately, but also publicly) with her connection with the Kabbalah which becomes more and more extreme as the years go along. What once was Madonna trying to find spirituality, has turned into an obsession (it seems) and to many longtime fans (such as myself) it has become incredibly questionable whether such an obsession is healthy for her, and whether it has done more harm than good.

    Furthermore, plenty of people have also commented that Madonna can be incredibly cold and off putting when she sees no need in you anymore, and the friendship between Nicki and Madonna seemed to be handled in much the same way. It's obvious that has even affected Donna who, if you notice, doesn't say much about her relationship with Madonna anymore. She has commented it's basically a professional relationship now, and that there really isn't much of a friendship anymore (if any).

    Anyway, to call Nicki backstabbing and hypocritical, in my opinion, is unfair when you take a look at the entire situation between the two of them. Madonna is no angel, and she's been known for being basically a bitch when she feels like she's not the one in control. And friendships aren't about control, it's about an equal give and take, and I wouldn't be surprised if Nicki just didn't feel the friendship was on equal terms anymore.

    Those are my two cents anyway.

  7. nicolas - xoxoxo

    madonna-tv - jamesy - i want that crews book!!! and you know there must be a demo of madonna singing posessive love!!!! xo

    christian - well, re: ugly harris - if she had such a problem with it why did she hit the road with madonna and accept a glorious paycheck? doesnt that mark her stamp of approval? ew - really - that awful niki - i cant.

  8. Well, Niki said she began to have issues/problems with Madge around the time of DWT.

    Donna also had issues with Madonna beginning around that time, but has voiced it in a bit more reserved of a manner.

    RE: the paycheck, well, we all have to make a living somehow, no? :-)

  9. The thing with the burning crosses tho, and all the symbolism in the video, is that it's all there to stand for something, to PROTEST religious intolerance, prejudice, injustice, misogyny. I see her standing infront of those burning crosses, singing, expressing herself as an absolute rebellion against all evil. She's like 'Here I am in this scary place, with these threatening burning crosses (representing all evil) and I'm not scared. I will face and destroy you' A big middle finger to oppression in all it's forms.

    I don't see why that's so hard to get and why some people always feel offended, etc. And nevermind the church and conservatives, they ALWAYS get all offended instead of THINKING. They're so insecure and too serious about things that need to be explored in order for us to progress into the future and evolve.