On November 17 1984, the title-track and lead single from Madonna’s Like A Virgin album entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #48 – the week’s highest debut – hot on the heels of its commercial release as a 7-inch single in the preceding sales week. A commercial 12-inch single was also issued in North America during the chart week ending November 17th, with Like A Virgin pouncing onto the Hot Dance/Disco Sales chart at #26 in the November 24th issue of Billboard.
Created by the successful pop songwriting team of Tom Kelly & Billy Steinberg and produced by Nile Rodgers, the demo of Like A Virgin – sung by Kelly – was initially introduced to Madonna by Warner Bros. Records’ A&R rep Michael Ostin (son of then-CEO of Warner, Mo Ostin).
In a 2009 interview for Rolling Stone magazine, Madonna recalled her impressions upon first listening to the demos of Like A Virgin and its follow-up single, Material Girl:
“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.”
As audio engineer Jason Corsaro noted in a 2007 interview with Sound On Sound magazine, although she officially ceded production credit to Rodgers, Madonna was actively engaged in all aspects of the recording sessions for the album and title-track:
“Nile was there most of the time, but she was there all of the time. She never left.”
Like A Virgin made a high-profile debut via live performance during the first annual MTV Video Music Awards on September 14th, 1984.
With previous single Lucky Star still ascending the North American charts, however, the official release of Like A Virgin was held back by Warner Bros. Records in a bid to allow the former (along with its parent album) to reach its full chart potential. This strategy proved successful, with Madonna earning her first U.S. Top-5 single with Lucky Star in the October 20th issue of Billboard, while Like A Virgin would reach #1 in the December 22nd issue.
On October 10 1984, Madonna’s first EP, Like A Virgin & Other Big Hits!, was released in Japan through Sire Records.
Although three of the include singles (Holiday, Lucky Star and Borderline) had been released before, Like A Virgin would not be released as a single until November 6 1984.
The EP included the following tracks:
- Like a Virgin (Extended Dance Remix)
- Holiday (Album Version)
- Lucky Star (Extended Dance Remix)
- Borderline (Extended Dance Remix)
Like A Virgin & Other Big Hits! was re-released in 2016 as part of Record Store Day releases. The Record Store Day version was printed on pink vinyl.
On August 30 1985, Madonna’s Like A Virgin album spent a third week at #2 on the UK Albums Chart.
On July 14 1987, Madonna’s second studio album, Like a Virgin was certified 7x platinum (7 million units) in the USA.
According to author J. Randy Taraborrelli, “Every important artist has at least one album in his or her career whose critical and commercial success becomes the artist’s magic moment; for Madonna, Like a Virgin was just such a defining moment”.
On July 7 1984, Warner Bros. Records took out a full-page ad in Billboard magazine to congratulate Madonna on the Gold certification of her self-titled debut album.
The ad featured the first look at a new photo shoot Madonna had recently completed with Steven Meisel. This image would later appear on the back cover of her next album, Like A Virgin.
On February 6 2014, Like A Virgin producer Nile Rodgers mentioned his collaboration with Madonna during a Google+ Hangout with Billboard:
“I don’t have any unreleased Madonna material because Madonna knew exactly what she wanted her album to be when we did Like a Virgin. The only song that I had any input of bringing into the mix was a cover of Rose Royce’s ballad Love Don’t Live Here Anymore. That was a final last-minute decision.”