First Hit #1: December 22, 1984
1984 ends with the introduction of another major pop star, Madonna. While her grip on the zeitgeist has been slipping recently – Hard Candy relegated her to a guest spot on her own album, and while I haven’t heard MDNA that song she played at the Superbowl was awful – she’s usually been able to tie into and predict trends, while inserting a fair bit of sex into the proceedings. That’s evidenced in Like a Virgin, where she not only dictated the fashion direction for all the cool girls on the playground, she also dove into what was really happening in pop music from the early ’80s.
The unkind might suggest that she was just being sexy Michael Jackson – evidence being the strategically placed “ooh” in the chorus – but more importantly she perfected the art of the not-that-scandalous scandal. The idea of virgin being a prominent world in the chorus of a pop song might scandalize little old ladies, but it’s perfectly relevant for the lyrical content. The idea of a new relationship wiping away the scars of an old one is actually not a new idea for pop music, it’s just rendered in a slightly different way for a younger audience. It’s typical pop song, and an infuriatingly catchy one at that, but more importantly it’s a pop song that can still make little girls feel a bit rebellious. Madonna isn’t quite on the cutting edge, just positioned a little bit ahead of where everyone’s going, and that’s how she’s maintained the highs of her career all along.