Madonna, 'Express Yourself' (1989)
Madonna has always been a keen student of pop-culture history, and her creative powers were probably at their peak in the late 1980s on the album Like a Prayer. But while the title track generated the most controversy, the multimillion-dollar video for "Express Yourself" generated the most praise. Shamelessly ripping off the 1920s Fritz Lang classic Metropolis (the epigraph of the clip — "Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind" — paraphrases a recurring mantra of the movie), a young director by the name of David Fincher expressed himself by harnessing all of Madge's signature leitmotifs (the blond hair! her outfits! naked men! a running metaphor to do with a cat!). The video is as powerful to watch as the star herself.
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