Like A Virgin – Madonna (1984)

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“Like A Virgin” is the 2nd studio album released by singer songwriter Madonna.

The biggest selling album in the long career of Madonna this album was produced by Nile Rogers who was the co creator of funk band Chic and had come off the back of producing albums for Diane Ross and David Bowie.

This saw a bigger sound for Madonna from her debut album which was certainly a mixed bag but an important introduction to the world of Madonna.

“Like A Virgin” is full of hits, full of hooks, big production and the beginning or a more sexualised Madonna sound.

The first track “Material Girl” was the lead single off the album and is a 80’s pop music classic. It is upfront and ballsy but at the same time there is more to this song than meets the eyes.

The first two verses are saying that she will not get with any guy if she doesn’t have money. She isn’t embarrassed about this and qualifies this with the chorus:

‘Cause we’re living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl

The important part of that chorus is the use of the words “You Know”. The first couple of lines are to make you judge but she points out with “You know” that this is the way it is and you should know it. She simply isn’t afraid to use it to her advantage.

But after two verses, a chorus and a bridge there is one final verse which changes things slightly.

Boys may come and boys may go
And that’s all right you see
Experience has made me rich
And now they’re after me

Madonna is now turning it around to say that she is not after boys because of money when in fact it is them who want to be with her because she is rich because of her experience. I presume she means experience in life and not in the bedroom but this is Madonna after all and she is not making any excuses for her opinions.

“Angel” is the second track and whilst lyrically it’s all a bit hollow I kind of like the tune as my 80’s pop fanboy obsession takes over. It’s similar in it’s musical structure to a few of the tracks on the set with the drums and the bass battling against each other in a quick tempo. The hook is catchy and whilst it probably is a minute too long it’s still a decent track.

“Like A Virgin” is one of the most well known Madonna songs. When I am DJ’ing if I am asked to play a Madonna song it is likely they will ask for this one. It’s a song people like because of the word ‘Virgin’. It’s all a bit naughty and it seems to connect to people especially women who find the song empowering.

If you have seen the movie Reservoir Dogs you will recall the opening scene where they talk about the meaning of this song. I won’t go into the sort of detail Quentin Tarantino does about what his character thinks Madonna is talking about but to me the song is about feeling like she did on the first time she had sex with a man and that he makes her feel something different – whether that physical or emotional.

The 4th track is “Over & Over”. The beat is very fast and extremely 80’s in it’s production style. It’s catchy but a little repetitive as Madonna sings about getting through life with sheer determination and not allowing anything to prevent her from stopping.

“Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” is the 5th track. This is a cover of the Rose Royce track. It is bizarre to me why this song was chosen. I love the original and not being a massive fan of covers in general I don’t think Madonna adds a thing to it given that it’s an almost identical take.

As the song develops I do enjoy the live feel of the instrumentation and I can only presume that the idea was to show off the vocal from Madonna which she has seen criticised throughout her career.

The winning factor with this track is that it’s a great song and if nothing much is changed then it’s not going to be detrimental to the overall result but it is still an odd choice of song on this album.

“Dress You Up” is arguably my favourite Madonna song and certainly my favourite on “Like A Virgin”. Perhaps the first 30 seconds of the song are unnecessary as the drum machine gets a good showing but the melody and overall tune is one I’ve always liked.

The production is crisp with the drums and bass really driving the song. The hook is catchy and the echoy vocal from Madonna makes it an enjoyable listen.

“Shoo-Bee-Doo” is one of the more interesting tracks with regards to it’s musical structure. The first 40 seconds is just Madonna singing acapella but then the drums kick in for the most soulful track on the album.

Like a lot of the love songs that Madonna had sung they are about being with someone completely with the rest of the world not mattering to what they do. There is a believable tone to her voice when singing a song like this and the overall effect on this track really works.

“Pretender” is a much more funkier affair and the influence from producer Nile Rogers is probably most evident on this tack. The baseline from the other half of the Chic duo Bernard Edwards my favourite part on what I consider one of the best tracks on the set.

The song is allowed to play out also and doesn’t end abruptly. From 3:55 the vocal ceases and you just get a funky 80’s synthy tune which is music to this listeners ears.

“Stay” (the final track) is simply about asking someone to stay with them and also acknowledging how much they have done to help the protagonist in their life. They are not just someone they are in a relationship with but almost a life support machine.

The song is very similar in it’s musical style to a Madonna song on her next album “True Blue”. Of all the songs on “Like A Virgin” this for me is the most “filler”.

The album is only 9 tracks long but I’ve always enjoyed albums with less tracks as they are easier to digest and also contain less padding.

“Like A Virgin” is certainly an improvement on a lukewarm debut album from Madonna and like most of her albums she would always be striving for something bigger. This is a solid album full of catchy pop songs with more of an insight into how her mind works and the beginning of a more sexualised theme in her music which would develop over the years.

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