On this day: Madonna shooting 'Frozen' video 1998

January 07, 1998

"Frozen" video shoot

Frozen" video shoot - Madonna starts filming the music video to "Frozen" with Chris Cunningham.

"Frozen" is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna, from her 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. Musically constructed as an mid-tempo electronic 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 was ultimately banned from the region. In 2009, however, Madonna sang the song at a show in Werchter, Belgium.
 
"Frozen" received critical 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 accompaining music video for "Frozen" was directed by Chris Cunningham in a desert in California, portraying Madonna as an ethereal Gothic 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, she 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. The song was included as a background music on the TV series Glee.


After Madonna gave birth to her daughter Lourdes, in 1996, she enrolled in Kabbalah and started studying Hinduism and yoga, all of which helped her "step outside [myself] and see the world from a different perspective." The singer was inspired by these activities, as she began introspecting herself.. "That was a big catalyst for me. It took me on a search for answers to questions I'd never asked myself before", she said to Q magazine. During the same year, Madonna began writing and producing Ray of Light with British electronic musician William Orbit. "I was a huge fan of William's earlier records. I also loved all the remixes he did for me and I was interested in fusing a kind of futuristic sound but also using lots of Indian and Moroccan influences and things like that, and I wanted it to sound old and new at the same time", Madonna said. When asked about its producing process, she said,
 

I was so obsessed with the movie The Sheltering Sky and that whole Morrocan/orchestral/super-romantic/man-carrying-the-woman-he-loves-across-the-desert vibe. So I told [Patrick Leonard] that I wanted something with a tribal feel, something really lush and romantic. When he started playing some music, I just turned the [digital audio tape] on and started free-associating and came up with the melody.
 
A low quality snippet of "Frozen" was leaked by fans on January 23, 1998, after it first debuted on radio in Singapore, and posted it on the Internet. They said they knew what they were doing was wrong, but that they hoped it would simply generate interest from Madonna. The song was played on the US radios, including the WKTU New York radio. Warner Bros. Records enlisted the Recording Industry Association of America's Anti-Piracy Unit to delete the Internet downloads to the song. Erik Bradley, musical director of Chicago B96, classified "Frozen" as a "the mark of a smash. Clearly, American pop radio needs Madonna", after his station leaked it in the United States. According to Jon Uren, marketing director of Warner Music Europe, the song also had "fantastic" early support across Europe. Shortly after the song leaked, a remix version of "Frozen" was broadcast by the BBC website, and also was previewed on the soundtrack at the 1998 Versace fashion spring parade.


Composition

"Frozen" is a mid-tempo electronic ballad which has a layered sound enhanced by synthesizers and strings, arranged by Craig Armstrong. It was composed using common time in the key of F minor, with a moderate tempo of 102 beats per minute. "Frozen" has a basic sequence of Fm–D♯–C♯–D♯ as its chord progression. The chorus, however, has the chord progression of Fm–B♭m–C♯–G♯. Madonna's vocals range from the lower octave of F3 to the higher note of A♭4.
 
The song begins with austere, classical strings while the chord progression emphasizes tonic, submediant and flattened leading-tone chords. For the second phrase, which includes a dramatic crescendo, rhythm and ambient electronic effects are added gradually. Santiago Fouz-Hernández and Freya Jarman-Ivens, authors from Madonna's Drowned Worlds, commented that the song is strongly inspired by different forms of classical music, notably contemporary classical music such as neoromanticism, as well as Italian opera composers and pieces such as Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Verdi's Aïda. Madonna's vocals throughout the song lack vibrato, and have drawn comparisons to medieval music.
 
Lyrically, the song is about a cold and emotionless man. In the first verse, Madonna enters in a medium range, 'You only see what your eyes want to see'. In the chorus, dance rhythm and ambient sounds are added. In the second verse, more visceral lyrics are added, like 'Love is a bird, she needs to fly'. During the bridge, a broad, string lines provide instrumental commentary on the lyrics. The song ends with a string ostinato that simply fades away, without fully resolving to the tonic chord. In an interview with The New York Times, Madonna commented that the lyrics to "Frozen" is built around "Retaliation, revenge, hate, regret, that's what I deal with in "Frozen". Everyone's going to say, 'That's a song about Carlos' [her ex-boyfriend], but it's not really; it's just about people in general".

Music Video

Directed by Chris Cunningham, the music video for "Frozen" was filmed at the Mojave Desert in California during January 7–10, 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. (Wiki)

 

Track listings and formats
US 7" vinyl / CD Single / UK cassette single
1."Frozen" (Album Version) – 6:10
2."Shanti/Ashtangi" – 4:29

US 12" promo vinyl
1."Frozen" (William Orbit Widescreen Mix) – 6:34
2."Frozen" (William Orbit Drumapella) – 5:15
3."Frozen" (Victor Calderone Drumapella) – 5:09

US 12" vinyl
1."Frozen" (Album Version) – 6:10
2."Frozen" (Stereo MC's Remix) – 5:45
3."Frozen" (Extended Club Mix) – 11:17
4."Frozen" (Meltdown Mix) – 8:09

US promo CD single
1."Frozen" (Radio Edit) – 5:08
2."Frozen" (Album Version) – 6:10
3."Frozen" (Call Out Research Hook)

US promo CD single
1."Frozen" (Stereo MC's Remix Edit) – 4:52
2."Frozen" (Extended Club Mix Edit) – 4:55
3."Frozen" (Radio Edit) – 5:08
 
US CD Maxi-single
1."Frozen" (Album Version) – 6:10
2."Frozen" (Stereo MC's Remix) – 5:45
3."Frozen" (Extended Club Mix) – 11:17
4."Frozen" (Meltdown Mix) – 8:09

European 12" vinyl
1."Frozen" (Extended Club Mix) – 11:17
2."Frozen" (Stereo MC's Remix) – 5:45
3."Frozen" (Meltdown Mix) – 8:09

European promo CD single
1."Frozen" (Radio Edit) – 5:08
2."Frozen" (Album Version) – 6:10

UK CD single / Japanese CD Maxi-single
1."Frozen" (Album Version) – 6:10
2."Frozen" (Stereo MC's Remix) – 5:45
3."Frozen" (Meltdown Mix) – 8:09
4."Frozen" (Extended Club Mix) – 11:17
5."Frozen" (Widescreen Mix) – 6:33

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