In 1991 Madonna captivated the world with her documentary Truth or Dare / In Bed With Madonna. The film had one name in the USA, but was retitled In Bed With Madonna for international markets because back in the early 90’s not everyone was familiar with the game ‘truth or dare’.
Director Alek Keshishian followed the singer throughout her landmark Blond Ambition Tour of 1990, capturing the singer and her troupe of backing vocalists and dancers behind the scenes. Most of the film is in back and white, capturing the performers rehearsing, checking in to hotels, hanging out backstage, while the bold and colourful live performances show the grandeur of the life on stage.
The film held the honour of being the highest grossing documentary of all time, until it was surpassed by Bowling For Columbine in 2002, and while big budget documentaries and reality TV series are common place now, back in 1991 Madonna was breaking new ground letting fans see behind the magic curtain.
Having taking some time off from music and public life in 1988, Madonna returned the following year with her most personal album to date, the highly acclaimed Like a Prayer. She’d split from husband Sean Penn, was she dating Sandra Bernhard? Warren Beatty? She filled the tabloids as much as the music charts.
It’s the period where she scored some of her biggest hits and created some iconic videos. Following the title track, the album offered the anthemic Express Yourself, followed by Cherish, Dear Jessie, Oh Father and Keep It Together. Madonna appeared as Breathless Mahoney in Dick Tracy and suddenly she had another album out, and the humungous hit Vogue.
The live show of the Blonde Ambition Tour was also setting new standards. Having a troupe of dancers on tour today is the norm, but all the Janet Jackson, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue shows that followed are copied off a template of stage design and casting that was set by Madonna.
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