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Vogue (Madonna song)

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Madonna poses with her head leaning back, wearing a black corset.
Single by Madonna
from the album I'm Breathless
B-side "Keep It Together" (Single Remix)
Released March 27, 1990 (1990-03-27)
Recorded December 1989 – January 1990
Genre House
Length 4:50
  • Madonna
  • Shep Pettibone
  • Craig Kostich (exec.)
Madonna singles chronology
"Keep It Together"
"Hanky Panky"
"Keep It Together"
"Hanky Panky"

"Vogue" is a song by American singer Madonna from her second soundtrack album I'm Breathless (1990). It was released as the first single from the album on March 27, 1990, by Sire Records. Madonna was inspired by vogue dancers and choreographers Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza and Luis Xtravaganza from the Harlem "House Ball" community, the origin of the dance form, and they introduced "Vogueing" to her at the Sound Factory club in New York City. "Vogue" later appeared on her greatest hits compilation albums, The Immaculate Collection (1990) and Celebration (2009).

"Vogue" is an upbeat house song and set the trends of dance music in the 1990s. However, it has strong influences of 1970s disco within its composition. The song also contains a spoken section, in which the singer name-checks various golden-era Hollywood celebrities. Lyrically, the song is about enjoying oneself on the dance floor no matter who one is, and it contains a theme of escapism. Critically, "Vogue" has been met with appreciation ever since its release; reviewers have praised its anthemic nature and listed it as one of the singer's career highlights. Commercially, the song remains one of Madonna's biggest international hits, topping the charts in over 30 countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It became the world's best-selling single of 1990, selling over six million copies.

The music video for "Vogue", directed by David Fincher, was shot in black-and-white and takes stylistic inspiration from the 1920s and 1930s. Madonna and her dancers can be seen voguing to different choreographed moves. The video has been ranked as one of the greatest of all time in different critic lists and polls and won three awards at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards out of a total of nine nominations.

Madonna has performed the song on six of her tours, at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards, and at her performance during the halftime show of Super Bowl XLVI. The song has also been featured on the soundtrack of The Devil Wears Prada, as well as in "The Power of Madonna" episode of the Fox show Glee. Writers and critics have noted the video and the song's influence in bringing an underground subculture into mainstream popular culture through the postmodern nature of her power and influence, as well as the way in which it followed a new trend in which dance music enjoyed widespread popularity.


In late 1989, after her album Like a Prayer had spawned three US hits—the title track, "Express Yourself" and "Cherish"—and a top-five European single in "Dear Jessie", its fourth US single, "Oh Father", stalled at number 20 in the charts. Perhaps to ensure that the last single release of "Keep It Together" would fare better on the charts, Madonna and producer Shep Pettibone decided to compose a new song to be placed on the flipside of "Keep It Together" and quickly produced "Vogue". The song and video were inspired by the dance of the same name, performed in New York clubs in the underground gay scene, in which dancers used a series of complex hand gestures, body poses and movements to imitate their favourite Hollywood stars (see the list of the names of the Hollywood stars below), as well as the cover models from Vogue magazine.

After presenting the song to Warner Bros. executives, all parties involved decided that the song was too good to be wasted on a B-side and that it should be released as a single. Although the song itself had nothing to do with Madonna's then-upcoming Disney movie Dick Tracy, it was included on the album I'm Breathless, which contained songs from and inspired by the film. Madonna altered some of the suggestive lyrics because the song was connected to the Disney film via soundtrack.[1]


"Vogue" is a house song with notable disco influence.[2][3][4] The song has been noted by Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine to have a "deep house groove" and to have a "throbbing beat" by Mark Coleman of Rolling Stone.[5][6] J. Randy Taraborrelli, in his book Madonna: An Intimate Biography, wrote that the song was a "pulsating dance track".[7] According to sheet music published at at Alfred Publishing, the song is written in the key of A♭ major, has a tempo of 116 beats per minute, and in it, Madonna's vocal range spans from C4 to E♭5.[8] Lyrically, the song has a theme of escapism,[6] and talks about how any person can enjoy themself. In the bridge, the song has a spoken rap section, in which Madonna references numerous "golden era" Hollywood celebrities.

The lyrics of the song's rap section feature the names of 16 stars from the 1920s to the 1950s. In order of mention in the lyrics, they are: Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Joe DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean, Grace Kelly, Jean Harlow, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Lana Turner and Bette Davis.

