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Justify My Love by Madonna
Album: Immaculate CollectionReleased: 1990Charted:
Lenny Kravitz helped Madonna write and produce this sultry song, where Madonna whispers most of the lyrics. It was the first single from her highly anticipated Immaculate Collection compilation album, and created plenty of sales-generating controversy for the singer, who was known for pushing the limits of sexual content.
Ingrid Chavez, a singer who had worked with Prince, sued for royalties from this, claiming she wrote it with Kravitz. It was settled out of court and Chavez got a composer credit along with Kravitz and Madonna.
This samples a beat from a Public Enemy song called "Security Of The First World," an instrumental from their album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. Public Enemy used many samples themselves, so they didn't sue Madonna or Kravitz. Public Enemy's producer, Hank Shocklee, capitalized on the publicity by having a group called the Young Black Teenagers record an answer song using the same beat called "To My Donna."
The video contained partial nudity. MTV banned it, but eventually agreed to play it late at night. With the controversy brewing over the video, ABC aired it on Nightline, with anchor Forrest Sawyer asking Madonna questions about the video as it ran. It was unusual for an entertainment story to be the focus of Nightline, but this one made the news because it raised censorship issues. It also didn't hurt that Madonna was a huge star and was sure to draw lots of viewers. While the video played, Madonna talked about how women in her videos are always in control sexually.
The video was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who had a photography/graphic design background and made clips that looked more like art films. He usually worked in black-and-white, which he did here and also in his other famous video: Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer
The clip was shot at a Paris hotel and featured Madonna's boyfriend at the time, Tony Ward.
This was one of two new songs released on Madonna's Greatest Hits album Immaculate Collection. The other was "Rescue Me."
After the video was banned by MTV, it was released for sale on VHS. In an era when your phone can play just about any video with a few taps of the glass it's hard to comprehend, but in the early '90s people would buy certain music videos to play on their VCRs. This one sold well thanks to the controversy, eventually selling over one million copies.
The video was parodied on an episode of Saturday Night Live that Madonna guest hosted. In a Wayne's World skit, Garth appears as one of the dancers.