On this day in music history: May 11, 1985 – “Crazy For You” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, peaking at #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart on the same date, and #80 on the R&B singles chart on May 4, 1985. Written by John Bettis and Jon Lind, it is the second chart topping single for the pop music superstar from Rochester, MI. Songwriters Bettis (“Top Of The World, "Goodbye To Love”) and Lind (“Boogie Wonderland”, “Save The Best For Last”) are asked by Warner Bros film music executive Joel Sill if they write a song for a film being produced by Jon Peters and Peter Guber (“Batman”, “The Color Purple”) titled “Vision Quest” in early 1984. Producer Phil Ramone acts as the music supervisor for the film, and is responsible compiling the soundtrack album. Ramone hears “Crazy For You” and loves it immediately, knowing exactly who he wants to record the song. At the time, Madonna’s career is just beginning to take flight as her third single “Borderline” is climbing the charts. Known at the time only for her uptempo dance material, the songwriters are unsure of Madonna’s ability to sing a ballad. The track is produced by Madonna’s then boyfriend, club DJ and remixer John “Jellybean” Benitez. When Bettis and Lind attend the initial recording session for the song, they are disappointed at the outcome. Benitez brings in keyboardist and studio musician Rob Mounsey to write a new arrangement and they re-record the song. Everyone is pleased with the new version and it is included on the “Vision Quest” soundtrack album. Madonna also has a small role in the film as a night club singer, performing “Crazy For You” and “Gambler”. Released in February of 1985, as her second album “Like A Virgin” is riding high in the charts, the ballad is another major smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #55 on March 2, 1985, it climb to the top of the chart ten weeks later, unseating USA For Africa’s “We Are The World” from the top spot, after holding at number two for three weeks behind it. “Crazy” not only is Madonna’s second number one single in less than six months, it also helps broaden her audience and show another side of her musically that had not been previously seen. The single also earns Madonna a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in 1986. “Crazy For You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: April 22, 1989 – “Like A Prayer” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Club Play chart for two weeks on April 15, 1989.
Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, it is the seventh chart topping single for the pop music icon from Rochester, MI. Many of the songs on her fourth studio album “Like A Prayer” based on her Catholic upbringing in a large Italian American family. Madonna writes about her own personal faith, and about how religion and sex are intertwined and are often at odds with each other. The title track of the album will reflect all of these things. Co-writing the song with frequent collaborator songwriter and co-producer Pat Leonard, the pair decide during recording that the song to put a gospel choir on it. They meet with famed gospel star Andraé Crouch who agrees to add his choirs’ vocals to the track. “Like A Prayer” is launched by a high profile commercial ad campaign with Pepsi who is to sponsor the singer’s tour in support of the album. The songs music video (directed by Mary Lambert), co starring actor Leon Robinson (aka Leon) playing the role of a saint, contains scenes juxtaposing religious iconography, showing Madonna with stigmata on her hands like Jesus after being crucified, dancing in front of burning crosses, and sexuality (the singer laying down on the alter with the saint), causes the company to withdraw their support of her tour and pull the commercial starring the singer from the airwaves. However, Madonna is allowed to keep the five million dollars she is paid by Pepsi. The controversy fueled by the music video and the falling out with Pepsi does not hurt the songs commercial performance. Quite the opposite in fact. Released as a single on March 3, 1989, it is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #38 on March 18, 1989, it races to the top of the chart five weeks later. Regarded as one of Madonna’s signature songs, “Like A Prayer” has a long life beyond its run on the charts. In April of 2010, the pop superstars’ music is the focus of an episode of the hit series “Glee”. Its ratings success revives interest in Madonna’s original recording of “Like A Prayer”, leading to it re-entering the Hot 100 at #47 on May 10, 2010. “Like A Prayer” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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On this day in music history: March 21, 1989 – “Like A Prayer”, the fourth studio album by Madonna is released. Produced by Madonna, Patrick Leonard, Stephen Bray and Prince, it is recorded at D & D Recording in New York City and Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood, CA from September 1988 – January 1989. Taking a nearly three year long break between studio albums, Madonna returns to the studio in the Fall of 1988 to record the official follow up to “True Blue”. Deeply introspective in nature, many songs are inspired by Madonna’s Catholic upbringing, her family, and death of her mother. The album is dedicated to her mother’s memory (who was also named Madonna). Madonna works with her long time collaborators Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard as well as collaborating with Prince on the track “Love Song”. Prince also contributes guitar to the albums closing track “Act Of Contrition” (a deconstruction of the title track). A huge critical and commercial success upon its release, it spins off five hit singles including “Express Yourself” (#2 Pop), “Cherish” (#2 Pop) and the title track (#1 Pop). Initial pressings of the album are scented with patchouli oil, and also come packaged with an insert with safer sex guide lines and information on AIDS prevention. It is included, to pay tribute to friends Madonna has lost to the disease. The singer supports the album with the now iconic “Blond Ambition World Tour” in 1990, which is captured in the documentary film “Madonna: Truth Or Dare”. Out of print on vinyl for many years, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2016. A limited edition pressing on red vinyl is issued through the European supermarket Sainbury’s the same year. “Like A Prayer” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.