Ten of the stars mentioned in the song (namely Davis, Dean, Dietrich, DiMaggio, Garbo, Harlow, Rogers, Turner and both Kellys) were entitled to a royalty payment of $3,750 when Madonna performed "Vogue" at the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show in 2012 as their images were used in the 'set dressing' of the performance.[9] At the time, Bacall was the lone living star. She died at the age of 89 in 2014.[10]

Critical reception

"Vogue" has been lauded by critics since its release. AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine claimed that the song was "Madonna's finest single moment" and that it had an "instantly memorable melody".[5] In a review of The Immaculate Collection, Stephen Thomas Erlewine also claimed that the song was "sleek" and "stylish".[11] Jose F. Promis, in another Allmusic review, claimed that "Vogue" was a "crowning artistic achievement".[12] In a 1990 review of I'm Breathless, Mark Coleman from Rolling Stone wrote that, whilst the song initially sounded "lackluster", within the album's context, it "gains a startling resonance".[6] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine, in his review of the album as a whole, claimed that whilst the "hugely influential" song initially sounded "grossly out of place", it turns out to be "a fitting finale" for I'm Breathless.[13] Jim Farber from Entertainment Weekly, in a relatively negative review of I'm Breathless, asserted that the "finale of Vogue" is "the sole bright spot".[14] J. Randy Taraborrelli, in his book, Madonna: An Intimate Biography, wrote that the song was a "funky, uptown anthem celebrating the art of 'voguing'", as well as that the rap section "is still one of Madonna's greatest camp musical moments".[7]

In 2003, Madonna fans were asked to vote for their Top 20 Madonna singles of all-time by Q-Magazine. "Vogue" was allocated the #14 spot. In 2007, VH1 ranked fifth the song on its list of "Greatest Songs of the 90s".[15] Slant Magazine listed "Vogue" as tenth "Best Singles of the '90s"[16] as well as third in their list of the "100 Greatest Dance Songs".[17] "Vogue", on addition, has received numerous accolades. It won the 1991 Juno Award for Best Selling International Single,[18] as well as winning the American Music Award for Favourite Dance Single. The song, based on the 1990 Rolling Stone Reader's Poll Awards, was voted Best single.[19] The song was also ranked as the fourth best song of 1990 on that year's Pazz & Jop poll by The Village Voice.[20]

Commercial performance

Madonna performing "Vogue" on the Sticky & Sweet Tour.

After its release, "Vogue" reached number one in over 30 countries worldwide, becoming Madonna's biggest hit at that time.[21][22] It was also the best-selling single of 1990 with sales of more than two million,[23] and has sold more than six million copies worldwide to date.[24] In the US, massive airplay and sales demand in response to the popular music video in April 1990 made way for "Vogue"'s number 39 debut in the week of April 14. The song shot to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in its sixth week on the chart, dated May 19, 1990, displacing Sinéad O'Connor's four-week run in the top spot with "Nothing Compares 2 U". The song also reached number one on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, remaining there for two weeks. On June 28, 1990, "Vogue" was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales of two million copies of the physical single across United States.[25] To date, it remains Madonna's best-selling physical single in the country. After digital sales began in 2005, "Vogue" has sold additional 311,000 digital downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[26]

"Vogue" was also a huge success in Europe by topping the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles chart for eight consecutive weeks. In the United Kingdom, the song knocked Snap!'s "The Power" off the number one slot and stayed there for four weeks, continuing a trend of club/pop crossovers going to number one. It was helped in the UK by multi-formatting. As well as the 7-inch, 12-inch, CD and cassette singles, the label released four limited editions: 12-inch with Face of the 80s poster, 12-inch with 'X-rated' poster and an extra remix on the b-side, 7-inch picture disc and 12-inch picture disc. According to The Official Charts Company, the song has sold 505,000 copies there and is her 11th biggest selling single in the UK.[27] Released as a double A-side to "Keep It Together", "Vogue" also topped Australian ARIA singles chart for five weeks.[28]

Music video


The video was directed by David Fincher and shot at The Burbank Studios in Burbank, California on February 10–11, 1990. According to Lucy O'Brien in her book Madonna: Like an Icon, the video was brought together after a "huge casting call" in Los Angeles where hundreds of different sorts of dancers appeared.[29]

