Top 40 single reviews


Express Yourself

Album: Like A Prayer

Year: 1989


        Madonna encourages women to go after what they want in the mighty  “Express Yourself.”

         An exultant saxophone and drums open the single, setting a poised tone. In the intro, she asks women if they have faith in relationships. She says she has a lot opinions about it. (“Come on girls/Do you believe in love?/'Cause I got something to say about it/And it goes something like this.”)

         In the chorus, she tells women to leave behind the guys who won’t communicate or expect them make all the effort in the relationship. She tells them to stand up for themselves, say what they need to their boyfriends and find out if the guy is worth their time. (“Don't go for second best baby/Put your love to the test/You know, you know, you've got to/Make him express how he feels/And maybe then you'll know your love is real.”)

      She advises to not let guys buy their affections with expensive jewelry or be enticed by the guy’s luxury car. It’s only material possessions. A guy who is supportive and loving who is willing invest in an emotional commitment without any strings is the type to be dating. (“You don't need diamond rings/
Or eighteen karat gold/Fancy cars that go very fast/You know they never last, no, no/What you need is a big strong hand/To lift you to your higher ground/Make you feel like a queen on a throne/Make him love you till you can't come down (You'll never come down).”)

          The chorus is sung again.

        A guy can distract her with flowers or sex after a fight. However, women need to think beyond it and talk it over with them. If the guy only wants to their solve their problems with by not addressing them, women should leave. A woman ought to have a man who pays attention to what bothers them. If a guy isn’t available, they should look into themselves and be independent for awhile. (“Long stem roses are the way to your heart/But he needs to start with your head/Satin sheets are very romantic/What happens when you're not in bed/You deserve the best in life/So if the time isn't right then move on/Second best is never enough/You'll do much better baby on your own (Baby on your own).")

        An extended chorus is sung. She adds men shouldn’t be allowed to determine the terms of the relationship. (“Don’t go for second best, baby…and then maybe you’ll know your love is real/Express yourself (You've got to make him)/Express himself/Hey, hey, hey, hey/So if you want it right now, make him show you how/Express what he's got, oh baby ready or not.”)

       The exultant saxophone solos for about ten seconds or so,.starting the bridge. She says the men may learn they had a good thing and then weasel back in their lives, claiming they changed. Women shouldn’t fall for it and look somewhere else. (“And when you're gone he might regret it/Think about the love he once had/Try to carry on, but he just won't get it/He'll be back on his knees/To express himself (You've got to make him)/Express himself/Hey hey.”)

          Part of the first verse is sung again. (“What you need is a big strong hand…you'll never come down.”)

            The bridge is sung again.

         Madonna adds a “so please,” linking the bridge to the chorus, which is sung again.
  The extended section of the chorus is sung again to close the single.  (“Express what he's got, oh baby ready or not.”)

    Madonna’s secure, firm vocals are motivating without being preachy. Women shouldn’t stand for bad behavior and say something about their needs.  If speaking up makes them bitches in the man’s eyes, they need to go. Women deserve respect from their partners.

  On a nitpicky note, while the album version is very good, it  pales in comparsion  to the Q-sound version released on the Immaculate Collection. It takes out the dated saxophones, replaces it with some synths and gives it a bit more oomph.

   The smart “Express Yourself” is empowering and relevant still after 23 years.

  For price, tracklisting and other album information please visit

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