More Vibrant Without Color: Madonna, The Gossip, Chris Issac, Kim Ann Foxmann in Black and White
Madonna – Justify My Love
We start this collection with the grand dame, and grandma of this genre–Madonna. The original straight to video to VHS, Justify My Love.
When Justify My Love was released you may, or may not remember, it was so racy it was released on VHS only.
Called out for sadomasochism and overt sexual content the video and lyrics ruffled the feathers of sensors and titillated the erogenous zones of fans.
“Justify My Love” was the first ever VHS video single to be released by American singer Madonna. This was the first time an artist had released a single in this format. It was released by Sire Records and Warner Music Vision, to capitalize on the controversy surrounding the music video which was subsequently banned by MTV. It contained the highly controversial and sexually-charged video.
On December 3, 1990, ABC’s Nightline played the video in its entirety, then interviewed Madonna live about the video’s sexual content and censorship. When asked whether she stood to make more money selling the video than airing it on MTV, she shrugged and answered, “Yeah, so? Lucky me.” She also mentioned that the banning was hypocritical as male artists were able to show music videos on the channel which contained sexist and violent imagery. She also mentioned that in her “Vogue” music video she had worn a see-through lace top which exposed her breasts, but this was passed by the channel.
The video contained imagery of sadomasochism, voyeurism and bisexuality. Madonna biographer, Mark Bego commented that “Throwing a scandal Madonna’s way is like throwing gasoline on a fire.” The controversy turned out to be a publicity and financial coup, with the single spending two consecutive weeks at no. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 in early 1991.
The video single was released exclusively in the United States and Europe, and was never released anywhere else in the world
As detailed in this SPIN exclusive with Beth Ditto:
While Lady Gaga is expressing her love for Madonna with “Born This Way,” Gossip singer-gone-solo Beth Ditto pays apparent tribute to Madge with the music video for “I Wrote the Book” (watch below), the first single from her eponymous solo EP (available online March 8).
Shot at London’s swank Grosvenor House by director Price James (Hercules and the Love Affair, Peaches), the black and white clip finds Ditto primping, being smothered by three male model types in various stages of undress, and dancing to the bubbly atmospherics and bangin’ club beats courtesy of her collaborators from Simian Mobile Disco. It takes visual cues from Madonna’s “Vogue” and “Justify My Love” clips, and it works.
Chis Isaac – Wicked Game
The Wicked Game video directed by Herb Ritts is still a stunner.
The music video of the song was directed by Herb Ritts, shot in Hawaii and featured top model Helena Christensen rolling and frolicking on the beach with Isaak. It was filmed in black and white. Christensen was topless and Isaak was shirtless through most of the video, although clever camera angles concealed any actual nudity. Viewers still reacted to Christensen’s sexually suggestive performance, and the video was later featured on MTV‘s Sexiest Video of All-Time countdown. The video won the MTV Video Music Awards for Best Male Video, Best Cinematography and Best Video from a Film. A previous version of the video was commissioned for the Wild at Heart soundtrack, and was directed by David Lynch.
The video was ranked #13 on VH1‘s 100 Greatest Videos and was also ranked #4 on VH1‘s 50 Sexiest Video Moments. The video was ranked #73 on Rolling Stone magazine’s “The 100 Top Music Videos”. The video ranked #1 on Fuse‘s “40 Sexiest Videos” in 2010.
From Prefix Mag:
…her first solo release set to drop on Mr. Intl records. Foxman wrote sparkling minimal house cut “Creature” with Hercules svengali Andy Butler, and the lovely black and white clip was directed by Jonathan Turner. Presumably it was Turner’s idea to have all of these awesome dancers voguing and break-dancing around the typically laid back Foxman.