Madonna’s “JUstify My Love”

On November 6, 1990, Madonna released the single “Justify My Love” ahead of her album “The Immaculate Collection.”

The sexy video for the song led to one of the biggest controversies in the singer’s boundary-pushing career.

MTV banned the video for “Justify My Love” which shows a collection of men and women, including Madonna and her then boyfriend Tony Ward crawling over each other in several erotic scenarios.

Madonna, never one to shy away from controversy went on the offensive saying,

“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?”

Madonna on Nightline December 3, 1990

Before the internet, videos and MTV were the major way to promote music in the U.S. so the ban could have potentially been a huge problem for “Justify My Love.”

But in a genius move Madonna and her team released a five-minute VHS single on December 18, 1990. The $10.00 video went on to sell over a million copies.

The song itself, which let’s be honest isn’t that great, also topped the Billboard charts for three weeks thanks in part to the publicity surrounding the MTV ban.

Some facts about the song, it was co-written by Lenny Kravitz (WHHHAAAT?!) and samples a beat from the Public Enemy song “Security of the First World” which was based off a beat in the James Brown song “Funky Drummer.”

Looking back at the video now it’s hard to imagine all the fuss. The video for “Justify My Love” is actually pretty tame by today’s standards.

And it was just a warm-up for Madonna who followed up the video in 1992 with the album “Erotica” and her iconic coffee table book “Sex.”

For more great moments from the 90s, check out my podcast “History of the 90s.” It is available on ApplePodcasts, Spotify, Google Play and anywhere else you stream audio. You can also listen at

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