Madonna - Express Yourself

About "Express Yourself"

"Express Yourself" is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna from her fourth studio album, Like a Prayer (1989). 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), Celebration (2009) and Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones (2022). "Express Yourself" was the first song that Madonna and co-producer Stephen Bray collaborated on for Like a Prayer. Written and produced by them, the song was a tribute to American funk and soul band Sly and the Family Stone. The main inspiration behind the song is female empowerment, urging women never to go for second-best and to urge their partners to express their inner feelings.

"Express Yourself" is an upbeat dance-pop and deep funk song that features instrumentation from percussion, handclaps and drum beats, while the chorus is backed by the sound of a horn section. The lyrics talk about rejecting material pleasures and only accepting the best for oneself; subtexts are employed throughout the song. "Express Yourself" received positive reviews from critics, who applauded the gender equality message of the song and complimented the song for being a hymn to freedom and encouragement to women and all oppressed minorities. Commercially, the song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Madonna's eighth number-one hit on the European Hot 100 Singles chart. It also reached the top of the singles charts in Canada and Switzerland, and the top five elsewhere.

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 ($11.8 million in 2022 dollars), which made it the most expensive music video made up to then, 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's depiction of female sexuality and that Madonna's masculine image in the video was gender-bending.

"Express Yourself" has been performed on four of Madonna's world tours, and has been covered by the female leads of the Fox TV show Glee, who performed the song in the episode titled "The Power of Madonna". The song and the video are noted for their freedom expression and feminist aspects, and its postmodern nature entranced academics, by resisting definition. It has also left its mark on the work of subsequent pop acts, including the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga.

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