On this day in music history: January 5, 1991 – “Justify My Love” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on January 19, 1991.
Written by Lenny Kravitz, Madonna and Ingrid Chavez, it is the ninth chart topping single for the pop superstar born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. One of two new songs included on Madonna’s first greatest hits compilation “The Immaculate Collection”, Madonna collaborates with rock musician Lenny Kravitz on the track. Based around a sample of Public Enemy’s “Security Of The First World” (based on the break beat from James Brown’s “Funky Drummer”), “Justify My Love” is accompanied by a stylish and sexually graphic music video directed by Jean Baptiste-Mondino, which is immediately banned by MTV. Warner/Reprise Home Video instead releases a VHS video single of the song, which becomes an immediate best seller, being certified 4x Platinum in the US. Also released as a 12" single, it features remixes by Lenny Kravitz and Madonna, Andre Betts, and William Orbit. Orbit’s remix chosen as the lead track for the single, it is the British electronica musician’s first collaboration on a Madonna record, later leading to him also remixing the single “Erotica, and co-producing the "Ray Of Light” album in 1998. Further controversy over “Justify My Love” arises when songwriter Ingrid Chavez does not receive songwriting credit on the song. She successfully sues Kravitz for royalties and proper credit. It is later revealed that Kravitz and Chavez were having an affair at the time the song was written, and while he is still married to actress Lisa Bonet. All of the controversy swirling around the song at the time of its release won’t stop it from being a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #46 on November 17, 1990, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. Just a few months after the song tops the charts, Madonna appears on Saturday Night Live in a sketch spoofing the music video with comedians Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. In the “Wayne’s World” sketch, it features Madonna with Myers and Carvey as Wayne and Garth playing truth or dare, also spoofing the documentary film of the same name. “Justify” is later covered by rapper Vita and R&B singer Ashanti, with Madonna’s original recording being sampled by Jay-Z, Ma$e, Jam & Spoon, Insane Clown Posse, and Enigma. “Justify My Love” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.