Saturday, February 2, 2013

Frivolity Break: 24 Years of Madonna's Express Yourself

The fact that Madonna's Express Yourself is 24 years old is at once impossible to believe, and also easy to swallow. As one of her most iconic videos--perhaps one of the medium's most iconic as well--it feels younger than it is. Still, it came out in 1989, barely the 80s, but still the 80s. It marked a turning point in my life, becoming popular as I transitioned from a boring, hum-drum life as a bank teller, and started a new career in the amusement industry.

Though that career fizzled out about eight and a half years in, it led to where my life is now, in Las Vegas, in the sign industry, married to The Other Half. Express Yourself was released as a maxi-single, with a couple of remixes. The song was already a favorite of mine, having been included on the Like a Prayer album. The remixes really changed the feel of the song, making it even more fun. When the video came out, I was enthralled. It was the peak of my Madonna-mania, and also sort of a turning point for her. The next year would come The Immaculate Collection, and the almost X-rated Justify My Love. It was the tail end of Madonna's 80s heyday, and the beginning of a more mixed reception (though there are still many, many gems from the 90s forward).

So, while Express Yourself was over half my life ago, it was only seven years into Madonna's (so far) 31-year career in the public eye. It marked a peak in her dance pop hits both in audio and video that previewed the even better Vogue. I've always considered Express Yourself to be the middle of a trilogy started with Open Your Heart and ending with Vogue. I don't know if anyone--even Madonna--sees any connection, but if I could only pick out three of her songs or videos, those would be the ones. So, without further ado, here's Madonna performing Express Yourself over the span of the last 24 years. [Video found at]

And because I can't resist, here is the original video:

And the drastically different album version:

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