If you watch early interviews with a young Madonna, you can see how self-assured she was of herself. Even though she was just starting out in her career as a pop icon, her answers to interview questions were always straightforward and confident. As it turns out, it was all a front. Well, kind of.
Madonna has always been a confident person, but she wasn’t as fearless as she let on in interviews in the early 80s. She looked back on that time in her life and told “The Guardian” that she may have been insecure or felt like a nobody, but she knew she had to do something. Her gamble in confidence definitely paid off.
“Like a Virgin”
Up until the release of her second album, Madonna’s singles were doing pretty well. However, none of them, including “Borderline,” had hit number one in the charts. That all changed with “Like a Virgin,” the single off her second album by the same name. Thanks in part to her eye-popping MTV performance, the song reached number one in the charts and stayed put for a few weeks.
The single and “Like a Virgin” album shot Madonna to a new level of fame and success, which was a pleasant surprise. The album was such a success that it drove Madonna to break the first record of her career. She became the first female artist to sell more than five million copies of an album. Not bad for a small-town girl from Michigan.
A Controversial Single
Madonna’s widespread success didn’t come without controversy. Her number one hit, “Like a Virgin,” was pretty scandalous for the time. Although the single was at the top of the charts for six weeks, many conservative and religious organizations were outspoken about their distaste for the song.
There was a media outcry from these organizations about Madonna’s suggestive hit. Many thought it was setting a bad example for young people because it promoted premarital shenanigans and pushed against traditional “family values.” Despite attempts to ban the song and music video, “Like a Virgin” became and still remains one of Madonna’s greatest hits.
The Ultimate “Material Girl”
One of Madonna’s nicknames is “Material Girl,” thanks to her hit song by the same name. The music video is truly iconic and is considered one of the reasons her pop career took off. The video features an almost frame-by-frame recreation of Marilyn Monroe’s famous “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” performance in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
The music video’s obvious correlation between Marilyn and Madonna clued everyone into the fact that Madonna was here to stay. “Material Girl” was like an 80s version of “Diamonds,” mostly because the lyrics are cheeky and celebratory of materialism. Looking back, some fans can easily interpret both “Material Girl” and Marilyn’s song as an ironic jab at the objectification of women in our popular culture.
Like a “Rolling Stone”
Madonna rocked her very first cover of “Rolling Stone” magazine on November 22, 1984. The magazine cover coincided with the release of “Like a Virgin,” the sophomore album that would launch her career to the next level. “Madonna Goes All the Way,” the magazine cover reads, quite cheekily, we might add.
This magazine debut would mark the start of a record for both Madonna and “Rolling Stone” that still holds strong today. Madonna holds the record for gracing the cover of “Rolling Stone” more times than any other female artist in history. As of 2021, she has 23 “Rolling Stone” covers to her name. Pretty impressive.