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"Frozen" is a song from Madonna's seventh studio album Ray of Light (1998). It was released as the lead single from the album on February 23, 1998, by Maverick Records. The song was also included on the compilation albums GHV2 (2001) and Celebration (2009). "Frozen" was written by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, and it was produced in collaboration with William Orbit. A mid-tempo electronica ballad, "Frozen" talks about a cold and emotionless human being. In 2005, a judge in Belgium ruled that "Frozen" was plagiarized from a song by Salvatore Acquaviva, and it was banned from the region. This ruling was overturned in 2014, lifting the Belgium ban on the song.
"Frozen" received acclaim from music critics, some of whom deemed it an album standout. It was described as being a masterpiece, and its melodic beat and sound were defined as "cinematic". The song was a worldwide chart success, peaking at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Madonna's sixth number-two single and the artist with most number-two hits in the history of that chart, while it reached number one on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. It ultimately peaked at number one in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Finland, and also within the top-five in other countries, such as Australia, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland.
The accompanying music video for "Frozen" was directed by Chris Cunningham in a desert in California, portraying Madonna as an ethereal, witchy, melancholy persona, shapeshifting into a flock of birds and a black dog. The music video received a MTV Video Music Award for "Best Special Effects" in 1998. To promote Ray of Light, the singer performed the song in several occasions including on Wetten dass..?. Additionally, it was included in three of Madonna's concert tours. "Frozen" has been covered by a number of artists, such as Talisman and Thy Disease.
Directed by British artist Chris Cunningham, the music video for "Frozen" was filmed at Cuddeback Lake within the Mojave Desert in California during January 7–11, 1998. Madonna thought that there are a lot of magical, mystical powers in the desert and that it is a magical place to be. It was inspired by the film The English Patient and Martha Graham's work. The music video premiered on February 16, 1998 on MTV at 4 p.m. The black goth gown outfit Madonna wears on the video was designed by Olivier Theyskens, and provided by then-new collaborator, designer Arianne Phillips. In an interview with MTV News, Cunningham stated about his work with Madonna, saying that he thought Madonna became interested to work with him after seeing his Aphex Twin-directed music video, "Come to Daddy" (1997). Madonna stated that she and her team thought of filming the video in Iceland, as the idea to the video was to go someplace cold and where there is snow, but declined the idea. She thought:
'You know what, I'm going to be freezing. I'm going to be miserable, I'll be complaining all day, I'll be sorry that I ever chose a cold place. So I said, 'Let's do it in the desert, it'll be warm,' and it would be sort of the opposite, because even though you think of deserts as being hot, they're still sort of frozen in terms of there's no vegetation and they're very desolate. I thought that that would still work as a visual, but then we got there and it was like 20 degrees below zero, it was bitterly cold, and I was barefoot. I was barefoot for the entire video, and then it started pouring rain and everyone got really sick, and it just actually turned out to be a really miserable experience.
The video introduces a sober, contemplative side of Madonna, revealing a mature mysticism. It begins with the camera skimming along a cracked, desiccated desert floor, and within seconds Madonna appears, sprawled on the ground wearing a black dress. Her hands are covered with mehndi and an enigmatic symbol on one palm. In the video she slowly gestures and sways her arms toward the sky in the video, desperately pleading to her cold lover cited in the song. At one point Madonna falls, and as she hits the ground, she transforms into a flock of large, dark birds. Later, she transforms into a black dog. Three Madonnas also appear walking and crawling amid the desert throughout the video. As the song progresses, the sky darkens, and Madonna levitates from the ground. Her form then changes to a shiny black liquid, which runs along the desert floor and appears to be absorbed by the tattooed hands of another Madonna, who is curled up on the crenellated ground. The video ends with a desperate and melancholy Madonna.
Jim Glauner from MTV News commented that from the first scene from the video, the viewer discovers that this is not "Holiday" (1983). Matthias Groß of Madonna On the Couch: A psychoanalytic view on Madonna's music videos, argumented that it is interesting to look at the video as a dream, and noted that in the video, Madonna was presented as a witch or an uncanny creature, by the technique of the central perspective. He concluded that the viewers find themselves in control of their view, of the situation in general, and are conveyed the impression to follow a realistic depiction of a mere melancholic woman in the desert, according to him. Henry Keazor and Thorsten Wübbena of Rewind, Play, Fast Forward: The Past, Present and Future of the Music Video said that the large panels of cloth that gather and wind around Madonna gain an even more obvious independent movement quality. Billboard considered it Madonna's third best video noting that it "conveys the song's bleak heartbreak perfectly" with Madonna's persona in the video.
From the album Ray of Light
Released: February 23, 1998
Format: CD, cassette, 7", 12"
Label: Maverick, Warner Bros.
Writer(s): Madonna, Patrick Leonard
Producer(s): Madonna, William Orbit, Patrick Leonard
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