Remember When: Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ Album and Title Track Both Topped the ‘Billboard’ Charts 35 Years Ago

Thirty-five years ago, on April 22, 1989, Madonna’s fourth studio album, Like a Prayer, and its memorable title track simultaneously topped the Billboard 200 and Billboard Hot 100 charts, respectively.

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The Like a Prayer album was the Queen of Pop’s third consecutive studio effort to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200, following Like a Virgin (1984) and True Blue (1986). Like a Prayer went on to spend five straight weeks at the top of the chart.

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Initial pressings of Like a Prayer were scented with patchouli oil to reflect with the record’s religious themes and imagery. A fact sheet with information about safe sex and HIV/AIDS also was included in the packaging.

About the “Like a Prayer” Single’s Success

The song “Like a Prayer” became Madonna’s seventh single to reach the top of the Hot 100. Her previous chart-toppers were “Like a Virgin” (1984), “Crazy for You” (1985), “Live to Tell” (1986), “Papa Don’t Preach” (1986), “Open Your Heart” (1986), and “Who’s That Girl” (1987).

“Like a Prayer” took over the No. 1 spot from Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy” and remained at the top of the tally for three weeks. It was replaced at No. 1 by Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There for You.”

[RELATED: Madonna Lashes Out at Production Staff for Not Turning off Air Conditioning: “Gonna Have to Dock Your Pay”]

Madonna co-wrote the song with Patrick Leonard, with whom she collaborated on eight of the album’s 11 tracks.

About the Controversial “Like a Prayer” Music Video

The music video for “Like a Prayer” sparked plenty of controversy, particularly among religious groups. In the Mary Lambert-directed clip, Madonna witnesses a violent crime, and then sees an innocent Black man arrested for it. She then takes refuge in a church, where she come across a Christ-like statue that looks like the accused man and that comes to life. Also during the video, stigmata appear on Madonna’s hands, she kisses the Christ-like statue-come-to-life, and she dances with abandon along with a church choir and in front of burning crosses.

The American Family Association and the Vatican both condemned the video.

More About the Like a Prayer Album

The Like a Prayer album also featured four other Top-20 hits on the Hot 100. “Express Yourself” and “Cherish” both peaked at No. 2, “Keep It Together” made it to No. 8, and “Oh Father” reached No. 20.

In addition, the album features “Love Song,” a collaboration between Madonna and Prince.

Like a Prayer has been certified four-times platinum by the RIAA for sales of more than 4 million copies in the U.S.

Madonna’s Current Tour

The current leg of Madonna’s The Celebration Tour is in Mexico City this week for a series of concerts. After those performances, Madonna will play a free show on May 4 on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Tickets for Madonna’s concerts are available now via various outlets, including StubHub.

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