Pop Gem #96: Madonna – Like A Prayer

In our first ever Pop Gem open vote, you choose the pop icon’s 1989 Number 1 as your ultimate Madonna song.

This week on OfficialCharts.com, we’ve been having something of a Madonna moment. To celebrate the release of the star’s 13th studio album Rebel Heart, we’ve been looking back at Madonna’s chart history, including her best selling singles and her most streamed tunes.

It felt only right we should honour Madonna in the Pop Gem Hall of Fame too. While the Pop Gem more often than not shines a light on overlooked classics, there’s plenty of room to celebrate massive hits too. We asked you to vote for your favourite Madonna song – and every tune that went Top 100 was eligible. That’s a lot of Madge right there.

When we counted the votes, here’s how the Top 10 looked:

1 LIKE A PRAYER 1 1989
2 VOGUE 1 1990
3 FROZEN 1 1998
4 HUNG UP 1 2005
7 RAY OF LIGHT 2 1998
10 LIVE TO TELL 2 1986


Yep, Like A Prayer was your favourite. While voting was spread quite evenly among other tracks, it was pretty close between Like A Prayer and runner-up Vogue, with just 50 votes separating them.

So why Like A Prayer? Well, it was probably Madonna’s most controversial video ever – up to that point anyway, there was much more to come – and the song is a genuine classic.

Madonna had never sounded rawer, belting out some of the best lyrics of her career over a rousing gospel choir and a good old jungly guitar.

The track would get a dancier remix for the 1990 release of Madonna’s first greatest hits package The Immaculate Collection, which would help the track to appeal to dance floor enthusiasts as well as the more earnest pop fans.

Here she is rocking it on her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour. Watch out some amazing shoe-shuffling:

Entering at Number 2 behind Jason Donovan’s Too Many Broken Hearts on 12 March 1989, Like A Prayer barged to the top of the Official Singles Chart the following week, and refused to budge for three weeks.

> See the Official Singles Chart the week Madonna went to Number 1

It wasn’t until the Bangles’ Eternal Flame burned its way to Number 1 that Like A Prayer’s, erm, prayers ran out. Attention turned to the track’s parent album, also called Like A Prayer, and the song itself began its descent.

It's a fave of Madonna's – she often performs it live. Here she is at Live 8 in 2005:

Like A Prayer spent nine weeks in the Top 40, and has sold 593,300 copies, making it her 7th bestselling single in the UK. It may not have finished top of the sales’ chart, but when it comes to streaming, it’s top dog – even though streaming records only go back to 2014, Like A Prayer still beats newer hits like Hung Up and 4 Minutes.

The rest of the Top 10 shows there is plenty of love for Madonna’s classics, but even new single Living For Love is shown a bit of respect – finishing eighth in our poll.

So did the right Madge track make it into the Pop Gem Hall Of Fame? Leave a comment or join the debate on Facebook or Twitter!

Pop Gem Hall Of Fame

Today's Pop Gem is the latest in a long line of amazing pop songs that have been inducted into our Pop Gem Hall Of Fame. Take a look at all the tracks who've received the honour so far

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