Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"Like a Virgin" by Madonna

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2132
Date:  11/17/1984
Debut:  48
Peak:  1 (6 weeks)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Madonna's self-titled debut was a major success that spawned two Top 10 singles. Not wanting to miss out the momentum built by the album and its associated videos, Madonna got in the studio in the spring of '84 to record a follow-up. She really didn't have the best of luck with producers on her first album, so she intended to do this one herself. However, the label was not keen on that and pushed her into getting an established producer for the album. She chose Chic's Nile Rodgers, who had recently done David Bowie's successful Let's Dance LP. Madonna would supply five songs (one written by her, the other four written by her and Stephen Bray) while the balance of the album would consist three tunes by other writers and one cover. One of the songs that came her way was this title-track written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. Madonna liked the song right off the bat, but Rodgers did not and tried to talk her out of doing it. However, he later relented and the pair worked up the tune. It would serve as the first single from the album and after a debut in the top half of the Pop chart, the song took off and headed to #1. It would be the first of Madonna's twelve chart toppers and would firmly establish her as a star. It also reached #1 at Dance and would become her first and only R&B Top 10 hitting #9. The iconic song would later be placed on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. The song spent six weeks at #1, which would be her best showing until 1994 when "Take a Bow" held on for seven weeks.

ReduxReview:  This song was so great at the time and I still enjoy it. Madonna broke through with her first album and for her second one, she was determined to stamp her foot down and say "here I am bitches - and I'm here to stay!" She certainly did with this song. It was pure bubblegum pop wrapped in a wink-wink sexy coating and it was perfect for her. What always stood out to me was the production. It was absolutely crisp and clean with a massive snare sound that just made the song snap. I've always loved the little snare fills too. Rodgers produced this within an inch of its life and it just worked. I've hated all the remix versions of the song. The original album version remains the best. I loved the album too and thought it was a definite step forward for Madonna. She would go on to have better albums, but this is the one that gave her the confidence (and clout) to keep moving forward in her own way.


Trivia:  When some folks think of this song, the image that comes to mind is from an iconic performance that Madonna did at the very first MTV Music Video Awards show in September of '84. Although this song was not yet released, Madonna performed it on the show. She started the song atop a wedding cake dressed in a wedding gown that was adorned with a "boy toy" belt buckle. By the end of the song she was at the front of the stage writhing around the floor, sometimes in a suggestive manner. Her performance was a sensation and courted its share of controversy (as did the song itself). It set a standard for the awards show in its inaugural year and many artists since then have tried to raise the bar with their own performances on the show.



  1. The image that immediately comes to mind for me, was the video. I'll always remember the lion wandering around in the video. It was at once nonsensical, and also seemed perfect for the video.

    1. Yes - I always remember the lion panting to the beat at one point. Apparently, Madonna had a close encounter with the lion and it roared at her, which scared the crap out of her. But it all worked out.