Peter Marinari | Philadelphia, PA USA | 07/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Madonna has never exactly been a critical darling, and Like A Virgin often catches the most flack from the opinionated masses. Through its two biggest singles her second album introduced both the idea of Madonna as "Boy Toy" and originating her virgin/[...] image. However, discounting this effort as a simple paean to eighties culture or debating whether or not the popular music Reagan's first term in office was truly better than disco ignores Madonna's first fully realized piece of pop masterpiece, one of only two discs that were released free of the immense baggage that her image and reputation would soon provide.
Both "Material Girl" and "Like A Virgin" were written for Madonna by outside songwriters, a practice she would forever escape starting with her next full-length effort. Take these hits for what they are - a move just as calculated as Madonna's wardrobe. In fact, a team that was also writing for Cyndi Lauper, who was Madonna's prime competition at the time, penned one of the two.
It was "Like A Virgin" that launched Madonna into the stratosphere after she performed it as a slutty wedding-day centerpiece on the MTV Music Video Awards, wisely escaping before the cake was cut only to wind up writhing around on the stage in a wedding dress and famous "boy toy" belt. However, the massive single that it often obscures is the much-less squeaky "Dress You Up," whose delivery defuses accusations that Madonna wasn't much of a singer. Here she is desperate, insisting that she will dress you in her love at the top of her lungs. You are inclined to believe her.
Also, feel free to ignore the weird dancehall bounce and edgy synthesizers of "Material Girl," which don't have much of an effect on the rest of the proceedings. That massive hit all but erased the memory of the Madonna penned single "Angel," which neatly takes all of the musical themes of her first album and moves them inexorably forward towards pop perfection with the help of Nile Rodgers hip production. Despite the overpowering array of synthesizers brought to bare on this disc, there's something very real here: chirping guitars and the subtle under-harmony to Madonna's wisely under-delivered chorus are both details that make this a classic.
Like A Virgin also offers the first two ballads of Madonna's career; the later-remixed turn on "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" (a cover, which is rare for Mad), but also "Shoo Bee-Doo" -- the classy b-side to "Dress You Up." On this solo Madonna writing-credit we almost manage to lose the synthesizers entirely, and along the way pick up live piano and drums as well as the classic callback backing vocals that would go on to be a Madonna trademark on "Express Yourself" and "Vogue."
There are only three other songs on this short effort. "Over and Over" features frantic tic-tok percussion and is a perfect embodiment of pop, more-so than either of this album's infamous singles. "Pretender" is dramatically overwrought, but watching Madonna get worked into frenzy has never been boring. And album closer "Stay" sounds genuine and bounces throughout, an easy bridge from underdeveloped fare to the more adult hits from the more acclaimed True Blue.
Is there anything so horrible about this disc? If you still resent Madonna's international superstardom, then maybe yes. However, when it comes to popular music from the eighties this is one of the absolute zeniths, and it also bears the mark of an important step in Madonna's unstoppable journey towards becoming the most famous woman on the planet. And, to top it all off, it's her best and most under-appreciated disc up through the masterpiece Like A Prayer.
Really, when was the last time you listened to it?"
Shiny and new
Westley | Stuck in my head | 10/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Madonna's second release, "Like a Virgin," made her a superstar and moved her from pure dance to a more pop- and R&B-tinged sound. Released in 1984, everything about this CD is superb. Madonna's voice was much improved from her debut (although still a bit thin compared to her later vocals), and the production by Nile Rodgers is first-rate. The first single, "Like a Virgin," was a mega-smash, logging 6 weeks at #1; it would be 7 years before another song had that many weeks at #1 - Bryan Adam's "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You." The song even made the Top 10 on the R&B chart! At the time, the song was a bit scandalous but today it's pretty tame. However, anyway you look at it, "Like a Virgin" is a great pop song. The video was also her first high-budget effort; although her writhing in a Venice gondola and being seduced by a man in a lion's mask are more than a bit silly, it's also a gorgeous video.
Three subsequent singles were released and made the Top 5. "Material Girl" became an anthem of sort. The video may have featured an actress spurning the advances of a wealthy lothario in favor of a poor, truck-driving Keith Carradine, but the message of the song suggested the opposite - Madonna proudly proclaimed her love of fame and power. The song helped make Madonna the Marilyn Monroe of the 80s, and gave her the dreaded nickname she tried vainly to abandon for many years. The third single was a bit of a surprise to me - "Angel." It's a beautiful song, but not as catchy or immediate as a number of other songs on the CD. It peaked at #5. "Dress You Up" was the final release, making it to #5. Shockingly, the song was included in the "Filthy Fifteen" published by Tipper Gore's Parent Music Resource Center, presumably for the rather tame reference to "velvet kisses." It's a terrific pop song that's not the slightest bit profane.
