The clip was directed by fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, who have shot Madonna for Interview magazine and lensed the album artwork for MDNA, which is due Monday. Unlike her video for “Give Me All Your Luvin,” “GGW” is not plot-driven, but rather an assemblage of striking images that recall the dark, sexed-up era she ushered in with her “Vogue” video and which reached its apex with the release of her “Sex” book and Erotica album.
Madonna makes references to her iconic past throughout the video, meshing vintage M with her current self seamlessly. Below are the five key references we noticed in the “Girl Gone Wild” clip:
From Madonna’s big, diva-like bleach-blond hair to those chains and leather-briefs-wearing men, the dark, sexy vibe here is pure “Erotica”-era Madge. The clip for “Erotica” was markedly grittier, employing camera filters and sleazy locations (and, you know, bridles and whips) to give off an S&M vibe. If “Girl” isn’t as gritty in its approach to sex, it’s also far less off-putting. The sex stuff in the “Erotica” video is more of an artful expression of fetishism than a series of “wow, that’s hot” moments, like those featured in “GGW.” But as usual, M delivers plenty of edgy eye candy.
Those moves! Those angular, cutting arm, leg and body movements. Check. A bunch of scantily clad male dancers posing in formation. Check. In addition to being shot entirely in black-and-white, the dancing in “Girl Gone Wild” is a direct callback to the sharp moves from “Vogue.” A few times in the video (check 1:10), Madonna and her dancers are definitely “vogueing” — or at least as close to it as she’s gotten since she struck her most famous pose in 1990. There’s also something to be said for the gay culture references in both videos. Madonna made vogueing mainstream in 1990 with her hit, but the highly stylized form of dance was actually born in the late-’80s Harlem gay ballroom scene (see the amazing documentary “Paris Is Burning” if you want to know where vogueing really came from). She embraced the connection then and appears to be doing the same here. In “GGW,” we have two male models gnawing on the same apple, dancers in heels (and little else) and many, many suggestive close-ups celebrating the male form.
The “Human Nature” video is most remembered for Madonna’s black latex bodysuit, and she resurrects the look for “GGW.” Beyond the suit itself, the “Nature” video also cast Madonna and her dancers in all black and set them against an all-white background, a style choice she uses frequently throughout “Girl.” Like the “GGW” clip, the vid for “Nature” was directed by a well-known fashion photographer, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who also helmed Madonna’s controversial video for “Justify My Love.”
“Justify My Love”
Speaking of which, Her Madgesty is getting awfully handsy with her sexy dancers here, and late in the video, we find Madonna and her dancers really going for it, writhing in a pile and feeling each other up. The “Love” video was, of course, banned from MTV in 1990 for its depictions of sex acts. Set in a voyeuristic hotel, the “Love” clip includes what we can only refer to as an orgy sequence, and she recalls that a bit here, albeit in a tamer fashion. The scene in “GGW” is less explicit because it’s not as direct about its subject matter — being sexy is part of the “GGW” narrative, while making a grand observation about full-on sex was at least part of the point of “Justify My Love.”
“Like a Prayer”
Madonna wouldn’t be Madonna without a direct reference to religious iconography. Here, we get a dancer wearing a crown of thorns. Her video for “Like a Prayer” famously featured Catholic symbols, including stigmata and burning crosses, and a dream about making love to a saint on an altar. Madonna herself has even donned a crown of thorns onstage. During her performance of “Live to Tell” on her Confessions Tour, Madonna sang from a massive mirrored cross while sporting the crown.
What did we miss? Share the old-school Madonna references you noticed in the “Girl Gone Wild” video!