“Express Yourself” is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna, from her fourth studio album Like a Prayer (1989). It was released as the second single from the album on May 9, 1989 by Sire Records. The song was included on the greatest hits compilation albums The Immaculate Collection (1990), and Celebration (2009). “Express Yourself” was the first song that Madonna and producer Stephen Bray collaborated on for Like a Prayer. Written and produced by them, the song was a tribute to American funk and soul band Sly and the Family Stone. The main inspiration behind the song is female empowerment, urging women never to go for second-best and to always express their inner feelings.
“Express Yourself” is an upbeat dance-pop song that features instrumentation from brass, hand claps and drum beats, while the chorus is backed by the sound of saxophone and percussion. The lyrics talk about rejecting material pleasures and only accepting the best for oneself; subtexts are employed throughout the song. “Express Yourself” received positive reviews from critics, who applauded the gender equality message of the song and complimented the song for being a hymn to freedom and encouragement to women and all oppressed minorities. Commercially, the song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Madonna’s sixth number-one hit on the European Hot 100 Singles chart. It also reached the top of the singles charts in Canada, Italy and Switzerland, and the top five elsewhere.
The accompanying music video, directed by David Fincher, was inspired by the Fritz Lang classic film Metropolis (1927). It had a total budget of $5 million ($9.87 million in 2017 dollars), which made it the most expensive music video made up to then, and currently the third most expensive of all time. The video portrayed a city full of tall skyscrapers and railway lines. Madonna played the part of a glamorous lady and chained masochist, with muscular men acting as her workers. In the end, she picks one of them—played by model Cameron Alborzian—as her date. Critics noted the video’s exploitation of female sexuality and that Madonna’s masculine image in the video was gender-bending.