Madonna´s Album “Material Girl”, a great follow up album.
I love writing about music videos because it is a habit I had lost. In the late 80´s and 1990s I would spend whole afternoons with MTV on while I did my homework, but somewhere along the way, I stopped watching them. I don’t know if I had said that before, but I was thinking about it when I started writing this post. Today, I am happy to be discussing Madonna´s videos because I get to go back and look at them with a different eye and re-evaluate what I thought. I want to write about the videos, not about my favorite songs, not about her influential hits, I just want to focus on the videos themselves.
The time has come to look at her second album “Like a Virgin” and since I don’t like going for the obvious choice, I chose “Material Girl”. I just honestly think it is a better song and a MUCH, MUCH better video!
First of all, let´s take a second to look at this clip from the movie that inspired the video: “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”
Marilyn Monroe – Diamonds are a girl’s best friend
Fantastic clip and I think it was a fantastic tribute. Today, Madonna is a figure that stands on her own. An artist that fought for her individuality and won. She represents individuality, female strength, unapologetic sensuality. It was not like that always. At the beginning of her career she was trying on different looks, and in the early eighties she went trough a “Marilyn Monroe” phase.
Marylin is iconic and now so is Madonna. I am glad each of them have their own space in history.
With this video however, I think what Madonna wanted to do unfortunately backfired, many people (myself included) misunderstood the tribute and thought that Madonna really stood for what she was singing about and there was a period when she was known as “the material girl”. The second video for the album “Like a Virgin” fortunately was more successful, as well as her performance at the first MTV movie awards in 1984 which you can see here helped her get away from that materialistic image.
The video was directed by Mary Lambert (who also directed the “Borderline” video we already talked about and several others by her). It was shot in January 10 and 11 – 1985. It was produced by Simon Fields with principal photography by Peter Sinclair, editing by Glenn Morgan and choreography by Kenny Ortega. Lambert and Madonna are breaking boundaries again by having a video about a video. Madonna shows off her “acting skills” (let´s face it, she is a singer, a great dancer, an okay writer and an excellent entertainer but she is not a good actress) and brings that idea to a video: a backstage look. The video starts with two men discussing Madonna who is playing an actress. The main premise is that she is a simple girl playing a part, acting like a material girl. The supposed director of the video becomes romantically interested and tries to seduce her by sending her expensive gifts until at the end he realizes that she is not into material things and they end up together.
Madonna has said several times that even though she did not write the song it was appealing to her for different reasons: because it was controversial and provocative, because there was a moment in her life when she was very career oriented and was attracted to like minded people. She sometimes regrets recording the song because of the way mainstream media started to portray her.
I think the video and the song are catchy and light and just what the eighties were about. Flashiness, excess and cute dancing men in tuxedos. If it starts playing I immediately go back to a fun and safe place, where, funnily enough, money and material things were the last thing on my mind.