I Know That Song! The One That Prompted Warning Labels On Albums

The first time this Pop Icon performed this controversial title track was at the first-ever MTV Video Music Awards on September 14, 1984. This is the title track to her debut album, her first to hit #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Since then, eight of her albums have also reached the top spot, with her most recent album Madame X debuting at #1 in 2019.

The title and lyrics were very racy for a pop song, which made it more difficult to find someone to record it. Today’s superstar had released only one album at the time and was known as a dance singer, so her record company didn't mind having her record a song that would generate some controversy. 

It became a huge hit and created a new image for her that set her apart from other singers. The media has been fascinated with her ever since.

The song’s success led to a 40 city tour In 1985, starting at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre. Though their debut album Licensed To Ill (1986) wouldn’t arrive for another year-and-a-half, the Beastie Boys were selected as the tour’s opening act. 

But they were neither the first nor the second choice to share the billing with today’s artist. The Fat Boys and Run-DMC were the preferred picks, but the groups were either not available or too expensive.

This song helped lead to the formation of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), a group of politically connected women who fought to get warning labels on albums with offensive content. co-founder Susan Baker (wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker), she got involved after her 7-year-old daughter quoted her the lyric, "Like a virgin, and asked her what a "virgin" was.

When the group listed eventually 15 songs they found particularly offensive, today’s artist made the list, but not for this song. Somehow, the rather tame "Dress You Up" was chosen instead. 

Chic co-founder and super producer Nile Rodgers, hot on the heels of producing David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album, invited his Chic bandmates to play on this song and album. Today’s artist kept asking during the recording... ‘Why don’t we just use a drum machine instead?’ Rodgers replied: ‘Because if you do that, then anybody can sound like you. But if we play it, then only we will sound like that.”

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