Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In 80s Music, April 22nd

On this day in 1989: Madonna started a three week run at #1 on the U.S. singles chart with ‘Like A Prayer’, the singer’s seventh U.S. #1, also a #1 in the UK.

‘Like A Prayer’ is the title track from her album ‘Like A Prayer’ and it was released as the album’s lead single on March 3, 1989. Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, the track heralded an artistic and personal approach to songwriting for Madonna, who believed that she needed to cater more to her adult audience. Thematically the song speaks about a passionate young girl in love with God, who becomes the only male figure in her life.

“Like a Prayer” is a pop rock song and incorporates gospel music. It features background vocals from a choir and also a rock guitar. “Like a Prayer” was acclaimed by critics and was a worldwide success. It was Madonna’s seventh #1 single on the United States’ Billboard Hot 100, and topped the singles charts in many other countries, including Australia, Canada, Spain, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

The music video, directed by Mary Lambert, portrays Madonna witnessing a young white woman being killed by a group of white men. While a black man is arrested for the murder, Madonna hides in a church for safety, seeking strength to go forth as a witness. The clip depicts a church and Catholic symbols such as stigmata. It also features the Ku Klux Klan’s burning crosses and a dream about kissing a black saint. The Vatican condemned the video, while family and religious groups protested against its broadcast. They boycotted products by soft drink manufacturer Pepsi, who had used the song in their commercial. The company canceled their sponsorship contract with Madonna, but allowed her to retain the fee.

Madonna understood that as she was growing up, so was her core audience. Feeling the need to attempt something different, she wanted the sound of her new album to dictate what could be popular in the music world. The singer had certain personal matters on her mind that she thought could be the musical direction of the album. For the title track, Madonna chose topics that until then had been personal meditations never shared with the general public. She perused her personal journals and diaries, and began considering options. She recalled, “What was it I wanted to say? I wanted the album to speak to things on my mind. It was a complex time in my life.”

Here’s a look at the complete Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1989:

1 3 LIKE A PRAYER –•– Madonna – 6 (1)
2 1 SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY –•– Fine Young Cannibals – 13 (1)
3 2 THE LOOK –•– Roxette – 11 (1)
4 7 FUNKY COLD MEDIA –•– Tone Loc – 8 (4)
5 11 I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU –•– Bon Jovi – 8 (5)
6 6 STAND –•– R.E.M. – 14 (6)
7 12 HEAVEN HELP ME –•– Deon Estus – 9 (7)
8 5 GIRL YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE –•– Milli Vanilli – 16 (2)
9 4 ETERNAL FLAME –•– The Bangles – 12 (1)
10 14 SECOND CHANCE –•– .38 Special – 11 (10)

11 10 YOUR MAMA DON’T DANCE –•– Poison – 10 (10)
12 16 ROOM TO MOVE –•– Animotion – 10 (12)
13 15 ROCKET –•– Def Leppard – 8 (13)
14 21 REAL LOVE –•– Jody Watley – 6 (14)
15 20 AFTER ALL –•– Cher & Peter Cetera – 7 (15)
16 18 SINCERELY YOURS –•– Sweet Sensation & Romeo J.D – 12 (16)
17 22 FOREVER YOUR GIRL –•– Paula Abdul – 7 (17)
18 19 THINKING OF YOU –•– Sa-Fire – 12 (18)
19 9 YOU GOT IT –•– Roy Orbison – 14 (9)
20 8 SUPERWOMAN –•– Karyn White – 13 (8)

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