A Thirty-Year-Old Virgin

Yes, they do exist – in this case it’s Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’ album, which was released three decades ago this week. Hard to believe that such a long time has gone by since she first preened a la Marilyn in ‘Material Girl’ or acted anything-but-like-a-virgin in the titular track, but time waits for no woman, virgin or not. ‘Like A Virgin’ was the first Madonna album that entered our home, and for all the supposedly titillating fodder, it made for harmless background music as we went on family vacations. Clearly my brother and I didn’t know what ‘virgin’ even meant, but we knew a good hook and a catchy pop song, and that’s all that mattered to my ears at the time. Here’s a quick look back at those LAV songs that have made it onto the Madonna Timeline.

We’ll begin with lead-off track ‘Material Girl’ – since this is where it all started for me. I loved it. I could dance to it all night long (and often did). Fueling the greed-obsessed 80s, the materialistic song was turned on its head with Madonna’s video for the single. In the end, she chooses love over material possessions – something everyone seemed to miss.

Angel‘ was a fluffy bit of day-dreamy swooning, as Madonna literally sighs and laughs over someone who’d caught her fancy. Harmless, escapist pop at its best, it was sugar for the ears, and nothing sounded sweeter.

Title track ‘Like A Virgin‘ is arguably her best-known and most classic work. Whereas ‘Like A Prayer’ was spectacular in a different way, ‘Virgin’ was Madonna’s first entry into the pop stratosphere – and you never forget your first time. The numerous subsequent interpretations she’s given the song are a testament to its staying power and eternal themes.

It was on ‘Kids Incorporated’ when I first heard ‘Over and Over‘ – as rendered by a Madonna-wanna-be Martika. In spite of that, I still loved the song.

As far as my favorite ‘Virgin’ cut goes, I’d have to give the edge to ‘Dress You Up‘ – this is the song that had me jumping up and down on my brothers bed and squealing with absolute excitement at how good a song could sound at ear-throttling volume.

The album closed with a plea to ‘Stay‘ – a request I would not understand for a few more years, but something called out to me even back then – a longing, a wish, a prayer – and Madonna gave it all a voice.

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