"Like a Virgin" is a song recorded by American singer Madonna for her second studio album, Like a Virgin (1984). It was released on October 31, 1984, by Sire Records as the album's lead single. The song was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, and produced by Nile Rodgers; Steinberg said that the song was inspired by his personal experiences of romance. "Like a Virgin" was chosen for Madonna by Michael Ostin of Warner Bros. Records after listening to a demo sung by Kelly. However, Rodgers initially felt that the song did not have a sufficient hook and was not suitable for Madonna, but subsequently changed his opinion after the hook was stuck in his mind.
Musically, "Like a Virgin" is a dance-oriented song, composed of two hooks. Madonna's voice is heard in a high register while a continuous arrangement of drums are heard along the bassline. The lyrics of the song are ambiguous and consist of hidden innuendo, interpreted in different ways. "Like a Virgin" received positive reviews from contemporary as well as past critics, who frequently called it as one of the defining songs for Madonna. It became her first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, while reaching the top of the charts in Australia, Canada and Japan, and the top-ten of other countries.
The song's music video portrayed Madonna sailing down the canals of Venice in a gondola, as well as roaming around a palace wearing a white wedding dress. With the video, scholars noted Madonna's portrayal of a sexually independent woman, similarity of a man wearing lion's mask to that of Saint Mark, and the link between the eroticism in the video and the vitality of Venice. Madonna has performed the song in six of her concert tours, most recent being the Rebel Heart Tour in 2015. Most of the time, her performances of "Like a Virgin" were associated with strong reaction and uproar from the media.
"Like a Virgin" has been covered by a number of artists and has appeared in or been referenced in feature films such as Reservoir Dogs, Moulin Rouge! and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Family groups sought to ban it as they believed the song promoted sex without marriage. On the other hand, Madonna's public persona of an indomitable, sexually unashamed, supremely confident woman was widely accepted by the younger generation who emulated her style and fashion. Scholars have credited "Like a Virgin" as the song which cemented her position as a pop culture icon.
"Like a Virgin" was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. The idea for the song originated when Steinberg was living at his father's vineyards in the Coachella Valley, and driving a red pickup truck one day. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Steinberg explained that the song was not written for Madonna or any female singer but was inspired by his personal experiences. At that time Steinberg had just come out of an emotionally challenging relationship, and he had met someone new. That inspired the lyrics for "Like a Virgin" about how he coped with the difficult situation. When he took the song to Kelly, they decided that it would be a sensitive ballad, however they could not decide how the word "virgin" would fit in it. Steinberg elaborated: "I wasn't just trying to get that racy word virgin in a lyric. I was saying ... that I may not really be a virgin — I've been battered romantically and emotionally like many people — but I'm starting a new relationship and it just feels so good, it's healing all the wounds and making me feel like I've never done this before, because it's so much deeper and more profound than anything I've ever felt."
Kelly recorded the demo, and invited Michael Ostin of Warner Bros. Records' A&R department to his house to listen to it. Steinberg and Kelly played four or five tunes for Ostin, and further discussed "Like a Virgin" – they were not sure for which artist the song would be suitable. Due to meet with Madonna the next day to discuss her second album, Ostin intended on playing the demo to her, believing the lyrics and the groove of the song were perfect for Madonna. "When I played it for Madonna she went crazy, and knew instantly it was a song for her and that she could make a great record out of it," Ostin recalled. In 2009, Rolling Stone interviewer Austin Scaggs asked Madonna what her first impressions were after listening to the demos of "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl". Madonna replied:
I liked them both because they were ironic and provocative at the same time but also unlike me. I am not a materialistic person, and I certainly wasn't a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be like a virgin? I liked the play on words; I thought they were clever. They're so geeky, they're cool. I never realized they would become my signature songs, especially the second one. File Hashes
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