02. Madonna – Like a Virgin
The Queen Crowned
The Hurdle: Madonna was already very much a “thing” in the early ’80s. Granted, her 1983 self-titled debut took a year to garner some recognition, but by late October 1984, she was sitting at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 with close to three million copies sold in America alone. Fueled by five hit singles — ahem, “Everybody”, “Burning Up”, “Holiday”, “Lucky Star”, and “Borderline” — the album convinced Sire Records that they had someone special on their roster. Ever the fighter, Madonna wasn’t interested in floating on the ensuing success of her first record; instead, she was adamant on releasing a follow-up, one that would not only be another blockbuster for Sire but would cement her future in the music industry. Basically, she was watching the throne.
The Jump: Only there wasn’t one for the taking. Like a Virgin changed all that, carving out the throne, the crown, and the title that would be Madonna’s forever: the Queen of Pop. From its provocative sleeve to its controversial lyrics, the album quickly became an unprecedented tornado, ripping through conservative social norms and values with aplomb, as the music turned into a revolution. It was also an unstoppable commercial smash, the first album by a female artist to sell over five million copies in the States, making Madonna more of a pop auteur who rewrote the rules of the game. “I had to prove them wrong,” she argued, “which meant not only proving myself to my fans but to my record company as well.” Long live the Queen, long live Lady Madonna.