Filmed in black-and-white, the video recalls the look of films and photography from The Golden Age of Hollywood with the use of artwork by the Art Deco artist Tamara de Lempicka and an Art Deco set design. Many of the scenes are recreations of photographs taken by noted photographer Horst P. Horst, including his famous Mainbocher Corset, Lisa with Turban (1940), and Carmen Face Massage (1946). Horst was reportedly "displeased" with Madonna's video because he never gave his permission for his photographs to be used and received no acknowledgement from Madonna.[30] Some of the close-up poses recreate noted portraits of such stars as Marilyn Monroe, Veronica Lake, Greta Garbo,[31] Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Garland and Jean Harlow. (Additionally, several stars of this era were name-checked in the song's lyrics.)[32] Several famous Hollywood portrait photographers whose style and works are referenced include George Hurrell,[33][34] Eugene Robert Richee,[35] Don English,[36] Whitey Schafer, Ernest Bachrach, Scotty Welbourne, Laszlo Willinger, and Clarence Sinclair Bull.[37]

The video features the dancers for Madonna's then-upcoming Blond Ambition Tour - Donna De Lory, Niki Harris, Luis Xtravaganza Camacho, Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza, Salim Gauwloos, Carlton Wilborn, Gabriel Trupin, Oliver Crumes and Kevin Stea.[38][39] The choreography was set by "Punk Ballerina" Karole Armitage.[32] The video premiered worldwide on MTV on March 29, 1990, and it also premiered on BET on November 22 that same year, making itthe first video by Madonna to air on an African-American channel.

There are two versions of the video, the regularly aired television music video,[40] and the 12-inch remix, which is the extended version over three minutes longer.[41][42]


Madonna wearing the controversial sheer lace blouse in the black and white "Vogue" music video.

The black-and-white video, set in Art Deco-themed 1920s and 1930s surroundings, starts off showing different sculptures, works of art, as well as Madonna's dancers posing. Along with this are images of a maid and a butler cleaning up inside what seems to be a grand house. When the dance section of the song starts, Madonna turns around, and, similarly to the lyrics, strikes a pose. The video progresses, and images of men with fedoras, Madonna wearing the controversial sheer lace dress and other outfits, follow. As the chorus begins, Madonna and her dancers start to perform a vogue dance routine, where she sings the chorus as her dancers mime the backing vocals. After this, other scenes of Madonna in different outfits and imitations of golden-era Hollywood stars progresses, after which there is a scene with Madonna's dancers voguing. Finally, after this scene, Madonna can be seen wearing her iconic "cone bra", after which she also performs a dance routine with a fellow dancer. As the rap section begins, different clips of Madonna posing in the style of famous photographs or portraits of Hollywood stars, begins, ultimately followed by a choreographed scene with her dancers and backup singers.


MTV placed the video at second on their list of "100 Greatest Music Videos Ever Made" in 1999.[43] In 1993, Rolling Stone magazine listed the video as the twenty-eighth best music video of all-time. Also, the same magazine listed "Vogue" as the #2 music video of all time in 1999 second only to Michael Jackson's Thriller.[44] It was also ranked at number five on "The Top 100 Videos That Broke The Rules", issued by MTV on the channel's 25th anniversary in August 2006.[45] It was the third time Fincher and Madonna collaborated on a video (the first being 1989's "Express Yourself" and the second being 1989's "Oh Father"). listed as the best Madonna video.[44]

There was some controversy surrounding the video due to a scene in which Madonna's breasts and, if the viewer looks closely, her nipples could be seen through her sheer lace blouse, as seen in the picture on the right.[32] MTV wanted to remove this scene, but Madonna refused, and the video aired with the shot intact.

"Vogue" music video received a total of nine MTV Video Music Awards nominations, becoming her most-nominated video at the award show. It won Best Direction, Best Editing and Best Cinematography.[46][47][48]

Sampling controversy

Madonna and Pettibone were sued by VMG Salsoul in June 2012 based on the accusation that they had sampled the 1976 song "Love Break" by the Salsoul Orchestra.[49] The case was decided in Madonna's favor; the judge found that "no reasonable audience" would be able to discern the sampled portions, as they were insignificant to "Vogue".[50] That decision was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[51]

Live performances

Madonna performing "Vogue" on the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show in 2012

A performance of the song, featuring Madonna and the dancers in black lycra shorts was included on the 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour. Later that year she performed a lip-synched version at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards which was later released on the video compilation The Immaculate Collection and the European video single for "Justify My Love". It featured Madonna and her dancers dressed in an 18th-century French theme, with Madonna bearing great resemblance to Marie Antoinette. Madonna wore Glenn Close's costume from the film Dangerous Liaisons.[33][52][53] During the performance, Madonna and her dancers flashed their undergarments during their routine, and at one point Madonna pushed the faces of two male dancers into her breasts, and one of her dancers also fondled her breasts. Overall, the performance was ranked as the second best in the history of MTV Video Music Awards in a Billboard poll.[54]

Cover versions

Madonna performing "Vogue" at the APLA "Commitment To Life IV" benefit in 1990.

