On April 6 2017, CNN published an article explaining why Madonna understands a little something about pulled Pepsi commercials:
In 1989, she starred in a Pepsi commercial that was pulled because of controversy over the music video for Like A Prayer, which featured burning crosses and showed Madonna kissing a black actor portraying a saint.
She reminded the world of this bit of pop culture history Wednesday when she posted on Instagram about the disastrous Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner.
“When you wake up and realize that SHIT just really doesn’t make sense. Side Note: My Pepsi commercial was pulled 30 years ago because I was kissing a black saint! #ironic.”
On March 19 1989, Madonna was the featured artist in the Arts section of the New York Times in an article and interview by Stephen Holden.
Like a Prayer, said Madonna, “is the song of a passionate young girl so in love with God that it is almost as though He were the male figure in her life. From around 8 to 12 years old, I had the same feelings. I really wanted to be a nun.”
What follows is a description in Madonna’s own words of what happens in the video:
“A girl on the street witnesses an assault on a young woman. Afraid to get involved because she might get hurt, she is frozen in fear. A black man walking down the street also sees the incident and decides to help the woman. But just then, the police arrive and arrest him. As they take him away, she looks up and sees one of the gang members who assaulted the girl. He gives her a look that says she’ll be dead if she tells. The girl runs, not knowing where to go until she sees a church. She goes in and sees a saint in a cage who looks very much like the black man on the street, and says a prayer to help her make the right decision. He seems to be crying, but she is not sure. She lies down on a pew and falls into a dream in which she begins to tumble in space with no one to break her fall. Suddenly she is caught by a woman who represents earth and emotional strength and who tosses her back up and tells her to do the right thing. Still dreaming, she returns to the saint, and her religious and erotic feelings begin to stir. The saint becomes a man. She picks up a knife and cuts her hands. That’s the guilt in Catholicism that if you do something that feels good you will be punished. As the choir sings, she reaches an orgasmic crescendo of sexual fulfillment intertwined with her love of God. She knows that nothing’s going to happen to her if she does what she believes is right. She wakes up, goes to the jail, tells the police the man is innocent, and he is freed. Then everybody takes a bow as if to say we all play a part in this little scenario.”
On February 24 2016, Madonna performed in the Philippines for the very first time. Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour made a stop at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, performing for a sold out crowd of 15,710 fans.
Ticket prices were above average and ranged from $70 to $1300.
Madonna added Like A Prayer to the set during the first show and added Crazy For You during the second show (February 25).
On February 6 2005, BBC Radio One announced that Madonna was the most voted for female artist to be included in the UK’s Greatest Number One Singles of all-time.
Madonna had two songs in the top ten: Like A Prayer at #4 and Vogue at #5.
Music landed at #21.
BBC Radio One asked fans to vote for the Greatest UK Number One Single to celebrate the 1000th number one single.
The top ten included:
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
- Iron Maiden – Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
- Madonna – Like A Prayer
- Madonna – Vogue
- Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock
- Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger
- Abba – Dancing Queen
- Mariah Carey – Without You
- John Lennon – Imagine
On July 2 2005, Madonna performed Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light and Music in front of an audience of over 200,000 during the Live 8 benefit concert at London’s Hyde Park. Part of a series of concerts, many of which were held simultaneously at various locations around the world, Live 8 was broadcast live on television and radio to an estimated global audience of two billion.
Madonna is one of only eight acts – and the only female artist – to have been a headlining performer at both 1985’s Live Aid and 2005’s Live 8. Other returning performers were U2, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Sting, The Who, George Michael, and organizer, Bob Geldof. It took a bit of arm twisting on Geldof’s part to win Madonna’s commitment the second time around, as Madonna explained to MTV’s John Norris in a backstage interview after her performance:
Bob Geldof sent me a letter asking ‘will you do Live 8?’ and he didn’t really tell me anything and I went ‘Oh common dude, you gotta do better than that! Prove to me that it’s gonna make a difference and I’ll be there for you.’ And he did!”
In what turned out to be one of the event’s most moving moments, Madonna was introduced to the stage by Geldof with Birhan Woldu – the starving African child featured in the CBC News report twenty years earlier who had prompted Geldof to organize Live Aid. When Geldof had asked Woldu which artist she would like to appear with on stage, she immediately selected Madonna for the simple reason that she was the only artist on the bill that she had ever heard of. In a later interview, Woldu recalled the experience:
The crowd seemed to stretch for miles, but I’d been telling myself not to be nervous. There was just a huge picture of me as a child on the screen. That photo still upsets me. It was taken 20 years ago, when both my mother and sister died. I knew I must be strong for them but when I walked on I could feel my body shaking. Then Madonna took my hand and looked into my eyes, the crowd roared and I realised the world wanted to help my continent. I felt myself grow stronger.”
Madonna’s memorable performance at Live 8 was largely praised by mainstream media and fans alike.
On July 1 1989, Madonna’s Express Yourself enjoyed its second week at #1 on the United World Chart (Tracks).
Like A Prayer spent its sixteenth and final week in the Top 10 on the United World Chart at #10.
On May 4 2016, Madonna tweeted about her long-time friend and Like A Prayer collaborator, Prince:
“It’s been 7 hours and 13 days since you took your love away……….all the flowers you planted died when you went away……….Nothing Compares 2 U.”