It’s now hard to imagine just how enormous a success the Like A Virgin album was on its November 1982 release. Delayed by months because the singles off her self-titled debut album continued to dominate the charts, it sold more than three million copies in its first 14 weeks in the US alone, and worldwide sales would soar above 21 million in the months ahead as Madonna Mania swept the planet, one territory after another.
Listen to ‘Like A Virgin’ here.
Sparkling contemporary pop
The light soul-disco of her debut album was here now beefed up by the chunky pop production of Chic mastermind Nile Rodgers, in particular on two smash singles that would define the “Queen Of Pop” for decades ahead. Interestingly, both were composed by other writers, proving that Madonna was shrewd enough to work on material that powered forward her agenda, whatever the songs’ origin. There was no room for ego at this critical moment.
Material Girl, which opens the record, features a light synth-reggae shuffle that makes the song so familiar, but the song is largely memorable for its arch, iconic narrative and the standout video that accompanies it. Madonna might have later regretted its tongue-in-cheek irony, but there’s no doubting its contribution to her legend. Angel, another single, is perhaps a throwback to the lighter material of her first album, but is one of four Like A Virgin co-compositions with Stephen Bray, who is one of Madonna’s most significant early collaborators (and who would also pen Into The Groove, which was later added to the album after the phenomenal success of Madonna’s first hit film, Desperately Seeking Susan).