Saturday, April 22, 1989

Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” hit #1

First posted 11/1/2019.

Like a Prayer

Madonna

Writer(s): Patrick Leonard, Madonna (see lyrics here)


Released: February 27, 1989


First Charted: March 10, 1989


Peak: 13 US, 13 CB, 13 RR, 3 AC, 20, RB, 13 UK, 14 CN, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 2.1 US, 0.85 UK, 5.0 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: 1.0


Video Airplay *: 88.61


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

Madonna’s return to the Billboard Hot 100 charts after a nearly year-and-a-half absence was marked by her third collaboration on a #1 song with Patrick Leonard. He had also worked on her hits “Live to Tell” and “Who’s That Girl?” He remembers “Like a Prayer” initially having bongos and Latin percussion. They abandoned that and went with a gospel sound with church organ and a choir led by AndraĆ© Crouch instead. He also recalls that “it was written and the lead vocal was recorded within three hours.” BR1

The song was intended for a more adult audience, thematically focused on a girl’s love of God as the only male figure in her life. WK The song was generally well-received by critics. In a biography by Mary Cross, she says “the song is a mix of the sacred and the profane…[that] still sounds catchy and danceable.” WK Medium’s Richard LaBeau called it “one of the…best pop songs ever made.” WK Still, the song’s mix of sex and religion raised eyebrows for some. For example, in the first verse she sings, “When you call my name/ It’s like a little prayer/ I’m down on my knees/ I wana take you there.” Leonard suggested changing the words so it didn’t sound like a reference to fellatio, but Madonna was determined to keep the double entendres intact. WK

The video proved controversial as well. Madonna signed a $5 million deal with Pepsi and used a commercial during the Grammys – which Pepsi said was seen by 250 million people – to launch the song. SF However, the Vatican condemned the “Like a Prayer” video and fundamentalists threatened to boycott Pepsi because of what they considered blasphemous images. BR1 Pepsi ended up pulling the spot. The video, which included images of burning crosses and Madonna kissing a black saint, portrayed a forbidden interracial love affair and was steeped in religious symbolism. The video won the Viewers’ Choice MTV Video Music Award and in 2005 was voted the most groundbreaking music video of all time. WK

The song was the top-seller of the year in Australia and Canada. WK It hit #1 in those countries as well as the United States, the UK, Japan, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. WK


Resources and Related Links:

Awards:


Tuesday, April 18, 1989

The Pixies released Doolittle: April 18, 1989

Originally posted 4/18/2012. Updated 6/10/2013.

image from straight.com


Released: 18 April 1989
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) 1. Debaser (10/4/97, #23 UK) 2. Tame 3. Wave of Mutilation 4. I Bleed 5. Here Comes Your Man 6. Dead 7. Monkey Gone to Heaven (4/1/89, #60 UK, #5 MR) 8. Mr. Grieves 9. Crackity Jones 10. La La Love You 11. No. 13 Baby 12. There Goes My Gun 13. Hey 14. Silver 15. Gouge Away

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, -- UK, 0.5 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 98 US, 8 UK

Rating:


Review: Review here The Pixies became one of “the handful of bands that every ‘90s indie band worth its salt cites as an essential influence.” PK Nirvana’s “Kurt Cobain himself acknowledged the Pixies’ influence on the soft/loud dynamic that powered ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’” RS Like Sonic Youth, the Pixies “completely deconstructed the pop format, twisting basic surf guitar chord progressions into wholly original new forms…The results could be brilliant, but also occasionally distancing.” PK

“After 1988’s brilliant but abrasive Surfer Rosa, the Pixies’ sound couldn’t get much more extreme” AMG so on Doolittle the band “reins in the noise in favor of pop songcraft and accessibility.” AMG “It’s as though the band finished touring Surfer Rosa and realized that it was taxing work to bludgeon people for an entire evening.” TM The band “find a comfortable balance between angry distortion and some of the bounciest sunshine music this side of flower power.” CS

The Boston foursome even manage some “relatively mainstream college pop-rock” PK such as on “the environmental-themed Monkey Gone to Heaven.” PK Both that and Hey “stretch Francis’ lyrical horizons” AMG making for the “Pixies’ versions of message songs and romantic ballads.” AMG There’s also “the irresistible” AMG and “straightforward jangly” PK single Here Comes Your Man. “Had The Pixies had enough of a public profile at the time, this could have been a huge hit for them.” AD

Debaser “is the quintessential sound of The Pixies in full-flight.” AD and the one which supposedly inspired “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” PK “Inspired by [Luis] Bunuel’s classic surrealist short Un Chien Andalou,” AMG switches “between quiet and loud but…much more dramatically than anything they’d done before.” AD It “is a nonstop barrage of lyrical imagery, tempo changes, and insane riffage, more or less the perfect Pixies track.” PK “Guitarist Joey Santiago has said that this is the best single-song distillation of the Pixies experience” TM and, indeed, “the band plays as though this one song is its only shot at a manifesto.” TM

Debaser

The “wide-ranging moods and sounds make it one of their most eclectic and ambitious. A fun, freaky alternative to most other late-‘80s college rock, it’s easy to see why the album made the Pixies into underground rock stars.” AMG “It became one of those buzzed-about landmark records that traveled far on word of mouth. If you cared about rock noise in 1989, you needed to hear it. That's still true.” TM


Resources and Related Links:


Award(s):