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.
Fiasco or Fierce?
The very first MTV Video Music Awards debuted on September 14, 1984. This up-and-coming music network channel decided to invite an up-and-coming singer to perform for their inaugural award show. Yes, that “up-and-coming” singer was Madonna. Her second studio album, “Like a Virgin,” was set to debut later that year, so she naturally decided to perform the title track at the VMAs.
And perform, she did. Madonna caused quite a stir with her titillating performance of “Like a Virgin.” Madonna rolled around the stage (literally) in a white wedding dress with a belt that read “Boy Toy” on it. While it’s pretty tame by today’s standards, people were clutching their pearls when they saw Madonna doing that suggestive thing with her veil. Supposedly, her furious manager swore that her performance would ruin her career. Oh, how wrong they were.
The Truth Behind the “Virginal” VMA Performance
Madonna has never been afraid to push the envelope and shock her audience. After her scandalous “Like a Virgin” performance at the first MTV VMAs, Madonna explained her behavior and defended herself. She famously went off-script during her wedding cake performance, but it was for a good reason.
Apparently, she decided to roll around on the floor because her stiletto heel had accidentally come loose or fallen off. Madonna didn’t want to make her performance look like a mistake, so she rolled around in order to surreptitiously grab her heel and put it back on. She showed her undergarments and stockings off to the whole audience as a result, which made “Like a Virgin” all the more memorable.
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 Truth Behind the Swagger
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.