Madonna
Like a Virgin


4.5
superb

Review

by The Katz brothers USER (183 Reviews)
September 6th, 2006 | 18 replies | 11,899 views


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist


Like a Virgin is an album known to many as the birth of pop as we know it. An album copied more times than the Declaration of Independence, a pop album that has received more praise than any one could have ever predicted. An album that sold millions of copies, even with its sexed up image and title. It was the album that made Madonna a house-hold name and an album that greatly inspired acts as diverse as Sonic Youth and Britney Spears. A revolution. Madonna doesn’t have the best voice in pop music (though it can hold its own to just about anyone), but it doesn’t matter, cause with hooks like these, who needs a vocalist?

Like a Virgin is one of those albums that, no matter what anyone says, still sounds incredibly dated. It is one of those albums that defied odds and outlived the styles and technology used to make it famous so much that it is now considered vintage. I wonder what it would be like to record an album like this, did the crew know what they were digging their paws into? Could they hear the power and creativity coming from inside those four walls? Did they know who was going to be listening to their work? Could they hear the ball being moved? I guess it would be kind of hard not to, but for better or for worse white girl dance pop was born that day and I’m sure all of those guys are still taking it to the bank.

The production on Like a Virgin is pretty grand, it follows that standard bouncy bass, square synths and auxiliary percussion that the 80’s pop scene was defined by, but does something totally different. The production on Like a Virgin is so spectacularly confusing. At one point it will sound that happiest thing in the world, but when you delve deeper you will see how peculiar and dissonant the melodies become. Of course, on songs like Over & Over there really is no secret behind the uplifting pop beats, but Madonna’s vocals really shine on that track, so I let it go. And speaking of those golden lungs, each beat plays off of Madonna’s voice like they were made for each other. The best beats on the CD will let her voice shine without giving her any real help with the vocals. The end product shows a more innocent whispery feel instead of a real up in your face sound. Do you think any woman could get away with singing about touching virgins on international radio without the proper blend of synth pop and soul? Yeah, I thought so.

But of course, it’s not all bounce and sex in the world of a Material Girl. Madonna’s greatest vocal performance of the CD comes in the dark, soulful saddie, Love Don’t Live Here Anymore. Minimalist electronic bass, cinematic stings and acoustic guitar chords outline one of the most emotional songs Madonna ever wrote, the reverbed drums that come in a few minutes in give it that retro disco soul feel and the song gets its backbone. “You abandoned me, love don’t live here anymore” Madonna cries as the string section crescendos, in a pained voice that makes you wonder what happened to that happy young girl from tracks 1-4. But being a pop music chameleon is what made Madonna so goddamn famous so for many this isn’t as jarring as it is for a Madonna virgin like myself.

Then again, I guess there is no such thing as a Madonna virgin. This CD in particular has a curious number of huge hits. During my first listen I easily recognized 3 or 4 of the tunes as massive hits I had heard on the radio in my youth. And keep in mind that’s a good 10 years after this albums massive 1984 success. And you’ve probably heard a bunch too, from the innocent bouncy electro-pop/funk of Material Girl (the album’s opening innuendo filled Talking Heads esque banger) to the hooky disco jam Dress You Up (In my Love). And then comes Like a Virgin. Arguably the most famous Madonna song ever, Virgin begins with a rumbling electronic bass and a slow dancey drum beat, like almost every pop song before it, but the real magic comes in the songs epic build-up and anti-climatic, but catchy chorus. “I was beat, incomplete, I’d been had, I was sad and blue. But you made me feel, yes you made me feel, shiny and new. Like a Virgin, touched for the very first time” purrs Madonna from behind a veil of lace and chorus. Almost everything about this song is famous, from its story to its video (which inspired the scandalous cover art) and beyond. The song has become an institution and rightfully so, as it is revolutionary in so many ways.

And so is the album, it will go down in history as the birth of so many things, but most importantly a fun and new sound for young people to gobble down. This is probably the best pop record I have ever listened to and deserves nothing less than a 4.5/5.

-Joe



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user ratings (158)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2006


16088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The review was okay.
I really don't get the huge fuss over this album. I've listened to it a lultitude of times over the years, and its really kind of dated. And even trying to take it all historically and all that assorted bull, I still can't enjoy it at all =/.

Storm In A Teacup
September 6th 2006


12780 Comments


I love "Like A Virgin."

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2006


16088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^^ I'm not saying that was my main gripe, just truly great albums never lose their luster. Except for Milli Vanilli.

Hatshepsut
September 6th 2006


1997 Comments


Eh, the only time I heard the name Like A Virgin was when my friend was imitating some awful performance on American Idol a few years back.
Nice review.

Zebra
Moderator
September 6th 2006


2647 Comments


I've only heard the singles off of this and they all pail in comparison to almost every single released by Britney Spears. The stuff that I've heard is nice, catchy pop music but nothing more.

stompybeardo
September 6th 2006


746 Comments


i heard "ray of light" was good or sumthin

morrissey
Moderator
September 6th 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Very good review, you're one of the best pop writers around here and you are quite knowledgeable.

I've never really bought into Madonna's albums, I fully consider her a singles artist - but the best one there is. And as a performer/star/media character, there is no one on a similar plane. But her albums just aren't that great.

edit: ok I don't know which one of you is the usual pop writer but I'll just say as a duo you're both good?This Message Edited On 09.06.06

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
September 6th 2006


2806 Comments


Good review there.

The Moulin Rouge version of Like a Virgin is pretty much the best.

The Jungler
September 6th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=Morrissey]ok I don't know which one of you is the usual pop writer but I'll just say as a duo you're both good?[/quote]I (Dan) am the one who usually reviews pop, but this needed to be done so I guess my brother decided to do it. Plus he had listened to the album, and at that time I hadn't.

Anyways, thanks for the feedback/votes everyone.


John Paul Harrison
September 6th 2006


1014 Comments


This is a fine review, Mr. Jungler.


Members Also Liked:

Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction
Led Zeppelin - Early Days


Some of your selections puzzle me, however.




FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
September 6th 2006


2806 Comments


They aren't his selections.

The Jungler
September 6th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I didn't select anything, those are what sputnik selected. I'll edit it later.

Thanks though.

edit: Beaten by Mr. FisherThis Message Edited On 09.06.06

morrissey
Moderator
September 6th 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Those aren't recommendations, but rather other albums that the reviewer/people who rated this highly like.

edit: beatenThis Message Edited On 09.06.06

BlastFunk03
September 7th 2006


83 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Reminds of me of not tipping.

The Jungler
September 7th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Haha, I just watched that movie.


Holoh
September 24th 2006


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is one of my favorite albums of all time. The singles are all insanely catchy. "Pretender" and "Stay" are great gems as well. I just wish "Crazy For You" would have been included, the album would have been an even bigger hit. Go Madonna!

PS: I hate it when people complain about a song (or album) being "dated". A lot of the Beatles songs could be considered dated (I Want to Hold Your Hand comes to mind) but that doesn't take away from its greatness. Cheers.This Message Edited On 09.24.06

MrKite
October 22nd 2006


5020 Comments


like a surgeon^

ScorpionStan
June 28th 2009


1834 Comments


^ the video for that is soooooo funny. i could not stop laughing.



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