Thursday, March 17, 2005

"Strike a pose": Vogue Special - Part 2

_ "Strike a pose" Madonna performing "Vogue" at her "Re-Invention Tour". Photography courtesy of

vogue ( P ) Pronunciation Key (vōg)

1. The prevailing fashion, practice, or style: Hoop skirts were once the vogue.

2. Popular acceptance or favor; popularity: a party game no longer in vogue.

intr.v. vogued, vogue·ing, or vogu·ing vogues
To dance by striking a series of rigid, stylized poses, evocative of fashion models during photograph shoots.

[French, from Old French, probably from voguer, to sail, row, of Germanic origin; see wegh- in Indo-European Roots. V., after the fashion magazine Vogue.]

Word History: The history of the word vogue demonstrates how sense can change dramatically over time even while flowing, as it were, in the same channel. The Indo-European root of vogue is *wegh-, meaning “to go, transport in a vehicle.” Among many other forms derived from this root was the Germanic stem *wga-, “water in motion.” From this stem came the Old Low German verb wogn, meaning “to sway, rock.” This verb passed into Old French as voguer, which meant “to sail, row.” The Old French word yielded the noun vogue, which probably literally meant “a rowing,” and so by extension “a course,” and figuratively “reputation” and later “reputation of fashionable things” or “prevailing fashion.” The French, who have given us many fashionable things, passed this noun on as well, it being first recorded in English in 1571.

[source: The American Heritage ® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.]

"Strike a pose, there's nothing to it
Vogue, vogue" - Madonna

Vogue - The song

And yes, there's nothing to it. In one of my Madonna's highlight in her musical career, "Vogue" became an instant hit. Initially written and recorded for Madonna's menial film, "Dick Tracy", this song took on a life on its own.

Written by Madonna and long time hits partner, Shep Pettibone, "Vogue", a hit single tacked on to the end of the record. Embodying an endlessly deep house groove and an instantly memorable melody, "Vogue" became a detatched, affectionate celebration of transcendent pop and gay culture and stands as Madonna's finest single moment.

"Vogue" was released in the UK in April 1990 and stormed straight to No.1 for 4 weeks, spending 14 weeks on the chart where it sold more than 500,000 copies and became Madonna's second biggest hit to date - behind "Into The Groove". On a worldwide scale, "Vogue" is easily Madonna's biggest hit. The song topped the US chart, and many others worldwide, shifting 4 million copies.

The video, directed by David Fincher, begins with a subdued beat, painting a soft and slow imagery. We have pictures of naked ladies all over the place, men walking around quietly, women picking clothes up off the floor before the camera moves up Madonna's back. She then spins around with her hands in a 'vogue' position.

The rest is history. A dance is born. A revolution is created.

Voguing is disco dancing at its most narcissistic: a true escapist fantasy. A series of improvised model moves struck to the deafening sound of house music, this inner-city trend popular with the gay culture may already be passé. But if any singer can claim to understand and embody the transcendent appeal of posing, it's Madonna.

Vogue - Madonna, The Fashion Icon

Madonna has been voguing since the beginning of her career, acting like a superstar and waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. For all her shrewdness, savvy and image mongering, the magic in Madonna's music has always come from the overwhelming, incredible sense of empathy in her singing. On "Vogue," Madonna communicates exactly how vital and important a silly dance-floor ritual can be to its practitioners – more primitive, and also much more real, than any Broadway musical.

The stunning black and white music video was an instant classic. So instant that it is one of the few music videos to be archived on display on selected modern art museums.

Not only did Fincher transformed Madonna's image into something classy, but it fortified her as the dominant fashion icon of the century.

Vogue - Madonna, The Celebrity

"Grace Kelly; Harlow, Jean
Picture of a beauty queen
Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire
Ginger Rodgers, dance on air" - Madonna

Ironically, Madonna selects "beauty queens" and glamourous movie stars of the past to reflect in her most popular, and iconic song. At that stage, Madonna knew the implications of such close association. And being THE musical icon at that time [and still], it was a little cheeky. Now, she is part of that celebrity. And now, numerous songs are writen about the one and only pop icon.

_thanks to for the video stills and Rolling Stone, June 14, 1990 - review by Mark Coleman


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