163. Madonna – ‘Like A Prayer’ (1989)

“Life is a mystery
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home”

Taken from the album Like A Prayer

Also released on Remixed Prayers, The Immaculate Collection, I’m Going To Tell You A Secret, Celebration, Hope For Haiti Now and Sticky & Sweet Tour

US #1, UK #1, AUS #1

There isn’t a Madonna song as universally praised and loved as ‘Like A Prayer’. ‘Vogue’ may have more dance floor value, ‘Hung Up’ may have gone to number one in more countries, ‘Holiday’ and ‘Like A Virgin’ might have nostalgic appeal, but when it comes down it I bet most people would say ‘Like A Prayer’ is the best. It’s not my favourite, but it holds a special place in my heart. No pun intended, it is a religious experience.

‘Like A Prayer’ opens with Madonna asking “God?”, before she launches into that famous introduction quoted above. A choir backs her up before disappearing into the background to make way for an eighties power-pop beat. After some brilliantly written verses, that chorus grabs you by the shirt collar. It is such a wonderful moment, one of those choruses you could just have on repeat forever, never getting old, never losing it’s spark. This is pop music at it’s absolute best. When she sings “let the choir sing”, and an actual choir begins to sing, it is a great moment in the history of literal lyrics.

Much of ‘Like A Prayer’s notoriety comes from it’s video, which includes scenes of attempted rape, racism, sex with a saint on the altar, and Madonna dancing around in front of burning crosses, all the while struggling to keep the strap of her dress from falling down her shoulder. While I still find the video to be one of her best, it would have been nothing without the song. Here’s a fun activity for you to try: at exactly 12:00am, play ‘Like A Prayer’, and on the line “In the midnight hour, I can feel your power”, just try not to get a shiver down your spine. You can’t escape that power.

Music video:

Live at Sticky & Sweet tour 2008:

Live 8:

Live Blond Ambition tour:

Live Re-Invention tour:

One Response to “163. Madonna – ‘Like A Prayer’ (1989)”

  1. Rabbitbunny Says:

    I am very moved and touched by Like a Prayer because each time Madonna performs the beautiful gospel-tinged Rocker, her tears begin to fall and her smile lights up the stage. Madonna is very kind and gracious to her audience-myself included-and is not the media manipulator that her detrators claim to be. Here in Like a Prayer, she is crying but she is smiling-Madonna is thankful and grateful because she embodies what is good, right and hopeful in America. I have seen Reinvention
    and Sticky and Sweet and I can tell anyone from my experience that I was and still moved and touched by Her Presence. Madonna sings beautifully on Like a Prayer because her voice will forever
    Take Me There. Thanks Madge! Like your beautiful song cries, your Voice will always Take Me There. God bless you, Miss Ciccone!
    I love you!

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