MadonnaLike a Prayer › Like a Prayer

Pop 80s Madonna Dance Female Vocalists
Meow! Video Not Found

Like a Prayer. Song Info

"Like a Prayer" is the first single by American singer-songwriter Madonna from her 4th studio album, Like a Prayer. It was released on February 28, 1989 by Sire Records. A power pop song by Madonna, it notably features a gospel choir. In Japan and Australia, a mini-album titled Remixed Prayers was released, which included remixes of the title track and also "Express Yourself". It later appeared remixed on the 1990 compilation album The Immaculate Collection.

Song information

"Like a Prayer" became one of Madonna's highest-selling singles in her career, selling over five million copies worldwide at the time of its release.

The single version of "Like a Prayer" (7" remix) is slightly different from the album version in some extra background production, including a shorter and heavier guitar intro, louder bass, string arrangements in the verses and electric guitar at the song's climax. In addition, the album version features bass guitar played by Randy Jackson, the 7" version has a much more complex part created and played by Guy Pratt, doubled by an analogue Minimoog bass synthesizer. Several of the versions of "Like a Prayer", excluding that on the album, were included on Remixed Prayers.

"Like a Prayer" was also remixed as a dance song by Shep Pettibone for Madonna's 1990 compilation album The Immaculate Collection. The remix became almost as popular as the original version, though is often not as highly regarded by critics and fans alike.

In 2003, Madonna fans were asked to vote for their Top 20 Madonna singles of all-time by Q-Magazine. "Like a Prayer" was allocated the Number 1 spot. The song was ranked #300 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.


The cover artwork for the 7" single featured Madonna in a praying pose. The 12" artwork featured a painting by Madonna's brother Christopher of a classic (Catholic) naked Madonna wearing a halo and draped in a vine of thorns with a single blossoming flower. Of special note on this painted version of the cover - it features the letters MLVC (Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone) with a prominently "fallen" letter P near the heart of the Madonna, indicating Madonna's recent divorce and distancing from husband Sean Penn. The UK and Germany also released a 2nd 12" in a mustard yellow colour version of the original 12" sleeve featuring three remixes including the Churchapella Mix. The 7" single features a unique version of the famous black & white photo (also found on the back cover of the album of the same same.) This 7" cover version has a "hand tinted" colour wash applied which gives the artwork a dream-like quality. The same photograph in monochrome was used in shops in poster format to promote both the album and the single. Of special note, it is extremely rare for a 12" copy of a single to bear significantly if not altogether different artwork from its 7" counterpart. The original 3" CD single of the song was released with the original 7" artwork and is now quite rare and collectable. The two 5" reissue CDs of the song from the mid 90s feature the original 12" artwork plus an additional version with different mixes which has the background of the artwork altered to a mustard yellow color. The 12" Limited Edition Picture Disc of the release features a photograph of Madonna wearing jeans with a purple sheer blouse; she has straight dark hair and is posed in the throes of uninhibited dance. The reverse features a faded purple tinged photo of the original 7" with an overwritten tracklist. A maxi "Cassingle" was also issued featuring original "praying pose" artwork.

Chart performance

"Like a Prayer" was a massive hit worldwide. In the U.S. the song went straight to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in spring 1989 and also topped the Hot Dance Music/Club Play and Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales charts. It peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It was released in the UK on 6 March 1989 and entered the UK Singles Chart straight at #2 before climbing to #1 and remaining there for three weeks until Easter Sunday (26 March). It also reached number one in countries such as Australia, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Ireland and many others. "Like a Prayer" was Madonna's fifth number one single on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles chart, reaching the top on March 25, 1989, and staying at number one for 12 weeks.

Music video

The highly controversial music video for the song was directed by Mary Lambert, who also directed "Borderline", "Like a Virgin", "Material Girl" and "La Isla Bonita". It was shot at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, California and Madonna's scenes with burning crosses were filmed on San Pedro Hills in San Pedro, California. The video featured actor Leon Robinson and premiered on MTV on March 3, 1989, and later went on to win the Viewer's Choice Award at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards.

It attracted criticism for its subplot of Madonna making love to Saint Martin de Porres - which some perceived as being a black version of Christ -, its use of Catholic iconography, including a scene where Madonna developed stigmata, and cross burning. The video topped MTV's countdown of "100 Videos That Broke The Rules" in 2005, and for the 25th anniversary of MTV (August 1, 2006), viewers voted the video as the "Most Groundbreaking Music Video of All Time". In addition, the video was ranked #20 on Rolling Stone magazine's "The 100 Top Music Videos" and #2 on VH1's 100 Greatest Videos. On November 27, 2007 Fuse named "Like a Prayer" as one of its ten "Videos That Rocked The World".

Pepsi commercial controversy

Madonna was paid $5 million by Pepsi-Cola to appear in a commercial that would predominantly feature the world premiere of "Like a Prayer". The commercial, titled "Make a Wish", was filmed at Culver Studios in Culver City, California in late January 1989 and was directed by Joe Pytka. Depicting Madonna drinking Pepsi and watching a home video of her eighth birthday[7], the tone that the commercial sought to convey sharply contrasted with the official music video for the song. When Pepsi executives saw the completed video, they quickly yanked the advertisement after only two airings in an attempt to dissociate themselves from the controversy Madonna had created. (The two-minute commercial was shown just once on March 2, 1989 during The Cosby Show, and, in the UK, after much publicity, on March 2 during a commercial break on ITV 12 minutes into The Bill.)

Though her contract with Pepsi called for three future commercials, Madonna got to keep her five-million-dollar endorsement fee, without fulfilling her contractual obligations. When Madonna won the Viewer's Choice Award for "Like a Prayer" video at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1989, in her acceptance speech she thanked Pepsi-Cola "for causing so much controversy!".

During an MTV interview with Kurt Loder entitled "Breakfast with Madonna" in 1990, Loder asked Madonna about the "brouhaha" surrounding her own video for the song and Pepsi's reaction to it. Madonna said, "[Pepsi's spokespeople] said they just didn't like it." Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.