Madonna - Express Yourself (Official Video and Live Performances)
"Express Yourself" is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna from her fourth studio album Like a Prayer. It was released as the second single from the album on May 9, 1989, by Sire Records. The song was included on the greatest hits compilation albums The Immaculate Collection (1990), and Celebration (2009). The accompanying music video, directed by David Fincher, was inspired by the Fritz Lang classic film Metropolis (1927). It had a total budget of $5 million, which made it the most expensive music video in history at the time it was made, and currently the third most expensive of all time. The video portrayed a city full of tall skyscrapers and railway lines. Madonna played the part of a glamorous lady and chained masochist, with muscular men acting as her workers. In the end, she picks one of them—played by model Cameron Alborzian—as her date. Critics noted the video for its exploitation of female sexuality and came to the conclusion that Madonna's masculine image in the video as gender-bending.
Madonna's first live performance of "Express Yourself" was at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards. She started the performance by descending from a flight of stairs, wearing a pin-striped suit and a monocle. Later she removed the coat to reveal her bustier, and together with her backup singers Niki Haris and Donna De Lory, performed a dance routine called voguing. Ian Inglis, author of Performance and Popular Music: History, Place and Time noted that the historical importance of Madonna's performance at the Video Music Awards was due to the televisual venue. Inglis explained that since Madonna's performance was striking primarily as a high-energy, provocatively choreographed, dance production number, it went on to highlight the 'TV' part of MTV, and in a way heralded her and the network as a cultural arbiter.
Madonna included the song in the set list of her Blond Ambition World Tour in 1990, which featured a version based on the Non-Stop Express remix of the song and included lyrics from "Everybody" during the introduction. The set was inspired by Metropolis and the themes were taken from the factory seen in the music video. It included a number of funnels billowing smoke, steel piping, cables hanging above and a flight of stairs in the middle. As the show started, the set was hurled onstage and Madonna's male dancers, with bare torso, appeared behind the steel structures. They did a choreographed routine on the stage, and towards the end Madonna appeared atop the flight of stairs. She was dressed in a pin-striped suit with holes cut in it, so that her brassiere pocked out of them. Underneath she wore a peach colored corset with a pointed conical bra, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. She also held a monocle in her hand. Accompanied by her two female dancers dressed in a similar attire, Madonna did a straightforward vocal rendition of the track, and an elaborate choreography, which included voguing, humping, simulated masturbation and momentary storage of the performers' microphone inside their bras. At one point Madonna opened the suit, to reveal the corset with the bra, and tassels hanging from its sides.