"Love Don't Live Here Anymore" is another highlight - a lush remake of the Rose Royce 70s hit. I loved the song when "Like a Virgin" was initially released and wanted it released as a single. However, Madonna subsequently remixed the song and included it on her 1996 ballad collection (Something to Remember); the song was belatedly made the chart, although it sputtered out at #78. "Shoo-Bee-Doo" is another terrific song - it combines seamlessly a 60s girl group sound with 80s pop. Arguably the most dance-oriented song is "Over and Over," and it's very good. "Stay" has a great drum-loop unusual for a Madonna song. Finally, "Pretender" is arguably the weakest of the bunch, but still a pretty decent song.
Overall, the songs are much more diverse on "Like a Virgin" than on her first record, "Madonna." Her growth as an artist really started here and would continue over the next two decades. Although "Like a Virgin" is probably not Madonna's best CD, it ranks right up there, particularly if you like the more "pop" side of her music. Most highly recommended. "
Dedicated to virgins--but wonderfully lacking innocence!
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 07/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As other reviewers before me have very perceptively noted, this IS without doubt one of the best albums of the 1980s. It did shoot Madonna to fame and she deserved every bit of her success! Listening to the first four songs "Material Girl," Angel," "Like a Virgin," and "Over and Over," I felt young, excited, optimistic and happy as I did all twenty years ago when I first heard these wonderfully infectious songs! (It encourages you to reminisce about the good old days, too--as well as the materialism of the '80s! GRIN) Following them is the torchy pop ballad "Love Don't Live Here Anymore," which Madonna performs very well. "Dress You Up" is yet another tune that immediately became a global hit for "The Material Girl." "Shoo-Bee-Doo" is a slower ballad that goes well after the faster paced "Dress You Up." This album also includes very, very good songs like the slower "Pretender" and the song "Stay." The listener then gets the added plusses of extended dance mixes of "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl." The sound quality is excellent throughout the entire remastered CD! The liner notes include the lyrics to all the songs and there are a few great shots of Madonna taken at that time, too. A real plus for Madonna fans!Not only is this one of her greatest albums, this CD would also be an excellent introduction to the newcomer who wants to see what Madonna could produce at such an early point in her career. I strongly recommend this remastered CD as a great addition for Madonna fans who only have the original CD or the vinyl album. Only regret: "Into The Groove" isn't here! Hey! To improve this incredible CD even further, can we use this as a springboard to remaster it yet again as something even more awesome (although there's not too much room to go higher)? Only time will tell.....GRIN"
R. Graff | South Windsor, CT United States | 07/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the album that turned Madonna into a star. The first album was good, but this is a definite improvement.1. Material Girl- One of her signature songs. Also one of her catchiest, even if it's quintissential 80's A2. Angel- A nice song. Kinda dumb, but great music and singing. B+3. Like A Virgin- THE signature song. It is always really fun to listen to, and has the point that even Britney's first didn't. A4. Over And Over- My favorite song on the album. Definitely made for the clubs, and one you can't help but dance to. A+5. Love Don't Live Her Anymore- Not a song many Madonna fans will like, but I love it. Her vocals are the best on this song, and a very soulful take. A-6. Dress You Up- A little too dumb, but other than that, it is flawless. B7. Shoo-Be-Do- Perhaps the worst song, even though it's still very nice, and easy to relax to. B-8. Pretender- It's a very good song, but extremely forgettable. My least favorite song. C9. Stay- A great way to end the album. The chorus will be in your mind long after the song has stopped playing. A-This is THE Madonna album to have. If you don't know which album to get first, get this one."
The Before And After review
Da Man | Pekin, IL | 12/21/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Madonna became a superstar with the November 1984 release of Like A VirginBEFORE:
Madonna was just coming off a very successful 5 times platinum debut. Her fashion and look was making it's way into malls across America, and she was the only female of the time to look at all a threat to Cyndi Lauper.AFTER:
By the time it was said and done for this album, the unthinkable happened. Madonna wasn't just the biggest pop star of the moment, she was the only person to rival Michael Jackson. 1985 was owned by her. Like A Virgin went straight to #1 on both the single and album charts, and 3 other tracks went to the top 5 too. The album eventually selling 10 million in the US alone. And don't forget Madonna's big-screen debut in Desperately Seeking Susan, and her soundtrack hits Crazy For You and Into The Groove. With Like A Virgin, Madonna turned from more than a pop star into an icon.19 years on. Like A Virgin is the most dated of Madonna's recordings, but that doesn't mean it's not without charms. Her voice hadn't yet grown into what we know today, but at her age (26) and the style of music, it doesn't matter. What can be said about the music that 100 people before me haven't said? All in all, for Madonna's 3 "big 80's pop albums" before she grew into a deeper artist, it isn't as dancy as her debut, and it's not as addictive as True Blue, but it has it's own charms.However, I would argue that this is Madonna's worst studio album. It's not at all an insult considering she is my all time favorite recording artist. But while I can't put my finger on it, this album lacks something the others have.I would still recommend it to anyone into mid-80's nostalgia because the album defined an era."