"Vogueing" was a dance craze popular in the gay community where dancers used elaborate hand gestures and frequently stopped to pose. This song brought the dance style to the mainstream and solidified Madonna's standing as an icon in the gay community.
Madonna's best friend Debi Mazar first noticed the Vogue craze while they were out clubbing. She was fascinated by the way these men would "Strike a pose" while holding their bodies in strange positions. Madonna took the idea to the New York producer Shep Pettibone, who she had recently begun working with, and they wrote the song together. Pettibone was a DJ at Sound Factory, which is the club where Madonna saw the dancing.
This song was originally written as the B-side to "Keep It Together," a single release in America only. However, when Shep Pettibone played "Vogue" to the record company executives at Sire, they decided that the song was too good to waste on a B-side.
Madonna mentions many glamorous actors and actresses in the lyrics, including Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire and Jean Harlow. Some of the mentions are a little forced: "They had style, they had grace, Rita Hayworth gave good face."
Lauren Bacall was the last surviving legendary actor or actress mentioned in this song. She passed away after a stroke on August 12, 2014. Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Joe DiMaggio (the only non actor mentioned), Marlon Brando, Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, and Lana Turner all previously departed before the husky-voiced Hollywood icon.
The video featured the "House Of Extravaganza," a group of New York City dancers who "Vogued" along with Madonna. Before fading into obscurity, they performed on talk shows as America became interested in the Vogue phenomenon.
The video was directed by David Fincher, who directed Alien 3
. He went on to direct Seven
(1995), Fight Club
(1999) and Zodiac
(2007). Fincher also directed Madonna's "Express Yourself
," "Oh, Father
" and "Bad Girl
This was included on Madonna's album I'm Breathless, which was "inspired by" the movie Dick Tracy. Madonna starred in the movie with Warren Beatty, and they became a couple. Speaking about this song in the October 29, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone, Madonna said, "I wrote it when I was making Dick Tracy. After we shot the movie, Warren Beatty asked me if I could write a song that would fit my character's point of view, that she could have conjured up. She was obsessed with speakeasies and movie stars and things like that. The idea for the lyrics came through that request."
One of the dancer's striking a pose in the video was Belgian dancer Salim "Slam" Gauwloos, who went on to choreograph and create ballets. He recalled to Q magazine June 2009: "I first auditioned for her tour with 2000 other hopefuls. People turned up with flowers and gifts for Madonna, which was weird to me - I just danced." He added: "Shooting a video in two days, 16 hours a day, required a lot of focus. David Fincher told me to stand and hit different poses with my body and face. I was ambitious and became frustrated I wasn't dancing that much and thought, 'Great - no one's going to see me.' So I was really surprised I got so much focus in the video."
Madonna was the subject of a lawsuit in 2012 claiming that portions of the song borrowed the horns and strings heard in Salsoul Orchestra's 1983 dance tune, "Ooh, I Love It (Love Break)." Music Bosses at American record company VMG Salsoul only discovered the apparent sample thanks to new technology designed to identify specific sounds. VMG claimed that Pettibone had access to "Love Break," because he had been hired by them to remix the song before beginning work on "Vogue."
The suit was resolved in November 2013 with a ruling in favor of Madonna and Pettibone. A District Court judge out of California ruled on summary judgment that the sampling of the horns and strings was "trivial," in that they could not be recognized.
The word vogue was very fashionable in 1990. Not only did this song top the charts, but the magazine Vogue
was enjoying a resurgence under the guidance of Anna Wintour, and the group En Vogue emerged with their first hit, "Hold On