One of my most fond childhood memories was going to Sun Peaks with my family and our close family-friends. It was tradition to fluctuate from having dinner at each other’s place after a long day of skiing. During the night, we would play board games, dance and play old music videos. Inevitably, it seems one of the videos we would watch was the iconic “Vogue” by Madonna. There was just something special about the power of the video and what Madonna represented – a spirited, independent, successful woman despite all the hardships she endured in her early years.
The Vogue song itself, is a powerful piece of modern dance and pop music. Madonna’s song is also all-encompassing – using the cliche “it makes no difference if you’re black or white, if you’re a boy or a girl”(2:30). Equality is a big part of Madonna’s morals, as well as one that I undoubtedly agree with. In fact, before she popularized “Vogueing”, it was a common dance move done in New York clubs by people of colour and the LGBTQ community. It was “vogue”, pardon the pun, at the time to reference it doesn’t matter your ethnicity (e.g. Michael Jackson had a similar verse in his song “Black or White”). However, cliche or not, her message was on point none the less – back then and now. Madonna reached a level of success “Queen of Pop” in which she was influential – and she was going to use this to do what she could to change the inequalities in life existent in society.
This song is one with a quite upbeat and optimistic tone, where Madonna presents the “dance floor” as a place where people can escape all of their worries or troubles – especially in the first stanza. She gets a bit philosophical and acknowledges that at times people have to deal with both internal and external issues. She then suggests that there’s a place where “you can get away” (1:49), called the dance floor. This also reminds me of times my mom has told me about dancing to this song at clubs in Montreal at 20 years old.
The fourth stanza is arguably the most-unique part of “Vogue”. Here, Madonna makes allusions to pop-culture icons from the 40s and 50s ; “Greta Garbo and Monroe, Dietrich and DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean, on the cover of a magazine…”(3:58). They are put forth as examples of people who had “grace”, ie. who would be effective on the dance floor. By using such allusions, it gives the song a sense of classiness or celebrity relation, so the listener may be more willing to participate. I also believe that the rhyme scheme AABB in these three stanzas adds to the “grace” given from this part of the song. This is done against the background of the singer telling people to “move to the music”(2:01) and “go with the flow”(2:09). So more than anything, this song is suggesting dancing as a big form of stress relief and personal edification.
In summary, the song Vogue by Madonna became widely popular, I believe, for a number reasons beyond the upbeat “danceable” melody. More importantly, as you listened to the lyrics, you felt an overall sense of self expression, equality of individuals and being true to oneself – ideals that I always have believed in.