The very first CD that I ever bought recently turned 25 years old, which seems odd, since that is my exact age. If you believe that, then you are either very sweet or very stupid. We’ll go with the former and not the latter, since I’m in a good mood today, mmmkay.
Ok, getting back to the business at hand, or ear, as it were.
It’s no big secret that Madonna has always been my favorite diva, and by this time in 1989 we were well on our way to our lifetime commitment on a teacher and student level, cuz she’s a lady person and I enjoy the company of gentlemen.
The air before a Madonna CD is always pregnant with an electricity for me; questions crop up such as, “Will this one be better than her last? And how will she change up her looks in the ensuing videos?”
Let’s address those questions with some answers, shall we? Well, truth be told, out of her three previous studio releases True Blue was my favorite, so I was hopeful that this one would follow suit. What I wasn’t expecting was such an honest album, a more mature Madonna than we had ever heard before.
Of course controversy preceded the release of Like A Prayer, thanks in part to Pepsi not being able to separate church and state, or rather an artist and burning crosses in her video and dropped her as their spokesperson. But, from the very first listen I was hooked and in love, forget infatuation, this was the real deal.
The title track remains one of my all-time favorite favorites in her catalog, but it was the second single, “Express Yourself” that completely resonated with me, as I was in a shitty relationship, and this song definitely made me re-evaluate said shit show. As did, “Til Death Do Us Part,” alas it would be another few years before I got the courage to get out of that situation. In the meantime, I did my best to “Cherish” the shit heel I saddled myself with.
As family was a big topic with Mo on this album, I also listened intently to the lyrics about where I fit into the family dynamic on “Keep It Together,” although technically I was the sister of the bunch, Ok? My estranged relationship with my father now had a soundtrack, thanks to “Oh Father,” and while I was years away from losing my own mother to cancer, I could relate with the song, “Promise To Try.”
I thought the duet with Prince on “Love Song” was just alright, as was “Dear Jessie.” And I have been known to make certain friends laugh with my impression of Madonna singing on “Pray for Spanish Eyes,” while “Act Of Contrition” made me feel avant garde in listening to it.
Stylistically and visually, Madonna captured herself post-boy toy and on the verge of getting a divorce in a time capsule of strong videos. “Like A Prayer” had a brunette Madonna dancing and almost falling out of her dress, making out with Black Jesus and being backed by a choir. Loved it.
But for my money, but not for Pepsi’s since Madonna used her $5 million dollar paycheck from the boycotted commercial to make the best video of the bunch,”Express Yourself.” She looked hawt in this video – all blonde this time out, which is my favorite Madonna look I must admit. I loved its nod to the silent film Metropolis and the added bonus of hot shirtless guys. Plus, the track itself received a makeover and sounded more contemporary than the Motown-inspired album cut.
“Cherish” had plenty of eye candy, too, in the form of mermen and brilliant direction from famed photographer Herb Ritts, which captured Madonna frolicking on the beach in glorious black and white and was one of the catchiest tracks that she did for this particular album.
This was also the polar opposite for the haunting “Oh Father” with its stark imagery and ever-present Madonna daddy issues.
What was to follow was, in my humble opinion, was the best tour that Madonna ever did with Blonde Ambition, which upped the ante on what a concert going experience could be with its amazing choreography and ever-expanding catalog of hits at her disposal.
Happy Belated Birthday Like A Prayer.