Madonna’s “Vogue” Turns Thirty; A Retrospective Of An Iconic Single

Look around, everywhere you turn is heartache,It’s everywhere that you go (look around)

You try everything you can to escape, The pain of life that you know (life that you know)

When all else fails and you long to be, something better than you are today

I know a place where you can get away, it’s called the dance floor, & here’s what it’s for

It’s with those four bars that one of the most anthemic tracks in musical history was born. Thirty years ago this month, Madonna’s single Vogue premiered on radio stations everywhere and three decades later, remains one of the most culturally relevant songs to ever be crafted. It has been recreated everywhere from the hit television show Glee (Jane Lynch’s vocal recreation was stunningly hilarious) and served as a major storyline arc on Season 2 of the Pose. (In reality, Madonna was inspired by vogue dancers and choreographers Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza and Luis Xtravaganza, direct out of the the Harlem “House Ball” community, where the style of dance originated. They introduced “Vogueing” to her at the legendary Sound Factory club in New York City and an anthem was born). 

Behind the scenes, Vogue was the highlight of her musical partnership with musical impresario and legendary musical architect Shep Pettibone. After remixing several of her other tracks, Pettibone was approached to create a brand new song for the Material Girl. With vocals that he recalls Madonna laying down as “efficient” (with Madonna rapidly tracking all the verse and chorus vocals in order, in single takes). It was Pettibone that suggested the idea of a rap to fill the middle eight portion of the track. He suggested name-checking classic film stars, so he and Madonna came up with a list of names, recording it immediately. Pettibone also came up with the vocal coda (“Ooooh, you’ve got to, let your body move to the music”). Madonna then returned to Los Angeles & Pettibone added both piano and altered the bassline to fit the vocals. Pettibone and Madonna continued an ultra successful partnership through several songs (including “Rescue Me”) culminating in the critically acclaimed and Golden Globe nominated ballad “This Used To Be My Playground”. Pettibone has moved on to open the famed Paradise nightclub in Asbury Park, N.J., for which he is largely credited with bringing back the LGBT community of Asbury Park. On the rare occasion that he spins and plays “Vogue”, it remains an absolute event. Pettibone himself paid homage to the track on his social media late last week; 

All these years later, the song that had everyone cheekily repeating the lyric “Rita Hayworth gave good face” remains prominent in the American lexicon. The numerous homages that Pose paid it during Season 2 remains some of the most popular moments of the season, and Madonna herself continues to perform the song on her various tours, and even performed an interesting version of the track on her Instagram several days ago. Even during a quarantine, the Material Girl knows that one of her most famed anthems will eventually, still bring us all to the dance floor. 

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