The 80s: The 25th Anniversary of Madonna’s Like A Prayer

Madonna-Like_a_Prayer-FrontalIn 1989 the San Francisco 49ers were the Super Bowl champs, summer drivers were paying an astounding $1.13 for a gallon of gas, and Madonna released her last album of the decade, Like A Prayer.  The album touched on various themes including memories of Madonna’s late mother (to whom the album was dedicated), domestic violence and religion.  The first pressings of the album, CD and cassettes were all scented with patchouli oils to simulate church incense.  The title track was a big hit with fans and was Madonna’s seventh number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  While the song had some gospel influence, with a choir on background vocals, the tune was not a hit with the Catholic church.  The song—and its music video with the theme of Madonna making love to a saint and images of burning crosses—was condemned by the Vatican, which resulted in Pepsi canceling Madonna’s lucrative endorsement deal.  Five more singles were released from the album, including the songs “Oh Father,” “Dear Jessie,” “Keep It Together,” “Express Yourself” and “Cherish,” the latter two making it to number two on the charts. Another notable track, entitled “Love Song,” was a duet with Madonna’s fellow Warner Brothers label mate and 80s pop icon, Prince. Like A Prayer was a multi-platinum seller and shot to the top of the album charts world wide. While previous Madonna albums were successful on the charts as well, many music critics considered Like A Prayer to be Madonna’s first “serious” album.  Time magazine listed it one of its 100 greatest and most influential musical compilations.  In 2003,Rolling Stone magazine named Like A Prayer one of the greatest albums of all time and it was also listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

—Montrose Cunningham

Montrose Cunningham is a Dallas, Texas-based, independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado, currently working on a Masters in Marketing degree. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughters, sometimes at the same time. Purchase his release Inertia at, follow him on Twitter @MontroseC and check out his blog, Daddy Rock Star.

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