Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 17, 1989

It's time for another Tuesday Timeline entry, and while this entry deviates a bit from the 2011 theme I have had going all month long, it is quite an interesting topic of discussion.  At least, I'd like to think so anyway.

Before we get on with the main part of the timeline, we should really see what else happened in the world on May 17.

1536 - The marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn is annulled

1590 - Anne of Demnark is crowned Queen of Scotland

1792 - The New York Stock Exchange is formed

1849 - St. Louis, Missouri is almost completely destroyed due to a massive fire sweeping through the city

1865 - The International Telegraph Union is founded in Paris, France

1875 - The First Kentucky Derby is won by Aristides

1936 - Actor Dennis Hopper (d. 2010) is born in Dodge City, Kansas

1938 - Actor Jason Bernard (d. 1996) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1939 - The first televised sporting event is broadcast in the United States; a collegiate baseball game held in New York City

1940 - Brussels, Belgium is occupied by German troops during World War II

1944 - American-Canadian singer Jesse Winchester (d. 2014) is born in Bossier City, Louisiana

1950 - Disney film composer Howard Ashman (d. 1991) is born in Baltimore, Maryland

1973 - Televised hearings regarding the Watergate scandal begin in the United States Senate

1974 - A deadly day in Ireland takes place when four separate car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan claim the lives of 33 people and injure 300 more

1990 - The World Health Organization removes homosexuality from its list of psychiatric diseases

1992 - Variety show host Lawrence Welk dies at the age of 89

2000 - Riots break out at the 2000 UEFA Cup Finals between Arsenal fans and Galatasaray fans in Copenhagen, Denmark

2004 - The first legal same-sex marriages are performed in Massachusetts; actor Tony Randall passes away at the age of 84

2005 - Actor Frank Gorshin passes away, aged 72

2012 - Singer Donna Summer dies of lung cancer at the age of 63

2013 - Seventy-two people are injured when two Metro-North commuter trains collide near Bridgeport, Connecticut

2015 - Rival biker gangs in Waco, Texas engage in a shootout inside a restaurant leaving nine dead and eighteen injured

And turning one year older are the following famous faces - Ronald Wayne, Gary Paulsen, Grace Zabriskie, Al White, David Simeon, Howard Hampton, Bill Paxton, Sugar Ray Leonard, Bob Saget, Jim Nantz, Simon Fuller, Enya, Craig Ferguson, Page McConnell, David Eigenburg, Mauro Martini, Rob Pruitt, Trent Reznor, Hill Harper, Tabatha Coffey, Alan Doyle, Thom Filicia, Jordan Knight, Sasha Alexander, Steve Barakatt, Josh Homme, Andrea Corr, Kandi Burruss, Tony Parker, Derek Hough, Tahj Mowry, and Daniel Curtis Lee.

So, since we aren't going back to 2011 in this entry, what year will we be looking at instead?

Well, how about we go back in time 27 years?  May 17, 1989.

This would have been right around my 8th birthday, and I think what I was doing that day was learning about the solar system in second grade, likely reading a Jughead comic book or two, and watching a couple of episodes of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" on television.

But while I was watching the Ninja Turtles, something else was going on in the world of television.  Particularly on MTV, to be precise.

May 17, 1989 was the date that a particular music video debuted, and let's just say that the video itself was a masterpiece.  If you remember what music videos were like when MTV debuted in 1981, you'd think that watching this music video in 1989 was like nothing you had ever seen before.

And it wasn't.

What if I told you that this music video was the most expensive video ever made in the 1980s?  That's impressive right?  And what if I told you that this video was the third most expensive music video of all time?  That would be even more impressive.

Most impressive of all?  Of the top ten most expensive music videos ever made, this woman has made three of them!

So, who is this singer?  And what's the music video?

Today we'll be talking about Madonna, and her music video for "Express Yourself", the David Fincher directed masterpiece based on the 1927 film "Metropolis" that still holds up twenty-seven years later.

The cost of the music video?  Well, back in 1989, it cost a cool five million.  If you adjust that into 2016 money, it would have cost close to nine million had it been made today!  Back in 1989, some full length motion pictures didn't even have a five million dollar budget!