In 1992, Finnish progressive metal band Waltari recorded a cover version for their album Torcha!, which became a single and has a video clip.[55][56] In 2008, Rihanna performed the song during the Fashion Rocks show. In 2014, the studio version of the recording leaked online.[57] On the Fox TV show Glee, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) sang and performed in a "Vogue" music video on the March 2010 all-Madonna episode, with the name of Ginger Rogers replaced by the name of Sue Sylvester, and the phrase "Bette Davis we love you" replaced by the phrase "Will Schuester I hate you". The song charted at number 106 on the UK Singles Chart.[58] Australian singer Kylie Minogue used the song in both her Homecoming Tour and For You, For Me Tour, as a mashup with her own song "Burning Up". Beth Ditto included "Vogue" in several live performances, including at Moscow Miller Party.[21] She also paid homage to "Vogue" with the video of her single "I Wrote the Book".[59] In 2014, Katy Perry used a snippet of "Vogue" and mashed it with her own song "International Smile", during The Prismatic World Tour.[60]


Vogue dance has gained mainstream popularity with the release of the song.

With the release of the song, Madonna brought the underground "vogueing" into mainstream culture.[17][61] Before Madonna popularized the dance, vogue was performed mostly in bars and disco of New York City on the underground gay scene.[62]

Author Lucy O'Brien, in her book Madonna: Like an Icon, wrote a detailed description of the song's influence:

'Vogue' became the Number 1 hit of that summer, played in clubs across the globe, from London to New York to Bali. It rode the crest of the newly emerging dance craze, where club culture, house music and techno met the mainstream. 'Vogue' reflected the new hedonism; positive, upbeat, and totally inclusive.[29]

The song has been noted to be unmistakably feminist, both in its lyrics and consumption. The song, and the culture surrounding it, seem to explicitly exclude straight males from its directive while simultaneously demanding their submission to the song's messages, themes, and legacy.[63]

However, some critique stems from the possible exploitation of an underground queer culture for commercial gain, as feminist writer Nicole Akoukou Thompson notes for the Latin Post, Madonna had “taken a very specifically queer, transgender, Latino and African-American phenomenon and totally erased that context with her lyrics.” [64]

The song is also noted for bringing house music into mainstream popular music,[65] as well as for reviving disco music after a decade of its commercial death. Erick Henderson of Slant Magazine explained that the song "was instrumental in allowing disco revivalism to emerge, allowing the denigrated gay genre to soar once again within the context of house music, the genre disco became in its second life."[63] Sal Cinquemani of the same publication wrote that the song was "making its impact all the more impressive (it would go on to inspire a glut of pop-house copycats) and begging the question: If disco died a decade earlier, what the fuck was this big, gay, fuscia drag-queen boa of a dance song sitting on top of the charts for a month for?"[16]

"Vogue" has inspired flash mobs around the US.[66]

In 2015, the rhythmic gymnastics group from Ukraine used the track for their 6 clubs and 2 hoops routine, which was intended to be shown at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Actor Channing Tatum danced to "Vogue" in a video.[67]

Accolades and awards


  • This video was voted #2 on MTV's "100 Greatest Videos Ever Made".[68]
  • This video was voted #5 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s.[69]
  • The song is ranked the 486th best song of all time and the 5th best of 1990 on Acclaimed Music [70]
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll."[71]


Year Ceremony Award Result
1990 MTV Video Music Award[72] Video of the Year Nominated
Best Female Video Nominated
Best Dance Video Nominated
Best Direction in a Video Won
Best Choreography in a Video Nominated
Best Art Direction in a Video Nominated
Best Editing in a Video Won
Best Cinematography in a Video Won
Viewer's Choice Nominated
Rolling Stone Reader's Poll Awards Best Single Won
Best Video Won
1991 American Music Awards Favorite Dance Single Won
Favorite Pop/Rock Single Nominated
Juno Award Best International Single Won

Track listing



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[92] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[101] Platinum 10,000^
France (SNEP)[102] Silver 220,000[103]
Japan (Oricon Charts) 52,370[104]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[105] Gold 5,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[106] Gold 535,110[107]
United States (RIAA)[108] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[109] Gold 100,000*
United States 311,000[26]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also


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Further reading

External links