It was the song that – for a time – Madonna would feel conflicted over. But Material Girl, the second single to be lifted from the Like A Virgin album, would arguably do more than any other to cement the “Queen Of Pop”’s position as both an 80s icon and one of the brightest stars of the MTV age.
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An empowering life mantra and a metaphor for Madonna’s lasting appeal
Nile Rodgers, the Chic genius who had recently worked with David Bowie on his commercial pinnacle, Let’s Dance, and was cannily drafted in by Madonna to work his magic on her second album, had wanted Material Girl to launch the record. Of course, his protégé – already securing a reputation for knowing her own mind – considered Like A Virgin’s title song a more certain bet. Unsurprisingly, Madonna won that battle and, once released, Like A Virgin topped the US charts for six weeks.
With Material Girl lined up for release as album’s the second single, on 30 November 1984, no expense was spared on a lavish promo video. Its iconic restaging of the Marilyn Monroe performance of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, from the 1953 classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, cast Madonna as a charismatic star unmoved by her suitor’s flashy advances. Demanding authenticity, she is ultimately seduced by a simple bouquet and a ride in an old car.