But Madonna certainly did have the money.  Thanks to her brief endorsement with Pepsi (and I do mean brief), she pocketed the five million to pay for the production of the video for "Express Yourself".

The composition for the song began in 1988 - just after Madonna wrapped up production on the film "Who's That Girl".  At that time, she was working on songs for her fourth album "Like A Prayer", and to say that 1988 was a difficult year for Madonna would be an understatement.  She was undergoing problems in her marriage to actor Sean Penn (they would divorce in 1989), and she was having conflicts with her religious convictions, and she was trying to find a way to deal with the paparazzi and having every aspect of her life placed under a microscope.  And certainly all of that angst and emotion can be heard throughout the entirety of "Like A Prayer", with some calling it her best album that she has ever released.

"Express Yourself" was the first single that Madonna worked on for the album, and she was inspired by funk band Sly & The Family Stone when recording the single with producer Stephen Bray (who had worked with Madonna on her "True Blue" album in 1986).  In Bray's version, the single does have a nice throwback to the late 1960s funk and soul vibe that seemed to dominate the music charts back then.  In the music video version, the song was remixed by Shep Pettibone (who also mixed "Vogue", "Erotica", "Deeper and Deeper", and "Rain", amongst other Madonna songs), but the remix seemed to blend in well with the theme of the video.  (And you can listen to the remixed version by clicking HERE.)

That theme, of course, is female empowerment, and not settling for second best.  As Madonna explained in this 1989 article featured in Interview magazine...

"The ultimate thing behind the song is that if you don't express yourself, if you don't say what you want, then you're not going to get it.  And in effect, you are chained down by your inability to say what you feel or go after what you want.  No matter how in control you think you are about sexuality in a relationship there is always the power struggle...always a certain amount of compromise.  Of being beholden, if you love them.  You do it because you choose to.  No one put the chain around this neck but me.  I wrote 'Express Yourself' to tell women around the world that pick and choose the best for yourself before that chain around your neck kills you instead.  It's my take on how man can express what they want, the same prerogative should be there for a woman too."

Now, this explains that scene where Madonna is lying on a bed naked with a chain around her neck.  It's just one of the messages that Madonna wanted to present with the video.  I'll admit that I was maybe 11 or 12 before I saw this video for the first time, and I was confused as heck by it.  Men doing push-ups in the rain, cats running all over the place, Madonna pouring milk over her shoulder...all these scenes did not make sense to a young kid, but as an adult, I totally get it.

I find it funny that before Madonna came around that factory that every worker there was working like clockwork, and once she picked the man that she wanted to have sex with, the factory shut down and erupted into chaos.  Maybe she had more control than anyone thought!

Whatever the case, it took a lot of work to put the video together, and here's some behind the scenes facts that you might not know regarding the filming of this video, courtesy of text transcripts of Madonna's interviews, as well as Pop-Up Video!

1 -  There were a total of three different cats used in the filming of this video.

2 -  The man that Madonna chose to get to know better is played by model Cameron Alborzian.

3 - Madonna hated filming the scene where she had to pour milk all over herself - but she decided to do it because it was what David Fincher wanted to make the shot look good.  In the end, she agreed that she was glad to have let him win that argument.

4 - This isn't the first video that David Fincher directed for Madonna.  He also directed "Vogue" and "Bad Girl".

5 - At the time she filmed "Express Yourself", she was also working on "Dick Tracy" with Warren Beatty - whom Madonna had a relationship with.  She had asked Warren to play the role of one of the workers, but Beatty refused.

6 -  After its May 17, 1989 debut on MTV, the video was placed on extremely heavy rotation - played at least once an hour for three weeks straight!

7 - Despite the promotion and cost of the video, "Express Yourself" stalled at #2 on the Billboard Charts.

8 - Madonna simulated Michael Jackson's dance style in one scene of the video.  You'll know it when you see it.

9 - The video won three MTV Video Music Awards.

When it comes down to it, Madonna expressed herself in this video the way that no other female artist had done before.  It was something fresh and new, and delivered a positive message, not just for women, but for everyone.  This was the period in which Madonna was clearly at her best.  And to think that this video was released twenty-seven years ago today!

No comments:

Post a Comment