“Like a virgin…” is a popular phrase, something that almost everyone who has heard it has probably sung aloud at one time or another. It’s iconic in a way that few musicians’ music will ever be. If Michael Jackson was the “King of Pop,” then Madonna should rightfully be crowned the queen.
“Like a Virgin” is Madonna’s hit album that was released in 1984 at the forefront of her reign as the queen of pop. “Like a Virgin” became a chart-topping album, and the title track stayed for six weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. It also ushered in an era of Madonna craze, complete with lots of lace, heavy jewelry and bleached blonde hair.
While the title track of the album has gone on to become a pop-culture reference, the album also included many other great hits, such as the second single, “Material Girl.”
Both “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl” are upbeat dance-pop tracks that focused heavily on female sexuality. In the testosterone-fueled music industry of the mid-1980s created by Jackson and Springsteen, Madonna helped to fill a niche in the market and created a larger-than-life persona with which females could identify.
“Material Girl” follows the same heavily synthesized 80s feel as the other songs but differs in its lyrical wordplay. Instead of focusing on love it plays flirtatiously with the idea of a girl using a boy purely for the things he’ll buy her.
Madonna’s “Material Girl” plays with the same theme as Kanye West’s “Golddigger” but with gender reversal. “Material Girl” features lyrics such as, “’Cause the boy with cold hard cash/Is always Mister Right ‘cause we are/Living in a material world/And I am a material girl.”
The album has since gone on to become diamond-certified by the Recording Industry Association of America, selling more than 21 million copies worldwide. The album also helped to create some of the most iconic moments of the MTV Video Music Awards, beginning with her initial performance of “Like a Virgin” in 1984 where she solidified the image of her puffy skirts, lacy tops and high bleach blonde ponytail.
Then, in 2003, Madonna performed a medley of “Like a Virgin” at the VMAs alongside former pop icons Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. This is a testament to Madonna’s staying power and the dramatic influence “Like a Virgin” has had on the popular music scene. The outfits the three entertainers wore during the performance all evoked the imagery of Madonna’s original VMA performance.
Other tracks on the album include “Over and Over,” which is also an upbeat dance track focusing on relationships. Almost all of the tracks on “Like a Virgin” have a thematic emphasis on relationships and most are also heavily synthesized.
The track “Angel” follows this pattern although it also features Madonna singing in a lower register than heard on most of the other tracks. This causes the listener to pay closer attention to the lyrics of the song, which follow the general theme of, “And my sadness disappears/Every time you are near/You must be an angel/I can see it in your eyes.”
While the most iconic tracks on the album are certainly “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl,” there are some other hidden gems such as “Stay” and “Over and Over.” They don’t quite shine like the signature tracks do, but help to complete the listening experience.
We all may remember Madonna as being a product of the 80s, but her legacy endures; she has released 11 studio albums and 34 singles to be certified with gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards by the RIAA. But even if the queen of pop was to have faded into obscurity, her iconic song about being “touched for the very first time” would still ring in our heads and karaoke bars across the country.
Contact CU Independent Opinion Editor Ellie Bean at Beanee@colorado.edu.