Single Stories: Madonna, “Justify My Love”
27 years ago today, Madonna released the single which served as one of the obligatory new tracks on her first greatest-hits collection.
Written by Lenny Kravitz, Ingrid Chavez, and Madonna, “Justify My Love” was originally recorded by Chavez – she wrote the lyrics, and Kravitz and producer Andre Betts wrote the music – but when Madonna’s version was initially released, Chavez’s credit was MIA. This was remedied in an out-of-court settlement, thankfully. As for Madonna’s credit, it was reportedly earned as a result of changing a single line – that’s what Chavez said, anyway – but it’s fair to say that there are plenty of individuals who have secured songwriting credits for far less. (Case and point: The Monkees gave their recording engineer, Hank Cicalo, the credit for writing “No Time” as a thank-you.)
“Justify My Love” was one of two new tracks included on Madonna’s IMMACULATE COLLECTION, with the other being “Release Me,” but it proved to be the bigger of the pair, climbing all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to #2 on the UK Singles chart.
The video, meanwhile, proved to be iconic in its own right: directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, the black-and-white clip was filled with sexual imagery which promptly got it banned from MTV. In response, Madonna asked, “Why is it that people are willing to go and watch a movie about someone getting blown to bits for no reason at all, and nobody wants to see two girls kissing and two men snuggling?”
In fact, they wanted to see it very much, which was proven when “Justify My Love” was released as a video single and became a best-seller.
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