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LIFE

Rewind music: Like a Virgin, by Madonna (1984)

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 November, 2014, 11:15pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 November, 2014, 11:15pm

Like a Virgin
Madonna
Sire Records

In 1984, Madonna was a disco chick with a fairly successful first album under her belt. But then she released the track Like a Virgin and was catapulted to stardom, staking out her place as the queen of pop.

Arguably her most famous song, Like a Virgin debuted at the inaugural MTV Music Awards. Dressed as a bride, she stood at the top of a six-metre wedding cake beside a mannequin groom. As she sang, she worked her way down the cake, performing a striptease as she went. It was saucy and by the end of it she was writhing about on the floor in an apparent orgasm. This kind of thing didn't happen in 1984 - not until Madonna came along - and people were shocked.

Thousands of teenage girls wanted to be like her, to dress like her - and they bought the record in the millions. Like a Virgin was Madonna's first No1 single and it stayed at the top of the Billboard chart for six weeks.

Today, we know Madonna as an artist who continues to push boundaries and it all started with her second album. The music video was shot in Venice with Madonna cavorting on a canal boat with a lion weaving its way in and out of the shots. The cover was shocking, too - it showed Madonna propped up in bed in a tight white bodice, her ample cleavage on display and wearing a belt that read "Boy Toy".

Madonna has performed Like a Virgin many times since, but in the years that followed it never was the same as that very first time. It's worth digging up the original music video on YouTube. At 26 years old, she was fresh-faced and could even make genuine expressions - like a frown. Ah, the pre-Botox days.

Her costumes and dance routines grew ever more provocative and she became one of the first young, female artists to boldly claim a sex life and sing about a sexual history. There are other hugely successful songs on the album and they proclaim a similarly bold message: Material Girl sees her declaring that in her world money comes before love.

Like a Virgin marks a point in time when the door was kicked wide open for female artists. They could be bold, daring, sluttish and provocative if they wanted. And that song just won't die. It's a regular at wedding receptions and is even a staple on karaoke machines in North Korea - sung in total innocence by earnest North Korean tour guides. Most recently, an Italian nun had a crack at it. Suor Cristina Scuccia, who won The Voice of Italy talent show earlier this year, is about to release her first album and it includes a cover of this pop classic.