First, the good news: Madonna's “Vogue” is still the definitive '90s dance classic, and I don't care about your counterarguments even if you're defending “Groove is in the Heart,” “No Scrubs,” “This is How We Do It,” “Baby Got Back,” or whatever. It's all about “Vogue.” No song has more attitude, authority, winking self-absorption, and sheer dancefloor chutzpah. No song is gayer either, which helps.
Anyway, the bad news: Katy Perry used a snippet of “Vogue” on her newest tour. Ugggggghhhhhh. Just because you do most of your dancing with your hands doesn't mean you are entitled to vogue. Check out the small Madonna tribute here.
Of Madonna's huge hits, “Vogue” is probably the one that her most diehard fans tend to love most. It is the most Madonna of Madonna songs. It is the most “Love yourself as you worship me.” As a fellow worshipper of the Lourdes, I'm sensitive about how this song is handled by lesser gods. Here's Madonna's most recent tour version of “Vogue” from her verrrrry heavy-handed “MDNA” tour. (Fabulous costumes though.)
And now, let's check out the plebeians scratching at her throne.
Here's Rihanna covering “Vogue” at a Fashion Rocks gala event. She went full showgirl for the routine and even co-opted some of the original “Vogue” video choreography, which feels a little bit like that time Heidi Klum exploited Hindus by dressing as a “scary Indian goddess” for Halloween. You're treading on sacred ground, Fenty. But of all the covers on this list, I think Rihanna achieved the most ferocity. I'm not bothered by her lip-syncing either, since this is always the song Madonna is most likely to lip-sync on tour.
Kylie Minogue's turn. First of all: Is it strange that all Australian female celebrities look alike? Seriously, Kylie is a hybrid of Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, Jacki Weaver, and even — at times — her childhood idol Olivia Newton-John. This also means she looks effing amazing and everyone should respect her bubbly majesty. Anyway. Kylie loves Madonna and is generally regarded as Madonna's top-tier contemporary in every non-U.S. nation. Here she combines “Vogue” with her old romp “Burning Up” (not a cover of the same-named Madge song), and I'd call the tribute just fun and cheeky enough. The problem is that unlike Madonna, Kylie is just — and I mean this as a compliment to Madonna — a bit more approachable. She enjoys some burlesque styling, but Kylie can't quite do the untouchable empress act. She is more princess than priestess, you see. I should write fables.
Here is a casual cover by the unspeakably cool Beth Ditto. Just enjoying herself, living, loving, doing it all. A perfect karaoke version. Could've used a few more headmistress-ly scowls though. That's what makes “Vogue” sing.
Britney Spears even added a “Vogue” dance break to her “…Baby One More Time” tour. Oh, Britney. Stick to squawking “Papa Don't Preach” on the “Crossroads” soundtrack. Leave the gay-ass jiving to Madonna and her coterie of mythological homosexuals.
And I couldn't finish this discussion without bringing up Sue Sylevester, a.k.a. Jane “I Am 7'4 and Funnier Than You” Lynch, and her “Glee” cover of “Vogue.” I appreciated the effort and still do. The rage. The Chris Colfer pouts in the video. But I don't get it. There's not enough of a parody here to make it a success. It's cool to see Jane get to do glamor, since she is in fact a statuesque and commanding presence, but this sort of feels like that MTV show “Becoming” where fans got to recreate their favorite artists' music videos, and it always looked 70% cheaper. Jane looks fab, though.
And the winner of this heat is… Rihanna. The decadence alone was a fine (if meager) gift to the original voguess.
Now, your turn: Which “Vogue” cover is tops?