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 7 2009, Madonna’s Celebration single was released as a 6-track CD maxi-single by Warner Brothers in the USA.
This edition, along with the US 12″ vinyl pressing that followed, featured unique artwork created by Mr Brainwash which is based on a Wayne Maser photo from 1992. This varied from the party-shot collage used for the single internationally.
1 – Oakenfold Remix
2 – Benny Benassi Remix
3 – Oakenfold Remix Dub
4 – Benny Benassi Remix Edit
5 – Benny Benassi Dub
6 – Johnny Vicious Club Remix
On December 24 1995, Oh Father was released as the second UK single from Madonna’s ballads retrospective, Something To Remember.
Warner had initially declined the option to release Oh Father in most European markets when it became the fourth North American single from Like A Prayer in late 1989, instead opting for a more by-the-numbers portrait of childhood innocence with the release of Dear Jessie. Why it was determined to be a better idea in 1995, following its poor showing on the U.S. charts, is anyone’s guess. One possibility is that Oh Father‘s brilliant preexisting music video provided an easy, cost-free means of promoting the song while Madonna remained unavailable due to her recording commitments for the Evita soundtrack.
While I would personally rank Oh Father among Madonna’s very best musical and lyrical efforts, and its music video an underrated classic – it never had the makings of a commercial hit. And history repeated itself when the song’s dark subject matter once again stunted its ability to gain momentum on radio for its British release. It became only her third UK single at the time to peak outside the top-ten when it stalled at #16 in its first charting week. It fared better in Finland and Italy, however, reaching #6 in both countries.
On October 17 2005, Hung Up was released by Warner Brothers Records as the lead single from the album Confessions On A Dance Floor.
Written & produced by Madonna & Stuart Price (with additional sampling credits to ABBA’s Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus), Hung Up had initially been previewed instrumentally in a September 2005 commercial for Motorola’s ROKR mobile phone. Price had also teased a dub remix of the track to unknowing audiences during his DJ sets throughout the previous year.
The single was Madonna’s first to be released digitally through iTunes.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph from October 2005, Benny Andersson spoke about their decision to allow Madonna to sample ABBA’s 1979 hit, Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight):
We get so many requests from people wanting to use our tracks but we normally say ‘no’. This is only the second time we have given permission. We said ‘yes’ this time because we admire Madonna so much and always have done. She has got guts and has been around for 21 years. That is not bad going.”