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Like a Virgin. Song Info

"Like a Virgin" is the first single by American singer Madonna from the album of the same name and was released on November 6, 1984 by Sire Records. It also appears in a truncated and slightly remixed form on the 1990 greatest hits compilation The Immaculate Collection.


Madonna's performance of this song at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards made music history when she appeared in a bridal gown atop a giant wedding cake. She also notably lipsynched the song in a pink wig and custom-made Keith Haring jacket for a television performance on Solid Gold.

Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly wrote the song, and Kelly sang on the demo. In an interview with Songfacts, Steinberg said:
When Madonna recorded it, even as our demo faded out, on the fade you could hear Tom saying, 'When your heart beats, and you hold me, and you love me...' That was the last thing you heard as our demo faded. Madonna must have listened to it very, very carefully because her record ends with the exact same little ad-libs that our demo did. That rarely happens that someone studies your demo so carefully that they use all that stuff. We were sort of flattered how carefully she followed our demo on that.
The bassline has been known as similar to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and The Four Tops' "I Can't Help Myself". Madonna acknowledged the similarities between her hit and those of Jackson and The Four Tops by incorporating elements of each into her live performances of "Like A Virgin" (with "Billie Jean" during 1985's The Virgin Tour and with "I Can't Help Myself" during 1987's Who's That Girl World Tour). The song also contains some lyrical parallels with Foreigner's "Feels Like the First Time."

In 2003, Madonna fans were asked to vote for their Top 20 Madonna singles of all-time by Q. "Like a Virgin" was allocated the #5 spot.

Chart performance

"Like a Virgin" became Madonna's first of 12 number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining at the top for six consecutive weeks and eventually earning RIAA gold certification. The single also reached number one on the Hot Dance Club Play, and was her first top-ten hit on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

"Like a Virgin" slammed onto the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart the week of November 17, 1984 at #48, and shot up the chart rapidly, reaching #1 by its sixth week, December 22, 1984. "Like a Virgin" was the first of four Top five singles from Madonna's album of the same name. "Like a Virgin" remained in the Top 10 for nine weeks, in the Top 20 for eleven weeks, and in the Top 40 for fourteen weeks.

Internationally, the song was a Top 5 hit and reached the top spot in numerous countries. In the UK it was a massive hit reaching No.3 and selling over 760,000 copies, becoming Madonna's the second best-selling single in the UK till the date. It was her first number one single in Australia, Canada, Italy and South Africa. The song would be her biggest selling and top-charting single worldwide until "Like a Prayer" in 1989.

Music videos

The music video, directed by Mary Lambert, was shot in Venice, Italy and partly in New York City in July 1984. It showed Madonna dancing on a gondola, and running around in a wedding dress intercut with shots of a panting lion. The video's MTV world premiere took place on November 13, 1984, and became an instant hit.

In 1985, a live music video of "Like a Virgin" from "The Virgin Tour" filmed in Detroit, Michigan was used to promote Live - The Virgin Tour video. This version was nominated for Best Choreography at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The live performance of "Like a Virgin" from the Blond Ambition World Tour in Paris, France was released as a music video on May 9, 1991 to promote the documentary film Truth or Dare. This version was nominated for two MTV Video Music Awards: Best Female Video and Best Choreography.

Live performances

Like a Virgin made its debut at the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984, where Madonna appeared on stage atop a giant wedding cake dressed in a wedding dress (adorned with the infamous "Boy Toy" belt buckle) and veil. The climax of her risqué performance found her humping and rolling around on the stage.

The song has also been included in five of Madonna's eight tours. For 1985's The Virgin Tour, Madonna again donned wedding attire and performed a straight version of the song featuring a quotation from Michael Jackson's similar-sounding Motown-style single, "Billie Jean". In 1987's Who's That Girl World Tour, the song was given a lighthearted comedic theme and included quotations from The Four Tops' "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)". For the 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour, the song was re-invented with a middle-eastern arrangement and risqué (and utlimately infamous) choreography which found Madonna simulating masturbation on a bed. The explicit performance garnered a lot of attention, particularly when police in Toronto, Canada threatened to arrest Madonna and charge her with indecency unless she altered the performance. Madonna refused and the show went on unaltered. She was never arrested. (This situation was documented in the singer's 1991 documentary, Truth or Dare.)

Madonna swapped the wedding dress for a tuxedo and adopted a Marlene Dietrich-like persona for 1993's The Girlie Show World Tour, singing the song with a thick German accent and including a quotation from Dietrich's signature tune, Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It).

In April 2003, an impromptu performance at Tower Records NYC was done as a request from the crowd and would later air on NBC. It was the crowd's response to her mentioning VIRGIN records, which brought on the request of Like a VIRGIN.

Madonna's performance of Hollywood at the 2003 Video Music Awards recreated the 1984 performance of Like a Virgin, where she dressed as a bride groom, with Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears joining her own stage dressed as brides. Following in the controversial footsteps of the original performance, Madonna created another stir by kissing Spears and Aguilera on the lips.

In 2006's Confessions Tour, the song was given a horseriding theme whilst the arrangement was brassy with more hooks than the original and featuring a thumping bass & brass climax in the middle. Madonna performed the song atop a studded leather S&M carousel horse while x-rays of her broken bones (the result of a horse-riding accident on her 47th birthday) flashed on the screens behind her.

In 2008's Sticky & Sweet Tour, Madonna sang the song in Rome and dedicated the song to Pope Benedict XVI saying "I'd like to dedicate this song to the Pope, I know he loves me" and saying that she is a child of God. She asked the audience to sing with her. Throughout the remainder of the tour, Madonna sang Like a Virgin as the request song several more times.


"Like a Virgin" was honored by Rolling Stone and MTV in 2000 as the #4 song on their list of the "100 Greatest Pop Songs".
This song was voted #10 on VH1's 100 Best Songs of the Past 25 Years.
This song was voted #8 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 80's".
The song was listed at #95 on Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs[5]
This video was ranked #61 on VH1's 100 Greatest Videos.
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