Call it coincidence, but amid all the controversy over the gender-blending "Justify My Love" video, Madonna's greatest hits package has soared to No. 5 on Billboard's album charts in only its third week, while the single has climbed into the No. 4 spot on the Hot 100. Also this week, Warner Reprise Home Video ships 350,000 copies of the video (at $9.98 a pop), reviving (by accident, Warner insists) a format that most music industry analysts had written off as unworkable. In what some might have expected to be a slow period (post-"Blonde Ambition" tour, post-"Dick Tracy"), Madonna is once again a cover girl (Glamour and Entertainment Weekly). And, in a sure sign of the times, crusading Florida attorney Jack Thompson, who got the 2 Live Crew controversy out of the gate earlier this year, has vowed to conduct sting operations against Florida retailers who sell the video, even though it has not been declared obscene, or even attacked as such, by anyone but Thompson.

And while MTV is sticking to its decision not to air the video (which some folks insist on describing as the "MTV banning" of Madonna), "Justify My Love" has been aired not only on network shows like "Nightwatch" and "Nightline" (which garnered its highest ratings of the year), but by a number of radio stations around the country. How? Well, they've sponsored screenings at record stores and nightclubs, and one New York station mounted nine monitors on a van and took the show on the road.

Lucky Madonna, indeed.

We might well expect a video on the whole tawdry affair, and indeed, some of it is likely to creep into "Truth or Dare: On the Road, Behind the Scenes and in Bed With Madonna," a documentary that will be released to theaters in May by Miramax, the distribution company that many credit with bringing about the new NC-17 film rating. The Alek Keshishian-directed film is currently being edited, so it's a little early to think about ratings, but we can probably rule out PG.

On Friday, Pioneer will release the laser disc-only "Blonde Ambition" concert film, which is similar to the recent HBO special but includes some different footage. As of now, there are no plans to release a videocassette version, though Madonna's "Ciao Madonna" film remains a bestseller. This could provide a much-needed boost for the laser disc format, which has yet to make inroads with the general public. Pioneer was a "Blonde Ambition" tour sponsor along with, ahem, MTV.

Speaking of MTV, Madonna figures prominently in the cable network's upcoming "Year in Rock 1990" special (airing Dec. 22). In fact, she constitutes the whole first segment, which notes MTV's "declining" to show the video but otherwise underlines the symbiotic affair between the star and the star-making machinery. Ironically, another major segment deals with the year in censorship via the trials and travails of 2 Live Crew, Judas Priest and the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

Fresh Ice

West Coast rapper Ice Cube has just released a new EP titled "Kill at Will" (Priority). It includes a number of remixes from his platinum debut, "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted" (including "Endangered Species"), but it also introduces some new cuts that suggest Ice Cube is headed in a new direction that's more reflective without compromising his street-bred anger. A tough, up-tempo "The Product" traces the life of a neighborhood kid from the moment of conception to his incarceration 20 years down the line. Even better is the slow, somber "Dead Homiez," whose video will have its world premiere tomorrow afternoon on "Yo! MTV Raps." The song addresses the senseless black-on-black violence that is decimating a whole generation of young men in America's inner cities. The stark, black-and-white video is set in a church during an emotional funeral for a slain "homie," with Ice Cube rapping in and around the ceremony ("why is that the only time black folks get to ride in a limo?").

Elsewhere, he raps, "I remember we painted our names on the wall for fun/ now it's rest in peace after every one, except me... ." Asking viewers and listeners to think harder about what's going on, Ice Cube doesn't sound particularly secure about his own future: "He got a lot of flowers and a big wreath/ what good is that when you're six foot deep?/ I look at the drama and gotta think to myself/ I thank God for my health cuz nobody knows when/ it's going to be {their} family on the front row/ so I take everything slow, go with the flow/ and keep my mouth shut if I don't know/ cuz that's what Pops told me/ but I wish he could have said it to my dead homie."

Ice Cube is putting the finishing touches on an album that will be released early next year. Meanwhile, his old gangsta pals NWA are planning to cut at least one song with rap fan and free-speech advocate Sinead O'Connor. Their next album, due in February, is called "Niggaz 4 Life."