Slant Magazine reflects on today’s anniversary:
A sample of Madonna’s 1990 hit “Vogue” inexplicably appears two-thirds of the way through the sexually charged “Holy Water,” a track from the singer’s new album, Rebel Heart. Previously, Madonna erupted into the song’s refrain at the end of her 1992 single “Deeper and Deeper,” and it’s perhaps a testament to the euphoric spirit of “Vogue” that she seemed compelled to reference it at these climactic moments. Released 25 years ago tomorrow, “Vogue” wasn’t just a hit single; it was a cultural phenomenon. Ironically, no other song better exemplifies both Madonna’s influence on pop culture and the accusations of appropriation that have been lobbed at her over the years. The track, produced by Shep Pettibone, is at once a musical map of disco, shamelessly ripping MFSB’s “Love Is the Message” and Salsoul Orchestra’s “Ooh, I Love It (Love Break),” and an enduring prototype of its own, spawning countless copycats and spoofs in the early ’90s and inspiring covers by more contemporary acolytes like Britney Spears, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Like the Harlem drag balls that inspired it, “Vogue” is about presentation, and unlike, say, “Like a Virgin,” the queen of reinvention has found little need to fuss with perfection.
The late Malcolm McLaren beat Madonna to the co-opting punch by a year, of course, and his remains my preferred take on the Harlem ball scene.