Today in Madonna History: April 14, 2009

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On April 14 2009, Steven Meisel was featured in Vogue magazine, and the article described him as the man that taught Madonna about re-invention.

In the article, Madonna shared some nice thoughts on Meisel:

Even Madonna agrees that there is, indeed, “a great sense of mystery” about Meisel – so much so that after all these years she feels she still doesn’t really know him very well. “I know that I love him,” she says. “You get sucked into his aura. He knows things.”

She learned this from one of their first collaborations, which was for the cover of Like A Virgin. “Before I worked with Steven,” says Madonna, “I just showed up in the clothes I was wearing, stood in front of the lights, and got my picture taken. With Steven, a team of people descended on me, started to undress me. Someone grabbed my hair, another grabbed my face, another started helping me try on various bits of clothes, and they all seemed to be speaking a language I didn’t understand – the language of Steven Meisel.”

To hear Madonna talk about working with Meisel is like being let in on a long-held secret. She goes on, “Steven had a vision. He had done his research. He had very specific references. I really respected the care that he took with his work, how seriously he approached it, but at the same time he has a great sense of irony. He made me feel like I was part of something important. He treated each photo shoot like it was a small film and insisted that we create a character each time we worked but then would make fun of the archetypes we created. He was the first person to introduce me to the idea of reinvention.”

Today in Madonna History: April 10, 1985

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On April 10 1985, Madonna’s Angel single was released by Sire Records. Angel was the third single  released from the Like a Virgin album.

Written by Steve Bray and Madonna, it was one of the first songs developed for the project and, according to Madonna, was inspired by a girl who is saved by an angel, and she falls in love with Him.

Lyrics: 

Why am I standing on a cloud
Every time you’re around
And my sadness disappears
Every time you are near

Bridge:

You must be an angel
I can see it in your eyes
Full of wonder and surprise
And just now I realize

Chorus:

Oooh you’re an angel
Oooh you’re an angel
Oooh you’re an angel
In disguise, I can see it in your eyes

Walking down a crowded avenue
Other faces seem like nothing next to you
And I can’t hear the traffic rushing by
Just the pounding of my heart and that’s why

(bridge)
(chorus, repeat)

You’re an angel
You’re an angel, baby
You’re an angel
You must be an angel

Now I believe that dreams come true
‘Cause you came when I wished for you
This just can’t be coincidence
The only way that this makes sense is that

(chorus, repeat)

You’re an angel
You’re an angel, baby
You’re an angel
You must be an angel, baby

Clouds just disappear

Today in Madonna History: January 17, 1985

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On January 17 1985, Debbie Miller reviewed Madonna’s Like A Virgin album for Rolling Stone magazine. Here’s what she had to say (3 1/2 stars out of 5):

In the early Sixties, when girls were first carving their niche in rock & roll, the Crystals were singing about how it didn’t matter that the boy they loved didn’t drive a Cadillac car, wasn’t some big movie star: he wasn’t the boy they’d been dreaming of, but so what? Madonna is a more, well, practical girl. In her new song, Material Girl, she claims, “the boy with the cold hard cash is always Mr. Right/’Cause we’re living in a material world/And I am a material girl.” When she finds a boy she likes, it’s for his “satin sheets/And luxuries so fine” (Dress You Up). Despite her little-girl voice, there’s an undercurrent of ambition that makes her more than the latest Betty Boop. When she chirps, “You made me feel/Shiny and new/Like a virgin,” in her terrific new single, you know she’s after something. Nile Rodgers produced Like A Virgin, Madonna’s second LP; he also played guitar on much of it and brought in ex-Chic partners Bernard Edwards on bass and Tony Thompson on drums. Rodgers wisely supplies the kind of muscle Madonna’s sassy lyrics demand. Her light voice bobs over the heavy rhythm and synth tracks like a kid on a carnival ride. On the hit title song, Madonna is all squeals, bubbling over the bass line from the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself.” She doesn’t have the power or range of, say, Cyndi Lauper, but she knows what works on the dance floor. Still, some of the new tracks don’t add up. Her torchy ballad Love Don’t Live Here Anymore is awful. The role of the rejected lover just doesn’t suit her. Madonna’s a lot more interesting as a conniving cookie, flirting her way to the top, than as a bummed-out adult.

Today in Madonna History: December 22, 1984

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On December 22 1984, Madonna’s Like A Virgin single reached #1 in the USA on the Billboard Hot 100 and it stayed at #1 for 6 weeks.

A promotional ad for the hit single read:

WHO ELSE COULD BE NO. 1 THIS CHRISTMAS?

Today in Madonna History: November 17, 1984

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.

Today in Madonna History: October 10, 1984

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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.  lav-obhits-6

Today in Madonna History: August 30, 1985

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On August 30 1985, Madonna’s Like A Virgin album spent a third week at #2 on the UK Albums Chart.

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