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Strike a Pose: Madonna’s 20 Greatest Videos

Madonna’s music videos defined the MTV era 
and changed pop culture forever. Here are the stories behind the 20 greatest

Madonna in 'Express Yourself' video 1989

Madonna in 1989's 'Express Yourself' video, directed by David Fincher.

Crollalanza/REX/Shutterstock

Madonna's first album was released in July 1983, just two years after the birth of MTV, and no artist conquered the medium like the Queen of Pop. To salute the Material Girls' unsurpassed career of visual experimentation, transformation and innovation, we give you the stories behind the making of the singer's 20 best music videos – from controversy-starting blockbusters such as "Like a Prayer" to introspective epics like "Frozen."

Madonna Best Music Videos

19. “Fever” (1993)

Madge gets her martyr on and receives a paint job

"My concept was that she was a kind of Joan of Arc," says director Stéphane Sednaoui. "I wanted her like a provocative saint, somebody that speaks out and tells the truth, and is ready to burn for it. I remember the big boss at Maverick was worried I'd burn her." While Madonna doesn't catch fire in the clip, she does get evocatively covered in silver body paint: "They thought, '[Let's] do something that's not the Madonna we know – more pop, more disco, more club,'" recalls Sednaoui. "So, I think that's why she went all the way, like, 'OK, let's paint.'"

Madonna Best Music Videos

20. “Hung Up” (2005)

How to power through pain in the name of a good dance sequence

Weeks before Madonna was scheduled to shoot the clip for the Abba-borrowing lead single from Confessions on a Dance Floor, she had a horseback-riding mishap that resulted in several broken bones. But she still managed to don a long-sleeved pink leotard and danced around a rehearsal studio with gusto. "She was such a trouper. She just fell off a horse!" said director Johan Renck, who assembled her segments from a three-hour shoot, taking breaks so Madonna could deal with intense physical pain. Renck, a last-minute replacement for David LaChapelle, didn't have time to overthink its dancing-in-the-streets concept: "I like being out on a limb and not know what we're doing and why. Just deal with the mayhem, you know?