Lost in the ’80s: Malcolm McLaren

Written by Lost in the '80s, Music

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There’s something somewhat satisfying and shadenfreude-y watching Malcolm McLaren, one of the bigger thieves and musical grifters of pop music, get ripped off himself. After all, this is the man who allegedly siphoned off every possible penny from the Sex Pistols, stole the Ants from Adam to create Bow Wow Wow, and booted Boy George from that group in the process.

As a recording artist (what did he actually do in the studio besides take a piece of the publishing? You tell me), McLaren notched a worldwide dance hit lifting early hip-hop with 1983’s classic “Buffalo Gals,” then turned his sticky little fingers to opera in 1984 with a synthed-up version of “Madame Butterfly.” So when it came time to record another album five years later, why not hop genres again to … waltz and ballroom?

Waltz Darling featured a collaboration between McLaren and Bootsy Collins’ Bootzilla Orchestra called “Deep In Vogue,” (download) an ode to the ballroom scene started by young, gay black and Latinos in New York City featured in the documentary Paris Is Burning. Dedicating the song to all the “Houses” of ballroom and vogueing, the track featured vocals from vogueing legend Willi Ninja.

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Look and sound a little more than familiar? Well, sure, because Madonna completely swiped the feel, title and video wholesale two years later for a huge number one hit called “Vogue.” Stings, doesn’t it, Malcolm?

While the single version is great, I was more of a sucker for the super-extended “Deep In Vogue (Banjie Realness)” (download) version, which takes the ballroom aspect of the song quite literally, the remix becoming little more than background music for the real action on the dancefloor/ballroom of your local club. Sadly, Cleveland’s gay ballroom scene was, um, non-existent in 1989 (and today!), so I never got to see any of that type of ferociousness up close.

“Deep In Vogue” peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart in 1989.

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