Like A Virgin – Madonna – 1984
Claimed Sales: 25m
First listen?: No
Format Listened?: Apple Music/Vinyl
Like A Virgin is probably my least favourite 80s Madonna album. It was the record that helped her become the biggest female artist in the world, singles such as the title track, Material Girl and Dress You Up were inescapable hits that defined the 80s. Thanks in part to his work on Let’s Dance with David Bowie, Nile Rodgers was asked to produce the album with Madonna, an influence heard across the whole record. For the most part these are tracks destined for the dance floor, Angel is a shot of pure pop, while on Over and Over it feels like the lyrics do exactly that. There isn’t technically a ‘bad’ track on here, but there’s definitely something missing that was present on her debut. For me the album excels when it surprises you, the cover of Rose Royce’s Love Don’t Like Here Anymore for instance was a career highpoint at the time, showing a vulnerability and vocal ability no one had seen before, while opener Material Girl is full of comedic and ironic sass, the first sign of a reinvention of character Madonna would see for the rest of her career. Like A Virgin itself has never been near the top of my favourite Madonna hits either, even when considering that iconic bassline opening. The way the lyrics are teased out makes the controversy surrounded the video and subsequent performances unsurprising during the 80s, but it’s a song that paved the way for ‘Madonna the cultural icon’ to push the boundaries of sexual empowerment in Pop music and for that reason it’s one of the industry’s biggest turning points. Like A Virgin is a transitional album, that honed in on various aspects of her music and the era and allowed for her first genuine world conquering smash, Into The Groove, to emerge just months later. Including it as part of the tracklist on the 1985 reissue only drives this point home even more.
Rating: 6/10 (7/10 if you include Into The Groove)
Will I listen again?: Most definitely despite the low score.
Best Track: Since I’m excluding Into The Groove here, it has to be between opener Material Girl and Love Don’t Live Here Anymore. The knowing intent of the former pushes it over the line for me though, especially given it is to thank for her first truly great music video.