Like a Virgin

Like a Virgin

Madonna didn’t waste any time in the early 1980s. Her breakthrough single “Lucky Star”—the biggest hit from her 1983 self-titled debut—was still burning up the charts when she began work on a follow-up. The resulting album, Like a Virgin, would arrive in the fall of 1984—barely 16 months after the release of Madonna. The singer was in the midst of a dizzyingly fast pop-culture ascent, and if ever an artist seemed ready to suffer a sophomore slump, it was Madonna, whom some considered more trendy than talented. Instead, Like a Virgin would become Madonna’s first chart-topping album, thanks in no small part to the title track, which received seemingly nonstop play on MTV. The “Like a Virgin” video—which found the singer sailing down the canals of Venice in a white wedding dress—was nearly as powerful as the song itself (she got an extra boost when she famously writhed across the stage while performing the tune at the very first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984). And while Like a Virgin was the album that made Madonna a household name, it’s also the album that demonstrated her knack for reinvention—and proved there was much more material to come from this girl. While Madonna’s post-disco early work was designed for the clubs, the songs on Like a Virgin are aimed squarely at the masses. She recruited Chic czar Nile Rodgers—at that point known for his work with the likes of Diana Ross, Debbie Harry, and David Bowie—to help put a synth-pop spin on the 1960s girl-group sound, resulting in tracks like “Dress You Up,” “Angel,” and the self-penned “Shoo-Bee-Doo.” And Like a Virgin found Madonna developing her voice as a songwriter, as she worked with her former Breakfast Club bandmate Stephen Bray on four tracks. These included “Over and Over,” a survival statement that would prove to be prophetic, as well as “Stay”—which, in retrospect, told listeners she was planning to do just that.

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