"LIKE A PRAYER" BY MADONNA (1989)
by Mark Nobes, chief editor
Released in February 1989, Madonna's gospel pop classic, "Like A Prayer", was yet another 80s song to cause much controversy! However, it wasn't so much the song itself, but the video that raised a few eyebrows. Featuring burning crosses and a sexual embrace with a black saint, it's not hard to see why!
Soft Drink giant, Pepsi, decided to use the song as part of a commercial featuring Madonna. The company struck a $5million deal to sponsor her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour. The 2 minute commercial aired twice before the release of the music video on MTV.
The commercial itself was innocent and fun, and was filmed in Arizona and directed by Joe Pytka. Unfortunately, Madonna had other ideas for the music video, and Pepsi was unaware of the video's content. It was directed by Mary Lambert and filmed in California, and in the plot, Madonna witnesses the murder of a white girl by white supremacists, with a black man being wrongly arrested. Madonna takes refuge in a church and dreams of kissing a black saint (St. Martin De Porres), displays stigmata after cutting her palms on a knife, and dances in a field of burning crosses.
Of course, this caused some religious groups to become rather outraged and threatened to boycott Pepsi, who in turn decided to cancel the ad campaign and tour sponsorship, although Madonna kept the contracted $5 million.
No doubt, all the controversy helped to ensure that "Like a Prayer" was one of Madonna's biggest-selling singles, selling over five million copies world-wide during 1989. Both Madonna and MTV were definitely the big winners here, as people were curious to see what all the fuss was about, and tuned in to MTV to view the video for themselves.
Who Wrote "Like A Prayer"?
Madonna on the cover of Number One magazine in July 1990