Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Despite the video's heavy-handed irony (in which Madonna sings about being a 'material girl' on stage but pointedly refuses to be one backstage) as a nickname the song's title haunts her still, nearly 25 years later*; for a woman whose entire career has supposedly been about her own control over her image, this was one of the first major losses of it she suffered, mainly because the only thing in her career not in her direct sway also happens to be one of the largest factors of anyone's fame, namely the public's (not to mention the media's) reaction to their output. Fans still clamour for her to play the song, which she despises - she's been quoted as saying that if she'd known how successful it would become she never would have recorded it - and which has been absent from her concert set-list for years.
The video is famously an homage to Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, originally performed by Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; equally famous as a pioneering music video (directed by Mary Lambert) with a then-innovative 'video within a video' technique, it costars Keith Carradine as the mogul who tries but fails to win the leading lady's heart with diamonds and flash, but ends up scoring with an old pickup truck and a handful of wildflowers.
Material Girl was the second single from Madonna's second album Like a Virgin. Trivia buffs take note: it was during the filming of this video - at Hollywood's Ren-Mar Studios - that Madonna first met Sean Penn.
*Although it's been tapering off recently since her British nickname 'Madge' has begun to gain traction worldwide.
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