The black and white music video for "Vogue" (1990) recalled the look of 1930s Hollywood films.
In addition, that year, Madonna released her first greatest hits album, The Immaculate Collection, which included two new songs, "Justify My Love" and "Rescue Me". The music video for "Justify My Love", again directed by Mondino, showed Madonna in a Parisian hotel, in suggestive scenes with her then-lover, gay icon and indie actor Tony Ward, as well as scenes of S&M, bondage with gay and lesbian characters, and brief nudity. It was deemed too sexually explicit for MTV, and was subsequently banned from the station. Warner Bros. Records released the video as a video single - the first of its kind - and it remains one of the highest-selling video singles of all time. "Justify My Love" itself reached #1 in the US singles chart.
In 1991, Madonna starred in her first documentary film, Truth or Dare (also known as In Bed with Madonna outside North America), which chronicled her successful 1990 Blond Ambition Tour, as well as her personal life. The following year, she appeared in the baseball film A League Of Their Own, and recorded the film's theme song, "This Used To Be My Playground", which became her tenth #1 single in the United States.
1992-1997: Sex controversy and Evita
The controversial music video for "Erotica" (1992) was aired only three times on MTV due to its highly charged sexual content.
In 1992, Madonna released the erotic book Sex, photographed by long time collaborator Steven Meisel. Adult in nature, it featured strong sexual content and graphic photographs featuring Madonna depicting simulations of sexual acts and BDSM. The book caused huge publicity at the time of its release, primarily leading to bad press and negative attitudes towards Madonna. Many critics considered it another calculated controversy timed to boost sales of her new album, which the public linked together because of their generally close release dates and overt sexual content.
Erotica (1992), produced primarily with Shep Pettibone, was disregarded as simply being a 'porn' album, with most people believing that all the album tracks were about sex, but in truth the album only featured 3 (out of 14) overtly sexual songs: 'Erotica', 'Where Life Begins' and 'Did You Do It?'. The album peaked at number two in the U.S. and produced six singles, with its most successful being its title track "Erotica," which became the highest-debuting (number two) single in the history of the U.S. Hot 100 Airplay chart. The controversial music video that accompanied the song only aired three times on MTV due to its highly charged sexual content.
Her 1993 The Girlie Show Tour was her most explicit and controversial concert tour to date and featured Madonna dressed as a whip-cracking dominatrix, surrounded by topless dancers including Luca Tomassini and Carrie Ann Inaba. The controversy caused by the tour followed Madonna when she caused uproar in Puerto Rico by rubbing the island's flag between her legs on stage, while Orthodox Jews protested against her first-ever show in Israel. Madonna would later comment that this period of her life was designed to give the world every single morsel of what they seemed to be demanding in their invasion of her private life. She hoped that once it was all out in the open, people could settle down and focus on her work.
Credited as one of Madonna's most experimental videos, "Bedtime Story" (1995) directed by Mark Romanek featured images inspired by paintings by artist Frida Kahlo.
After the raunchy sex period, Madonna released her sixth studio album, Bedtime Stories (1994), co-produced by Nellee Hooper and Dallas Austin. Madonna at the time was inspired by R&B/Rock Singer Joi's debut album Pendulum Vibe (1993), and was so in love with it that she recruited producer Dallas Austin to help with her project. She was also responsible for making the call that landed Joi becoming the first black model in a major Calvin Klein print ad campaign. The album features Madonna turning to a more R&B-flavoured sound. It was a success in Europe, Australia, and the United States, where it peaked at number three and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Pop Vocal Album category. With its title track partially written by Bj?rk, the album gave a hint of what would come musically a few years later. It produced four singles, including "Take a Bow," co-written and produced with Babyface. The song was a success on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching number one for seven consecutive weeks, but it was a commercial failure elsewhere in the world, becoming the first Madonna song not to chart in the UK Top 10, charting at Number 16 (the 2nd being 'Love Profusion). The song however was released around Christmas in the UK, which led to its chart failure (the weeks around Christmas are incredibly competitive in the UK music market, with great competition for artists and bands to achieve the UK Christmas Number 1 Single), and it has since surfaced that the single sold in excess of 100,000 copies in the UK that week, which is actually more than many of her top ten singles prior to that. The Michael Haussman Spanish-themed video, meanwhile, would later help her win the lead role in Evita. In late 1995, Madonna released Something to Remember, a collection of her best ballads, which featured three new tracks, including a cover of Marvin Gaye's classic "I Want You", which she recorded with British band Massive Attack, and the top ten hit "You'll See." The album just missed the top five on the U.S. charts; it has since been certified triple platinum.
In 1996,Madonna's most critically successful film, Evita was released. The film's soundtrack became her twelfth platinum album and produced two popular singles, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and "You Must Love Me," which was written specifically for the film. "You Must Love Me" won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song From a Motion Picture the following year. Madonna herself also won a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.
1998-2002: Return to commercial prominence
"Ray of Light" (1998), directed by Jonas Akerlund, featured a high-speed video, showing ordinary people performing their daily routines.
Madonna's seventh album, Ray of Light (1998), blended her personal and introspective lyrics with Eastern sounds, down-tempo, electronic instrumentation, strings by Craig Armstrong and a strong rave flavor. The album reached number two on the U.S. albums chart and since its release has been certified 4x platinum. It earned Madonna the strongest reviews of her career since Like a Prayer and has been widely considered by critics to be one of her greatest artistic achievements. Amazon.com described the album as "her richest, most accomplished record yet", while Rolling Stone credited Madonna and her co-producer William Orbit for "creating the first mainstream pop album that successfully embraces techno," stating that musically Ray of Light is her "most adventurous record" yet. Ray of Light produced five singles, including the European number one "Frozen". The album