Friday, September 14, 1984

Madonna performed “Like a Virgin” at the MTV Video Awards

First posted 11/14/2019; updated 3/19/2021.

Like a Virgin

Madonna

Writer(s): Billy Steinberg/Tom Kelly (see lyrics here)


Released: October 31, 1984


First Charted: November 16, 1984


Peak: 16 US, 15 CB, 13 RR, 29 AC, 9 RB, 3 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.14 US, 0.93 UK, 3.19 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 67.0 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

One could potentially mark September 14, 1984 as the date when Madonna became a superstar. Over the last year, she’d had three top twenty Billboard pop hits with “Holiday,” “Borderline,” and “Lucky Star.” However, the title track from her sophomore album launched her into the stratosphere. She premiered the song on the aforementioned date at the first MTV Video Music Awards. When she writhed on the floor in a wedding dress, the world took notice of her no-holds-barred sexuality. It was “one of the seminal moment in the history of MTV” SF and “one of the most iconic pop performances of all time.” WK

The song wasn’t originally written for Madonna, or even a female singer. Lyricist Billy Steinberg wrote the song from personal experience. He said it wasn’t about truly being a virgin, but about the positive feeling that came with a new relationship. At a meeting with Warner Brothers Record’s Michael Ostin, Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the song’s co-writer, played a demo of the song and told him they weren’t sure who it would fit. Ostin happened to have a meeting with Madonna the next day and thought it would be perfect for her. BR

Ostin said, she “went crazy, and knew instantly it was a song for her.” WK Madonna said, “I certainly wasn’t a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be like a virgin? I liked the play on words; I thought they were clever.” WK She said she never realized it would become one of her signature songs. WK

Producer Nile Rodgers, best known for being in Chic (“Le Freak”), gave the song “a masterful pop sheen.” CR He didn’t want Madonna to record the song initially. He didn’t think the title was, as he told the Los Angeles Times, “the all-time catch phrase. But after about four days I couldn’t get the song out of my head.” BR Audiences couldn’t get it out of their heads either. “Like a Virgin” became her first of 12 #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and the biggest song of 1984. WHC Madonna became “an icon to a generation of emancipated women.” CR


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Madonna
  • DMDB page for parent album Like a Virgin
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 524.
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 63.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 113.
  • WK Wikipedia

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